Burning Down the House.

Time after time, the Lord has used the words that I preach to my children, to pierce my own heart. Today it happened again, but this time, the urgency behind His message stopped me in my tracks.  And in that moment, I could hardly breath at the thought of how great His love is for me.
It’s Monday. I knew that going into today. So I even took some steps to curb the Mondayness of the day, like extra cuddling, and an extra cup of tea.  However, there is no completely erasing the power of Monday. Consequently, as I rotated another laundry load I heard more fighting, more whining, more bickering coming from the kitchen. As my temper rose, I forged into their midst only to see them fighting and pushing and pulling IN FRONT OF A HOT STOVE. Dear Lord. That is it. What on earth could be that important?
After separating and assessing , I launched into the following lecture:

Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?

Do you know how bad a burn hurts?
You think that scratch hurt yesterday? That’s nothing. A burn doesn’t stop hurting. It burns and burns and burns.
What could be that important?
(And then the finale…)
It is amazing what you will sacrifice to get your own way!
Walking away after I doled out the consequences, I was still irritated, still frustrated, still discouraged. However, it doesn’t take long for my mind to wander. With the idea of pain still thick in the air, my mind landed upon a different type of pain. My thoughts went to all the pain around me stemming from divorce. My heart breaks for the women that gave all they could. My soul mourns for the men that were betrayed and left broken. But mostly my mind turns to the children, some that are too young to understand. They only know that it hurts, some just old enough to blame themselves, but all forever impacted.

So what? What can be done? How does this change? It seems impossible. I pray, nearly every day for miracles in those homes already divided. I have seen God do the impossible. Over and over. So I don’t give up hope. I regularly beg God for a miracle. Yet divorce after divorce is the modern day reality.  And while some are caused by dramatic one time events that destroy their union, most divorces? The cause? Irreconcilable differences. One difference after another. Little and big. Daily. Moment by moment. Differences. Little foxes that spoil the vine. The straw, a tiny straw that finally broke the camels back after hundreds of tiny, stupid, little straws. Then I think of my own marriage. Even with a man as wonderful as my own, we are different. So almost constantly we see things differently. And yes, way too often, I want my own way. For what?

And in my spirit I hear the Lord say:
Do you know how dangerous that is?
Do you have any idea how bad divorce hurts?
Do you think not getting your way is painful? That is nothing. Divorce doesn’t stop hurting. It hurts and hurts and hurts.
What could be that important?
And then, the final blow…
It is amazing what you will sacrifice to get your own way.
Divorce starts at every disagreement. Ever selfish insistence. Every disrespectful comment. Every unloving gesture. All those little tiny seemingly insignificant straws. Until, it breaks the marriage in two.
DISCLAIMER: I am not talking about Abuse, Addiction, or Adultery. Those are not little straws by any means. But I am talking about the little things I hear ladies complain about. Personality differences, temperament differences, perspective differences.
So my challenge to myself and everyone is this. Stop. Stop being offended. Remember why you chose your spouse. Choose to love. Choose to respect. Let go of control. Give it to God. Every moment. Every decision. Speak in love. Treat kindly. And remember what you are risking, when you insist on getting your own way. 
 “Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”- Ephesians 4:2-3
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Psalms 142- What To Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed.

 

Ever feel overwhelmed? Sometimes I wish I was southern, because I so want to be able to pull off a “ya’ll” once and a while. Here’s where it would fit nicely.
Ya’ll, we are in this time and space where everyone walks around almost constantly overwhelmed with life. Little things overwhelm us, big things overwhelm us. Decisions, consequences, sickness, and disease can leave us just crying for help. If you don’t believe me, walk into a church on Sunday. I bet they play a song called “Oceans” and when the first few notes hit and everyone realizes what song it is, listen for the collective sigh. Listen for the strongly sung chorus proclaiming that we will “call upon Your name and keep our eyes above the waves” because we all have waves we are trying not to look at. 
The clincher in that line is to “call upon His name,” because without that, there will be no keeping our eyes above the waves. This will be my verse tomorrow. The one I print out and meditate on.
Psalms 142:3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path.

He knows. He sees and He knows. Sometimes, all we need is to know that someone knows, someone understands, and someone sees. And it is enough. All day long my children clamor for my attention. They want me to know everything that happens. If they did something right, I need to know. If they have been wronged, I need to know. And just me knowing, quite often is enough. This fact is what propels the success of Facebook. Someone has to know that I got my checklist done today, saw that movie, achieved that goal, lost my phone, found my phone, whatever! We need someone to know. And Someone does! When I feel like a failure, when I blow it, when I am lost in all my responsibilities and the impossibility of getting them all done to my standards, He knows. He has seen my path. He knows where I have been and where I am going. He has been there the whole time. And He defends me.
Every day the enemy’s goal is to overwhelm us. And our Lord’s plan is that we run to Him and His Word. His Word is life. Don’t take that for granted. Read it. See how God’s character is displayed and grab that verse to hold onto throughout the day.

