Unchanging Love

Unchanging Love

The great captain left in a rage. How dare the prophet not honor him with some great miracle of healing? There was not even a face-to-face meeting; only a message carried by an ordinary servant, in which was the prescription necessary to obtain the desired healing. The entire situation was an insult to the foreign dignitary. Who did this prophet think he was, anyway?*

The story of Naaman planted itself in my mind during a conversation with a sister in the Lord several weeks ago. In the course of catching up (we hadn’t talked in quite some time!), we had spent a bit of time sharing about the various trials the Lord had sent each of us in the past few months. Tears started as each of us felt the other’s pain, yet we both knew that no matter the difficulty, the Lord had been more than faithful and we by His grace were triumphant. 

Moving through the timeline of our lives, though, we began to share about where we were then: on relative mountain tops enjoying the view of the past roads traveled and determined to keep pressing forward without care for what obstacles may be set before us. Somehow, though, in spite of everything going well in my life, I was conscious of a worm in my emotions, eating away at the joy that had been reigning. 

I became aware, though only dimly at first, of a desire for something, but what?

Somehow in the midst of the storm I had been in I began equating trials with the Lord’s care for me. Large difficulties? He really cares a lot. Smooth sailing? I must have been forgotten. This thinking led me to hunger for more and more of the Lord’s attention. I wanted to feel that His hand was still at work in my life: that I had not been forgotten. 

It is true that trials are evidence of God’s love for His children. (Hebrews 12:5-13, Job 5:17, Psalm 94:12) However, they are not the only way in which the Lord chooses to communicate His love for us (Romans 5:8, Jeremiah 31:3), and it would be a sad mistake to assume that if we are not in the midst of spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical difficulty that He has forsaken us. (Hebrews 13:5) This just simply isn’t the case at all!  

With these two truths firmly established, there was now a fork in the road of my thinking, just as there was a choice for the Syrian captain. I could believe that my loving heavenly Father had stopped caring for my soul and the rest of my well-being, or I could believe all He has said in the Scriptures, even if the way He set before me brought nothing that appeared significant, important, or glamorously challenging. 

It may be that the Lord’s will for our earthly lives consists of doing the same two or three things again and again, or as in Naaman’s case, the same one thing again and again. Without regard for the particulars of each situation (they’re all unique!), the ultimate question is mine, and yours, today. Are we willing to persist in doing the simple things set before us, faithfully choosing to believe that His love is unchanging?

 

*To read the Biblical account of the miracle of Naaman’s healing, see 2 Kings 5:1-14.

Count Your Many Blessings

 

It was a busy, tiring day, and there were piles of laundry to do, loads of things to pack, and lots of projects wanting to be attended to. It would have been very easy to get grumpy and stop working, but the LORD reminded me that His grace is sufficient for whatever He brings into my day, and that He is my strength. Through Him, I can do whatever He wants me to do.

Nothing during that particular day had been unmanageably hard, it was just that continuing to do the same things all day long got tiring. Running up stairs to lay out clothes for a trip, running downstairs to check the laundry. Running upstairs to pack my brothers’ clothes. Running back downstairs to load the clothes in the trailer. Running upstairs again to gather my sisters’ clothes. Downstairs to load them. Back upstairs for the next load. Back downstairs. Over and over again.

Okay, it doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it was tiring.

I began to give thanks for the little blessings that the LORD had given me, and it was amazing the new energy He would give as I thanked Him.

Blessing Number One: I was getting exercise. No, I was not at the gym working out, but I was carrying weights in the form of piles and piles of clothes, and walking quickly. (Not on a treadmill, but up and down the stairs.)

Blessing Number 2: We get to go on a trip! This particular trip includes over six hours in the car during which we can read, catch up on sleep, or work on projects. Time in the car is a much looked-forward-to time in our family.

On one of my many trips to the laundry room, I opened the dryer for yet another load of laundry to be folded.

Blessing Number 3: We have sheets to fold. That means we have sheets and comfy beds to sleep in at night.

I reached my hand into the lint screen, not knowing exactly what I might find. Sometimes it is dirty gray lint, sometimes mostly dried grass clippings from lawn-mowing clothes the day before, and sometimes it is simply empty. But not on this load. It was full of beautiful pink fluffiness. At least beautiful for being dryer lint.

Blessing Number 4: Pink dryer lint. What a blessing this little wad of pretty trash was to me at that moment. It was a wonderful reminder that God cares even about the small things in our lives, and that His love for me is everlasting. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

After folding the laundry, I continued to gather my family’s clothes from throughout the house to load in the trailer and realized….

Blessing Number 5: I have a family to gather clothes for! How grateful I am for each one of the people the LORD has put in my family! Life is short, and I do not ever want to take for granted the fact that I have each one of my precious siblings and my two dear parents.

What are the blessings that the LORD has given YOU today? May we all “Count our many blessings” that HE has given us.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

Count your blessings, name them one by one;

Count your blessings, see what God hath done;

Count your blessings, name them one by one;

Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,

And you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;

Count your many blessings, money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. 

-Johnson Oatman, 1897

June is here!

June is here!

Yes, it’s true – June is here! I’ve been looking forward to June since January. Not wishing my life away in order to get, here, but just knowing that it would be a wonderful month when it arrived. It’s finally here, and three days into it I have not yet been disappointed. 

