Sunday, September 22, 2013

His Grace As Continually Revealed by the Gift List

The last two posts have been somewhat heavy, so I thought it might be time to switch gears and revisit my gift list.  For those who aren't familiar with my gift list, this isn't a list of gifts I want to request when the next birthday or holiday rolls around but rather a list of gifts the Lord has given me. 

I started my gift list at Christmas in 2010 after reading Ann Voskamp's blog and later her book One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, and I've continued to list the gifts daily ever since then.  It's a discipline that I don't ever want to stop practicing because it daily reminds me that the Lord hasn't forgotten about me and that He continues to pour out His grace on an undeserving sinner.

#3398.  Not having any duties at home: the gift of singleness
#3405.  A friend's example of selflessness
#3450.  Being able to return unnecessary purchases
#3460.  Long phone chat with my sister
#3467.  Getting to sleep in
#3478.  A day with no plans
#3481.  Friends to sit with at church
#3485.  Blackberry aqua fresca
#3491.  Being able to confess sin immediately
#3497.  Body of Christ coming together to raise funds for a family
#3498.  Giving me words for a letter to a friend
#3507.  Hearing a powerful testimony at the dry cleaners
#3514.  Laughter during a book
#3525.  That You can handle outbursts and frustrations
#3538.  Hard eucharisteo:  water leak in garage
#3553.  Running water restored
#3604.  How You are showing up big to some people who need to see You right now
#3645.  That You are not a God of confusion
#3652.  Hard eucharisteo:  thwarting my plans
#3676.  Getting upgraded to reserved seats
#3680.  Butternut squash soup in the summer
#3701.  Hearing a friend's testimony over lunch
#3722.  Songs on the radio that speak to my heart
#3743.  Coming home to two cards
#3758.  Unplanned slumber party
#3765.  Saving me from spending money
#3789.  An army of prayer warriors
#3819.  FaceTime with family
#3843.  Being able to help a friend
#3854.  Wisdom from a friend
#3861.  Getting a reply to my tweet from Ann V
#3910.  Recognizing my wrong assumptions
#3921.  Fall weather

How is the Lord blessing you right now, even today?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

His Grace in Removing Idols

The first Bible study I ever did was Breaking Free by Beth Moore, and I'm pretty sure that's the first time that I learned that the term "idol" meant way more than just a carved wooden statue.  When Beth defined the term to include anything that takes the place of God in our lives, my eyes were opened to see how many things in this day and age could qualify under that definition.

During Priscilla Shirer's Gideon study that I went through this summer with a friend, she showed how the Israelites initially worshiped Baal, how Gideon removed the Baal idols, and how the Israelites ultimately returned to their old ways and wanted Gideon to rule over them as king after he (with God's help) defeated the Midianites.  On p. 150 of the study guide, Priscilla asked that we list any habit, desire, person, or activity that fits the following questions:

  • Do you have to compromise your convictions to indulge any person or action?
  • Does anything weigh more heavily in your decision-making process than the voice of the Holy Spirit?
  • Do you have difficulty being content, joyful, or grateful without something?
  • Is there anything you cannot say no to, even when God is asking it of you for a season?
  • Do you automatically turn to something for comfort or relief when you're unhappy?
  • Does your mind immediately center on something as a solution when problems arise?
I don't know about you, but those questions are tough.  And the truth that they reveal is tough to swallow.  But my prayer at the end of that day's study was for God to help me attack and remove the idols in my life that are taking His place and His benefits.  And the Lord has been faithful to assist with this process.

The easiest victory to discuss in a public forum is my love for college football, particularly a team with burnt orange as their signature color.  After I realized how much my fall schedule revolves around their games, I tried to make some changes.  And let's just say that maybe their losing two of the first three games is God's grace in removing this idol from my life (and maybe some of the other fans' lives).

Substituting a visible alternative for the invisible but faithful One-and-Only God will always leave me empty.   The things of this world cannot compare to the benefits that our all-knowing, omnipresent, almighty God can provide.  May that give me the strength and perseverance that I need to remove anything else that I attempt to put on His throne.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My Role

[Disclaimer:  If you've ever wondered what introverts do, the following is a typical example.  We think lots.  We sometimes write down what we think.  And what we write doesn't always tie up in a neat bow because we continue to think.  So beware what you tell an introvert because he or she may think long and hard about it!]

Over lunch this weekend, a friend mentioned that she was seeking God about what her role is in a particular activity in her life.  At the time, I didn't recognize the significance of her comment.  But since then, I've been thinking about my role in life, and I've realized that I don't really know what it is.

I am not a wife or a mother.  Both of those roles have important tasks that are fairly defined that go along with them.  Namely, those roles have a particular person or persons to serve.

But because I am neither of those roles, I've felt more like a wanderer without a guide.  While I'm grateful to know some gals who are on a path similar to mine, they aren't enough years ahead of me to show me the direction for the path ahead.  So, I've kind of made up my way as I go along.  I try to listen for God's leading, but I honestly don't know if I've heard Him correctly because right now looks a whole lot like the past ten to fifteen years.  I realize this is the blink of an eye on God's clock, but it feels like an eternity according to my watch.

In my current role, I don't know who I am supposed to serve on this earth.  I know that we are called to serve "the least of these," and I attempt to do that with my finances, but is that enough?  Are there particular people that I should be using my time to reach out to?

I continue to be pointed to Matthew 6:33 to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness," but I don't know what that is supposed to look like in my life.  Seeking means to constantly pursue, but in the context here, that doesn't mean pursuing accomplishments or the things of this world.  It's more about relationship than performance.

So right now, I find myself sitting in God's school room trying not to overcomplicate this but also trying to hear what He has to say about this particular subject because I don't want to waste my life on a made-up role.  I want to play the role He made me for. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

August Recap

As I sit down to recap August, it's already Labor Day, and a full weekend of college football is already in the books.  My thoughts are still a bit confused about the first 28 minutes of the UT game during which I texted a friend, "I did not wait 8 mos for this!"  Thankfully, the ship righted itself, as did my attitude and priorities.

One of the highlights of this month was taking the train home for my mom's birthday last weekend.  It is always good to be home, and we had fun eating out (dinner in a refurbished dining car in one town and pie in another town) and becoming new converts to Duck Dynasty.

I regret that my summer reading plan stalled out, and so I have quite a few books still in my stack.  They will likely have to wait a while longer now that college football has kicked off. 

Last week, a friend and I just wrapped up Priscilla Shirer's study on Gideon, and the study could not have been timed more perfectly.  During each of the six weeks, it felt like she had written the lessons just for me.  One of the lessons from Gideon that has stuck with me is that I don't want to fail to give God the glory; I want that to be my default in every situation.

In the midst of dealing with the not-so-fun aspects of this summer--like a $3,500 broken pipe repair, headaches caused by the storms, and unexplained low-pulse issues--the Lord has blessed me with over 400 gifts that I've recorded and many more that I'm sure I failed to notice.  Looking back at His faithfulness daily has served as a wonderful reminder that even when things feel mundane and ordinary, He is a God who makes the ordinary extraordinary if I'll just take time to stop and notice.

What was your favorite thing about August?