Monday, March 30, 2009

Love Mercy

This last week has been a rough one for us. Abi and Chloe were having a fever and headache and then it turned into colds. Regretfully, Abi's then went to her ears, which is a first for us. While I was doing what I could for her and finally getting her to sleep, Hadassah, who was complaining her tummy didn't feel good, had to throw up! Quite a day! Abi's ears continued to bother her and after too little sleep, I guess I'm a little run down. I got a raging tonsil infection. I won't describe what they looked like! I have been sweating it out (literally!) and am on the mend. I'm doing what I call "The Lemonade Diet" (The Master Cleanse). Mix 1 cup hot water with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, (preferably fresh squeezed) and 1 tablespoon or more maple syrup, then shake in as much cayenne pepper as you can stand. It burns, but it hurts good and warms through from your throat and tonsils into your ears. I think all things considered and at my midwife's advice, I may fast on this for a while to really cleanse!
Needless to say, when I wasn't huddling under a blanket to feel warm, once I was hot, I'd get up and try to keep things going around here. Abe had to fill in the blanks and he did a good job of it! I have a new appreciation for the tortoise. It's amazing what can actually get done if you just keep chipping at it! I guess God knows that, it seems that's what He does with me!
"Slow and steady wins the race..."
"Like the hammer that breaks the rock in two..."

I had such a surprise the other day and I've been thinking on it ever since...
I was reading the lyrics to a song I hadn't heard, that was basically Micah 6:8.
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?"
Now, last year, I felt like God was really teaching me about "walking humbly" with Him. What that should look like in my life, etc. One definition I love, of humility, is: Knowing who God is, and who we are, and not getting the two mixed up!
There isn't an area or subject or circumstance where this doesn't apply quite simply!
So, when I think of this verse, that's the part I identify with, that my heart runs to.
When I read this again the other day, I was so stunned to hear "love mercy"!
So that's what You've been up to, Abba! Teaching me to love mercy!
I always thought (without thinking) of "love mercy" as actually meaning, "be merciful". But I see now that's not what He's getting at here. I never before thought much about mercy. I didn't realize that it's such a huge part of who God is! All this winter, mercy has been emerging as a big deal, to me.

As shared in a previous post, Kathryn Scott's song "At the Foot of the Cross", has the line, "Coming to kiss the feet of Mercy..."
Phillips, Craig and Dean song, "Mercy Came Running" is especially beautiful to me...
Psalm 23... Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...
Joni Eareckson Tada said: "This paralysis is my greatest mercy."
The song "Where Mercy Reigns" says... "Never alone, where Mercy reigns. Fear is unknown, where Mercy reigns.
Jesus will never change the way He feels for you. Love remains, where mercy reigns."
Just look up mercy in a concordance to notice all the times it doesn't just reference "mercy", but:
Great mercy... manifold mercy... tender mercy...

I do feel, that as we see Him for who He is, and His mercy begins to be a thing of beauty to us, instead of trying to "be merciful", I think it will flow as a fruit. As I accept His mercy and am humbled and awed by it, how can I stop it from flowing out! Once again it makes it all about Him, instead of all about me!

I look forward to spending each day, with eyes opened to look for His new mercies, hidden for me to search for! His ways are indeed "past finding out"!

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Monday, March 23, 2009

A Rope Swing

Last year for Damaris' birthday, Abe had the idea of hanging a rope swing from a tree limb that hangs out over our drive. I was a bit leary at first, but after watching them carefully while they got the hang of it, I soon was comfortable with it. The girls love it when an adult will pull them way back as high as they can and send them sailing into the sky. Chloe particularly loves it!

I love it when I see one of them all by herself, swinging away. It's such a peaceful uplifting thing to do. I know, I've tried it out myself!
It was quite something when some friends of ours with 5 boys stopped in. The boys on the swing was an entirely different matter! I'm not sure "peaceful" is the word I'd use to describe it! They tried standing in the loop, with one foot, no less!
The expression you see on Abi's face is exactly what it looks like... A little "ohhhh"!

