Joy From the Inside Out

Blessed, I am!  Yet, I know I am not alone in my struggle to enjoy every moment of motherhood.  I love my boys, but sometimes I feel like I’m going to go crazy.   You know what I’m talkin’ about.

A couple of weeks ago my boys were having at it.  After much prayer I read through I Corinthians 13 with them, inserting their name wherever is was written “Love.”  Then they spent an entire day wearing gloves – doing school with gloves, eating with gloves, and learning to consciously think about using their hands for things better than wailing on their brother!  (We all had to admit it was comical when they were trying to eat their lunch with big hands.  And thankfully they haven’t hit each other since).

Then on Sunday morning, one boy was such a grouch.  I reminded him (and me, again) that Satan is extra busy on Sundays, trying to upset people and families.  “We love you!”  Eventually, on the way to church, he decided to put on a smile and treat us with kindness. (I was thankful for the quick resolution.  I realize that this will not always be true here and that presently you might be enduring a long-term rebellion in your home.  Hugs!)

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Then there are times like last night, when one knocked on my door sounding like a barking seal, “Mom!  I can’t breathe!”  I rushed him into the bathroom and turned on the steaming hot shower.  I held him, sang to him, attempting to calm him down.  Of course I was concerned and completely thankful that he woke me up to help him!

In the dark, quiet hours, I got to thinking about how Jesus cares about His children.  About me. Then I began to wonder, what kind of child am I to God?

Basically, what endears us to children is their childlikeness.  The things they do that irritate us, threatening our sanity, is childishness.  (How many times a week do I remind myself to be patient – that they are just 8 and 6 and are in process.  Phil. 1:6!)

Dictionary.com defines them this way (followed by my lists):

Childishnessof, like, or befitting a child: childish games … weak; silly: childish fears.

My short list:

Unrestrained goofiness
Irresponsible, lazy
Doesn’t feel like it – doesn’t do it
Mine!!!
Sullen rebellion
Violent responses of anger
Happy one minute, upset the next
Says things without thinking
Fearful about the silliest things (orange juice pulp?!)
Stubbornness

 

Childlikeness:  like a child, as in innocence, frankness, etc.; befitting a child: childlike trust.

My short list:
Joyful outbursts of laughter
Honest
Trusting
Inquisitive – asks lots of questions
Forgiving
Spontaneous hugs
Excitement about life
Devoted and helpful
Willing to try new things
Natural inclination to believe there is a God and want to know Him better

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Truth: I am extremely prone to childishness, many times every day! And to go even deeper, recently one of my precious children asked me, “Mom, when are you going to be happy?”  GULP.  I am thankful for my children’s insights – so convicting!  With the health challenges I’ve faced the past several months, I have struggled with joy.  Even when I am making myself smile, somehow my children know when it is forced.  God, help me! A verse in Proverbs has been buzzing in my brain this week …

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.” Proverbs 31:25 NASB

I thank God for His patience with me!  He is gracious and slow to anger, always filled with joy.  This past week He has been teaching me about joy and how it is His gift.  When I trust that He is giving me everything I need, including the trials, I don’t need to have a hissy fit like a three-year-old.  I can laugh again!  Today I can smile (from the inside out!), knowing that if He gives me another day, He will be my Rock, my Provider, and my Joy!   Abba, I want to enjoy You and our walk through this life together.  Please make me more child-like in my joy, excitement about life, and in my undoubting reliance on You every day.

 

God’s Living Word …

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  Matthew 18:1-6 NASB

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.  But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13:11-13

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

 

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Is God Calling You to Full Time Christian Service?

Honestly, I never felt called or led by God to be a pastor’s wife.  Both of my sisters married pastors, and before I went to college my parents sweetly told me never to feel pressured to follow their path – the most important thing was to follow God’s leading for my life.

Most of the time when I was growing up I believed God was leading me to be a missionary overseas.  I would pepper visiting missionaries with questions.  I even got to the point where I practically told God, “I AM going to be a missionary, no matter what You think” (yikes).  Finally, He got me to a point where I said, “YOUR will be done” (whew).

