Monday, December 12, 2011

A Maiden Going to the Sacrifice


I have been reading through J.R. Miller's "Homemaking" lately and I must say, that it is one of the most poetically written books on the function of the home, that I have ever read. The words in it are precious, and it makes my heart swell, to feel the attitude of love this book was written in.  

When I first read the quote below, I almost cried!  It tugged on my heart and poured a conviction on me that was overwhelming. The message it is conveying is one that is incredibly true, but the illustration that J.R. Miller gives, is priceless.

"The young maiden goes smiling and singing to the marriage altar.  Does she know that if she has not Christ with her she is as a lamb going to the sacrifice?  Let her tarry at the gateway till she has linked her life to Him who is the first and the last.  Human love is very precious, but it is not enough to satisfy a heart.  There will be trials, there will be perplexities, there will be crosses and disappointments, there will be solicitudes and sorrows.  Then none but Christ will be sufficient."

*emphasis mine

How phenomenal is that?!  Honestly, the depths to which this reaches entirely amazes me! We, as young women, think that if we can run a home, we are somehow prepared to be married...but there is so much more to it than that. We have a noble calling; but we need to ask ourselves what the purpose of that calling is. This statement made me take a step back and evaluate the extent of my dependence on Jesus for fulfillment.  Even though I cling to Him for my redemption, do I cling to Him for everything else, or do I rely on my own abilities? Do I look to the Lord to fulfill all my needs in life, or do I think that I somehow possess the power to accomplish everything I need to get done?  If I were to be married tomorrow, would I have strove for that union in my own strength, or would I have trusted and rested in the arms of my beloved Savior to accomplish that work on His watch?  

Would I be as a lamb going to the sacrifice?

I took J.R. Miller's words, and applied them to every avenue of my life. I looked at my life at home, I evaluated everything my heart aches to achieve, I asked myself some serious questions about whether my desire is for God and thereby, all other desires stem from that, or whether my desires were of my own will. I think it is of the utmost importance that we, as young unmarried women at home, evaluate our hearts and be sure that Jesus Christ is the reason we are doing what we are doing, and there be no tainted motive found. Homemaking is a beautiful endeavor; however, if it is done without the foremost thought being the work of the Lord, then we are headed for disaster.

We cannot be "stay at home daughters" and leave Jesus Christ out of it; otherwise we are doomed--we are doomed for a fall that will be a means to a rude awakening.  We need to remember what marriage is about. It is about taking dominion and showing forth an example of the Gospel. It is about the kingdom of Jesus Christ, raising up a generation of warriors, taking dominion on this earth for the Glory of the Lord. If we enter into marriage and even prepare for it, with the idea that we are gearing up to "play house", we are in for a world of hurt.The years of disappointment that mindset will cause, will simply mean we spend our time trying to work through the disappointments, instead of being ready to do the Savior's work He has for us. We must have our hearts fused to the heart of Jesus in order to be suitable wives and mothers one day. We must be working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13) and allowing God to use (sometimes painful) trials in our lives to sanctify us and mold us into His image. J.R. Miller's words below, convey this beautifully:

"So it all comes back to a question of character. She can be a good wife only by being a good woman and she can be a good woman in the true sense only by being a Christian woman. Nowhere save in Christ can she find the wisdom and strength she needs to meet the solemn responsibilities of wifehood. Only in Christ can she find that rich beauty of soul, that gemming and empearling of the character, which shall make her lovely in her husband's sight when the bloom of youth is gone, when the brilliance has faded out of her eyes and the roses have fled from her cheeks. Only Christ can teach her how to live so as to be blessed and a blessing in her married life."

Noble womanhood is a wonderful thing; however, we cannot worship *womanhood*, we must worship almighty God, and thereby, cherish and love womanhood.  It is a beautiful thing...it is a glorious thing! My heart aches with joy at the very idea of what happens for the Kingdom when women take up their calling and embrace the beauty of femininity and defy all the demons of feminism!  But this kind of beauty only comes when one's heart yearns for the beauty of a life that conveys an accurate portrait of Christ, not a religious spirit that is only seeking praise and adoration for living a life that appears holy. My heart is heavy with conviction! Every time I clean, cook, run errands, babysit, serve, do laundry, iron Sunday clothes, play music, study or write a blog post, I desire for my purpose behind those things to be the glory of the Lord!  I don't want to just rush through it and get it done because it is a burden to me--I want to savor it and think on the Lord as I do it! I want to think about how I am taking dominion with tasks that can, either feel like a burden, or be so enjoyable that I do them just for the fun of it, rather than for God. 

Esther is my absolute favorite woman in the entire Bible! She had a task placed upon her that I don't feel I would ever have been able to cope with. But yet, when she was afraid that she might somehow lose her life, she didn't get angry with God and complain about the place that He had put her in, but rather, her humility and desire to serve God overcame any pride and her words inspire me every time I think upon them: 

"And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: "Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!" So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther commanded him." Esther 4:13-17

  *emphasis mine

Would I be willing to say that in a comparable scenario? Would I have a similar attitude or would my thoughts be on executing everything perfectly so that I didn't have to worry about losing my life due to a mistake? Would I be more focused on praying and fasting, or on going through every single step to achieve my purpose and wasting precious time dwelling on the possibly tragic outcome? You see, God has given us the grace to go through whatever situation He puts us in!  And not just enough grace to suffer through, but to persevere with a beautiful attitude that reflects His marvelous majesty! It gives me the chills to look at all of human history and see the unique and inspiring ways God reveals His greatness through people and their trials. It makes me excited to contemplate how He is going to use these generations' sufferings and difficulties for something incomprehensible. 

