Monday, January 01, 2018

New Years Thoughts.... 2018

Today is Holy Name Day, celebrated in the church as the day Jesus was circumcised and given his name, 8 days after birth, according to Jewish law. It is also New Years Day in the western calendar and, as such, is always a time of reflection for me. This year the two celebration days have me pondering Revelation 2, Dan Allender, and the story God is writing for my life.

Revelation 2:17

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

In "To Be Told," Dan Allender talks about our time right now being between names. We are given a name as infants, and we will be given a new name at the end of our lives. What are we in-between?

When I was born, my parents named me Elizabeth, a Hebrew name that means "consecrated to God." This is part of who I am. My parents, in the choice of my name, declared me sacred and set apart for God.

God knows what He is doing with my life. It is I who am discovering His leading and purpose along the way. So where is He taking me this year? What chapter will He write for 2018?

As I ponder my identity, my existence between two names, I am drawn to this description of who I am. I am...

1. God worshipping
2. Idolatry discerning
3. Earth keeping
4. Beauty creating
5. Justice seeking
6. Creation enjoying
7. Servant working
8. Community building
9. Image reflecting
10. Order discovering

I look forward to seeing how these descriptions are fleshed out over the course of the year and beyond.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I was asked to share my testimony at church this morning...

I remember as a teenager being asked to share my testimony and thinking that I wished my testimony were more “interesting.”

I grew up in a Christian home where my parents not only read the Bible, but believed and lived it daily. I came to know Christ at a very young age. I attended Christian schools from kindergarten all the way through college. People talk about their rebellious teenage years and college party days; mine were filled with mission trips, studying God's word, and preparing for a lifetime of serving Him.

I didn't realize what a blessing my testimony was. I didn't think my story was very “interesting.” Then again, I thought my story was about me.

You see, God didn't save me from a life of drugs and alcohol, or a broken home, or the circumstances that surrounded me. When God saved me, He saved me from what was rooted deep within – and that was sin. And it didn't matter what my story was before, because from the moment I was saved, God gave me a new story with a different ending. My story isn't about me. My LIFE isn't about me.

So what I want to share with you today is that this, the Bible, is my story. It tells everything about me, from who I was, to who I am, to where my eternity lies. It outlines the struggles I will face on earth and how I am to respond to them. This is what scripture says,

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because
you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” - James 1:2-3

As some of you know, this last year was one of the most difficult I have been through. We had a lot of change, some personal decisions that were made, and I spent the better part of the year working toward a goal that, in the end, didn't yield the results I expected. It was a hard year. But something happened in the midst of it all – God used the trials of this year to reveal some of the sin that had hold of my heart. And through the trials, He chiseled away at that sin until it no longer had hold of me. As a result, I look more like Him today than I did a year ago, and THAT I consider pure joy and worth every one of those trials!

Mine is a story of faithfulness, not because I have been faithful, but because He has taken my story and replaced it with one of HIS faithfulness. I have seen His faithfulness in my life, I have seen it this year, and I have seen it in the story He gave me (the Bible).

I used to wish my story were more “interesting.” But last night my grandmother passed away and as I reflected on her life, I praise God for the faithfulness He has provided my family for generations – Grandparents who loved and served Him, who taught their children to love and serve Him, who taught me to love and serve Him. I pray that I am faithful to teach my daughter to love and serve God as well. God, who is faithful to transform me from the inside out, to chisel away at the sin, revealing a heart that looks like His.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Trilogy BoxsetThe Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read The Hunger Games Trilogy on my Kindle this weekend and tore through all 3 books in less than 48 hours. They were amazing! The story line is captivating and Suzanne Collins manages to hold my attention throughout the books, even as the plot and storyline change with each new book. While the books are definitely violent and even gory, they are surprisingly clean and free of vulgar language, which I appreciate.