Zooming ahead … my husband and I both graduated from Bible college.  Yet, we are not in full-time Christian service.

  • Did we waste money and time on our Bible college education?
  • Was it all for nothing?
  • Are we disobeying God?
  • Do we please God less because we are “electrical engineer” and “stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom” instead of “Rev.” and “Mrs. Pastor”?

It couldn’t be further from the truth!  God in His wisdom led us to Bible college, and then He led us to be Full-Time Christians.  In our church and in our community God opens up opportunities all the time to share His good gifts with others.  We are far from perfect about following up on all of His opportunities, but with His strength He is using us and we are constantly in awe of His provision!

God doesn’t call each of His children into the same field.  Where would we be if all believers were pastors and pastors wives?  Where would the body of Christ – the foot, the eyes, the knees be, to fulfill the callings of the local church in our communities (I Corinthians 12)?  He wisely places us in the position He knows will benefit from the talents He’s given us most effectively.

 

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13 NKJV

 

When Tim was attending Bible college, seeking God’s will for his life, his pastor took him aside privately and told him that he was confident that God wasn’t leading him to be a pastor.  Was Tim willing and open to be one?  Yes!  But, God used his pastor, who knew his personality and heart well, to give him loving, specific counsel.  Following Bible college, Tim pursued his (God given) interests in math, radio systems and computers, attending community college and then a state university.  The education he learned there, especially learning how to work through the tests of faith and how to face the bombardment against God’s Word, has been priceless.  I can’t tell you how many times God has opened doors for Tim (who pushed on the door of missions by taking a college Missionary Apprentice Program to France) in his engineering field to answer difficult questions about life, death, God, creation, family, etc.  Tim’s Greek and doctrinal training from Bible college days helps in his teaching/music ministry at church, as well as on a daily basis enriching his personal Bible study and walk with God.  God didn’t call him to be a pastor, but God is using him every day!

Before we were married, I taught for three years in a Christian school.  Many of my students were from Ukraine, as well and Pakistan and India.  One of my Indian students and her brother came to know Christ in our Christian school.  A few years later their mom trusted Christ and has shared the gospel with family and friends around the world – many who are coming to know Christ personally!  Praise the Lord!

A couple years ago we hosted a Muslim exchange student from the Philippines, and a Christian young lady from Ghana.  Talk about a mission field!  We are part of a church that is blessed with many students from all over the world attending a state university.  God has brought the world to us.  We are missionaries in our mid-western city – God’s place for us.

Our backgrounds come together to greatly help us in our most important mission field of all: our sons.
Most every day the boys and I pray for Daddy as he goes to his mission field at work, and for God to help us be a light for Jesus in our mission field: our neighborhood, and people we come into contact with at doctors offices, grocery stores, restaurants, parks, etc.  Just today my oldest son wanted to give a gospel tract to some friends of ours who were visiting.  Our mission field is very real!

Pastors and their wives, missionaries, missionary wives … these dear men and women have a sacred calling from God that is different from all else.  As shepherds leading us, as they follow the Good Shepherd, they have unique responsibilities, challenges, sacrifices, and rewards.  We must be committed to loving them (in word and deed!), praying for them, and supporting them.  But, if God didn’t call us to those ministries, we would be sinning against Him by disobeying His lead in our lives.  God’s will is the best place to be.

Perhaps, some time in the future, Tim and I might become missionaries.  We’ve talked about the possibility that after his retirement from his engineering mission field, God may call us to serve in areas of Bible translation (he’s continued using his Greek and enjoys learning Hebrew in his spare time), teaching, technical help, music, etc. on foreign and domestic mission fields.  Until then, we will walk with God daily on the mission field of His calling.  He knows best, and we are confident He will lead us every step of the way!

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV



Summary:  We each need to seek God’s individual leading, through His Word and the guidance of godly counselors.  He will, in time, impress us through His Spirit in the way we must go.  No fear of missing the boat!  Walk with Him today, every day, and He will faithfully guide to the next step.  Churches need godly pastors and their wives, as well as godly laymen and laywomen.