Take marriage for instance...some feel that there are not enough marriages taking place; granted, they could be and probably are right. I think that we fear this lack of marriages happening is somehow attributed to either a lacksidaisical attitude towards marriage or a legalistic one. But we forget that God is in control! We must be before Him on our knees seeking out His will and praying for our current situations and our futures; but to be honest ladies, we will be married when God deems the time suitable. If we are really after His purpose being accomplished, then we will learn to understand, and love, His timing--because only He knows when the conditions are prime for something great to happen...and He knows what it takes to make a situation ideal for the edification of His kingdom.

It is unreservedly important that we look to Him for happiness; that we take our redemption and hold it so dear and so precious that nothing can steal the joy we feel from being counted among the redeemed! That is just glorious!  Inexpressibly glorious, I say!! I am excited...I am excited to see God's work in our lives, I am anxious to see what paths He guides us down and in what ways He defeats the enemy through our sanctification and hardships.

So as we pray for noble intentions and ask God to truly prepare us for marriage the way He defines it, let us learn to be wholly dependent on Him for everything and find contentment with solely being children of God!

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1


Friday, October 7, 2011

Confessions of a Zealot


It is no secret...I am a very passionate person.  Sometimes my zeal can get the best of me and I say things without thinking.  Sometimes I even talk too much...unbelievable, I know!  (okay, so maybe it is a little more believable than I secretly think)  It's just that I want everyone to know how much I love my Lord!  I don't want the neighbor to find out in a few months, that I am utterly consumed with my Savior's work in my life....I want them to know that after just one conversation with me!  

But sometimes, I struggle.  I reach out and grasp at thin air, attempting to find the right words.  This even trickles into my blogging from time to time.  I have so many drafts in my blogger's list of posts.  I get a rush of ideas, but I can't bring myself to finish them.  The idea starts out strong and concrete, but I just cannot find the rest of the words.  Lately, my heart has been heavy with trying to contemplate why I cannot seem to conquer the unending list of sin that rears its ugly head; and it affects my blogging abilities.  I just wish I could understand why the fight is so hard!  

I have a lot of faults in my life.  I struggle with so many things.  I have pride I need to conquer....my life long desire is that I will be an enormously humble person!  I sometimes jump to conclusions hastily.  I like things done in an abnormally quick amount of time....I prefer to call it a "timely fashion", but I have been told that I go beyond that simple phrase with my desire to see instant results.  These are just a few of the innumerable flaws that my character possesses.  

But one of my biggest faults, is that I always feel like I am not doing enough! 

Believe me, I know that as a fallen human being, I will never do enough; but that is not really what I am referring to here.  I mean, I actually become discontent with the opportunities that God has placed before me. Opportunities to serve and be a light.  I always want to do something more!!  I want to do something that is so consumed with Christ, that I don't have time to waste on eating!  I want to pray more, I want to study more, I want to be more committed to fasting.  I have all these thing that I want to be overwhelmed with doing.  None of these things are bad, but it is not good when I dwell on them so much that I become sullen and discontent.

I am not unhappy because I am unmarried, or do not have children.  I am not unhappy because I do not possess all the historical and philosophical knowledge that I desire to.  I am not unhappy because I am not an enormously accomplished person; but rather, I feel dissatisfied, because I want my life to be one constant outpouring of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ, and I feel as though I am failing...

I take that back--I am failing. 

I get so caught up in radicalism, that I sometimes loose sight of why I am radical.  I want to be different; but I cannot forget the reason behind being different.  I cannot idolize passion and zeal!  I need to keep my eyes on Christ, and avoid being passionate about passion; but rather, be passionate about Him.  

I struggle every single day, with finding the balance between being BOLD, and proclaiming the truth with gentleness and humility.  They are both vital, but you cannot go so far on the one side, that you leave off the other.  They need to work together.  

If I get so consumed with the things I am not doing, then I will miss out on the small, yet precious avenues that the Lord has blessed me with.  Instead of resting in the sweet fragrance of my Redemption, I get angry because I do not see enough productivity in my life, judged by my standards!  I want more than anything, to be able to say that I was purchased through the blood of Jesus, and I don't need anything else.  I don't need a sense of accomplishment, I don't need any other fulfillment outside of that wonderful truth, I don't need wealth, and I certainly don't need acknowledgment nor attention.   

But when my heart bursts with gratitude for the gift I have been given, yet don't deserve, I want to spend every single breath I take, for the rest of my life, advancing the Kingdom of Christ, and pouring out the last ounce of my soul for the glory of the Lord!  However, I must remember that this is the reason behind all that I do.  This is the driving force behind my zeal!  Zeal and passion is not the foundation--Christ is.  

The problem with my (sometimes) overwhelming zeal, is that, rather than channeling it, I allow it to make me discontent--and that is wrong.  I need to harvest its potential, and not let the enemy use it to dishearten me from doing the Lord's work.  Satan would love to take something that God has given me and use it for my destruction and demise.  I must be on my knees every day pleading with the Lord to bestow mercy on my soul and help me not to stumble over what He has so generously given me!  

