Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--The philosophy of jogging

Yep. Jogging.  Of which I've gained much experience in the last couple of months.

When we're not struggling up a hill, mom and I can get somewhat philosophical as we endure our daily exercise.

Just the other day, mom made the statement, "If you think about it, jogging is a lot like life. If I think about how much farther I have to go, how many more hills we have to climb, or how many more minutes there are left, it is easy to get overwhelmed. But if I focus on the task at hand, taking the next step, I can handle it."

That surely rang true with me, as we were not yet halfway through our jog and the near-noon-day sun was beating down on us.

I thought about my own life. About my future. Doing so always presses my panic button.

I guess it's because I'm too quick to think of all the possibilities for disappointment and hardship. I don't know why I do that. It's not like I've had more than my share of hard times and trauma. But, then again, the media certainly isn't painting a pretty picture.

But then I'm reminded to look at the other side of the coin. To think about all the possibilities for much good and much growth. To remember that I'm safely in God's Hands.

I guess the area that causes me the most anxiety is marriage. "Will I get married? Will I never marry?" Honestly, I never thought I'd be 26 and unmarried. I thought I would have one or two children by now. Lot's of people do by 26.

I came close to marriage when I was 21. I remember thinking, "Well, this timeline works." Turns out, nothing else did. It was a disaster. It was scary and painful, and God did a miraculous work to derail that train. I learned a lot about God's sovereignty through that experience.

Thank you Jesus!

That scared some sense into me and made me realize it would be much better to never marry than to marry the wrong person.

After that fiasco, I remember thinking, "23 sounds like a good age to marry." I guess this is why, when an eligible young man started calling in my 23rd year, I was so quick to think, "This is it! Exactly as I'd planned!". Despite very important differing opinions and views, I thought I'd found him. So even though we hadn't grown very close, it was painful letting go of my 'plan'.

'My plan'. I'm sure if you think hard enough, we all have our own 'plan'.

Like making small goals for myself while jogging ("If I can just make it to the mailbox"), I guess having a 'plan' can help make the 'unknowns' of life more endurable. 
Really, you do have to make plans. The important thing is to make your plans according to scripture, and allowing God's plans to replace yours when they differ.

For example, I have a plan for how I will approach the possibility of marriage.

I will not consider any man, unless he shows himself to be a biblical christian. I will not enter into a 'relationship' unless it is with the express purpose of evaluating someone for marriage. I will not encourage or tolerate any premature physical displays of affection.

This is my plan and I believe it to be biblical. However, I have not planned when, how, where or whom I will marry. I know better than to try to do that.

In Proverbs, it says : The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

That is how I signed my letter of refusal 5 years ago (on May 21st). I think it was as much for me as it was for him.
I was able to surrender to the Lord's direction once He showed me how faulty my plans were.

Lord God, help me to be ever mindful of Your plans; "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9
Help me to surrender my plans when they don't line up with Yours. And finally, help me to trust You and Your plan for my future. There's no better place to be than in Your sovereign Hands. Amen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Adoption

I had quite a few thoughts fluttering around like butterflies this week. It took some time to finally catch one and pin it down.

This past week, I've listened to several chapters from a book about adoption, physical and spiritual, and also a short teaching about spiritual adoption.
The book is called "Adopted for Life" by Russell D. Moore. He interweaves the Doctrine of Adoption, the story of the adoption of his sons, and the huge responsibility of the Church to care for orphans. 

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27  

"Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land." Psalm 68:5-6

The teaching I heard is one of 48 lectures teaching about systematic theology. It's called "Drive-by Theology" and it was put together by Todd Friel (of Wretched Radio) and Pastor R.W. Glenn. I have immensely enjoyed these teachings and feel like I've learned so much, but I really have just begun to grasp some of what is talked about.

The lecture on the Doctrine of Adoption comes under the category of Soteriology, or the Doctrine of Salvation. A lot of different things are going on when one gets 'saved'.  Election, regeneration, repentance, faith, justification, sanctification, glorification, and also, adoption. Yeah, I know it sounds complicated. Thank God, we don't have to understand all this to be 'saved'. All of these doctrines are talked about in the bible though and so, it is good to try to gain some understanding about them for it gives us more of an understanding and gratefulness for all God has done for us. On a side note, I find that I love God more the more I learn about Him. There is no end to His Goodness.

So back to adoption, R. W. Glenn gave this quote from a man, Everett Ferguson, giving the definition of adoption. "The person adopted, at any age, was taken out of his previous condition, all old debts were cancelled, and he started a new life in a relationship of sonship to the new family, whose name he took and to whose inheritance he was entitled. The new father now owned the adoptees property, controlled his personal relationships, and had the right of discipline while assuming responsibility for his support and liability for his actions." Having been adopted into God's family, I can see the beautiful parallel. 

As a natural-born human being, a distant descendant of Adam, I was a child of the evil one. Yuck! I don't even like typing that, but it's true. We are all the sinful offspring of Satan. John 8 says: 
39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

These were the Pharisees, the leaders of Judaism, that Jesus was talking to! Until God calls us and we are adopted into His family, we are of the devil. That is our previous condition.

As the process of adoption begins, our debts are cancelled. Or, better yet, they are paid by someone else. The debt of sin is death and in no way could we afford to pay it and live. The Son of God, because He is God, is the only One who could afford to pay the debt. He was punished. He was killed. He paid the debt which we couldn't pay. AND He came back from death, defeating it!