Come visit and try it out! You might have to wait in line!
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Morning Mercies Once Again

Last night, we laid a little burden down at the foot of the cross. This morning His mercies are new. Accompanied by Peace, I was delivered of what we thought would be a new member of our family this fall. With no trauma, not having to leave home, or suffer anything intense or scary, my body went through the motions of having a baby, only there was no baby. Our midwife came and examined what was lost and there was a tiny placenta and an amniotic sack about the size of an olive, but nothing in it. God knows for me this made the grief less. Nervertheless, I weep...
This morning I was reminded that even though there is not at this time to be a little girl named "Mercy", Mercy is still mine! I am my beloveds and He is mine!
The other morning I read on this blog about how the things we go through are worth it if it means we get to know Jesus deeper through it. I say amen.
Yesterday morning after I posted here, I was really fighting worry etc. In my spirit I was feeling so yucky. As I was combing Hadassah's hair, I was growing very frustrated. She wasn't cooperating and none of the others were either. She was being goofy and I was definitely not feeling in a goofy mood myself. I went on this tirade telling the girls I need them to cooperate with me, and my attitude was not Christ! Hadassah went downstairs when I was finished and began cleaning up in their room. Right away I knew what was going on and I called the girls all together for a talk.
I asked Hadassah, "Mama was kind of mean to you when I was combing your hair, wasn't I?" She right away said, "Yeah, but it's ok" That about broke my heart! I explained that it is not ok.
You see, while I was blogging, prior to that, I had read a beautiful post that had these two quotes that really struck me. "To bring up a child in the way he should go, try traveling that way yourself once in a while." (I happen to think the "once in a while" should be left off!) and
"Don't worry that your children never listen to you, worry that they are watching you."
Talk about a timely word for me!
I simply told my girls that I was worried about the baby, and that made me grouchy and impatient. I could not reach into my tummy and take care of the baby or make sure it was alright, so that was God's job, and I should not worry. I reminded each of them of different things they've struggled with where I have taught them to not be afraid, but to remember that Jesus is with them, and how I have to do the same thing! It's no different. Then I prayed, asking for God's help and mercy on us. It was a precious time of, together, as daughters, going to our Father. Damaris, who is very non-verbal when it comes to how she feels, said a knowing and simple "amen".
That meant a lot to me, because it is not their "habit" to repeat "amen", and just very recently I had asked them if they knew what saying amen meant and had explained it to them. I knew her amen was meaningful. Also I have went through much with her, watching God show Himself to her and seeing her overcome fear with His help. Praise Him!
The other thing that is on my heart this morning is a song we learned when I was a child, that was special to my Dad. (My parents had been "expelled" from a church that believed they were the only true church of God, and as they went through much searching and upheaval, God made it clear who His people/church are.)
For I'm building a people of power
And I'm building a people of praise
Who will move through this land by my Spirit
And will glorify my precious name
So build your church, Lord
Make it strong, Lord
Join our hearts, Lord
To Your Son
Make us one, Lord
In Your body
In the kingdom of Your Son
In all that we are going through, He is endeavoring to build us up in Himself. It is all worth it! As in the Kathryn Scott song in yesterday's post, I'm here to "kiss the feet of Mercy". These things He walks us through do join our hearts to His Son, and so to Him! Thank You, Daddy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

