Friday, May 08, 2009

A gift we don't want...

I'm reading a book called Conversations at the Girlville Diner and the author is sharing about her experiences. At one point she says "The gift I most often fail to recognize (or want to recognize) is the gift of pain. Pain is not something a sane person wishes for. It is gut-wrenching and soul-draining. Like it or not, I learn best when I hurt. When I stop shouting at God about my discomfort - when I tape my mouth closed and listen, I realize that pain can be a gift. God is a patient God. Despite my desperate pleas for an easy life and my blindness to the good in doing this His way, God continues to hang in there with me. He listens to me whine at each difficult pass in my road."

I never thought about pain this way. Yes, I know I learn more when I fail than when I succeed, but pain is so much more than failure. It is cutting... it is life altering... it is devistating at times. There is a song called The Cut by Jason Gray and the lyrics are so dead on. How can we become people that as painful as it can be, want this. Can we become "To live is Christ and to die is gain" kind of people? I want God's image to be cut into me so that I no longer see my pride and myself. I am thankful to have a God who wants this enough to do what it takes in me. He doesn't care as much for my comfort as He does my good and His Glory. Praise the Lord.

The Cut by Jason Gray

My heart is laid
Under Your blade
As you carve out
Your image in me
You cut to the core
But still you want more
As you carefully, tenderly ravage me
And You peel back the bark
And tear me apart
To get to the heart
Of what matters most
I’m cold and I’m scared
As your love lays me bare
But in the shaping of my soul
The cut makes me whole

Mingling here
Your blood and my tears
As You whittle my kingdom away
But I see that you suffer, too
In making me new
For the blade of Love, it cuts both ways
As You peel back the bark
And tear me apart
To get to the heart
Of what matters most
I’m cold and I’m scared
As your love lays me bare
But in the shaping of my soul
The cut makes me whole

Hidden inside the grain
Beneath the pride and pain
Is the shape of the man
You meant me to be
Who with every cut now you try to set free
Come Now Set Me Free
You peel back the bark
And tear me apart
To get to the heart
Of what matters most
I’m cold and I’m scared
As your love lays me bare
And Every day you strip me away.

With everydayYou strip more away
And You peel back the bark
And tear me apart
To get to the heart
Of what matters most
I’m cold and I’m scared
As your love lays me bare
But in the shaping of my soul
The blade must take it’s toll
So God give me strength to know
That the cut makes me whole
The cut makes me whole

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Submission...our favorite topic!

I am blessed beyond measure to be able to lead a group of ladies at our church through a book called "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldhahn. It is an awesome book and if you get the chance to read it, I HIGHLY suggest it. It is an easy, short read and opens our eyes to the male psyche and why they react the way they do at times. We really do see and hear things differently! Now, because we are doing this at the church and the book isn't overtly Christian, I have searched through scripture to learn how we can be Godly wives. Since it is always such a popular topic we began our first night with the topic of respect and submission.

There is such a sad stigma related to the word submission. If we truly believe that God wants to prosper us and not to harm us and has good plans for us that glorify Him, why are we afraid of this concept that is clearly outlined in scripture(1 Peter 3:1-6)? I know that years of this topic being twisted have damaged it greatly, but I want to know when, as Christian women, are we going to take this back?

I think many people are against the idea of submission because they think that means that the woman is a lower human being or some how we lose worth. I think the opposite is true. We are completely equal in value in God's eyes, but I believe that just as our bodies are different, we were created to play different roles in life. These parts are not lesser or unimportant, they are vital and we will be called to give an account for the life that God gave us.

I want to be a submissive wife, I really do. I want to look to my husband and trust his judgment. I want to look to God to take care of me and guide me, no matter how Nathan is acting at the time. I want to react as a Godly wife, whether I feel that Nathan "deserves" it or not. My behavior, my choices have nothing to do with Nathan. It's hard to comprehend but I believe that is what God calls us to as Godly wives (unless abuse is involved, then get out so you can get healing).

Do not misunderstand me. I don't believe this is easy, not at all! This is probably the most difficult concept to put into practice. It is the opposite of my human desire just about every step of the way. Just because I want to does not mean that I am able or capable of it. It reminds me of Paul in Romans 7 "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." I know that it is only Christ through me that brings the power to submit to Nathan.

Have you ever read the verse "Then He (Jesus) said to them all: "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." (Luke 9:23). What does it look like to pick up our cross as a wife? Does it mean not always having to be right? Does it mean choosing to speak in a way that is beneficial to our husbands? Christ came as a servant, even to the point of death, can I even comprehend living that way? In day to day living what does that look like?