Psalm 141- Hungry?


 
Psalm 141
Lord, I cry out to You;
Make haste to me!
Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.
2 Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

I was so HUNGRY to get into the Word tonight. So hungry. You know how sometimes you miss a meal, too busy, or lazy, woke up late, have to run out, thinking you will grab something later, and then later comes, but you can’t grab a bite. Then all of a sudden you feel your blood sugar hitting the pavement and start getting real desperate to eat something! That is how I felt this evening. Like too hungry. Like I should have “eaten” this morning. Or yesterday. Or the day before. I felt that longing in my soul that can only be filled with some deep life giving Bible time. And I couldn’t wait to get the kids in bed so I could dig in!

Lord, I cry out to You;
Make haste to me!

I felt these words to my core when I read them. Hurry up Lord. Please meet me hear fast as my praises go up, and Your mercies come down. The lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,
Hello? Can I get a witness? One of the reasons I love writing is because of the delete key and the time I get to sit and re-read my words. In real time, this luxury is not afforded. The power of our words is real. I desperately want this verse to be true in my life. I thank God for a husband and friends that God often uses to edit my words before they are shared to any other, but during the day with the kids, or if I am cranky when my husband comes home, or just when I need to keep my opinions to myself, I need this verse to be true.Before I reply to a comment on a blog or news article, I need those words to be my first response…..my “Nehemiah” prayer to heaven. Set a guard, O Lord, Keep watch, no evil in my heart. Today more than ever.
Let the righteous strike me;It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me;
It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it.
Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy. Constructive criticism rarely feels good, but is profoundly necessary. I thank God for friends and family that look with love on my life and tell it like it is. It almost always offends at first hearing, but upon reflection, when pride is put down, real growth is possible.
But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord;
In You I take refuge;
At the end of the day, I needed this. My eyes, upon the Lord, my soul taking refuge. Keeping my eyes on Jesus. This song came to mind, and  it is my prayer for us!
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Words & Music:Hel­en H. Lem­mel, 1922

Psalm 140- I need to be rescued.

Crying out for protection, Psalm 140 records once again, David’s need to be rescued. I read and I re-read, and I meditate on this passage, mulling it over in my spirit, and I am coming back empty. I finally sit down, not particularly inspired, but determined nonetheless, and then that moment happens, that moment when the light goes on and you see what you were missing.
This is what I saw.
I need to be rescued.
Unlike David, however, I do not have a world leader hunting me down. The fact remains, however, that there is a roaming, roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And God reminds me, “For you wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Reading this passage in Psalms again, everything becomes so clearly relevant. Now with David I pray, Rescue me, keep me, You are my God, the strength of my salvation. You have covered my head in the day of battle, because this life is a battle.
I can’t be the only one who feels that war raging inside.
I can’t be the only one who doesn’t always want to do the things I know I should do!
Thank God for His inspired word that documents that same feeling from Paul the Apostle because He lets us know that if we have felt that way, then we are in great company. My sweet 9 year old daughter has often voiced the same complaint. “When,” she questions me with a tear stained face, “When will I stop making the same mistakes?” Oh sweet girl. Sometimes I wonder the same thing. When Lord?
I know that this struggle is from the cradle to the grave. I know that greater men and women then me have warred against their flesh, yet I also know that there is victory in Christ Jesus. How do I know this?
Number one, because He has told me. It is all over His Word. Countless examples of the power to change lives from a murderer to a preacher, from a coward to a warrior, from an orphan girl to a queen who saves. Greater is He that is in me, than He that is in the world.
Number two, I have seen it up close and personal. I have seen His hand in my life, in my family’s lives, in my friends’ lives. Oh, I have such stories. Such stories. I thank God that I am not who I was. Truly, I was a very stupid teenager, (yes mom’s of teens, there is hope in Christ Jesus for your teen!) I was a slightly less stupid twenty something, and now I continue to praise God for His grace in my thirties. If you are still who you were, then we have a problem. Part of the problem and part of what holds us back is that we don’t know how badly we need rescuing. Every day. Every hour. David did. He knew the traps were being set. And he was vigilant in prayer. What are those same traps that you fall into? Those same sinful thought patterns that spiral you into the pit? Those self deceiving decisions that determine a wrong direction?
I pray that we would approach our days with the same vigilance that David did, that we would see our moment by moment need to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and that we would not turn to sugary substitutes or quick fix fillers to quiet those needs, but that we would surrender and submit to the will of God through worship and prayer and the study of His word. Amen!

The best guacamole you’ll ever have!

There are a myriad of books littering the shelves of libraries and bookstores, telling you how to improve your child’s self esteem. The simple answer? Teach them how to do awesome stuff!  Like make guacamole! My kids LOVE to cook. And I LOVE to let them. Yes, it’s messier and takes longer, at first. But when you can lay in bed and tell your nine year old to whip up some pancakes from scratch, and she rocks it? Yeah, it becomes way worth it! Also, they are incredibly proud of themselves for a good reason.