God is Merciful

For the last few weeks, I have been holding back in sharing one of the current events in our life. I think maybe as I try to sort out my thoughts and feelings here, you might understand why.
I am 9 weeks pregnant. Usually this is cause for rejoicing, etc. and we have done some of that. The trepidation comes in because last year in May, at 11 weeks pregnant, I miscarried.
Usually, with the pregnancies of my five girls, when I saw a positive pregnancy test, there was the excitement and also the feeling of "there's no going back now"!
Last year, getting pregnant was a surprise. We were in the middle of building a house, anticipating moving, (which we did in July) and at first I felt a little snowed under. Then I thought, "Really, it's no extra work, being pregnant. I'll just pace myself, not feel as good, but we'd be settled in before the birth." That led me to realizing that it is really God who carries a baby in the womb, forming them etc. So I rested my care on Him.
I had never had complications with a pregnancy before, so it was a complete shock when I started spotting and after 5 days of taking it easy, I lost it. By this time I was adding up the fact that I had been having less then normal nausea, hadn't thickened in the waist as much as I had expected by then, etc. Through it all, God was very gracious to me.
So... back to now.
When I realized I was pregnant, I had this feeling that it's not for sure, until I'm past that 11 week mark. I find myself analyzing how nauseous I do or don't feel. I've let myself be laid back and lazy. I have not felt very nauseous. The beginning of this week I started spotting, just the tiniest bit... then Wednesday it all of the sudden increased. But Tuesday I felt really gaggy and I told my husband this was the first day I really felt pregnant! It made me feel better to feel worse! (But I don't like feeling bad...)
Anyway, my midwife has me taking some things that stopped the faint low back ache (cramps) and the bleeding slowed almost to a stop yesterday. I eased up on the quantity of herbs and it got worse again, so I am back to full dose and waiting it out. I have not lost the pregnancy yet, but I worry about what is actually going on in there. I am literally waiting on the Lord, and I know it is He who is forming this child, it is in His care.
Before all of this happened, since last fall, really, and a dream I had about the mercy of God, I have been pondering mercy. Then I read a book called "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken that I loved and it endeared the mercy of God to me even more. Quite often the thought that His mercies are new every morning, has lingered in my heart. Because of this, and everything, I have thought, if this baby is a girl (like they all have been!:)) I would like to name her something that means "God is merciful" or Mercy Dawn...
As the events of this week have unfolded, it seems like God has been quiet, except the continuous thought - God is merciful...
I would like this interpretted, as in, what will Him being merciful look like in this situation? I feel like I'm yielded to His will, but it would be nice to know, to not be in limbo. Another thought I have, is in past experiences I have felt God saying to me that we have a choice about what we believe about Him, who we believe Him to be? In times past I have been ashamed of my unbelief, when He worked marvelously in my behalf. That has led me to see I don't really expect Him to be good, when really there is none good, but God! At the same time I hesitate to "name it, claim it" or be arrogant in my own mind in any way...
In sharing all this while in the process, I guess I am choosing to include you this journey. My heart's prayer is always, that the journey that I walk in would make me more like Him, not more like myself. I want to let go of wrong ways of thinking, of unbelief, of fear, of dread, etc. and embrace God and let who He is be my stay.
By nature I am not like "Anne of Green Gables". Somewhat like Marilla, I like flying but I can definitely do without the thud. I guess I'm scared to hope, but again what does that tell you about my trust in God. It is so very small! Lord, help my unbelief!
I do believe God is merciful and His mercy is a thing of beauty! I like the Kathryn Scott song, "At the Foot of the Cross".
At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgement You received
Cho. - And You've won my heart
Yes, You've won my heart
Now I can...
Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross
At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death You bore for me
I'm laying every burden down
I'm laying every burden down
Meet me at the foot of the cross. That's where I want to live!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Rental Pictures

#1: See the porch thing off the basement? It's hard to describe. The clothesline is to the left of Mom. Great volleyball possibilities, not?!
#2: The grape arbor and the clothesline goes down from there, the white post. #3: The garden (to the right/east of the grape arbor)
#4: The back of the house... the window to the right of the door would be the bathroom one, the far right is the laundry. The window to the left is the office and the far left is the bedroom.
#1: Bad pic of the cellar room #2: Boys, I think this is for you - the great "tan" throne. Just pull that curtain shut and ... well, you know!
#3: There are a number of little shelf things like this in the basement. I noticed the shop light above it. Each one could have a little "project station". #4: is the wood furnace, pretty new too! This is for Shane!
#1: This is the basement porch, needs some fresh paint, bet it stays fairly cool in the summer... I don't know if the swing thing stays but the kids made themselves at home. Better get used to it! Alex even found a funny hat of former renters! #3 is a scene from the back yard and #4 is just my sweetie!
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Learn to live, loved.

I have been thinking on this sentence a lot, since reading it in "The Shack" and then more great reading on Mr. Young's blog, Wind Rumors. I also found more great stuff on Mr. Wayne Jacobson's blog. The more I think on this, the more it strikes me how all-encompassing this actually is! I am going to post a bit I read...

