Want to Wrap a Little Skin around a Scriptural Concept?

Hey, Dear Sisters! Well, surely after all these years I don’t have to tell you that you are my go-to group and all-time favorite resource for surveys or insights into various Scriptural concepts.  God started pressing a topic on my heart about a week and a half ago out of the blue during my quiet time and, since then, I have been all over both Testaments searching every spot where it rears up its head. Now I’d love to add some layers of examples and insights from life experience on top of it. The topic is accusation and it ultimately centers on the enemy as our accuser but I feel like God is leading me to gain some understanding of ways it weaves itself into our human relationships.

If you’d like to help wrap some human skin around an anatomy of accusation, so to speak, I would love to hear your responses to any or all of the 3 questions below. Your really honest answers would help me so much. At the same time, please don’t share anything that would be injurious to another person or that you’d mind being read in the newspaper of a small town because that’s roughly the population of readers we have on this blog. This is not the spot to whisper a secret and I write those words with a grin. I want this to be a candid place and a safe place all at the same time if possible. So, here are the questions:

1. In the course of your adult life, have you ever been painfully accused of something by another person (as opposed to being accused by Satan himself)? If your answer is yes, was the accusation a twisting/distorting of the facts or was it completely fabricated out of thin air? I’m looking into how often the most painful accusations are distortions or perversions of the truth (making them more believable and frustratingly less refutable) versus an outright lie with utterly no tie to the truth.

 

2. In the course of your adult life, have you ever accused someone else of something? If your answer is yes (and for most of us in a candid mood, it will be), did you turn out to be 100% right? (By all means, say so if you did. I’m just trying to look at the concept from several different perspectives.) Whether or not you were wrong, right, or partially right, do you have any regrets about making the accusation? If so, what are they and why?

 

3. In your opinion (and without the benefit of a dictionary), what is the difference between confrontation and accusation?

 

I am so grateful for your insight! You are welcome to leave your comment anonymously if you’d feel more comfortable answering candidly but, again, just make sure you don’t use someone’s name derogatorily or make his/her identity obvious in a negative light. You need not copy and paste the question you’ve chosen to answer but please do identify your response by number: 1, 2, or 3. Limit your answers to brief paragraphs because I’d really like to read as many as possible.

 

You are wonderful! Thank you so much! Pray for me as I continue to listen to God and see how He means for me to serve women in Bible study through this difficult topic. A heap of love to every single one of you!

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Unwanted

Unwanted.

That was the word that ran through my mind last week.

Now, before I keep writing I want you to hear that I am okay. I do not despise being single. I’m not pinning wedding ideas, dresses and rings on a secret Pinterest board. (But no judgment to those of you that do have a secret wedding board. Grin.) I don’t believe I’m one that has put off living my life until marriage. I don’t do single life perfectly, but I do try to spend an appropriate amount of my time serving and doing exciting things. (If I cease to live my life while waiting for marriage, someone please smack me upside the head to snap out of it.) But while being single has its perks, it also has its setbacks. Lonely days come. (And for those of you married and lonely, know that my heart hurts for you. I’m praying and believing that God would do a restoration and redemption that only He can.) Just like we all have good and bad weeks as parents, or friends, singles also have good and bad weeks. Good and bad days.

Typically when I have a week like that, I hate to burden anyone around me so I keep it to myself. Part of how I walk in pride is that I compare my situation to others around me, and to the onlooker if my trials are seemingly small and trivial, I tend to play down my emotions and feelings. So yes, the truth is, I am very blessed, loved and wanted, however, on the flip side, what matters to me, matters to God. Even the seemingly trivial that may seem ridiculous to someone else. But for me to act like I’m okay all the time doesn’t do me or anyone else any good. Because for me to compare my situations to those around me and not deal with what’s going on inside of me? Well, that’s just seems ridiculous and unwise. How can I minister to others when I fail to minister to my own heart?

Last week was just one of those weeks. I could not get past that daunting word. Unwanted. It just felt like blow after blow. I couldn’t ever come up from the undertow. I’d fall, get up again, only to fall right back down. And everything, and I mean everything, reminded me of my singleness. And what sometimes feels like chronic singleness.

A text message from a friend.
Some sad news about a friend.
Some exciting news about a friend.
The need to get an oil change. (These are the things I need a husband for. Of course, I hope you can hear me laughing.)
Celebrations.
Ministry.