When people look back on my life, I don't want them to say, "oh gee, look at that girl.  She didn't smoke, she didn't chew and she certainly didn't go with people that do."  But rather, I want them to say, "look at that sinner whom the Lord rescued from the pit of destruction and used mightily for His glory!"  I want to be able to look back myself and see the sanctification milestones throughout my life!  I want to be able to look back and easily identify those moments in my life where I learned something new, or my eyes were opened to a new conviction and felt as if I was born again!  
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
That is what matters....seeing where I was, and where Christ is taking me to.  Being made new everyday, changing, growing, learning to love more and more every moment of my life, feeling my, once heart of stone become softer and softer.  
"Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Quench not the Spirit.  Despise not prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil.  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
 "For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands."  Psalm 92:4

Now that is a reason to be radical.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Me? (and other musings on the theory of pity parties)


WHY?  Why does it always have to be me?  Why can't I get to spread happy news about myself, and somebody else get to experience the joy that comes with only having sadness to share with everyone?

Why?

This is possibly one of my favorite questions!  Consider it on the top of my "questions I like to ask myself when throwing a pity-party".

Now, I am actually sort of serious when I say this, but I think my heart is a magnet.  I mean it!  I'm not talking about those little itty bitty magnets, but the really powerful ones!  Ones that have a really strong attracting force, but can shatter in the blink of an eye.  My reasoning behind this ridiculous hypothesis, is that I feel like I get slammed with innumerable false accusations, every single day of my life!  (*violin music here would be nice*) When I am "pity-partying",  I honestly think that the Queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland, had a pretty good life.  Being able to yell "off with his head" all day long, doesn't sound too bad; having people actually be afraid of enraging you, would protect one from a lot of heartache...but you know what that would require?

A heart of stone..


"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."  Ezekiel 36:26


In order to protect myself in a way that my emotions would deem adequate, I would need to give up the very thing that God has promised to give His chosen ones.  And frankly, I am not willing to sacrifice my sanctification and character on the altar of carnal happiness.

So the real question I should ask myself in said pity parties, is "why not me?"  Why should I be the one who never hurts?  Why should I get to escape the pain that comes along with devotion to Jesus?  Regretting the hardships that come with a heart that is being fused to Christ, is conveying the idea that I want to die and go to Heaven, but I am not really willing to sacrifice everything and walk the life of a Christian....and to be honest, that is not how I want to be.  That is not what I want to shout to the world!  I want to tell the world, that I am happy to give up every scrap I could possibly gather and give it to my Savior!  I want everyone to know, that there is a joy that comes with being a Christian, and it is one that can never be equaled.  I don't want people to have the impression that being a Christian is dull and depressing!  But the only way to conquer my faults in this area, is to understand why it can feel burdensome at times.

When my thinking is geared towards how my flesh can be satisfied, I will never be happy!  It is as simple as that.  The only thing that can ever truly satisfy a person, is redemption in Jesus Christ, and being able to relish in that, requires us to walk in the Spirit.  Hence, when we walk in our flesh, we will not ever have our seemingly unquenchable desires satisfied.  

Another why that I find particularly good, is "why am I struggling?"  What is it that is holding me back?  Could it be...peoples' opinion of you?  (*cough* I am not talking to myself here, just you ;)  Now mind you, if you are concerned with the idea people are getting of Christianity because of you, that is a good concern....but that is not what I really mean here, and you know it.  What I am talking about, is thinking that maybe someone won't like you if you decide that you don't want to watch that film with them.  That maybe if you stand up and say you don't support devilish music, someone might dub you the village snob.  But when it comes to a stand for all things Biblical, looking like a snob is the least of our worries.  Being worried about the eternal state of souls, your character and your witness to others is cause for concern.

And now that we are coming to the end of this post, I have come to a resolution!!  (please hold back the applauding, my soap box is not in the closet yet)  I am going to try harder at endeavoring to completely forgive those who seek my hurt, because the reality of it is, when people use their words, keyboards, blogs, lies and rumors to hurt Christians, they are in fact, not really attacking the person because of their eye color or height, but they are attacking the Person the Christian possesses...which is Jesus Christ.  Now, if you had a toss up between being loved and adored by all, and not bearing the name of our Savior; or, being hated by every human being there is to hate you, and clinging to Him for every milli-second of the rest of your life, which would you choose?  

Oh, ultimatums are the worst, aren't they?  But the life of a warrior, I shall choose; because Christ has chosen me to fight a battle to advance a kingdom, and by the grace of almighty God, laziness I shall not embrace!  

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me."  John 15:18-21


 "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."  Ephesians 4:29-32

 


 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Pilgrimage


"Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, 
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage."  Psalm 84:5 

This is one of my favorite Scriptures!  Pilgrimage is loosely translated, "a journey to a holy place".  I love the mental picture we are given here; the picture of someone whose heart is set on a journey to a holy place.  The idea of our lives being of infinitely more value, than just the day to day mundane tasks that can ensue us, is invigorating.  

Just knowing, that our value does not lie within our works, or our accomplishments-- but rather, our worth is seen through the veil of Jesus Christ, which covers us, is such great assurance and encouragement!  God sees us as vessels that are journeying through this life, fighting and battling; and that He has purchased, through the blood of His perfect Son.

But this verse also makes me ask myself, if my heart is set on pilgrimage?

Do I really want a life, that is wandering from place to place, solely for the sake of advancing God's  Kingdom?  Do I earnestly desire, to fight every single, solitary day, for the remainder of my days, for this Kingdom, sometimes feeling so weary and despondent, that I cannot make another move?  

In other words..... am I willing to suffer?

Am I willing to suffer all for the cause of Jesus Christ?  Am I willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING, for the sake of His Gospel?  Am I willing to live a life that others would deem sad and pitiful, merely because I love Him so much?  

