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This is going to be short because it is late, but I feel like I have been amiss in not blogging for the last few days, and I wanted to be consistant. But I am not going to feel guilty, because it is not productive, and because this is not God's standard, it is a self imposed desire to blog daily. So I am going to let it go!But I just wanted to let you in on some profound things that happened to me today.First, my friends showered me with love and gifts today at my birthday tea party. I have such a wonderful group of friends, and they just made me feel so incredibly loved and I am so blessed to have each one of them in my life. Ladies, I love you all. Thank you for keeping me on my knees, and making me want to be a better wife, mother and daughter of the King. You all rock my world!The second thing happened at a little boy's birthday party, where an adopted boy was showered with a party he didnt expect, and a gift he never imagined by an uncle who wasnt even related to him. Ask me and I will tell you the whole story sometime.The last thing was at church watching my husband filling out the envelope for the Christmas offering, and the TTI offering. And my daughter putting in all the money she had earned by selling jewelry in the One Child offering. And my son as he emptied his wallet of his iPhone savings into the plate as it was passed. After the service, I asked him, "How much did you put in?" "All of it" was his reply. "Why?" I asked. And I will never forget his reply: "I had to, Mom", was all he said. And that was enough for me. Because I understand that. And I walked to the car stunned. My kid gets it. He sees beyond himself, and his wants. He knows he will get more money. God will continue to bless him. He has learned to trust and he was joyfully, happily obedient to give what he had with an open hand.And why shouldn't he be? He has learned it from the best. And I have had the same teacher he has. His father. My husband. The most generous person I know, and the one whom I have the privilege to be married to. He has taught me to joyfully give and wholeheartedly trust God. Yes, I know I am blessed. But tonight I realized on a deeper level, just how much.And as we were driving home it hit me: I have looked into the face of God today. I have been in the presence of the Holy Spirit in you today. And in that uncle, and in my husband, and my son and daughter. I have stood in the presence of Almighty God- tangible, visible and holy. I am in awe.
Well, daily has been difficult, to say the least. Especially this week since my older daughter, Alicia has had a friend from Canada staying with us all week and we have been "showing her the sights"-- Target, Walgreens, Publix... you get the gist of it. Anyway, I have fallen off schedule, and I have to move forward.A question came to mind on 12/12/12- How will you remember where you were on 12/12/12? and, in ten years, will it matter? I was doing laundry. Nothing special. No fanfare, no hoopla.
Yesterday, we talked about Christ in me, the hope of glory. And Today, I want to make it personal.We went to church Sunday at the Acreage Church, and our missionary from Zambia, Pastor Nelms nephew spoke. It was just what I needed to hear.He spoke about the Gospel, and how it should change everything; every aspect of our lives. For every aspect of our lives are tainted with sin and hopeless without Christ. We in our own strength are unregenerate. But the restorative power of the gospel changes everything. The Gospel is a process in which Christ restores what the enemy has stolen: relationship with him. It is both a once forever change and a lifetime process, at the same time. And he said something that really got my attention. He said, "You are the hope of the world. You are uniquely qualified to be and to bring the hope that the world so desperately needs, even thou they dont even know that they need it. That got me to thinking about something that God has been doing in me.Most of you know the pain in my life. In my heart and in my body, which I think is a result of the pain in my heart. But God has been schooling me in this classroom of pain. And just as the emotional pain has an impact on my physical body and is causing physical pain, beyond what I could have ever imagined, these things that take place on a physical plane have great bearing in the spiritual realm. And particularly on my spiritual life. A Process. So here's my synopsis. I wrote this to a friend today who is going through a difficult trial and is in the hospital right now. And this is for you, too my dear friends. So think about what you are going through, and read this as if I am speaking to you about it.Your whole life up to now he has been preparing you for this moment in time. And this is the exam. You have been studying, preparing and practicing. Now is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. If you look back, I am sure you can see the moments he put in your path...the teachers, the Bible studies, everything to prepare you to be here right now. I love how he does that. And even if you cant think of specifics, He has. I was just thinking today about pain. My heart is so broken right now, and has been constantly being crushed by our second daughter. She is living a lifestyle that is contrary to the word of God. However, God has used this pain in such incredible ways, and my heart cries out to him in gratefulness for this pain. I didnt start out that way. I was kicking and screaming and denying and wrestling with God. But now I am settled in this. But it doesnt make it easy. It is hard, and it still hurts. In fact, I told someone today that I didnt know it was possible to have your heart so crushed and still be alive and walking around. Honestly, sometimes it hurts so bad that I think I am going to be crushed under the weight of it. Thats when I know I have lost perspective and have to take a step back and see it from his point of view. We have such a short time here on this planet. And he is so loving that he lets us have such good gifts. And we expect them to last and last. We don't expect it to all be easy, but we dont expect it to be so hard, either. And that we forget that sometimes pain can be a friend. Weird, I know. But would you have needed him so desperately without this? And as you said, you have alot to learn in trusting him. I know what you mean. So here is your opportunity. Your "exam". Not your final, probably just the mid-term. Because there is more to come, my friend. But the cool thing about this exam, is that it is an open book exam. And the teacher is there, holding your hand and walking you through it. He is standing by your side saying, "I am the Answer to the questions you didnt even know you had." And he lets us experience just exactly what will make us jump into his arms and learn exactly the lessons we need. No more, no less.It is such a comfort to me to know that He is in control. He is able. He is God. And he loves me. He loves me. Why?? I am so unworthy to experience his grace in such a tangible way. His love so perfectly poured out for me. In the