Just to name a few.

I mean let’s be honest, sometimes a girl just needs (and wants) a male perspective to talk everything out with. Not to be needy. Not to be clingy. And certainly not for everything to be fixed and happy, but I think it’s healthy to long for a mate to do life with. The Lord created us male and female so that we would compliment each other. Be a helpmate to each other. (Granted, I know most males aren’t the chatty type, and I don’t imagine my future husband and I chatting for three hours at the end of every day, but on occasion? Well, sure. A girl can dream.)

I know this post sounds so depressing, but it is just true. Sometimes I don’t want to sugarcoat singleness. Because sometimes it’s just hard. And no fun.

I’m trying to become a more honest version of myself (something we talk about a lot around here) and one thing I have been confessing to the Lord lately was that although I know He’s chosen to protect me for 28 years from all the hurt and pain that relationships can bring, to a girl who desires to be a wife and mother one day, it feels a lot like rejection.

Yes, the Lord’s protection feels a lot like rejection to me. A different form of rejection, sure, but rejection nonetheless.

And let me tell you one thing, rejection isn’t pretty or easy.

This I know, no relationship can shrink that deep longing inside each of us to know and be known. In fact, I think the deeper our relationships grow and the longer we have them, the more we realize how crafty God was in leaving that hole that only he can fill. Our longing has been, and always will be, Him.

But it’s when I start to spiral into a thought process of pity and lies that I’m so gently reminded of the Lord’s promises.

The scary thing about being human flesh and blood is that I can be so stubborn. Even when He gently wants to woo me back to Him, sometimes I want to sit in my self-pity. Gross. So, I can choose to be stubborn, or I can let God deal with me. The choice really is my own.

Can I tell you one thing I know to be true? One thing that I’ve been working out with the Lord? If I can’t believe what the Internet says, and if I can’t believe what I’m thinking half of the time, then the only and one sure thing I can believe is what God’s word says about Him, about me, and about His promises.

God’s promises to me and to you reveal more about Him to us than us to Him. Does that make sense? He knows us inside and out, but He’s given us His promises so that we can know and trust Him. They reveal His glory. His character. His trustworthiness.

I can trust His word by faith because in 2 Timothy 3:16 He’s told us that “all scripture is God breathed…”, so when I need to correct my thinking, I can rest on the promises in His word. The Word He has spoken.

“So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:17

He doesn’t speak truth to my heart just to hear His own voice, He speaks truth so that I’m complete and equipped for every good work. There is purpose in His Word. There is purpose in His promises. There is purpose in His goodness.

How do I know He’s good?

Because I know the character of God. Listen, I know those of us who have heard these characteristics and promises time and time again tend to skip over them, but hear them today. Bring each of your circumstances and situations to these scriptures today and let them mold your thinking. No, the Word may not bring immediate clarity or all the answers to your situation, but the Word of God can bring peace and clarity to your heart and mind in the midst of restlessness.

He’s not out to harm me, or spite me. Jeremiah 29:10 – 14

Discipline me? Yes, He tells us he disciplines His children, and although it’s not fun at the time, it makes me more like Him. Hebrews 12:1-13

He’s kind. His heart is warm towards us. Sympathetic towards us. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. Not his harshness. Ephesians 2:7. Isaiah 63:7.

He’s gracious. He’s generous to our poor and needy selves. He doesn’t look down upon those who are of “lower social status” than Him. Isaiah 30:18

He’s loving. I don’t have to beg for His love. He gives it freely. His actions speak far louder than His words. He took His love to the cross for us. Psalm 62:11-12. Psalm 145:17

He’s faithful. His affections toward us never run out. He’s faithful forever. Psalm 33:4. Psalm 145:13. Psalm 146:6.

Nothing can separate me from His love. Nothing. Romans 8:37-39

He’s always with me. Deuteronomy 31:8

He meets all of my needs. Not my wants, my needs. Philippians 4:19

I’m never more thankful for Jesus than when He stoops down to meet me in my place of poverty. My place of unbelief. That place where I’ll undoubtedly return to at some point in my moments of weakness. I recently read a quote by a preacher that has not left me the past month or so, it said, “God invites us to come as we are, not stay as we are.” So that lie I kept repeating to myself last week? That ugly word, unwanted? I bring it to the Lord, I bring Him my honest self and over time, it’s exchanged for the truth of being wanted, pursued and delighted in by a very good God.