Am I willing?

Now, around forty-five minutes ago, you could have asked me that question, and I would have given you a hearty and resounding NO!  I would have said, it is too hard, I can't take that much pain!  I can't take the suffering, the seeming oppression, the chaos and the hurt.  

But then this verse comes to my heart....I hear these words from my beautiful Savior and I think, bring it on!  Pour out the fiery persecution!  I can take it, because the difficulties I deal with, are nothing in comparison to what Christ has suffered on my behalf!  He knows what I go through, and even more!  Suffering, because I possess the name of Jesus, might be hard, but the end result makes it one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things to deal with!  This life is so fleeting; dealing with a temporary sting, for an eternal glory brings so much joy and peace to my weeping soul, that my mourning is turned to joy in the blink of an eye!  

When I attempt to fathom the love that God has bestowed upon my soul, I feel overwhelmed.  Trying to grasp what took place at the moment of my redemption, makes me feel so unworthy.  But nothing brings more comfort, than understanding the healing balm of grace!  The grace of Almighty God is a powerful thing.  We cannot understand why God chooses to give it to us, but we can understand how it affects us!  We can know, that His grace is sufficient and covers all of our infirmities and imperfections.  That His guiding Hand, is the only Light that I journey toward. 

So now comes the major difficulty....are we going to sit around in our unfortunate circumstances, and allow the enemy to plunder our joy and replace it with despair; or are we going to arise and fight?!  Are we going to allow ourselves to drown in depression; or are we going to say, blasted be the spirit of hopelessness?!  God is mighty!  What on earth have we to fear?  What have we to lose?  Nothing.  If we die, it is all to God's glory.  If we suffer horrible persecution, it is all to God's glory.  What more can we ask for?  What else could we possibly want than to bring Him glory?  

In every circumstance, we really need to be searching out the ways we can put off our sin and pride.  Making it a life purpose to convey Christ to the world isn't easy, and it is certainly not for those who desire to cling to their sin or their selfishness.  Even though we will always have sin, we should hate it and be endeavoring to put it off.  Denying our flesh and defeating carnality, is a life long process--but it is a process that is fully rewarding!  

Whether it be in our darkest hours, or the peak of our rejoicing, let us constantly seek God's face!

"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;...Cleanse me from secret faults.  Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me.  Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of transgression.  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer."  Psalm 19:7-8 & 12b-14



 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Anonymous Comments

I received (yet another) anonymous comment.  As I have said on the comment form, if you desire to post a comment expressing a negative point of view, then I really ask that you reveal your name; otherwise, your comment will not be published.  It is very cowardly and certainly does not show a spirit of honesty and truthfulness.  I am honest about who I am, so if you desire to read this blog and comment, you should be honest too!  However, you are not as *anonymous* as you think you are...

The comment posted a quote of mine referring to Christians being labeled victims of the "quiver full movement" from my last post, along with these words: 
"quiver full" is actually the phrase that proponents of large families have given to themselves.

I agree that there are Christians who are seeking (as I am) to put off the worldly perspective that children are an inconvenience or that we should control how many we have of them; and are seeking to honor the scripture that says:
"Behold, children are  a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate."  Psalm 127:3-5
But that is not what this movement (if you will) is about!  This is about families loving God enough to obey Him in everything, not just the easy stuff!  This is about bringing God glory, and advancing the kingdom of Christ!

Now granted, there are some people who idolize the principles in and of themselves and forget why they are important, but they are not who is being attacked.  The biblical concept is what's being attacked! 

How dare you?!?!  Can you not see what you are doing?  

I think one of the major reasons this is happening is because the "anti-patriarch" people perhaps feel a slight conviction towards the biblical precepts regarding Church and family; hence, they attack it.  They themselves are not ever personally attacked in the same manner that they slander and gossip about the people in this movement.  It is genuinely sad.  They make up *sins* and label them with terms such as, "militant-fecundity", "patriocentricity" and "quivering daughters".  Again, I agree, that a worship of these things is wrong; but exercising the principles behind patriarchy and a love for children, because that is what God loves, is not wrong, but rather biblical! 

My point in all of this, is that I am not a "quiver full" slave...I am a slave to Jesus Christ, and so I believe that loving a "quiver full" of arrows that will further His kingdom, is one thing that brings Him glory!  God has given me an abundance of grace, so that my heart is passionate about the body of Christ, not my own selfish ambitions, even though I have moments where I give into my flesh and my eyes veer off of Christ.  

However, I will pray that God will bestow mercy upon those whose eyes are so blind and whose lips seek to attack, slander and gossip those who love God and are seeking His purpose in life.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Domesticity



What is it about homemaking that causes some people to just cringe?  You have one side that believes homemaking is the only thing a girl's mind should ever rest upon; and then there is the side that thinks we should not waste a moment on home duties with all the conveniences modern technology affords us.  Why waste our time with those petty things, when we could be in the world, broadening our horizons?   (or better stated, learning to be of the world, rather than just in it.) 

Women were made to be keepers of the home.  Women were created to function and thrive in the home environment.  But, that does not mean we should all become so consumed with homemaking that we forget why we are homemakers. Nor does it mean, that we are glued to the home, and a woman's place is only there!  