midst of a terrible pain, God has birthed such a deep love- a desperate, quiet and peaceful kind of love that I can't live without him. I cannot manage anymore without him fully present every moment in me. I realize that everything I do, every moment I spend without him is just rubbish. There are still too many of those, too. But I am learning to see him more and more and want him to be my everything. And I thank him for driving me to my knees. For choosing me to fall so desperately in love with him, and settling me deep in his peace. And isnt it worth it? Col. 1:24-29 4 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.We have been stuck in this verse for a few times. But it is so important. And so rich and full. I rejoice in what I am suffering.....I rejoice and fill up in my flesh what I am still lacking in what Christ needs to be in me for myself, and so I can learn to love others like he does. He is carrying out in me- in my body, soul, mind and spirit right now his transformation process....that is what I think it means. And he is the reason we strenuously contend, with All HIS energy. Because when we do it in our own strength, it is just rubbish. My dear friends, God is at work. And he has chosen you for his canvas. He is crafting something beautiful. Thank him for what he is doing in you, even if you are not at the place where you can thank him for the vehicle he chose to use. And pray that you will get there. I am still praying that for myself, because I often forget his purposes and want to just get in the vehicle he chose and drive away. Away from the pain, the hurt and disappointment. But if I learn to embrace it, I can live above it, and not let it drag me down. Only then can I truly learn to have real joy in whatever life brings. With a grateful and joyful heart,Leslie
PRACTICE HIS PRESENCE I am practicing a new discipline this month, prompted by the book “1000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. I haven't read the book yet, although I plan to. In fact, I was going to get it at church this weekend, but I told a friend about her devotional, “The Jesse Tree Devotional” and she went to the website, fell in love like I did and has already ordered the book for me. (But if you want one, they are on sale at CBD.com right now for 6.99!) Amazing how God provides when he has clearly told me not to buy myself anything and watch him provide. But that story is for another day. Maybe tomorrow. But before I forget, let me give you the link to her website in case you are looking for something wonderful to do as a devotional this advent season. It isn't too late. Start today with day 1 and do 2 days at a time. You will be caught up before you know it. The website is www.aholyexperience.com You will love everything she writes. She paints beautiful word pictures that draw you in and hold you there. I just love her work. You will also find the inspiration for this post, December Joy Gifts there. But back to today's post. The discipline I am practicing is the December Joy Gifts Challenge. In it, you find three things daily that you are grateful for. Each day she asks for something different. Todays was 3 gifts from your Savior. Mine are: His Presence, His love, and His Discipline. Discipline. How I dislike that word. The very thought of it send shivers down my spine and makes my knees go weak. I am so undisciplined. But I need it. I want to be more disciplined. But I do not want to work at it. So God forces me with situations that I have no control over and teaches me to run to him instead of acting like the world.To have a Christ like response rather than a worldly, knee-jerk reaction. I do have a choice. But it is only through disciplining myself that I can make the right choice. Our children are a great example of this. As babies, they react to situations. If another child takes a toy from them, they cry. If they want a toy another child has, they take it. No please, No thank you. They hit if they are angry, they cry when they don't get their way, and they do any number of other unacceptable things if they so desire. Unless we discipline them. Teach them and train them to respond rather than to react. Proverbs says: train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old, they will not depart from it. Often we use this verse for a wayward child and that they will eventually come back to Christ. And that is often true. However, it can also be interpreted for this situation. The same is true for our hearts. We must learn to let God discipline our hearts and lives, and one way we can do this is to practice his presence. That means to get the idea into our thick skulls that we are able to be always in his presence. But our sin kicks us out the door. So we must discipline our hearts to keep short accounts, and realize that any life lived outside his presence is just existing, not truly living. He says he has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Which means that we can live in his presence thereby living life to the fullest possible measure. Today, I am missing him. Alicia (my oldest daughter) has a friend visiting from Canada and the days have been so full that I have not taken the time I need (which is a lot) to be with Him at the beginning of the day, and so it gets shoved aside and then I am too tired or too lazy or just preoccupied and don't do it later. And so I am missing him. I want to be with him, but I haven't taken the proper time to. I haven't disciplined myself. I know he is always there, but I am not. So what will it take for me to do what I know is best? What do I need to do to get back to where I need to be? Anne Graham Lotz says: If you cannot hear Gods voice anymore, go back to the last time you heard it, do what he told you to do, and then you will be able to hear him again. It is as simple as that. One step. It is amazing to me that we can wander ever so far from God and all it takes to be back in his presence is One Step. Not a giant leap. No penance. No nothing. One Step. Because Jesus Paid it All. He did what he did so you and I could practice his presence all the time. We could mess up, and he still loves. We could wander and he still forgives. And we could learn all the while to Practice His Presence so that those times of wandering would be few and far between. If you and I only realized how very much he loves us. How much he gave up for us. How far he was willing to go for us, I think we would wander less and figure out what is truly important way sooner in our lives. Col. 1:24-27 says: 24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Imagine that! Paul rejoiced in suffering for the people. And he took on in his flesh the afflictions of Christ so people could know the message that had been hidden, but now was revealed among the Gentiles which was "Christ in you, the hope of glory". Christ, living in me. My living hope. In His presence always, if I choose to live there. But I have to fight my flesh and discipline myself to do it, and stay there. It is hard work. But so worth it. And now it is time for me to discipline myself and take that step. Here I go.... I love you!Leslie