Living Loved with a Little Help from Merton
“Living loved” has become quite the motto around here. It’s what allows us to live deeply in the life of Jesus. Recently a correspondent sent me some excerpts on that theme drawn from Thomas Merton’s book, No Man Is An Island. Since I haven't had time to write anything this week, I thought you’d enjoy his take on this. I sure did. His words vibrate with truth and life!
13. Our ability to be sincere with ourselves, with God, and with other men is really proportionate to our capacity for sincere love. And the sincerity of our love depends in large measure upon our capacity to believe ourselves loved. Most of the moral and mental and even religious complexities of our time go back to our desperate fear that we are not and can never be really loved by anyone.
When we consider that most men want to be loved as if they were gods, it is hardly surprising that they should despair of receiving the love they think they deserve. Even the biggest of fools must be dimly aware that he is not worthy of adoration, and no matter what he may believe about his right to be adored, he will not be long in finding out that he can never fool anyone enough to make her adore him. And yet our idea of ourselves is so fantastically unreal that we rebel against this lack of “love” as though we were the victims of an injustice. Our whole life is then constructed on a basis of duplicity. We assume that others are receiving the kind of appreciation we want for ourselves, and we proceed on the assumption that since we are not lovable as we are, we must become lovable under false pretenses, as if we were something better than we are. The real reason why so few men believe in God is that they have ceased to believe that even a God can love them. But their despair is, perhaps, more respectable than the insincerity of those who think they can trick God into loving them for something they are not. This kind of duplicity is, after all, fairly common among so-called “believers,” who consciously cling to the hope that God Himself, placated by prayer, will support their egotism and their insincerity, and help them to achieve their own selfish ends.
14. If we are to love sincerely, and with simplicity, we must first of all overcome the fear of not being loved. And this cannot be done by forcing ourselves to believe in some illusion, saying that we are loved when we are not. We must somehow strip ourselves of our greatest illusions about ourselves, frankly recognize in how many ways we are unlovable, descend into the depths of our being until we come to the basic reality that is in us, and learn to see that we are lovable after all, in spite of everything! This is a difficult job. It can only really be done by a lifetime of genuine humility. We must accept the fact that we are not what we would like to be. We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap and showy garment that it is. We must find our real self, in all its elemental poverty but also in its very great and very simple dignity: created to be a child of God, and capable of loving with something of God’s own sincerity and His unselfishness.
The first step in this sincerity is the recognition that although we are worth little or nothing in ourselves, we are potentially worth very much, because we can hope to be loved by God. He does not love us because we are good, but we become good when and because He loves us. If we receive this love in all simplicity, the sincerity of our love for others will more or less take care of itself. Strong in the confidence that we are loved by Him, we will not worry too much about the uncertainty of being loved by other men. I do not mean that we will be indifferent to their love for us: since we wish them to love in us the God Who loves them in us. But we will never have to be anxious about their love, which in any case we do not expect to see too dearly in this life.
15. The whole question of sincerity, then, is basically a question of love and fear. The man who is selfish, narrow, who loves little and fears much that he will not be loved, can never be deeply sincere, even though he may sometimes have a character that seems to be frank on the surface. In his depths he will always be involved in duplicity. He will deceive himself in his best and most serious intentions. Nothing he says or feels about love, whether human or divine, can safely be believed, until his love be purged at least of its basest and most unreasonable fears.
But the man who is not afraid to admit everything that he sees to be wrong with himself, and yet recognizes that he may be the object of God’s love precisely because of his shortcomings, can begin to be sincere. His sincerity is based on confidence, not in his illusions about himself, but in the endless, unfailing mercy of God."
Perhaps letting God teach us how to live loved is the hardest thing we’ll ever learn. Our flesh wars against it, and religion constantly challenges the notion by making us think that God only loves us when we’ve earned it some how. But he has always loved you, and always will. That doesn’t change. Whether you believe it or not, makes all the difference in the world. This is where transformation begins!
Thank you, Mr. Merton and Mr. Jacobson for these words of life!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pride Kills Faith?!