For me personally, I love Italian food!  I love to smell, observe, cook, taste and devour tons of garlicy, cheesy, completely saucified, pasta goodness!  (I realize I might have made up a few words there)  So, I am making an effort to broaden my skills in this wonderful avenue of food.  But, just because I might feel the need to become a master cook in this particular area, does not mean that I am somehow a more qualified homemaker, or that every girl must follow my example and do precisely what I am doing with my cooking skills.  That is simply something that suits my fancy, if you will. 

The same principle applies for millions of other skills.  For instance, I do not enjoy, (at this moment in my life) embroidery work.  There, I said it!  It is something that frustrates me in an awful way!  Crocheting?...that I can do!  It is a bit quicker and I see results faster!  Knitting?  Un-uh, no way!  Sewing?, *wince*, that kind of depends.  I can make quilts and baby blankets; but actual clothing?  Not really.  Perhaps one day I will be able to master the skills on my "not really appeasing" list, but for now, I am content to nurture the areas that I feel God has given me a desire for.

One thing that I have seen is a tendency for young women to think that the study of theology and their Christianity is not important.  This is really wrong.  If we do not study God's word, His principles and attributes, then how can we ever grasp the true purpose in our domestic roles?  You see, I think part of this is just  a simple lack of understanding.  We are to love serving in the home because that is what God has commanded us to do, and by obeying His commandments, we are glorifying Him and showing the world where our affections lie.  If we neglect the cultivation of a love for Christianity by putting off the importance of theology, then we are doing a disservice to our character and ability to defend our lifestyles in a way that would be in accord with the Scriptures.  

That is why we need to know what we believe and why we believe it!  We do not want the world to look at us and think we worship the home.  That is a terrible thing.  We want the world to look at us and see how much we love God! (and yes, occasionally they will label us weirdos, or even a cult)  We need to live our lives in a way that makes it obvious what our goal is.  We should always ask ourselves if we are doing the things we are doing because we want to fit in with our friends, or want to feel superior to feminists, or if we are attempting to serve God through the home because that is what we have been called to do in the body of Christ?!  We cannot lose sight of what our chief end is!  What good is it to be able to make candles, spin your own wool, or weave a basket, if we cannot understand the reasoning that lies behind those things?  I am always needing to examine my own heart in this area.  It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and lose our eternal perspective.  But we cannot neglect the fact that we are to be fighting a battle, not pampering our self-righteous attitude by believing that we are more pleasing to God because of what we did here, or what we did there.  We are fallen, sinful creatures, and if not for the redemption of Christ and the grace of God, we would be worse than the scum of the earth scoundrel.  

Now while some may completely throw off the importance of girls studying theology; others seem to hold study in general to such a high standard, that girls who do not seek success outside of the home environment, are often labeled victims of the "quiverfull movement".  (Ridiculous terminology, I know.  I could write an entire post on the idiocy of this term that has grown out of a feminist rebellion.)  I think it is so utterly tragic that they waste so much precious time trying to find things wrong with Christians who are seeking the Lord with their whole heart.  They address subjects that they are not experts in and seek to spread nonsensical rumors that are not true in the least!  Ninety nine percent of the time, they throw off all reasoning and stray so far from the facts that they end up sounding like nincompoops.  The thing that we need to remember when dealing with silly, and sometimes, not so silly, rumors, is that God is using that to strengthen us, and He is also using that in the other persons' life as well.  We need to be certain that we have a biblical attitude and response to those situations.  People who love to attack, are always waiting to see what kind of response they are going to receive.  That  is why is it so important that we convey the light of Christ, and not exercise our carnal desires in response to our own hurt and feelings of injustice.  We need to pray that God will protect us from bitterness, and open their eyes to His glorious truth!  Put yourself in their shoes.  If you were the one who was blinded to the beauty of God's design, how would you want the opposite party to view and pray for you?  

We need to always remember that the blood of Christ is the only thing that makes us pleasing in the eyes of God!  This life is a vapor; we need to be careful we don't take our eyes off of our main priority and get so caught up in our domestic duties that we forget why we are doing what we are doing; or get so lost in defending ourselves (something I struggle a lot with) that we forget what kind of pit Christ rescued us out of. 

"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Photography lessons...and other shenanigans

Yesterday was just wonderful!  My sisters went to help a girl from our church at the horse stables, so I got to stay at their house for a few hours with the younger girls.  It reminded me that my little sisters are rapidly growing up and are no longer little girls.  So before I need to grab my box of tissues, lets us move on to some photos.

We had an afternoon filled with hide and seek, piano playing, flower making, drawing, duck duck goose, (which actually was a variety of animals) and photo taking!  I took out my camera to show them some of my cake photos, when the youngest became infatuated and wanted to take a picture (which turned into over 100 pictures : ) it then proceeded to trickle down the line.  I have to admit, that the little girls caught onto the functions of this camera faster than I did!  They were taking crystal clear photos and reviewing them while saying to themselves, "nice"! : )  It was more fun than I can covey.

So to start off, let me introduce you to the 3 little girls I spent some time with...

Meet Chloe!  Chloe has the most incredible freckles and red hair I have ever seen! 



This is Sophia, my little sidekick. 


And this is Phoebe.  She amazed me with how well she can take photos!  I felt like an idiot by the time I was done looking through the pictures she had taken.


Phoebe was very curious about the camera, so after I had taken a couple photos, I showed her how to take some.  It was incredible to see things the way she sees them.

She thought this one was "nice".  {photo credit: Phoebe : ) }



This one was also dubbed as "nice". 


We were making these plastic flower things and Phoebe proceeded to take pictures of us engaged in our activities...



























Don't ask...