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We’re Working on Blog Issues!

Hi friends! I just wanted to let you all know that we are currently working out some blog quirks. If you’ve visited the blog today and it’s been down (as in crashed), or running very slow, do not fret!  We are aware and working on it, hopefully to resolve it very soon. Thank you so much for you patience with us! We love y’all and will see you tomorrow. Happy Monday!

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2013 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 16!

Hey Y’all!

Before I fool anyone, each of you should know that this is Lindsee posing as Beth for this particular SSMT post. She and her girls on a little girl’s getaway that is much deserved. So when she mentioned that she might not be able to work this post out, I told her not to even think of it and enjoy her time away!

Side note: She was telling me yesterday she’s not sure when her last actual vacation was because our siesta mama has spent the last two scheduled vacations either being Bibby for a week (her grandma name), or writing for a week! So! Needless to say, this girl’s getaway is earned and joyfully welcomed! We blessed them as they walked out the doors yesterday and promised them they didn’t need to worry about one detail here. She also assured me she’d hopefully have some fun pictures for you guys when she gets back!

SSMT is a big detail. So here I am. I realize that was a much more detailed description as to why I’m taking over SSMT this time than you  probably cared to know, but now it’s in official wording and I’m leaving it.

Beth gave me the option to share my verse with you guys along with the one she’s memorizing this go around, so I decided to take her up on that. The more the merrier, right?

My verse is actually probably very familiar to y’all, but it hit me fresh a couple of weeks ago and knew it needed to be put into my memory for good. It’s one of those verses I know, and I could quote it, but not verbatim and I really wanted to be intentional with it this go around, especially since I really mixed up the version I’m memorizing it in this time which really makes it pop in my mind.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (Amplified)

This I know to be so true, I need Jesus. And I need Him to steady my heart, because He alone can do that. Want to hear some synonyms of steadfast? Steady, firm, stable, constant, staunch, and immovable. Each of these descriptions are things I want to be said and true of me. I think it’s so fitting that persevering and steadfast follow each other because it’s in my persevering that He makes my spirit steadfast, but I tend to get really distracted and unsteady pretty quick. Which I guess is why we’re told to persevere in the first place. Maybe it’s just me, but so many times I allow my circumstances to determine my steadfastness. When things are going good (translation: the way I want them too), persevering comes easy, as well as a firm and steady devotion to the Lord, but it’s when the going gets tough, that the tough get going. That’s when it’s time to wrestle that hard thing out with Him. For me, an example that comes to mind is singleness. Some days I love the freedom it brings, while other days I’m wrestling my  way through this season. Very quickly I can go from steadfast to discouraged. Steadfast to lazy. Steadfast to frustrated. I want so badly to be faithful in each season of my life, and to truly live in an “undivided devotion” to the Lord that Paul talks about, but we can all admit it’s not always easy. If it were easy, the vast majority would be doing just that.

I don’t always want to do the work it takes to have a clean heart, and a persevering Spirit, but I know all too well that when I’m not yearning for it is the perfect time to ask for it. So I’m asking for a clean heart! That God would renew me from top to bottom.

You’re more than welcome to join me this go around.

Or for those of you curious what our Siesta Mama has chosen, you can join her. This time she is memorizing Colossians 1:16 in the ESV version:

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16 (ESV)

Amen. He sees everything. He knows everything. He created everything. If you stop and take that verse a part line by line and dwell on that, it’s really mind blowing.

ALL things were created BY Him. (Things we cannot even lay our human eyes on.)
THROUGH Him.
And FOR Him.
ALL things.

I have no doubt our Siesta Mama would have more to say about that, but I’m just going to leave you with wow. So, if that scripture stirs something up in you, tag on with her.

(And now I’m going to make this really slick transition to close out the post. Could this be any more awkward? I’m kind of gifted in that. You know, making things awkward.)

Well, ladies! Time to persevere to the end! We’re so close. If you got through summer, you can certainly make it through the fall. Oh, and because I’ve been getting some emails and phone calls, I’ll go ahead and let you know that we’re planning on having all things SSMT celebration and details up SOON. Like, hopefully as in the next SSMT post or two. We’re so pumped and we love y’all dearly.