I don't know exactly which genre to put these books into, but I'd put them somewhere between sci-fi and war/action, with quite a bit of coming of age thrown in. Whatever the genre, I definitely recommend them.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Children and the Ants

I've had a fable floating around in my head for a while, so I figured I'd write it down. =D


The Children and the Ants

In the corner of the school yard, some children were playing with ants. Some of the children were following the ants that left the anthill, stepping on them as they went out in search of food. A couple of the children saved stray ants by picking them up and playing with them. When the frightened ants bit them, however, the children squished the offenders and went off to save some more ants. The majority of the boys found great pleasure in stomping on the anthills and watching the ants scatter as their homes were destroyed. They would rebuild the hill overnight and the boys would have new targets for their capricious enthusiasm. There was one little boy set apart from the other children. He saw the anthills being destroyed by the other boys and had compassion on the ants. He tried to save as many of them as he could, but the disoriented ants hurried away from his grasp as fast as their tiny legs would carry them. The ants he did save were carried across the school yard to a corner of safety. Along the way they fought to get free from his hold, scurrying across his skin, biting him repeatedly. When he released them, hands stinging with pain, the ants began their trek back across the yard to help rebuild the hill.

The children returned home as the day drew to a close, and recounted their experiences to mostly disinterested parents. Some of the children didn't even mention the ants at recess, because they'd already forgotten about them. A few of the children complained about the ant bites they'd received and sought sympathy. Two of the boys asked their fathers for magnifying glasses. One claimed to want to get a better look at the ants, while the other asked how to use the glass to set the ants on fire. And one little boy asked his father for an ant farm, because the ants that had bitten him, that had been so eager to get away from him and back to the destruction that awaited them, desperately needed a new home.

Back in the school yard, the children continued to torment the ants, intentionally or under the guise of rescue. The girls still squished the ants that bit them, and two of the boys were armed with new magnifying glasses. The restructured anthills were still being trampled, and the ants were still scattering in the wake of destruction. Each day, though, one container of ants was saved from the torment of all they'd ever known and taken to live in a new ant farm, far from the reach of stomping feet. Though the boy desired to save all of the ants, they did not come freely to him. They bit him when he reached out, yet he suffered to rescue them, because his compassion for them was so strong. Each day he sought out more ants, never tiring in his work, even when it hurt, even when he was tired, even when the other children made fun of him.

How like ants we are in the hand of God! We take the abuse Satan hurls at us and cling to this anthill of a home, returning to it each time Christ rescues us from its shambles. We think we can rebuild it, when we don't even realize that it is no longer our home! When Christ removes us from the sin that entangles us, we fight against him, biting him, inflicting pain on him with our rejection. Yet he loves us and has compassion on us still, and pleads our case before the Father, seeking us out and saving us. And we, the little ants we are, puff out our chests and make demands on the one who saves us! We demand that he rebuild our broken anthills. We demand that he leave us to what we know. When he doesn't give in to our demands, we lash out and bite him. In his love, he holds us still, and carries us to safety, acting not out of what would cause him the least pain, but what would be in our best interests.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I have never before observed Lent, but this year I feel convicted. Not because it's Lent and I ought to sacrifice something, but because God is showing me some areas where I can improve by denying myself some of my habitual passtimes for some better ones.

SO.... I am actually observing Lent to some degree this year, and giving up my personal TV time (or Netflix / Hulu time, as the case really is) and Eliana is doing the same, though she has much less choice in the matter. =D I realized that we've fallen into a bad pattern where she watches TV and I feel free, so I hole up in another room, doing something else, in front of another computer watching TV. The TV isn't necessarily bad, but the pattern we've fallen into is.

I have so many opportunities during the day to spend time with Eliana, teaching her through activities and play, talking with her as we rise in the morning and walk throughout our day, as it were. So that's what we're doing instead of watching TV for a few weeks. And so far, it's been a really nice change. Yes, I want to know what's going on with "my" shows. But they will be there after Easter, and if they're not, well, will it really make a difference in the end? No. It is also a good chance for me to evaluate what I watch and whether those are shows I really want to spend my time following. Are they beneficial? Why do I watch them? I am looking forward to cutting out some of what I watch in the future and having more time to read. I'm also looking forward to doing things like listening to music or radio shows (like 'Says You') while I'm scrapbooking instead of watching shows while I do. So... I'm looking forward to a season of self control, of growing in my relationship with Eliana and of learning to use my time better. I die to self so very little these days, and it's something I want to practice, for my own sake, and for His glory.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On my list to read...