What about you?  Are you a Full Time Christian, where God has called you to be?  God will provide all the strength and resources we need to fulfill His calling.  Best of all, He promises to be with us every step of the way!

 

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:1-5 NKJV

 

How Not to Thrill Satan

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10


I love storms.  I love the booms of thunder, reminiscent of Independence Day fireworks, that shake my house and the lightning flash that always takes me by surprise.  Not so much when I was a child.  But, somewhere along the line I became captivated by God’s power. My boys are also calmed during a storm when I say, “Listen to how powerful God is!”  They are still a little afraid, but they are also impressed. 

This morning during Bible study, I have the rare delight of sitting by my bedroom window as a storm comes in.  The weather radar on the website tells me soon it will be on top of us.

I’ve been working my way through Hebrews, and this morning I came to the last half of Hebrews 12.  Good stuff!  Will you join me for a few moments in His Word? You can grab your own Bible or read it with me here:

Hebrews 12:18-29

Mountain Tour

Let’s go back.  We find ourselves back at the foot of Sinai.  I AM presents Himself to Israel. And all around us we hear Israelites, scared out of their wits, crying and begging for the trumpet sound and His words to stop.  Terror of His might is only surpassed by their terror of His commandments.  Even brave Moses was “exceedingly afraid and trembling” (21).  Behold the power of I AM!

Let’s go forward.  In verse 22 we zoom to another mountain – Mount Zion.  We are situated in the realms of a new covenant, made possible because I AM came further down than the top of a mountain, to live among us.  We read here about how the “God the judge of all” (23) provides “Jesus the Mediator” (24).

“SEE THAT YOU DO NOT REFUSE HIM WHO SPEAKS.” (25)

From the halls of heaven to Mount Sinai, to Mount Zion, to our very hearts.  He is still speaking … are we really listening?

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;  but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’”
Hebrews 3:12-15

Satan and Self Don’t Want Me to Listen

I crave solitude.  But I don’t always like quiet.  Whenever I am presented with the rare gift of being at home alone, the first few moments I bask in the silence.  But, soon I turn on music or find myself humming as I work.  I’ve even been known to turn on the radio or TV just for “background” noise.  I like to watch Netflix while I’m working on my menu plan, play the piano, listen to the radio in the van, talk to my Mom or a friend on the phone.

Satan would be thrilled if we are too busy – to ever listen to God.

Jesus died and rose again to have a relationship with us.  How would we like a friend who always talks but never listens?  I love to read my Bible, talk to God as soon as I wake up, talk to Him in the evening before bed, and those sweet moments alone with Him in the dead of night.  But, I rarely take time to truly listen to God.

Why?  Partly time constraints, and the reality of homeschooling two noisy boys.  But, also I think I have to admit, I am afraid of what He is going to tell me.  I’d rather listen to those who say what I want to hear.  What feels good and fits my agenda.  What sin is He going to uncover in my heart?  What is He going to ask me to do?  If I am willing, perfect Love, God Himself, will cast out every fear … replacing it with Himself.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
Romans 8:14

Make An Appointment with God

It’s time to make an appointment.  Otherwise, it may never come to pass.  Get out your day timer or gaze up at your family wall calendar in the kitchen.  Let’s schedule some time, 15-30 minutes, either this weekend or next week just to listen to I AM.  Begin your time by reading His Word and asking Him to speak to you.  Like Samuel, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears!” Then, let’s try to get into a habit of spending time every week, even 5-10 minutes daily, just to listen to Him.  We will be changed by His presence and His power.

The soothing rain and booming thunder draw me in, grabbing my attention and feeding my senses as I sit here talking with you.  Let’s let God’s powerful Self draw us in!  God, in His graciousness, makes Himself accessible to us.  While basking in the riches of His grace, let’s not forget Who He is … and that He wants our attention, our reverence, and our obedience.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Hebrews 10:27