Let’s hear your scriptures!

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The Difference Between Attending and Attaching

Well, I feel safe saying that I feel like I have run a marathon the past week and a half.

This was my office last week.

Now, before you get any ideas that I may have been relaxing in the Caribbean and wondering why I feel as though I’ve run a marathon after getting such sweet R&R, that is really a picture of Galveston, Texas. Yes, many filters were used in the making of that photo. (And by many I mean one.) Galveston, to put it lightly, is not very easy on the eyes. To be fair, however, the brown sand is pretty accurate. I was actually in Galveston for Beach Week with the student ministry at my church. That’s right! After taking a year off of traveling for all things summer trips, I decided I really missed hanging with the students for a solid week, so I signed myself up to be a leader.

And I was placed with the middle school girls.

Lord bless them. And bless any of you that are currently raising middle school girls.

Let’s be honest, they became an anomoly to me and I to them. I loved my time with them, but I learned a lot about that age. (Side note: I spend the majority of my time with high school girls, hence the middle school lessons.)

1. They do not understand sarcasm. They are very literal.

2. They are allergic to cleaning up after themselves. Grin. (I was happy to serve them by washing their dishes, and other unmentionable service.)

3. They all want or own iPhones, have facebook, tweet and thrive on Instagram. I learned how thankful I was that I did not have any of those distractions at that age. Lord, help us.

4. They like to have dance parties when no one is watching.

5. The majority at that age still think boys are gross. I think the major shift happens their freshman year. (I pray they stay that way for a long time. Laughing.)

6. They all want a best friend that they can cling to.

7. They’re growing (physically) so fast, so they tend to be clumsy. It’s kind of endearing. And cute. Just like them.

When it came to the end of the week, I realized I had lost my middle school mojo. Bless my heart. Any and all tips on how to connect with middle school girls are appreciated. Smile. (I know, I say that too much.)

Anyway, we had such a fun week, minus the 12 jelly fish stings that happened the first day. Ouch. I now plan on adding jelly fish sting nurse to my resume. Vinegar and meat tenderizer is where it’s at, y’all.

This is me and Debra. Deb is our youth pastor’s wife. (Just a side note: Deb and I met years ago on the world wide web of blogging. Who knew that five years later we’d be serving together at the same church. Jesus is really so fun when He weaves lives and hearts together.) We bonded over a late night Walmart run that may or may not have included a drive through Whataburger. Only in Texas. No camp is legit until you have to go to Walmart for water and toilet paper towards the midnight hour. Don’t judge our hair in this picture. It’s what we call aunatural. Also, we were getting ready to head home at this point. Can you say tired? I loved serving alongside her this week. She and Ernest, our student pastor, do a wonderful job of shepherding our students at Bayou City Fellowship.

It’s really fun to go from serving with middle school girls all week long, to attending a woman’s ministry event. Two completely different things, but both warm my heart. Last night our church hosted an evening with our dear sweet Beth, and we had a really special visitor, Christine Caine, that also shared a bit of her story and the gospel presentation if you’ve ever heard one. We are blessed! And we welcomed many new faces into the Kingdom. So, when I say I feel like I’ve run a marathon, what I’m trying to say is that I am spent and exhausted in the best way possible. I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks to the very strong Word last night, I realized that’s the difference between just attending church and being attached to the church. If we are believers a part of a church, we need to do more than just attend, we need to attach ourselves and serve. Work hard for the Kingdom! Being connected is more than just attending. Being connected means you attach yourselves to the community God has placed you in. Isn’t that a good Word? So I would encourage you, if you’re just attending your church, and have been for the past ten years, nows the time to move! To work! Don’t miss out on the blessing of serving and pouring out. I have no doubt you’ll be blessed beyond measure.

Even if it means attaching yourself to a group of middle school girls. Yes and amen. Our young folks need us attaching to the church! Let’s lead by example!

She may be tiny, but she is mighty in the Lord, that sweet Beth. Thankful for her example of pouring out and attaching herself to the church. I’m better for it, and I’m sure you are, too.

A marathon. It’s the difference between attending and attaching. And it’s so good.

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Living Proof Live South Dakota Recap

A huge thanks to our friend Rich for another great recap!

