Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Will Bring Praise

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28 ESV).

We have participated in One Prayer 2009 along with so many other churches in order to be "ONE" body together. Andy Stanley spoke Sunday about TRUST and FAITH in God.

He asked us, "Will you still trust God even when there is no evidence of Him working in your life?"

Ouch.

This past week, our family (and countless other families in our church body) has dealt with heavy spiritual warfare. I know God is there, but to be honest--I don't always "feel" Him. I've been reciting Romans 8:28 this week and literally saying aloud that I will trust in God...even if the answers I get are not what I was expecting, or worse--I don't get one at all.

Either way, I will bring praise.




Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Point Of It All

Some aspects of our life (as a family) have been difficult recently; it's been tough to find joy each day. We had become whiny and dissatisfied in general. WHY? Because, as a dear friend and mentor helped me see, we were worshiping the wrong thing(s). We were not truly worshiping God, but a lifestyle instead. It's unbelievable how much God loves us and has our days set up so that He may teach us His Word.

Yesterday morning, the threading of my emotional suitcase came undone...and my crap fell out. Days of the same disheartening, daunting, depressing rituals piled on top of each other and spilled over entirely. There was no room for even one more ounce of weight. It literally poured out of me. After some serious spiritual house cleaning, He slowly poured Himself back into me all day. I felt (and am still feeling) the gaps closing in and filling up with more of His purpose and thoughts. During nap time, I dug into chapter 3 of John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life" and couldn't hold back the emotional downpour that accompanied his words.

Very softly and gently (because He loves me enough to tell me with love), I could hear Jesus asking me where I find my joy. On what is it based? When I wake each morning, what do I expect will fulfill me? The answers I had to honestly give grieve me deeply.


"...if you could just have a good job with a good wife, or husband, and a couple of good kids and a nice car and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and a quick and easy death, and no hell--if you could have all that (even without God)--you would be satisfied. That is a tragedy in the making. A wasted life" (Piper, "Don't Waste Your Life" 45).

This, even though I wouldn't dare admit it, was where my heart was buried. I have been wanting security. I have been wanting a perfect schedule. I have been wanting "happiness."

Steven Furtick of Elevation Church gave me an image of how God's plans blow ours off the map completely:

When I am thinking "Happiness," God is thinking "Joy."

When my idea for what will fix me is _______, God is thinking of something SO much greater. Fill in the blank with whatever you are desiring. God's plan is so much bigger than we can even imagine. And I'm glad, aren't you? Because every time I plan it out, it crumbles. But Jesus' plan will never crumble. Because with His plan, He is glorified completely.

The point of this life is nothing more than to glorify Him.
That's it.


So, if our sole purpose is to glorify Him in all we do, then worry can't be part of the deal. If God has this specific passionate purpose in mind for us and is great enough to carry it out in us, isn't He also strong and mighty enough to carry us through it and take care of the details (such as keeping us alive, for example)?

I was reminded of this last week when my family and I were at the mall. We were about to leave, but we wanted to let the kids play in the kids' area first. Suddenly, an enormous BANG exploded behind us in the food court. In those mini-seconds, my mind attempted to interpret what the noise was: a bomb, a gun? (Yes, it was that loud.) We saw people running away from a trash can that had smoke billowing out of it. Something had exploded in that trash can.

The possibilities of what could have happened that evening made me sick. I was staring in the face how little we are in control of...anything, and how much we have to rely on God for our every breath. Every breath. The one you just took. Will there be another? And did that last one glorify the One who gave it to you?

Our anthem for this week is:

Joy is not circumstantial. Joy is found in pointing our hearts to Christ.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Parents = Shepherds

With a 3 year old and an 18 month old, the word DISCIPLINE simply MUST exist in our home.

I'm reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. I wanted to include many excerpts from the book, but I figure it's too much of a copyright infringement, so I have to refrain. But, here's a link to order the book. It's really worth your money and time because (I think) you'll learn a lot from it like I have. He gives such detail--right down to "how" to spank and "when" to spank. I'm learning from this book that warnings and delays only teach children to disobey until all hell breaks loose...better known as "I've had it!"

"Shepherding a Child's Heart." Go get it.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just a Sojourner

"O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?" (Psalm 15:1 ESV)

I've always thought sojourn was one of those weird words that you don't hear people drop in any ol' conversation. You won't overhear someone jabbering on their cell while waiting in line in front of you at the store: "Yeah, thought I'd sojourn into Walmart for some bread."

You might say the word is...dated.