So here ya go, a guacamole recipe even your kids can make, mostly…. 🙂 The chopping of course needs to be done by you. I tried to crop out the mess that is my house as best I could. 🙂

Take a spoon and scoop out 4  soft avocados.

This is fun, so EVERYONE wants a turn!

Then add some salt to taste (I prefer Kosher)

How cute is that little hand!

Add 1 tsp of taco/fajita seasoning  and mash together.

This is my part! I used 1.5 Roma tomatoes, 2 tbl. of chopped jalepenos, and 2 tbl. of chopped onion. Red onion is my favorite, but I didn’t have any!

They are so cute these kids!! They all had to put it in together!
Voila! There are other optional ingredients like some fresh lime juice to keep it from turning brown, (but ours never lasts long enough to turn brown) or some chopped cilantro, yum! So much is done to taste. You can adjust with more tomatoes or less, and the same is true for the onions and jalepenos.

Oh, and it must be said that this tastes Ah-mazing with some lime tortilla chips!

Best Guacamole You Ever Had (click here to print)

4 avocados
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
2 Tbl chopped jalepenos
2 Tbls chopped onions
Salt to taste (kosher)
1tsp taco seasoning
Optional- 2 Tbl chopped cilantro

Take a spoon and scoop out 4  soft avocados.  Then add some salt to taste (I prefer Kosher)
Add 1 tsp of taco/fajita seasoning  and mash together.
Add chopped tomatoes, minced onions, chopped jalepenos and stir.

Psalm 120- Defining Peace

 
Psalm 120
In my trouble I cried to the Lord,
And He answered me.
2 Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips,
From a deceitful tongue.
3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you,
You deceitful tongue?
4 Sharp arrows of the warrior,
With the burning coals of the broom tree.

5 Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech,
For I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long has my soul had its dwelling
With those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace, but when I speak,
They are for war.

Peace. The Psalmist says that He is for peace, and those who hate peace….they are for war. At first read, it would seem odd that a great warrior would say that He was for peace. It begs that we dig deeper into the meaning of the word “peace.”
One of the reasons that discussions and debates seem to go nowhere, is because we are using the same words with entirely different meanings. Some say “choice” even though it generally means the death of an innocent. Some say “tolerance” but really mean “be tolerant with my view while I am completely intolerant of yours.” And of course “Reality” TV in no way implies that the scenes depicted are a true reality.
The importance a words true meaning is one reason that in the Creation v. Evolution debate, Ken Ham spent such a huge chunk of time defining terms. It was necessary. But (yawn) who cares about defining the words we are talking about anymore? We live in a world, where words mean little. Defining words is boring. It is much easier to take a sound bite of a quote, and exploit it for all it is worth.
However, when seeking out the heart of God through His written Word, it is necessary to slow down sometimes, and through prayer and some good commentaries, dig a little deeper. Truth be told, I want to just breeze through these Psalms! I am aching to get back to David’s story in Samuel. But I know there is more to be had for me right now, if I would just be patient.
So what did Jesus have to say about peace?
Matthew 10:34-36
Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
Jesus, who is called the “Prince of Peace” claims that he did not come to bring peace, meaning the absence of war or fighting, on the earth. Why? Well, for one, He knew that as long as there is sin in the world, this could never happen. So what kind of peace is He talking about?
Ephesians 6:15

15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

The image here is of the Roman soldier’s sturdy sandals, which gave him stability and protection in battle. Again we see peace, somehow linked with war.
Romans 10:15

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

I love how Matthew Henry expounds on this verse:
(Peace) It is the word of reconciliation between God and man….. it is glad tidings of good things. The things of the gospel are good things indeed, the best things; tidings concerning them are the most joyful tidings, the best news that ever came from heaven to earth.
So what is peace?
Peace is reconciliation with God.
It is this definition that makes this portion of the Psalms, and even Jesus title as “The Prince of Peace” become so clear.
All of a sudden, I can relate to this verse:
Too long has my soul had it’s dwelling with those who hate peace.”
Since the beginning, this has been the battle. Those who hate the idea of reconciling with or submission to a Holy Godhave always been out for war. They will lie, cheat, steal, and fight to the end. 
Regardless of the words you use, or the kindness you offer, their problem is not with you, it is with the One that sent you.
And yet, despite the war that rages, we have peace. If you have called on Jesus as your Lord, you have been reconciled with God.  Peace.
Ephesains 2:17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
And here is the verse of the day, one to meditate on and reflect back on, when all seems not so peaceful..
One of my favorites:
Ephesians 2:14a For He Himself is our peace!
I pray that we would feel His peace, and that we would be reconciled with Him in the quietness of our hearts, throughout the moments in the day. I pray that we would call out to Him when our soul is anxious or weary and we would be reminded that He is our peace. And in a world wants to war against this peace, this reconciliation, I pray that we would speak boldly, and share the Gospel of peace!