Living Proof Live | Sioux Falls from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

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Impossibly, Nearly Unforgivably Random. And I’m sorry in advance.

Have you ever wanted to blog so badly because you love your blog community so much you can hardly stand it but your mind is as fried as a Louisiana catfish? Well, that’s me today. My heart is huge with affection for you right now but my brain has shrunk under the weight of my bleached blond hair and my tired tongue is tied in about ten thousand tiny knots. I had the great privilege of serving in Sioux Falls, South Dakota this weekend and used up about 500,000 words and, incidentally, got to have my picture taken with about 40 of you darling things the moment it was over. I’ve spent today researching the next lesson I’m writing for Children of the Day and serving my beloved staff at our devotional and prayer time. (We usually have it on Mondays but I got to have a day off with my handsome man yesterday.) And so, here I sit, wanting so much to say something meaningful to you and to say it well and yet girlfriend is tragically bereft of words.

Therefore, instead of staying quiet when I’m bereft of words which is the better part of wisdom, I’ll do what any good, fast-talking sanguine would do: I will just say stuff that comes to my mind. So here goes for what may be the single most pathetic post of my blogging life. And all because I love you and don’t want you to feel forgotten around here. So, actually, you’ll need to take some responsibility for the anti-profundity that is about to blow up all over you like your four year-old with a stomach bug after a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

Random stuff going through my head – or through my life – or anywhere in the vicinity of 100 noticeable miles from me that I have energy enough to say. I’ll go for 20 of them:

1. The main thing I love to get at a fried chicken drive-thru like Church’s is okra. I love fried okra like nobody’s business. No matter what size container of it Keith brings home, I eat it. And I am never glad I did. No, I don’t usually eat that way. I only eat that way if Keith makes me eat that way by bringing it home and setting it under my generous nose. And I like a lot of salt on it. I’m sorry this was first but we’ve fasted all day here at the ministry and I am starving. Well. Not really starving but a tad hungry.

 

2. I wish I did not use the word “tad” so much.

 

3. I wish I did not use the word “so” so much.

 

4. 80% of my travel so far this 2013 has involved drama. Delays. Cancelled flights. You name it. No, I’m not superstitious or anything but my luggage is and it will be happy when it’s 2014.

 

5. I love serving at Living Proof Live as much as ever and, in some ways, maybe more. I’m not sure what’s up. Well, Jesus is up.

 

6. My beloved “Miss America of Hair” is out for 3 months with the cutest new baby girl you have just about ever seen. And I could use a strong antidepressant and maybe even a nerve pill. I have told MAOH (Miss America of Hair but it is unfortunate that I had to tell you that) that I am particularly gifted at rocking babies and have no doubt that I could do it even while she is cutting and blow drying my hair.

 

7. I hate that I’m so selfish.

 

8. I hate even worse that my hair looks like it has been teased with egg beaters then baked to utter unbreakability.

 

9. Travis has written a new theme song for Living Proof Live and it is just fantastic. I love it so much. There I go again with a “so.” So, so, so. It’s always so. I’m never underwhelmed. It’s always overwhelmed for me. At some point he’ll record it. I’m talking about Travis now. Please stay with me. I hope it’s while we’re still actually doing the event but we’ll see. He does not seem to be in a hurry. If the song turns into a video, I’ll go ahead and bless you by doing an interpretive dance.

 

10. Keith has new really cool, chunky black glasses that Melissa gave him for Father’s Day and he is so handsome in them. I’ve been working with him on how to wear them because Keith has never made “cool” a big priority. I know. I can’t understand it either. But, that fact is, in order to pull off this new look, I’ve told him over and over that he’s got to own it. He’s getting better at it. And every time he practices it with me, we get tickled to no end.

 

11. Jackson and Annabeth are at the best ages ever. 7 and 4. I’m bonkers over them. Of late, Annabeth has been swiping her mother’s cell phone and taping videos of herself. They are so funny that Melissa and I push play over and over and over again and laugh as hard the 15th time as the first. Annabeth sings really loud on them and mostly in an unknown language. It’s like once she hits record, she knows she needs to sing but cannot for the life of her think of any words. Like me and today’s post.