{Photo credit: Sophia}


Michaela, (their older sister) was a bit camera shy...  {Photo credit: Phoebe}


{Photo credit: My sister, Michelle}


Then we decided it was time to master the art of mirror photos





Sophia's flower...and Phoebe's expression.


???  {Photo credit: Sophia}


{Photo credit: Phoebe}


Phoebe inspired me with her photo above (evidently)


Ceiling... {Photo credit: Phoebe}  : )


I suppose being short does cause an infatuation with looking up at the ceiling. {Photo credit: Phoebe}


lol  {Photo credit: Sophia}


{Photo credit: Sophia}


When I was finally granted permission to use my own camera again, Phoebe let me take this one.  I love spending time with these girls who hold a very precious place in my heart.  


Monday, July 11, 2011

Bombardment of Difficulties...(and Selfishness)




I have had so many thoughts on my mind as of late...wondering how to handle lots of difficult situations that seem to be inundating me.  (Lets just be frank, shall we?... "My name is Shelby, and I am a human magnet for all kinds of circumstances in which people find the most peculiar ways of trying to impute their nonsense into my brain.  My permanent dwelling place seems to be 'between a rock and a hard place'...") 

I wish that life would just slow down for one second; just long enough for me to think about how to handle everything.  

I sometimes feel so frustrated.  The tasks just keep piling up on my plate.  About the time I think things will slow down for a brief moment, they get busier than they were when I was hoping they would slow down!  So here is a little glimpse of all the things I would like to do. (don't skip this part, I know it is tempting to just slide on through this barrage of annoyances I have listed below.  But you won't understand the point in my post if you skip it) 

  • I want to read!  I have a huge stack of books I want to read....and it is not getting any smaller
  • I want to finish every single, solitary speck that has been scribbled (alright---typed) onto my to-do list
  • I want to have time to experiment with some cake and just have fun with creating new edible creations : )
  • I want to write
  • I want to garden 
  • I want to practice my cello for more than just a few snippets here and there 
  • I want to broaden my studies in theology, history, poetry, writing, homemaking; etc.
    • I want to organize!  (*guilty confession*  Just because someone is an organization lover, does not mean that all of their stuff is organized)  
    • I want to spend a day doing absolutely nothing!  
    • I want to become a more accomplished seamstress
    • I want to be more disciplined and get in the habit of rising very early in the morning.  5ish is ideal!  The reasoning behind this, is of course, so that I can get more of the above done!  (Go ahead!  Laugh!!  See if I care.  Well, I won't care, because I won't know... ; ) 

    There are loads more things I could add to this list, but I fear boredom would light on you readers and the end of this rambling post would never be reached.

    So there.  Notice anything?  C'mon, you saw it, right?  I made it really easy!  : )  

    Everything above starts with..."I want".  It is all about the things "I" want to accomplish!  You know, the evil little monsters that dwell inside of us, named "Me, Myself and I"!  They pooch out their lips and fold their arms and say, "my way, or highway!  This is what I desire, and so shall it be!"  Then, when what we want to have accomplished doesn't come to fruition, we feel frustrated and angry.  We stomp our feet and wonder why things are not going the way we feel that they should.  We might feel unprofitable, disgruntled and blame it on lack of time!  (as I did at the beginning of this post)  But the truth is, that our focus should be on fulfilling God's desires and plans for our lives.  And given the fact that He is sovereign, He brings us all the situations we face everyday and He has a purpose in them!

    I sometimes feel that I am not productive enough.  That in order for me to be a suitable vessel for God and a good wife and mother someday, I must be doing what in my mind constitutes the cultivation of those things.  But God knows what I need to fill the shoes He wants me to wear, and I don't need to take all of that into my own hands all the time!  (No, I am not as big a control freak as I sound, but I do like to feel profitable and productive...of course, I sometimes like to define that on my terms. ; )  So while none of my above desires are wrong; is it more important that I help the elderly people who need it and be the light of Christ to the world, or that I practice the Bach that is so beautifully beckoning my name?  Is it more important that I serve those around me, or that I steal away and jot down a poem or a few thoughts that are stuck in my mind?  You see, God has this wonderful way of showing us how He is accomplishing more important things through what sometimes feels like drudgery.  We just need to relinquish our non-existent power and stop kicking against the pricks!

    When I feel like I am in a situation that I don't want to be in; (sorta, kinda, maybe an argument *wince*) I need to understand that at least two, if not more, things are happening.  First off, God is building my character!  He is teaching me how to handle opposition in a smaller context.  He is teaching me how to defend my faith with graciousness and humility!  These are invaluable learning opportunities that I should not ever despise!  And also, He could be using me in ways that I cannot even imagine!  How dare I be selfish and wish that things were easier on me!  God has been so good to teach me so many things about Himself, and I get so excited to share what He has taught me with others; so why would I bristle when He affords me those moments, just because I might not always recognize what is going on?  In our flesh, we often times wish for babyish comfort.  We want to feel pampered and indulged.  But that is not what we have been called to!  We have been called to war for  the kingdom of Christ!  We are not to love luxury and ease.  We are to love fighting!  We should rejoice when we get to slay demons and sever dragons!   That is what we are meant to do.  How is that even describable on the scale of wonderful?  I cannot begin to convey the feeling of knowing that our lives are the lives of warriors.  That we were not put on this earth to discover a life that is driven by a man made purpose; but our gracious God has put us here with a purpose already in mind and clearly outlined in His word!  He doesn't keep it a secret from us.  It is right in front of our faces.  We should grab at this opportunity with eagerness and make every endeavor to prepare our minds, spirits and even bodies to battle for the cause of Christ.

