Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Bad News You Want to Hear

“In a great chorus they sang, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is filled with His glory” Isaiah 6:3 NLT

A few months ago as I was reading from Isaiah, the above verse stood out to me, and I’ve thought about it a lot since then.  Take a moment to let it sink in – the WHOLE EARTH is FILLED with His glory!

I realized that I tend to focus on all the bad in this fallen world. Recent news has horrified me, from car accidents to homicide and other crime; sometimes I get too caught up in the tragedy or horror of the stories. And perhaps that’s why the news often focuses on the bad – for ratings.

When I look at all that’s wrong in this world, I worry, I get upset, and I long for better times. But when I yearn for something else, I am missing what’s right here in front of me in the present time. My parents used to tell me “Don’t wish your life away.” And I’m now just beginning to appreciate the truth behind that statement.

When my kids were newborns, I would long for the days that they would sleep through the night. I remember crying because I was so exhausted – would these days ever end? But now I see how brief they were – I would LOVE to have some snuggle time at night with my boys now and go back to that time of just holding them, but they are all old enough to sleep through the night and not need to eat or be rocked back to contentment even if they do wake up. As they get older, I’m discovering that the years keep going faster and faster. We once yearned for days when diapers wouldn’t be part of our budget, but now that we’re there, I often miss having a little one on my hip.

That said, I’m slowly learning that each stage is a new one to appreciate. Life can fly right by (and you wonder where the days have gone), or you can take the time to pause and reflect and thank God for His goodness right in the moment where you are. I’ve really thought about the verse above. The whole earth is filled with God’s glory! Am I seeking it? Am I looking for things that glorify God or understanding ways God has acted on our behalf? Do I take for granted each time we arrive safely at our destination or do I thank God for keeping us safe? Do I recognize answers to prayer or am I quick to ask for the next thing? Am I satisfied with where God has us, or am I grumpily complaining too loudly to hear what God is saying? Am I missing out on God’s glory right here, right now?

Sometimes seeing God’s glory is simple – like seeing the sun rise and set. Sometimes reflecting on God’s glory happens automatically like during the birth of a child. But, sometimes acknowledging God’s glory takes discipline to seek it out and be grateful.

Right now we’re heading into March, and all I hear (and feel!) is the longing for Spring. I’m so tired of the cold weather and this morning we woke up to another fresh coating of snow in Michigan and wind chills well below zero. UGH! But, I remembered verses like Job 37:6, “He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour'” and Psalm 147:16, “He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.” If God is ordering the snow, should I be miserable about it or thankful? Do I recognize God’s glory here on earth?

As I mentioned previously, I love the verses in 1 Thessaloians 5:16-18 (my life’s theme verses!): “Be joyful always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Am I giving thanks in all circumstances – being purposeful to pause and reflect on the glory of God that fills the whole earth?

Instead of focusing on the bad news, I’m going to pray for others and give it to God. Instead of stopping there, I’m going to work on looking for God’s glory and the goodness. Like a treasure hunt, I’m going to seek out God’s glory. And when I see it, I hope I can share openly with others what I’m seeing. Let’s praise God together for His glory on earth!

Heavenly Father, we thank You for being all powerful and yet present here on earth. We understand, Lord, that You see what goes on here. We know that we live in a fallen world, yet we choose to fix our eyes on You, the author and perfecter of our faith. Help us see Your glory here on earth. Let us recognize Your goodness and sovereignty. Please forgive us for complaining or yearning for different circumstances or outcomes. Forgive us for not understanding the bigger picture that You know. Help us trust You, put our faith in You and then thank You for all circumstances we encounter. We thank You, God, for being trustworthy and good. Thank You for being worthy of our praise, time and attention. Help us recognize that each stage of life, each season has something to offer. Don’t let us miss the special moments that are offered to us each day we are alive. May our time have meaning and purpose. May we live for Your glory and Your honor. We praise You alone. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

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What is Whining?

This past week as I was doing my women’s Bible study homework, I felt extremely convicted. And (at least when time allows!) I often like to write about things I’m thinking about or working through because 1) it helps me digest what I’m reading, 2) it gives me a “record” of sorts to come back to later, and 3) hopefully it helps others who read it.

We’ve been studying about Moses, and we came to Numbers 11 in our reading. Before even completing the homework, I thought “Ah, I know these verses! I’ve even written about the ‘Graves of Craving’ before.” But, why didn’t I think about the beginning few verses more in the past? They all but jumped off the page at me this time!

Numbers 11 begins, “Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and He sent a fire to rage among them, and He destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the Lord, the fire stopped. After that, the area was known as Taberah (which means ‘the place of burning’), because fire from the Lord had burned among them there.” (Numbers 11:1-3, NLT).

The Israelites had been freed from slavery. They had seen all the many miracles the Lord performed against the Egyptians and their gods. They had experienced the Lord’s blessing in calling them His own people – they had even seen the glory rest upon the mountain. They were following the cloud by day and the fire by night. God Himself was at the center of their camp! And yet, as they began to travel, they started to complain about their hardship. And it made God ANGRY!!! In the last half of verse 20, God says to them, For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to Him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?'”