 

12. Tomorrow (August 7th) my mom has been with the Lord for 15 years. I cannot fathom it. She was the axle on which my entire family of origin wheeled. We miss her so much and we are still in the process of sewing our family back together. We all love each other very much but we don’t really know what to do without her. She said jump. We said how high? It’s like we haven’t jumped in 15 years. The spring went right out of our family step. Sorry. That one came out of nowhere. And now I’ve got a lump in my throat which is going to force me to have to say something unfathomably stupid for #13 so I can pull out of it.

 

13. Queen Esther is going to the beauty shop tomorrow for a trim. Please do not tell me that you do not know that Queen Esther is my 5 year old Border Collie who goes by “Star” for short. I cannot take it. Not after what you put me through with #12.

 

14. After untold years of unwavering devotion, I have recently switched from Starbuck’s Breakfast Blend in my coffee maker at home to Gevalia Traditional Roast. I still love Starbuck’s Breakfast Blend but it was out of stock recently at Kroger and Keith grabbed us some Gevalia and, honestly, it almost makes me high. Oh, not really. Calm down. But it does make me really anxious and really nervous but in kind of an exhilarating way. I think it may have more caffeine. And goodness knows, all I need is more caffeine.

 

15. I struggle with insomnia.

 

(So tickled. It’s deplorably bad manners to admit to, on occasion, making your own self laugh. I wouldn’t do it if this were a better post. But it’s not.)

 

16. Pause. Pause. Thinking. Thinking. Oh! Here’s a good one! Keith had to put a rabid raccoon out of its misery 2 weeks ago. I was just glad he didn’t take it to the taxidermist.

 

17. Getting desperate now. And hungrier. Hmmmm. I left my phone charger in the hotel room in Sioux Falls. That’s not a very good one. Let me see if I can think of a better one. Ok. I mostly just use my spray tanner on my arms. My legs that used to be golden brown by sun and then by spray are now a very odd shade of corpse white.

 

18. Kind of a fun new study experience (translation: not in-depth like COTD but much more than just a listening guide) has just come out called “Sacred Secrets.” We hadn’t intended to do it but had so much fun with it at an LPL event that it turned into something. I took a couple of weeks off from writing COTD to develop it with my editor. I’ll tell you about it when I’m in a more coherent mood. Now’s not the time. It’s not that I’m not in the mood to tell a secret. It’s that I can’t be trusted with anything sacred in this frame of mind.

 

19. I’m so dang glad it’s August because we can’t get it over-with in Houston until it gets here. Understand what I’m saying? It has to come to go. A lot of things are like that. We dread it all year long around these parts. I now take the dogs for a romp in the country at 7:00 PM so the temperature can drop below 100 degrees. I’m embarrassed at what a terrible point that one was. I know we’ll both be relieved for me to finally get to the next one and put us all out of our misery.

 

20. The last of my staff just texted me and said, “We are heading out!” So, I better get my tail out of here pretty soon, too, before there’s a creepster in the parking lot. Anyway, I’m hungry.

 

And I want fried okra.

 

I apologize, y’all. It’s been humiliating, hasn’t it? Can it just be the thought that counted today? I love you guys like crazy. Stay tight with Jesus. He’s everything. I’ll talk to you soon and it will be like I’m a different person. Only, underneath my skin, this is pretty much me. And THAT’S why we can each be thankful we have Jesus. Or we’d just be plain-old-us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2013 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 15!

Hey, Everybody!

Soon after this post is published, I’ll be on a plane to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for this weekend’s Living Proof Live. I love going to the Dakotas so I am filled with joy over the privilege to serve there and anticipating God’s gracious and obvious (please let it be, Lord) presence crowded around us and welling up within us. Please pray for Jesus to be exalted, experienced, and enthroned there and for many to be saved and stunningly delivered.

My Scripture memory selection this week is springing up from my Monday morning reading there in my den at home. I’ve mentioned many times that I use a different translation for my devotional and prayer time so that the words will fall particularly fresh on me and so that, if the reading happens to be a familiar segment, I can’t anticipate it and unintentionally dismiss it. The translation I often use is The NET Bible. I’m going to give you the whole segment I read Monday morning so that you’ll see the verse I’ve chosen this time around in its context. This is Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NET):
17:5 The LORD says,
“I will put a curse on people
who trust in mere human beings,
who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength,
and whose hearts have turned away from the LORD.
17:6 They will be like a shrub in the desert.
They will not experience good things even when they happen.
It will be as though they were growing in the desert,
in a salt land where no one can live.
17:7 My blessing is on those people who trust in me,
who put their confidence in me.
17:8 They will be like a tree planted near a stream
whose roots spread out toward the water.
It has nothing to fear when the heat comes.
Its leaves are always green.
It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought.
It does not stop bearing fruit.