    Our entire lives we will fight our flesh.  We will seek every day to put off carnality, all the while, discovering a new avenue that we need to conquer in our flesh everyday.  The more we grow in our Savior, the more sin we see in ourselves!  The closer we get to His likeness and perfection, the more imperfection we see in our own hearts, and it grieves us and causes us to mourn; but it makes us solely dependent on Him to be perfect for us.  We do not have to be blameless before the throne of God, because Jesus Christ has already done that for us.  Now we just need to strive to honor and glorify Him on this earth and further His kingdom while we are here.

    We have been given a calling...let us implore the grace of almighty God, and fulfill it!

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    To Debate, or...Not?



    I have encountered a struggle as of late...

    It has confused my poor little mind and I am not quite certain what the biblical approach to the situation is...

    My conundrum is this:  I was in the midst of a discussion, and could not formulate a reason to state my defense without being disrespectful.  I, indeed did not know what to do!  I wanted so badly to scream the biblical definitions that needed to be declared, but felt that if I had done so, I would have overstepped my bounds as a young woman.

    My predicament lied with another woman, but she would be considered my elder.  So I was flabbergasted as to whether or not I should stop biting my tongue and just let all my studies in theology, apologetics and philosophy be put to good use!  I love to debate and it is a fact I am well aware of, but I wanted to be exceptionally cautious, that I didn't let my zeal for God's truth overwhelm my obligations to maintain a meek and quiet spirit.  

    I feared being disrespectful, and in my efforts to proclaim the theological reasoning that lies behind one's depravity and convey a proper perspective of sanctification, I was afraid of being too harsh and appearing to be more along the lines of a *know it all*, as opposed to a godly and respectful young woman.  I don't even come close to possessing all the answers and I have very little knowledge; and while sanctification is a process, I am not a fraction of what I should be.  So in the end, I did not have a clue what was the right way to approach the dilemma that was boldly staring me in the face. 

    "You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord."  (Leviticus 19:32)

    Later on, as I began to deliberate whether or not my actions were correct; I came to the conclusion that since I was in doubt, it was not completely bad that I held my tongue. However, it did make me think...what should I do next time?  Should I keep my mouth shut?  Or should I try and respectfully say what I know God has declared to be true?  (to me, the latter sounds more like a biblical definition concerning the nature of a true Christian)


    But the question still remains...is it right for me to express my beliefs in an opposing manner to someone who is my elder?  In light of this question that has boggled my mind, I felt the necessity to delve into some scripture study regarding the situation.

    "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked our for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 3-4)
     "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man..."  (Romans 1:18-23)
     "For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth."  (2 Corinthians 13:8)
     "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ..." (Ephesians 4:14-15)
    "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak the truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."  (Ephesians 4:25)
     "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."  (1 Timothy 4:12)

    The Bible emphasizes over and over the importance of speaking the truth!   I cannot be silent and let others think that I consent to the false doctrines they are so vehemently clinging to.  How can my conscience be clear, if I have not imputed the truth of Jesus Christ into a hypocritical conversation?  It is just like when someone wants to question me about having the desire to be a wife and mother and use my single years at home to better serve the body of Christ and prepare for the purpose God has intended my life to fulfill...They might say things to me like... "you are so smart, why didn't you want to do something purposeful with your life?" (this is emphasized so much better if you can hear the condescending tone in which it is always said : )-I don't let that kind of rubbish go and just ignore what they are saying to me, I state the biblical precepts that have nurtured the convictions I possess!  I convey how God has called me to be a wife and a mother and to further His kingdom on this earth, while embracing His role for women, and that, that was the place where my heart had nestled. I am often times told that I can have both a career and be a wife and mother.  But the thing that the world has a hard time grasping, is that I don't want to live my life in a way where I just raise my children to grow up and pursue their own worldly desires!  But to train them to live a life that is actively seeking ways to glorify God in every single thing that they do...a life where Christ is the center of the home, not worldly gain!  I am noticing more and more how subtle and tantalizing the lures of the enemy are!  Sometimes they come in the tiniest packages, while other days, they might scream in our faces.  It can be so hard to stand against the false teachings that are constantly beckoning us and whispering sweet, empty sentiments in our ears, but we must, by the grace of almighty God, resist them.  We cannot let our hearts be turned!  We cannot let temptations come into our lives that will deter us from doing the beautiful work that God has laid before our feet!  

    So the conclusion I have come to is this:  I do not believe we should ever dishonor those who are older than us by taking on the attitude that we are going to teach them a thing or two.  However, false doctrine is false doctrine, no matter who is professing it! (to reiterate the advice a very good friend gave me)  We should be kind, gracious, respectful and honorable; but we cannot let others shove their false doctrines down our throats simply because we are young.  We need to constantly be burying our faces in the Word of God and wearing out our knees because of our faithfulness to pray to the majesty of Heaven and earth!  Then, we may proceed to proclaim the truth in a humble and reverential attitude.
     "...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."  (1 Peter 3:15)

    So, I shall proclaim with Patrick Henry:

    "Should I keep back my opinions through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country and an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings." (and I have to just take this opportunity to say how difficult it is to properly convey the depths of my admiration for Patrick Henry)

    It is hard, but I now possess a confidence that with the grace of God and an attitude of humility, I can stand firm for the truth contained in the Word of God without any fear of being dishonorable.