This morning I was indulging in the pleasure of a very good book. The house was quiet, the girls all still asleep. Unlike a lot of families, we let our kids stay up as late as we do. (Ah, the joys of homeschooling!) I relish quiet in the morning, as they don't wake up so early. It also gives them more time with Daddy...
Anyway, the book I am re-reading is by George MacDonald, actually re-edited by Dan Hamilton, called "The Seaboard Parish". (Read "A Quiet Neighborhood" first.) I can't help but share a bit of it, it struck such a chord in my heart!
In Chapter 14 - A Sermon for Sailors ... "There is nothing that kills faith sooner than pride. The two are directly against each other."
(In Chapter 15, talking about Peter)...
"I have sometimes wondered whether his denial of our Lord had anything to do with his satisfaction with himself for making that onslaught upon the high priest's servant. It was a brave and faithful act to draw a single sword against a multitude. Peter had justified his confident saying that he would not deny Him. He was not one to deny his Lord - who had been the first to confess Him! Yet ere the cock had crowed, ere the morning had dawned, the vulgar grandeur of the palace of the high priest and the accusation of a maid-servant were enough to make him quail. He was excited before, and now he was cold in the middle of the night, with Jesus gone from his sight a prisoner.
"Alas, that the courage which had led him to follow the Lord should have thus led him but into the denial of Him! Yet, why should I say alas? If the denial of our Lord lay in his heart a possible thing, only prevented by his being kept in favorable circumstances for confessing Him, it was a thousand times better that he should deny Him, and thus know what a poor weak thing that heart of his was, trust it no more, and give it up to the Master to make it strong and pure and grand. For such an end, the Lord was willing to bear all the pain of Peter's denial."
Here I ceased and, a little overcome, rose and retired to my own room. There I could only fall on my knees and pray that the Lord Christ, who had died for me, might have His own way with me - that it might be worth His while to have done what He did and what He was doing now for me. To my Elder Brother, my Lord and my God, I gave myself yet again,confidently, because He cared to have me and because my very breath was His. I would be what He wanted, who knew all about it and had done everything that I might be a son of God - a living glory of gladness."
I echo this prayer, today and always!

(I am a second hand book shopper and always buy any George MacDonald books when I see them. I have multiple copies of some of them, for giving away. Let me know if there is one you are looking for and I would be happy to share if I have it. The ones I have are the ones edited by Michael Phillips.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Shack

What is all the buzz going on about The Shack? If you are much of a reader, you've probably at least heard this title by now. Maybe you've heard people raving or arguing about it in depth... maybe you've read it yourself.
I've read it and the verse that comes to my mind as I wonder what to say about it, is simply this:
Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

I am not here to write a review. They have already been written. (Here's a very good one, if you want.)
As I walk through life, there are experiences and times when God is especially sweet to me, sometimes so sweet it feels like I can hardly bear it... somehow I feel the need to burst out of my skin in order to better magnify Him! (One day this caterpillar will!)
I love reading something that makes me catch my breathe in an involuntary sob, it is so beautiful! Somehow, Mr. Young has put into word pictures some of those beautiful feelings that come from feeling so intensely loved. Better yet, you feel it!
Praise God for people who are trusting Him all the way, who are being saved, who are finding freedom in the love of God in the same increments that they are giving themselves over to Him.
Papa bless you for walking in such light, Willie, for setting an example I know He applaudes. Keep dancing for (and with) Him!
I spent some time the last two days, reading on The Shack website and also on Willie's blog. I highly recommend visiting both.
I am going to close this with a statement I read there:
"Like Peter (and Mack) I would rather be sinking out on the water with Jesus, than "safe" back in the boat, without Him."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Precious Scars?

Yesterday I was visiting with a cousin who a year ago, suffered the loss of an infant daughter. She was holding her 3 week old son.
In the course of our talking I was telling her about how when I had my first baby, I had terrible nursing problems, my baby had bad tummy aches especially at night, which meant almost no sleep! (I saw the familiar look of exhaustion in her eyes.) At two weeks, while at Grandpa's house for dinner, I looked up to see my mom watching me from across the room with such a look of sympathy in her eyes that it undid me and I lost it! I cried and cried!
The song I clung too through that time was: "I can face tomorrow, jump over every barrier. No mountain is too big for Him, He can solve anything.
I was down in deep desperation, on the verge of giving up my life. Jesus came in the right time and upheld me with His mighty hand..."
Anyways, by the time our daughter was 6 weeks, things were much better. Needless to say, I have actual scars.
I was still nursing Carolie when she died (drowned). Somehow (don't ask me how) the things I suffered with her, the birth and then the nursing agony, became very precious to me. I often think of the verse where Paul says, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."
Somehow, as life goes on and we heal and adjust, and we let go of pain, it sometimes seems as if it was a dream that she ever was. But...I bear in my body the marks of Carolie and I weep even now as I write.
Yesterday, as I was sharing a bit of this with Natalie, she right away knew what I meant. She says she feels the same way about her cesarean scar. All at once, after almost 10 years of feeling this way, it occurred to me...
Are Jesus' scars as precious to Him?