Here’s why I love June:

  • Spring has matured into summer
  • I still have a good 3 months of summer weather to which I can look forward
  • The spring rush of life has settled (slightly)

Those are a few reasons and actually, I really love June because of what has happened during this month in past years. June is like a second January. In January, we get to reorder our lives after the dust has settled from the holiday activities and consider the goals and plans for a new year. In June I take a little bit of concentrated time to consider where I am and where I need to be going. This has to be done in snatches of precious time because, after all, the spring rush has only slightly settled. Nonetheless, I find that I need this time to refocus on what the Lord may have for me to do. I have really enjoyed using the beautiful planner pages my mother and sister designed to help keep track of everything. If you haven’t used them before, you may just want to download them (FREE!) and give them a try for the rest of the year. But that was a rabbit trail.

Along with checking up on my to-do list and revisiting and revising my goals are also some other and to me, more important things that the new season of growth inspires. Caring for relationships should be one of the most highly prioritized things on anyones list – first our relationship with the Lord, and then with those around us: our family, the elderly, customers and clients (a real ministry!), students, teachers, friends who mentor us and/or who we mentor… the list could go on and on. 

The springboard for all of this is really time with our blessed Lord, which brings me back to another reason why I love June and summer in general. What could be better than slipping out-of-doors for quality time with our Creator in the midst of His beautiful creation? 

As the road of time twists along out of sight, take some time to consider, and perhaps to reconsider. Where are you going? Along the way, enjoy every day that dawns, but especially those in June.

Encouragement from Psalms

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11

“Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” – Psalm 150:6

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” – Psalm 115:1

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” – Psalm 31:3

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day

“Being a mother is dangerous. Mothers get stepped on, sneezed on, coughed on, barfed on. Their heads get hit by flying bears and balls. Their toes attract runaway bike wheels and dropped cast-iron skillets. Their ears have narrow escapes from little people whizzing butcher knives by for inspection — ‘THIS is the knife you wanted, Mama?’ 

“Mothers get sat on and stomped on by little lassies in their laps. They get run into by children playing tag and by boys backing up mowers. They get thumped by reckless pirates and rhinoceros hunters.

“Their minds become unsteady from doors crashing near the breaking point, from witnessing their offspring’s bicycle wrecks, and from grabbing carefree youngsters just before they fall off a cliff. Their bodies wear out from lost sleep, babies who wake every two hours, and children who have bedtime hassles or night wanderings…”

(excerpt from Prayers and Peanut Butter by Barbara Classen)

 

Our hearts are full of gratitude for all that our sweet Mama has endured for the sake of us, her 10 children. She tirelessly serves, cleans, shovels gravel, spreads mulch, plans menus, hosts guests, shops for groceries prepares meals, drives all over the nation to give us opportunities in music, talks willingly at any hour of the day (or should I say night), teaches, and teaches again…. the list is endless of the seemingly “small” tasks she does on a daily basis without looking for recognition or compensation. She truly lives and does all “for the glory of God!”

We are also thankful for all the other mothers and grandmothers who are daily setting Christ-like examples for the next generation to follow. Wishing all of you mamas a joy filled (and hopefully danger-free) day! 

The Noble Ones Are My Delight

Walking through this world of sin,

Despair creeps to my heart;

Yet Christ speaks to me within,

And peace my LORD imparts.

“I am with You,” he has said,

“The Comfortor is yours.

Walk the path which I have laid,

And trust my perfect Word.”

Other Christians walk near by,

Their presence I enjoy;

The Noble ones are my delight,

My Portion is the LORD.

New strength through joy my LORD doth give,

And I can walk again;

With songs of praise my heart is filled, 

With joy and hope I run.

“O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.” 

Psalm 16:2-3

All to the Glory of God

All to the Glory of God

The glory of God is like the ocean, into which all activities of our life flow as rivers. If an action has its source in God’s will for your life, then you may be sure that that action will flow into the ocean of God’s glory and be used for the benefit of His kingdom.

Sometimes we find ourselves “stuck” in the humdrum of life, doing the daily necessities but not feeling particularly useful. On days like these it can be especially meaningful to trace the current of purpose through the tasks. I find it especially helpful and encouraging to see how one small task – like preparing a meal – can be taken down the river bed into the ocean of meaningful Kingdom work.

We all must eat if we are to be able and fit to labor in the spheres to which we are called, and it is a tremendous gift to be able to feed a band of growing children who will one day be the leaders of the next generation. Or perhaps you are feeding people who are the leaders of the current generation – equally fulfilling when done in Jesus’ Name.

When we operate within the will of God for our lives, all that we do can be used for His glory. This is such a kind provision from our Lord. Trace the rivers in your life, and “whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Slow Cooker Pancakes

One day last week we needed supper in a slow cooker for ease of preparation when the dinner hour actually arrived. This is our preferred way of food preparation, anyway, but some days it’s just a necessity. Pancakes were all I could think about – they just sounded so good! But who ever heard of pancakes in a slow cooker? Well, it can be done, as I was thrilled to find out! A combination of all different recipes later and the family had happily consumed almost an entire 6-qt slow cooker full of the tasty baked good. This recipe doesn’t make any pretense about being beautiful – it’s really kind of… not. But it tastes incredible, especially if you are a pancake-loving person, like most of us are. The best thing about this recipe is that it is very allergy-friendly, being wheat, dairy, and sugar free. You can also change up the suggested spices and extracts to create your own unique flavor. Tastiness! 

Ingredients:

6 cups oats, blended to flour

3 cups unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup erythritol & stevia blend (or sweetener of your choice)

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons baking powder

1 Tablespoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon blueberry extract

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup dark chocolate chips

 

Combine all ingredients ina large bowl and stir until well combined.

Pour into a greased 6-qt slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or until done through (insert knife in center to check).

Serve hot with your favorite pancake toppings.

Purpose

“Thank God for purpose in life. So many purposes come into existence when one works the will of God, that there is no excuse for the laziness or wasted time. He is redeeming our lives, as well as our souls.” – Jim Elliot

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