If you are like me, you found the way the NET translates the very first verse (V.5) a little disturbing. You’ll be relieved to know this isn’t the Scripture I’ve chosen to memorize (smiling) but it still needs addressing so that we’re not too distracted by it to engross ourselves in the remainder of the segment. If you’re familiar with the passage, you are probably more accustomed to wording like the NIV: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man.” The fact that the NET makes God the one “putting” the curse on man makes us squirm. Before we let it tie us in a knot and throw us in a lake of fear, we have to remind ourselves of our position in Christ. We have the glorious benefit of living this side of the completed work of the Cross and resurrection.

Galatians 3:13 says to our great relief: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.'”

Jeremiah 17:5 is still tremendously relevant to us because it unfolds the misery of counting on mere flesh and blood. I wonder if the “curse” talked about in this verse is of the same ilk as the one in Genesis 3 that came directly from God to man after the fall in the Garden. If Adam and Eve were doing anything at all when they ate from that tree, they were shifting their trust from God to themselves – mere flesh and blood – by attempting to be God-like. Though the Cross of Christ bore the curse for us, we can still endure the desolation that invariably results from placing our trust and confidence in people rather than God. This gets us where we’re going in our post today. Look back at Jeremiah 17:6 because this is the part that totally captivated me.

“They will be like a shrub in the desert. They will not experience good things even when they happen.”

Read it again if you need to but don’t proceed until you’ve tried to absorb that second sentence. Have you ever been right in the middle of something good happening and yet missed the full experience and joyful impact of it? Surely you’ve said silently to yourself as I’ve said to myself, “I should really be happy right now. What is wrong with me??” You know the feeling. You’re in a celebration or service of some kind or a holiday gathering and yet you almost feel detached from it. You’re there. But you are somehow disconnected from experiencing it. You know “it” (the positive thing presently happening) but you can’t feel it. It’s a good thing but you don’t feel good about it…or in it. What on earth is that about?

Jeremiah would suggest that the experience of good can be disconnected from the good because we are in a season of shifted trust from God to man. When we’ve set our hopes for happiness in how well all our people are doing…getting along…flourishing…affirming us…satisfying us…and all-around-generally-blessing us, and we even get a glimmer of it, we can’t experience the good because we know down deep that we can’t hold onto it. As much as we love all our people, we know that, ultimately, they are not going to come through for us. One shoe will drop. Then the other. The disappointment will come. And the harmony we feel for this moment with our fellow humans could at any second flip upside down into complete mayhem.

Notice the part that says “they will be like a shrub in the desert.” Isn’t it ironic that the more we depend on flesh and blood to come through for us and to fulfill us, the more isolated we become? You’d think that numbers alone would insure company and community. In other words, why derive our strengths and confidences from one God when we could get infinitely more out of all these people? Out of all these communities? Out of all our fellow church members? Out of all our Facebook friends? Our fellow tweeters? Company is one click away.

But it never works that way, does it? We never can let down our guard completely and find any shred of real security from flesh and blood. The person obsessed with us today can turn on us tomorrow and we know it. The person who makes life worth living for us today could die on us tomorrow and we know it. I don’t mean to be morose. I just mean to point out the emotional tightrope we’re walking. Being vastly people-oriented rather than God-oriented always ends up taking us to a place of isolation because they’re invariably busy when we want to play, invariably distracted when we want attention, and invariably more taken with themselves than with us. And so, there we sit, with our trust and confidence in mere flesh and blood and we end up feeling like a shrub in a desert.  Just as Jeremiah 17:6 says, “It will be as though [we] are growing in the desert, in a salt land where no one can live.”

Trust in man can seem a great place to visit but no one can really live there and come out calling it living.

It’s so odd to me that the more drawn I feel to God and the more taken I become with His Presence, the freer I am to love other people and the less I hold them responsible for me. Community with God increases our “experience” of good in a community of people. It is its own paradox.

