Now that I have a little break from school (praise the Lord for no classes in May) I am playing catch up on my Bible Study. While I still haven’t made it back to my lovely B-stud ladies to catch up with them (hopefully next weekend!), it has been so good to get back into our book. We’re reading Strong Women Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart and I just finished catching up on Chapter 2 – Desire: The Language of the Heart. Rinehart makes so many great points in this section. She speaks so clearly to, what I believe to be, a commonly held belief that to be a “good Christian woman” you have to give up your desires. But these desires and longings are important. Rinehart quotes Nicole Johnson who says,
I think it is often easy to suppress our desires because they can be scary, intimidating, or even painful. If we don’t pursue our desires we don’t have to worry about failing, we can avoid our fear of the unknown, we can keep things contained in a nice little box…and we don’t have to put our trust in God. Additionally, suppressing desires is often seen as a sacrifice and a way to serve God. But Rinehart says, “God does not deaden desire – rather, he awakens desire and transforms it.” She goes on to quote Eldredge who says:
So rather than pushing our desires to the back of our minds, we need to claim them and pursue them. “As you bring your heart to God, he will place his desire in you to such an extent that your desire becomes his for you. So when you pray about a longing, and the desire remains, you can trust that God has left that in place for a reason.” That’s really cool, right? I mean, there is a desire in your heart…and as you give your heart to God, your desire can become God’s desire. By praying earnestly about those desires and longings, you can determine what is a real desire…what God has clung to as a desire for you and what he has pushed aside.
So, the challenge: Pursue your desires, pray about your desires, don’t let fear keep you from your desires. Rinehart puts it this way:
Where would desire take you if you didn’t douse the flame of possibility before someone else attempted to blow it out? If you didn’t rain on your own parade?
This week I’ve been reading along with She Reads Truth as they explore Scripture during the Holy Week. I have been reminded of Christ’s suffering and His dedication to us, to sinners. I have been reminded of the betrayal and pain he faced. Through their study, they have reminded me of the many prophecies of Christ’s death in the Old Testament. Our God is good and faithful and Scripture is a constant reminder of that.
Today we remember Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins.
Heard this new song by Francesca Battistelli last night on my way home. I’m already a fan of hers, but this song is so good! Here are the lyrics to the first verse and chorus:
I’ve got all these plans piled up sky high
A thousand dreams on hold and I don’t know why
I got a front row seat to the longest wait
And I just can’t see past the things I pray today
But when I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel deep in my heart
Goes strangely dim
All my worries fade and fall to the ground
Cause when I seek your face and don’t look around
Any place I’m in grows strangely dim
I can definitely relate to this song…I often feel like I have all these plans for life that are just waiting to be fulfilled, but I’m in a season of waiting…waiting for the right time, waiting for the right amount of money…just WAITING. But the words of the chorus ring so true – when I focus on Jesus and I give my desires and longings to Him, all the frustrations of waiting, of not being where I want to be in life, seem to disappear.
This Christmas season is one of my favorites. I love the brisk cold air, warm beverages by the fire, spending time with family….and of course all of the lights. Joshua and I put up our Christmas lights a few weekends ago and I love pulling into our driveway with the welcome glow of lights greeting me. I put our tree up and the garland over the fireplace the weekend after Thanksgiving. Here are a few images from around the house.
My ceramic Christmas tree (handed down from my grandma and one of my favorite Christmas decorations), our big tree, 2 Santas on the fireplace, and a close up of one of our ornaments
Garland on the mantle and a cozy fire made by my sweet husband
I even have a little tiny USB tree on my desk at work.
In addition to making out house look and feel festive, I’ve been doing She Reads Truth‘s Advent daily reads. These devotions are short, pack a great message and have been a daily reminder of what this season is really all about – the miracle of our Savior’s birth. Yesterday’s reading was Luke 1:26-38 and the end of that passage really stuck with me. Mary, in response to Gabriel’s news that she (a virgin) would give birth to the Child of God replied:
Pretty awesome response, right? I am sure this news was pretty scary to hear but instead of freaking out – which I have to say, would most likely be my response – Mary simply said I am God’s tool to use as He sees fit. My desire is to live a life more like Mary…a life of dedication and devotion. God’s plans for us are good, we just need to have faith in Him and take time to listen to where He is leading us.
I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from this place and I apologize for leaving you hanging! We’ve just got a whole lot on our plate right now. Joshua just got a new office space – which means we’ve been busy painting! I also have a lot going on for school right now. Took one test last weekend and have another one coming up on the 13th. Lots of prayers needed for the next one!
BUT…I did want to stop in a share some great words that really hit home today. We’re reading Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved in Bible Study and it’s been a great read so far.
I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with the content of this next test. I often end up feeling a bit inadequate and discouraged. But I need to continue to remember that God has chosen me and created me for a specific purpose. It is so important to remember that my happiness and worth are found in a Savior that loved me before I was even a thought in my parents’ mind. It is not found in the results of a test. I think this passage pairs well with the beginning of Isaiah 43, where the Lord says, “I have called you by name; you are mine.”
I am the Lord’s and I am beloved.
It’s that time of the week again..time to give thanks for the small gifts I experienced over the past week. I’ve felt especially blessed this week. I’m not sure if it’s the little break in school or this beautiful fall weather, but my spirits are up. I received this great verse from a friend (which I should count as a gift) and I keep it right under my computer monitor at work.
Thanks for gift #15, Hawls!
16. A good hike on a crisp morning
17. Quality time with my sister. A huge reminder that I need to spend more time with her before she heads off to college next year.
18. Making new friends
19. Encouraging words from a professor, reminding me that I am right where I am supposed to be.
20. Relaxing evenings with my husband. We have had a lots of time to relax and recharge this week.
I’m ending this week with one last piece of scripture that reminds me to constantly praise our Lord for the blessings he gives.
What are you thankful for this week?
I read some really great stuff in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts this morning. Rather than just sharing items from my gifts list, I thought I would also share some of the really good meat from the book. This list of gifts really encompasses all the small moments in life. Sure, some of the things I am thankful for a re the BIG things, but I am trying to follow Ann’s example and look for those SMALL things in life that give me joy. She reminds me that it is the details that make up our life, they are what create the big picture and God is part of all of those tiny moments. It is so important for us to remember that God is there with us, He is part of EVERYTHING.
Ann also discusses Ephesians 5:20, “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I think most people would say they attempt to be thankful for everything, but Ann makes a very good point that by being thankful for the broadness of EVERYTHING, we are often giving thanks for very little. She says,
So, that is what I am attempting to do. I want to embrace life-changing gratitude through my own list of gifts. I don’t want to have an overarching attitude of thanksgiving that leaves me without memory of those small things that make me JOYFUL. I want to cherish the little things, every day and remember that God is in those little moments with me.
This week I am thankful for:
10. The ability to dance like a fool without worry of what others think
11. Those rare mornings when Joshua and I get to enjoy breakfast together
12. Eating a delicious meal that I’ve prepared – savoring every bite
13. Clean sheets on a perfectly made bed
14. Hand written cards and notes (sending and receiving)
What are you thankful for today?