    (p.s. All scripture quotations were taken from the NASB...actually, they were taken from my *new* NASB...the one my Mother surprised me with the other day!-- just so you know! ;)

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Piece of Cake!

    Okay, so I know I have been a bit neglectful of my blog recently, but I had good, legitimate reasons!  And in my endeavors to instill a better glimpse of my life into this blog, I will share my recent adventures with you all!

    Besides being swamped with daily home life and domestic duties, as well as helping others concerning their yard work, I have been baking cake!  I did my first wedding, and was rather overwhelmed with the amount of pressure that ensues upon one who is responsible for the cake at another person's wedding!  Needless to say, stress was a factor.

    One thing I really tried to do was maintain a biblical attitude towards the purpose of my cake baking.  Trying to remember that making a cake that will be served at a couple's wedding, is a blessing that was bestowed upon me and is also an opportunity to take dominion in a specific area!  Although, I do have to admit, most of my biblical approaches to the scenario were geared more towards my efforts to exercise patience, when throwing my spatula on the floor and crying would have definitely been a more appeasing approach to my ever warring flesh!  

    Now mind you, when I completed the gumpaste roses in a timely fashion...much quicker than I had originally thought...and when I had baked and crumb coated the cakes on schedule...and I will even admit that when I had the first tier frosted and it went as smooth as silk, I thought "this is a piece of cake" (corny pun, I know : )  But then, it happened!  It was really only a matter of time before something was to cross my path and make my life miserable, and the culprit was...humidity!  Thaaaaaat's right!  As the natural course of events would have it, I left my hot pan of water on the stove, then, the kitchen got all hot and humid and my buttercream was acting like a beast!  It was sliding down the cake as fast as I could slather it on.  (Thankfully, tears were not a factor...this time)  So after much refrigeration and some minor (ok, more than minor) frustration, all went well!

    I don't know if I am the only baker in the world who feels as though her cakes are never what she wants them to be, but this was one of those moments.  I always have visions of it looking the picture of perfection, and then when I see the flaws, (which most food possesses) I feel sorta sad. BUT, I shall prevail and learn from my mishaps! : )  God was so good to give me the grace to accomplish this cake without any major catastrophes...although minor ones did occur! ; )

    So here are a few photos for your viewing!


    It was white/chocolate marble cake, iced in buttercream and decorated with gumpaste roses and royal icing dots



    My lovely Mother and me on our way to the wedding!  {photo credit: my little sister Morgan}


    Poor little darling started to perspire a little bit, I figured it was just on account of her being so nervous with the wedding and all...(actually, it got kinda hot at the reception location) 
    I was exceptionally relieved that the cake arrived at the reception venue alive! 
    I was so thankful that God provided me with the grace to bake a cake and essentially be part of a couple's marriage!



    So all in all, it went very well!  Even though there was a moment or two where I was on the verge of losing it, God gave me grace to persevere and press on!  I learned so much about what I need to do (or not to do : ) next time a wedding is beckoning my name!  It was a wonderful experience and I am so very thankful!


    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    A Gracious Heart

    (I know you all are probably really tired of seeing lilac photos, but I have an infatuation with them right now! :-)

    Graciousness is an invaluable quality!  But it can be so hard to exercise this noble character trait sometimes.  I find that I struggle with this most often when dealing with false teachers.  My first instinct, though passionate as it may be, is always to scream the truth and seek that it be obtained.  While being passionate and zealous for the truth is a wonderful thing, we should be equally passionate about developing a gracious and kind spirit.  Not just towards the people who we agree with on every subject, but likewise, the ones who stir up heated theological discussions with us.  People who appear to antagonize us and drive us over the edge of  "crazy cliff", may have been brought into our lives solely for the purpose of teaching us to be gracious.

    Now I am not saying to condone sin and just sweep it under the carpet...by God's grace, I don't want to ever do that-!  But we should proceed with kindness and a humble heart, seeking to honor God and point others to Christ with our words.  Not just Christ's wrath, (which I seem to do well) but His all sufficient grace.

    However, when dealing with people who are genuinely workers of iniquity, we should proceed with firmness and caution.  Christ rebuked the Pharisee's and drove the merchant's out of the temple. ("And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." John 2:14-17)  We see commands from Paul for one of the Churches to purge the evil person from among them. ("...Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person". 1 Corinthians 5:13)  So I think that it is important to maintain a healthy clarity as to who we should avoid and rebuke and who we should approach more gently, or answer with grace, when confronted by them.

    Having a tender heart towards unbelievers can be a truly good thing, but we cannot let it interfere with our distaste for evil.  When we encounter people who are willfully seeking to destroy Christ's Church, we should instantly feel the need to protect the body of believers and avoid that person at all costs.  If God desires to bring them to repentance, they will eventually respect and understand your protectiveness for other Christians.

    Learning to have a kind heart is inestimable!  It is essential for properly conveying the character of God.  Learning to view things from a spiritual perspective will help us immensely in our endeavors to achieve a gracious spirit.  If we can look at a person and remind ourselves that without the saving hand of God, we could be exactly like them, it will help us attain the graciousness we so desire.  Understanding that we did nothing to deserve God's gift of salvation, will help us appreciate it and instill a precious attitude towards the state of our eternal souls.

    As we embark on our venture to pursue graciousness, we should also remember to pray fervently for our enemies and our brother's and sister's in Christ.  We need to pray that God will provide us the grace to be the vessels for His glory that He intends for us to be.