Tonight I think we touched on one way to deny ourselves. Our topic moved forward from respect and submission to our words. Many times women have pretty strong verbal ability. We are able to talk circles around our husbands and manipulate easily (sorry guys, but it is more true than you know). Yet the Bible says that the power of life and death are in our tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and God has said He has put before us life and death, blessings and curses and tells us "now choose life" (Deut 30:19-20). Our word choices are so vital to submitting and respecting our husbands and at the same time dying to ourselves. I never want to overhear Nathan telling someone he'd "rather live on the corner of a housetop" than with me. I want to be like the Proverbs woman because "her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." (Proverbs 31:11-12 ) In fact in every avenue of life she "speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26) There are a ton of verses that talk about how we should use our words... just to name a few:

Proverbs 14:1
Romans 14:19
Colossians 3:12-14
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Ephesians 4:29

So, I ask, how do we do this? How do we become these women? How do we die to ourselves, pick up our cross, and live submitted, respectful lives? The only answer can be through prayer and then making correct choices. If God does not make the changes in us and enable us to choose His ways then we will never, ever succeed. I can make a change for a few weeks, but then slowly I will slide back into my old ways of doing things.

I believe whole heartedly that God can mold us into a Godly wife that gives Him glory. Do you want to take that journey with me? Let's begin today...

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Let's Get Orgainzed Girlfriends Event


We hosted an event at the church called Let’s Get Organized. I don’t know if you are an organized person or not, but I can tell you I am not. It isn’t in my DNA. I have even met my birth family and we all tend to carry around a “messy” gene. So I was thrilled to have this event at the church. Unfortunately, like most events that I am in charge of, I didn’t really get to sit down and listen. So I have borrowed notes from my friend and will detail them here… so we can all learn together.

Becky Roes, a good friend of mine, was our speaker. She is one of those people that are VERY organized. She would make sure that I said she wasn’t perfect, but to me her home and organization seems perfect. I have realized recently though… both with home organization and other general life things… like being a size 6 (ha!) that unless I am really willing to make the sacrifice required I can’t really complain or be upset that someone has what I want. You know what I mean? So using the tools I learned on Thursday I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday organizing my home. It is fabulous! I will show pictures down below.

Most of these notes will be in first person because I need every bit of them!
TWO MAIN PHRASES TO KNOW:
It is easier to keep up than catch up (don’t I know that!)
&
A place for everything, and everything in its place!

My home should be my retreat, a place to bless me and my family!
I don’t need to suffer from CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). I need to have a vision for my home.
Look around and see if my home is a true reflection of me.
I know I am someone that holds on to things and there was a phrase that she said that really stuck with me. “If everything is special, then nothing is special. It all becomes clutter”. That was such a good point. If I knick-knack my house to death with “special things” then there will never be a spot light on my truly special things.

So, in the process of trying to get de-clutter I need to ask myself two questions
1) Does it bless me?
2) Does it have a use?
If I answer no to both then, get rid of it!

Steps to follow:
1) Identify what frustrates me: if when I am doing something I notice frustration, I need to define it and decide what to do about it! (i.e. can’t ever find the lid to Tupperware containers)
2) When putting things away ask myself “why is this here?” and “Is there a better place for it?”
3) Ask for help! Have a friend come over who can look at your home with a new set of eyes. If it is some you trust and they know you want to stay accountable to them, it will help you keep from cluttering it back up.
4) When organizing put it into piles:
a. Sell/Donate
b. Throw Away
c. Keep in this spot
d. Organize somewhere else

Keep things only if you can think of a use for it right then
Remember: Organizing and cleaning imperfectly is still a blessing to my family!

More questions to ask if trying to decide if I am going to keep an item:
1) Does it bless me and have a definite use?
2) Can I get another one inexpensively?
3) What is the worst thing that could happen if I get rid of it?
4) Have I used it in the last year?
5) Do I need to keep it for legal or tax purposes?
6) Would it be difficult to replace?

Reasons we keep things we shouldn’t:
1) Gift from a loved one
2) It was a bad purchase from the beginning but we spent good money on it and don’t want to waste our cash
3) Home/D├ęcor taste has changed
4) Doesn’t fit the space it was purchased for, or just doesn’t fit me overall
*if trying to get rid of something, have a friend hold it… there is less emotional attachment that way*
5) If you cannot decide – box it up and if you do no use it in the next 6 months, get rid of it!
6) When I buy something, I need to get rid of something too!
7) Don’t save things for special occasions… use it now!
8) If I do not need it and am not going to use it, don’t buy it… even if it was originally $400 and it is 99% off!!! If you don’t need it, it isn’t a bargain.

When buying things questions to ask:
1) How many hours did it take to earn this item? (ugh, that puts things in perspective huh?)
2) Where am I going to put it?
3) Do I need another one of these?
*use cash when making purchases… it is harder to let go of then plastic

Good Reminders:
Anything you bring into a room, bring back out with you
Before you set something down ask: Is this where it belongs or will I need to move it later?
Put three things away before leaving a room
Time yourself doing an activity… it rarely takes as long in actuality as it does in our minds when we don’t want to dot it!

Great way to clean out the closet:
Turn all your hangers backwards in the closet. As you use/wear something put it back with the hanger forward. After 6 months see what you haven’t worn and get rid of it!

Every cleaning area (especially bathrooms) need 3 things in them:
1) Comet/mildew or stain remover
2) 4 – 1 Lysol cleaner
3) Sponge or brush
*I just did this with my bathrooms… it cost me $10 to completely stock both bathrooms with toilet brushes, and all the cleaning necessities… so worth it!