The Sagan Diary

I've actually been reading again, which has been a refreshing deviation from my recent habit of the last year or so of playing computer games on the laptop until I'm tired enough to fall asleep. On the flight to Texas Christmas day I started reading one of Leif's books because I failed to bring one of my own. It was a YA Sci-fi novel called Zoe's Tale and was actually the fourth book of a series, following a trilogy. It was interesting, and I enjoyed it. So when we returned home, I started in on the first book in the series, Old Man's War. The trilogy was not so much meant for a young adult audience, and the language of the novel reflected that. Aside from the language, the book was captivating, though, and delightfully unlike any of the other sci-fi I've read in some respects. I liked that about it. The second book, The Ghost Brigade, was pretty good, too. I probably liked the final episode of the trilogy the best. It was sort of strange reading The Last Colony, having already read Zoe's Tale, but it was still very enjoyable and shed new light on both the universe and the characters.

Originally I wasn't a big fan of John Scalzi's writing, though as I kept reading, it grew on me. Now, I'm interested in reading more of his works, including the above, The Sagan Diary, a continuation of the Old Man's War series.

Leif says he'd be happy to buy it for me for my birthday (in September), but I think buying it for HIM for his birthday in May and then reading it before I give it to him is a much better idea. =D Mwaaa haa haa. Okay, maybe I won't do that. But I do want to read it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Repentant Heart

Just some sermon notes from today that I want to remember...

Satan is real and he is very good at his job. His job is three-fold:

1. Tempting us.
2. Lying to us.
3. Accusing us.

Satan tempts us and lies to us, and when we fall into the trap he sets and we sin, he points a finger at us and accuses us, telling us how awful we are. We are in a courtroom, and he is the prosecuting attorney, pointing out our wrongs before God, while we listen to all that we have done.

I John 2:1 - My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

When Satan accuses us before the Father, and makes his case against us, Jesus steps up and defends us before God, stating that the penalty for that sin has already been paid, and the sin forgiven. He is our defender when Satan accuses, for He is the one who paid for our sin.

When we sin, we have four choices:

1. Deny the sin.
2. Cover up the sin. (Or at least try to)
3. Let the sin weigh on us until we are crushed by guilt.
4. Repent

Repentance is confessing the sin and turning away from it and turning back to God. It is a change of heart, a change of focus, and a change of path. It is resetting the compass so it points again to God, and following in the way we should go, admitting that we were headed in the wrong direction before. (That part wasn't actually in the sermon, but a picture that just popped into my head.)

When we repent, we must confess the sin before God, but we may also need to confess the sin to the person we sinned against, in order to restore the relationship. This is the more humbling act, but is part of turning back to God and returning to the right path.

When we do repent, we are blessed with several benefits:

1. We receive mercy instead of misery.

Proverbs 28:13 - He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Parents ought to show their children HOW to repent, both by instructing, and by repenting themselves, asking forgiveness when they sin. When children confess and demonstrate repentance, parents ought to treat their children with the same mercy God shows us, that they will learn the beauty of God's mercy and the importance of repentance, that repentance will be sweet to them.

2. We receive forgiveness instead of slavery.

When we are riddled with guilt, we become a slave. We hold onto our sins and they control us, controlling our thoughts. We become slaves to Satan's accusations, cowering before the judge's bench, pleading guilty. When we plead guilty, we in effect waive our rights to a defender and let the prosecuting attorney win. If, however, we stand before the judge and let Christ speak for us, we are forgiven and receive freedom. How much sweeter is forgiveness in Christ!

3. We receive refreshment instead of shame.

Acts 3:19 - Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

When we accept the forgiveness that comes from Christ, our sins are wiped out and we are refreshed, knowing that He has borne our shame and we no longer have to.