To "sojourn" means to dwell in a place temporarily, and I think "temporarily" is the key word here.

While we are here in this life, in this one body we've been given right now, on this planet today, this week, this month, this year...we are only sojourning. We are living out of a suitcase. There's no mortgage--just rent.

The reason for this is interesting when I think on it: God spoke to Moses in Exodus 33:20 about why He couldn't allow Moses to look at His face. See, while we live here, we're still wrapped up in sin. God cannot dwell with sin. He won't. And so, like David says in Psalm 15, we can only visit the tent of God. We cannot live there.

Not yet anyway. Because we are not worthy.

But when this life is over, so will our sojourning be over. We'll finally get to unpack that suit case (metaphorically, of course--we don't take anything with us!) and say, "I'm finally home!"

I'm thinking about those times when we take family trips and are gone for a few days. Those first few seconds of walking into our home--where we belong--and breathing in the familiar comfort, that moment where our muscles relax because we know it's finally time to unwind--these are my favorite moments of the whole trip. And if I feel this way about a home that's actually temporary, how much greater will it be to really be done traveling...for good?

I can only imagine.

God is good, isn't He? Happy sojourning.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Kate and her eyes


This is a picture of our Kate taken at our family photo shoot this afternoon by Dianna Baker (dbakerphoto.com). I really like her eyes in this one. Just wanted to share...more to come I'm sure!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Disciples with Discipline

DISCIPLE: n 1 : one who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of another; also : a convinced adherent

DISCIPLINE: n 2 : a field of study : subject 3 : training that corrects, molds, or perfects 4 : control gained by obedience or training : orderly conduct


My husband I were discussing "discipline" early this morning, and I asked, "I wonder if 'disciple' is a root word of 'discipline'?"

If you know me, then you know I love words, so this was an exciting endeavor for me to research! Just looking at their definitions really says a lot. Do you see the similarities?

(I skipped the first definition of DISCIPLINE because I actually disagree with it. Sorry, Merriam-Webster, but I don't put "punishment" and "discipline" in the same arena. They are different.)

Discipline doesn't always refer to being reprimanded. It also means to develop an ability to maintain control over certain aspects of one's life, such as particular desires, habits, etc.

When I read Jesus' words, I see time and time again where He purposed to train, correct, mold, and perfect those who followed Him. And when asked, "How can we do this?", He would respond with, "Obedience."

Pretty neat, huh?

If we want to be DISCIPLES of Christ, we must allow Him to generate DISCIPLINE in our lives...even in the places we don't necessarily want discipline.

In our schedules.
In our budgets.
In our diets.
In our health.
In our entertainment.
In our activities.
In our relationships.
In our study.

This is no small order, but it has a big return.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Inc. Philippines, 1997.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There's That "H" Word Again

Sometimes I hate myself because I love myself.

I was reading about King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel, and I noticed how fickle he was. One minute he was persecuting someone for not worshiping whichever idol he demanded, and the next he was making a new decree that everyone should worship the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Don't get too excited, because in just a little while, he was right back to worshiping other gods.

Wait, that sounds like me.

Maybe I don't erect idols of gold and ask others to bow, but I bow to a sea of other things in my heart over and over. Things that don't make my Father's heart glad.

God forced Nebuchadnezzar to humility. And since I'm His daughter, too, He often does the same with me. It's NEVER fun, but it's ALWAYS for the good of..."those called according to His purpose?"

Yeah, that's right. That's me. And that's you.

I'm so glad that even when I don't understand why I do the stupid things I do, He does. When I don't know why I'm jealous of that person, He does. When I don't know why I feel insecure around that person, He does. When I don't know...He does. And He is faithful to tell me so He can teach me to be less like me and more like Him.

I fall under the human category and am therefore quite selfish, conceited, prideful, and really just plain sinful. I have to remember where my place is. I started out deep within the crowd, shouting for Jesus to be murdered. And even if I wasn't one shouting, I was still too much of a coward to stand against those who were.

Not only was Jesus crucified because of me, Jesus was also crucified by me.

What social standing does this afford me? None.

Lord, please take these things in my heart and continue to break them. Crumble them before me, because I can't bear the weight of them anymore.
I can't bear the weight of me.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Our 7th Anniversary

This is my gift from my wonderful husband on our 7th anniversary (June 7)! I completely love it. And I sure do love him! I'm so thankful for these years we've had together and also for how God has shaped and changed us...to each year love Him and each other more than the previous year. I am blessed!




























Peace of Christ to you,
Cara