Amazing Cleaning Tips:
A teaspoon of dish detergent with water gets spots out of your carpet!
Baking soda = the magic eraser. Use with a damp rag to get permanent marker off of wood floors and to get crayon off of walls (don’t scrub too hard!)
Wet a washcloth and microwave it for 30 seconds to get the gunk off the inside
I know that I felt a little overwhelmed at one point, even just reading this... but taking one thing and putting it into practice is huge!! I'll add pictures of my progress soon...

Oh! Also, an awesome website to check out! The FlyLady is life changing... http://www.flylady.net/

Blessings!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Undone...

No apologies
For who I'm meant to be
The only thing that matters is
I am free
When I am overwhelmed
Holding pieces of my heart
When I feel my worldStart to fall apart

To the cross I run
Holding high my chains undone
Now I am fin'lly free
I'm free to be what I've become
Undone

Even in defeat
The face of tragedy
Still you'd have to say that
I found victory
In brokenness comes beauty
Divine fragility
Reminding me of nail-scarred hands
Reaching out for me

To the cross I run
Holding high my chains undone
Now I am fin'lly free
I'm free to be what I've become
Undone

We sang this song this morning by Mercy Me. I hadn't heard it before but was struck by how powerful the words were. After the brokenness and difficulty that we are finally free to be what we have become... undone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sacrifice of Praise

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)

Let's take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus' name.

Hebrews 13:15 (Message)


How much thought have you given to that verse? I have to be honest, I haven't given much thought at all. I think there is a song we sing sometimes with those words in it. That is probably the only reason I know this verse exists. As I was laying in bed last night I was thinking about the words sacrifice and praise. I have never thought they belong together. Praise usually comes out of an overflow, abundance, right? Usually.

I think I might be starting to have a small amount of understanding about this verse. Without going into too much detail, there has been something I desired greatly. I have prayed to God for years about this thing. I prayed specifically, hows and whens, it was a wonderful plan. Then as time passed, it looked like I would not see this dream realized the way I had envisioned. I was saddened but felt that I had given God every aspect of that dream, that hope, and I trusted His wisdom. Then I received the thing my heart had desired, the way my heart had desired. It was amazing. As if God wanted to give me the most perfect gift. I praised and thanked God over and over, amazed at His love for me. Yet not one week later, it was gone. The dream, the hope, was taken away. I refused to believe it, knowing that this had been a gift from God. How was this possible? I felt like I had been slapped across the face. I felt foolish. Yet, even amidst the pain of the loss I believed God and had faith. I trusted His will over my understanding. I KNOW He knows the end and that He will get glory, but was still so sad.

So, this past Sunday was the first time I had been back at church since all of this had happened. I didn't give any thought to it, wasn't worried or unsure about going. I am always at church, I WORK at a church. During the first service I walked into the back of the sanctuary and began to sing the music... and I realized I couldn't sing. I literally choked on the words. The words had to do with trusting God and His knowledge for what is best. I couldn't physically sing those words. Why? I DO trust God. I DO believe He knows what is best for me. I DO love Him and know that He loves me. So why the tears and inability to sing? I guess because my hope was deferred and my heart was sick.

Since Sunday I have really noticed that my prayer and praise hasn't been the same as it was before all of this. It has been difficult at times. It has been a sacrifice.

Do you think that is what this verse is referring to?

Have you had to choose to praise when it was difficult? I believe it is in times like these that God reveals another part of His character and love to us. Maybe this will resonate with you. Maybe you have been struggling to praise God. Ask Him for help, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)

He is faithful.

-Amy

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Concert at our Church... and prayer request

Have you ever heard of Jason Gray, Matthew West or Sanctus Real? You may have heard of the last two, but I think Jason Gray is not as popular of a name. These bands, these people are all really great people. We hosted a concert at our church for these three bands through wayfm (wayfm.com) on Tuesday night. I would say the person I was most impresed with was Matthew West. He was running late getting to our site and was pressed for time yet he spent time introducing himself to us and thanking us. He was so humble. So nice. Jason Gray was also super kind and so normal and down to earth. If you haven't heard his music, you need to check it out...http://www.jasongraymusic.com/splash/. If you are a fan of Derek Webb old school, you will like Jason Gray. He is so real. I am enjoying his storytelling CD because he talks between songs. He shares about the fact that he struggles with stuttering and how God is using him. Just wanted to give those guys a shout out because they were all really fabulous! If you get to go to a concert with them it is worth it!

I would also like to ask for prayer for an upcoming event for our ladies ministry at our church. We are taking a bus full of women to Orlando Florida to see Joyce Meyer. Please be praying for us as we are one week away from leaving. Joyce Meyer is a strong, truth telling, Holy Spirit guided woman and I am very excited to be able to bring our group to hear her. Please pray that our hearts and minds will be prepared and ready to receive the word God has for us. Please pray against distractions and difficulties that will present themselves before we are able to leave. Please pray for safety as we are traveling. I will update you after the trip to share stories and the fruit of your prayers. Thank you!