So now we have taken His name and have become heirs. We have become brothers with Christ, and co-heirs with Him. This does not mean that we are the same as Jesus, or equal to God, but that we are of His family and He calls us brothers.  "For he who sanctifies(Jesus) and those who are sanctified(the adopted) all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers." Hebrews 2:11

And now, our Heavenly Father, owns all we have, all our property, all we are. He did before, because He is God, but now we acknowledge His ownership, His Lordship and we don't fight against it. For He takes care of what is His. He treats us as a good father would. He looks out for us by disciplining us, supporting us, surrounding us with others who have been adopted by Him, and giving us Grace when needed (which is all the time).

A difference I have thought about, between earthly and spiritual adoption is that, like when my parents first took in Natalie-Rose, all we knew about her was that she was a preemie and she needed a family, but God, when he adopted us, chose us, He knew everything about us there is to know. This blows me away! Why, knowing what I would be, would He still take me into His family? An extremely humbling thought.

I'm still uncovering the many layers of this Doctrine and others. I don't claim to even have this one quite right. If any of you Bible-readers see any error, please correct me! This is me taking baby steps further into understanding God and His amazing Love for us, His children.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Some of my latest...

Here are a few pictures of my latest creations...

The new addition is the Organic Baby Booties. I personally refer to them as the "boy booties" because they do look a little more appropriate for boys than the Mary Janes. But someone might like these sweet little boots for their little girl as well.

I'm having fun finding ways to embellish the shoes.

I'm also experimenting with some Fall items. Hats mainly. Then I could offer sets of a hat and shoes.

This hat goes with the "boy booties". Isn't it handsome? I'll be trying the little girl hat soon.

I'm really enjoying this venture and am thrilled with how it's going.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Neither Jew nor Greek

Okay. So here it is, 'Thoughtful Thursday' once again. Today, I will be 'shooting from the hip'.

On Monday and also last night, I had the opportunity to serve the most interesting group in the Dining Room at the Cove. And I honestly don't know if I should give the name of the group, possibly for their safety. But I can say that they were a group of pastors and church leaders from the countries of the Middle East. Muslim countries.

At first, it was a little bizarre. Being an American, tragic events have taught me to be wary, at least, of Muslims, or people who look Muslim. And please don't think I am given to prejudice. 
But as I watched these people and picked up on some of their conversation (in english) I fully realized what a miracle Jesus Christ is!

The descendants of Ishmael have come to be the Spiritual sons of Isaac.

Seeing these people pray to and worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was such a beautiful thing. Almost as beautiful as when a Jew comes to know his long-promised Messiah.

And so, I saw in the flesh the truth of Galatians 3:28-29: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, [neither American nor Arab] there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

*Retroactive* Thoughtful Thursday--Exceptionally Ordinary

"Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on the water is easy to impulsive pluck, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he followed Him afar off on the land. We do not need the grace of God to stand crises. Human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes."

This quote is from "My utmost for His highest" October 21st.
Each year when mom comes to it, she reads it aloud to us. Sometimes she evens goes to it when it's not October 21st. It really is very true. I think almost all of us feel that need to be doing huge things for God. That often comes out of a heart so full of thankfulness for what He has done for us. But sometimes, it can just be the pressure to perform. The need to outdo someone. The way we've been taught.

Doing something big for God is not what is set forth in scripture. No. Instead, a lot of the stories in scripture tell about God using small people who are doing small things to bring about His will. 
Don't get me wrong though. There are plenty of people doing big things too. I just want to make the point that obedience is what God desires.

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are." 1 Corinthians 1:26-28

"Saul was rejected as king because he failed to utterly destroy the Amalekites, instead choosing to keep the best of the best for himself and to sacrifice to God. But God didn't want his sacrifice, he wanted obedience." 1 Samuel 15:22

This is especially applicable to Home-makers, Stay-at-home moms, or even Stay-at-home daughters. Or as Jasmine Baucham calls them, Home-girls ; )
A lot of people consider home-making to be ordinary, ignored, unobserved drudgery. But since we see in Scripture that it is not necessarily feeding all the world's hungry, ending the infanticide we call abortion, or bringing peace to the Middle East, we can understand 'staying home' in a different light. A mother can feed all the hungry in her house. A mother can choose to raise the children God gives her and do it well. And she can bring peace into the home.

When a mother is changing diapers and wiping noses, she is making sure her child grows up healthy and happy. When she cleans up the kitchen only to dirty it up again, she is fulfilling the call to hospitality and to ministry within the home. When a wife seeks her husbands advice and allows him the final decision, she is honoring him and honoring God. And in each of these things (and many more) she is showing the love of Christ to her family.

When a daughter chooses to pursue further learning at home, instead of leaving the safety of her family, she is choosing to bless her family with her presence and gaining the benefits of continuing to learn in a family atmosphere. When a daughter acknowledges the high-calling of motherhood and chooses to prepare for such a future, she is avoiding all the hardships that being on her own would bring and fulfilling God's plan for woman. When a daughter seeks the wisdom and advice of her parents, she is getting such a head start in life and staying away from many pitfalls other girls on their own might fall into. And like the mother, she has the opportunity to show her family the love of Christ. 

We can do many impressive things, but without sharing Christ's love, we accomplish nothing.
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

If God calls someone to do big things, and He does a lot of the time, then they should do it with all their might, for His glory. And for those of us who live 'small' lives, we should also live for His glory. None of it is wasted if it is done for His glory. That's why He created us.

I humbly ask Him to show me what to do, help me to be obedient, and help me love others as Christ loves us.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Coming soon.... retroactive 'Thoughtful Thursday' post


pictures from our annual Isle of Palms vacation. : )