I began thinking about how God said that the people’s complaining was really showing that they were rejecting the Lord and His plans for their lives. I’ve wrestled with this fact this entire week. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve complained a lot since moving to Michigan. It’s SO cold! I miss my gym. I miss my running friends. I miss knowing where to shop. I miss knowing where I’m going. I hate shoveling. In fact, I somehow managed to pull one of the vertebrae in my neck out of alignment when I was chipping away at ice on my driveway the one day. I thought I had just overworked the muscles until I went to the family doctor a few weeks later. I cried to my husband saying I was tired of being in pain, tired of living in an area where my family wasn’t close enough to help, tired of not having good workout solutions… I was even toying with the notion of walking away. He said he and the kids would follow if I left. (We have a joke that if one of us tries to leave, it’s okay because the other will just follow). I am embarrassed by my behavior, but I have literally all but thrown myself on the ground in a temper tantrum like my three-year-old. Days and days I’ve cried about how unfair life is here in this miserably cold and dreary state. The sun never shines! On and on I would whine, only adding to my husband’s stress level. He has been so calm and so patient, and yet I know he hates to see my unhappy. 😦

Then I read this passage this week and felt the weight of my sin. The Israelites were toward the beginning of their journey and they whined about not having the delicacies of Egypt. Had they forgotten their slavery? Had they forgotten that the Pharaoh had ordered their sons to be killed at birth? Why would they say the good ol’ days were better? Because that’s what we do when we don’t have faith for what’s to come!

Shawn and I didn’t move here on a whim. We prayed about it. We felt the nudge that it was the right thing to do. We prayed some more. We asked for wisdom. We asked others to pray with us. We heard over and over again that this was the right direction. I didn’t want to, necessarily, but I felt like we were supposed to. So, if God has a plan for us, why am I whining at six months into the journey? Haven’t I seen God’s miracles? Haven’t I been the receiver of His many blessings? Why am I so prone to do exactly what the Israelites did – jump right into sin by throwing a pity party about what we left behind rather than looking to the future?!

The Israelites were going to a land of milk and honey. God was going to bless them, keep them from sickness, multiply them and live among them. He only asked for faith and obedience in return. And yet they whined about their hardships and roused God’s anger to where He sent fire to the outskirts of their camp. When I think about God at the center, the people on the outskirts would be those who were the furthest from God. I certainly don’t want to be there! I don’t want to make God angry by my terrible attitude. Instead, I desire to have a heart of thanksgiving.

Instead of looking at what Michigan doesn’t have compared to Pennsylvania, I’m trying to see the little and big things that God has given us along the way AND to show gratitude for them. For example, my kids have been to the pediatrician only once since arriving (and that was for a check-up). They haven’t been sick at all this winter! Even the fact that we got into this pediatrician is a huge blessing since they typically only accept newborns from the hospital but made a one-time exception for us! My boys also love their school here and have made friends. I am enjoying my women’s Bible study. One friend even invited us to come play at her house one day afterwards, and it was wonderful! Another friend from our life group reached out to have dinner together and connect. I love meeting new friends, and it has been a HUGE blessing! Shawn likes his job and the people he works with. We have a house and are settling in. We both have reliable vehicles (love my mama minivan!). Our entire family truly enjoys our church here. Since we’re heading toward spring, the days are getting a little longer and we’re noticing it being light later. I’ve been able to teach online still. We have found a babysitter we really like. There’s more I could share, but these are just some of the positives that I was overlooking. Most of all, I wasn’t showing my husband how much I love him and how grateful I am that he and our boys are part of my life. It is amazing to have a loving family, and I was selfishly complaining about my personal hardships of missing MY gym and MY running buddies.

I had to repent this week and ask for forgiveness, both from God and my sweet man. I believe that God has a plan for us here, and so I’m going to let go of what was and try to make the best of what is. The forecast calls for snow tomorrow and a windchill of -20. But one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to be like Paul when he wrote in Philippians 4:11-13 that he’s learned to be content in any situation, whether with much or little because he knows that he can do everything through Christ who strengthens him. YES! I’m resolving to be content, to look above the circumstances to the One who is calling us forward, and to be thankful in the process for all the many blessings we have been given.

Do you ever catch yourself complaining? If so, does it show a rejection of God’s plan for your life? Perhaps it’s time to ask God to help us turn whine into praise!

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace and compassion. Thank You for being slow to anger and abounding in love. We humbly ask for forgiveness for complaining about minor hardships in the grand scheme of life. Forgive our poor attitudes and our rejection of You and Your plans for us. We are truly sorry! Help us learn to be content in all circumstances. May we thank You and praise You for the many blessings we see and look for them instead of focusing on the hard parts of life. And, will You please use the hard parts to draw us closer to You rather than further away? May we seek You for direction and comfort and not the things of this world. Thank You, God, for being amazing and having a good plan for us and our future. In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!

Since I love music and this song came to mind this week as I was studying, I thought I would include it here. If you listen to the words, it says “Don’t just say why were the old days better, just because you’re scared of the unknown…”