And all of this brings us to the verse I have chosen for my memory work this time around:

Beth, Houston. My blessing is on those people who trust in Me, who put their confidence in Me. Jeremiah 17:7 The NET Bible

And what earthly difference would that make? Well, let’s see…

“They will be like a tree planted near a stream whose roots spread out toward the water. It has nothing to fear when the heat comes. Its leaves are always green. It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought. It does not stop bearing fruit.”

Notice a very intriguing contrast hidden in Jeremiah 17:8 – “It has nothing to fear when the heat comes.”

Reflect back on 17:6b – “They will not experience good things even when [good things] happen.”

When we place our confidence in mere flesh and blood, we are shortchanged even when good things happen. When we place our confidence in God, the Immortal Invisible, we have nothing to fear even when hard things happen. The former leaves us a dry shrub. The latter makes us a fruit-bearing tree.

We never get this lesson learned once and for all, do we? Or maybe it’s just me. I still get so tempted to put my confidence in people and to think that, if all my loved ones were safe, well, and flourishing, I could be so happy. The truth of it is, I do want those things for my loved ones but God alone can come through for them and for me. Anyway, at the end of the day, I could have everything this world could offer and all the good that man could possibly do me and still sit back and think, “Why doesn’t it feel better than this?”

My blessing is on those people who trust in Me, who put their confidence in Me.

Let’s hear your verses, Sisters!

 

 

 

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LPL Sioux Falls – Siesta Scholarship Tickets

Good morning, ladies!

We’re posting our Siesta Scholarship Ticket Giveaway a day early because, as most of you know, tomorrow is SSMT. So, before we got to that, we wanted to make y’all aware that thanks to our fund, we have 20 tickets to give away for this weekend’s LPL in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Just a friendly reminder that these tickets are for those of you that desire to go, but financially just can’t pull it off right now. We’d love nothing more than to send you!

If this is you, or if you know of somebody and you live around that area, you can call us at 281-257-3344 or call toll free at 888.700.1999. Please ask for Kimberly and she will hook you up! If you happen to call during the lunch hour, or we miss you for some other reason, please leave a message and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

We love y’all! Happy Wednesday!

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A Weekend in the Rocky Mountains

Hey y’all! (I almost said ladies instead of y’all, but I’ve been up north all weekend and just needed to get back to my roots. Grin.) I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve talked, so I thought I’d pop in, say hello and share a little bit about my weekend, if that’s okay with you. Grin. Last week was busy to say the least, leading up to a very fast and furious trip to Colorado this past weekend. There are pros and cons to extended family living thousands of miles from you. While my brothers and I didn’t grow up with any of my grandparents or cousins within a short distance of us, the beauty is that we get to visit Colorado fairly often. (When I say our entire extended family lives in Colorado, I mean every last one of them. Both my mom and dad’s side.) Of course, we don’t get to go as often as we used to when we were younger (thanks to getting older and becoming responsible adults), but if I am “forced” to visit anywhere, Colorado isn’t too shabby. Especially when the weather is a bit unusual in July leaving us with 60-degree temps in the evenings, with highs reaching only the mid-seventies during the day. It was glorious.

And now I sound like a weatherman. Laughing.

The reason for this particular weekend trip was to celebrate my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary! Can we all just have a moment of silence? 60 years! That deserves more than a few exclamation marks! I think we can all agree that 60 years is a rare reality for most couples. Of course, my grandpa being the hopeless romantic that he is (do you sense my snarkiness?), after I asked him what the secret to being married for 60 years to the same woman was, said, “Well, for starters, from the beginning I let her be the boss.” This was especially rich coming from him because my grandma might be the least bossy person I know, but there you have it. True love. He’s a funny man.

We ended up cramming in so much throughout the weekend that I’m pretty sure I came home needing a vacation, but we had the most fun, hilarious time. Maybe one of my favorite visits.

Besides sitting on my grandparent’s back porch for breakfast each morning (I’m drooling thinking about it right now), I’ll share a few highlights from, what I have labeled as, the fastest Colorado trip ever.

Estes Park:

We flew in really late Thursday night due to a delay, but that didn’t keep us from hitting the ground running Friday morning to make it up to Estes Park for the day. I’m convinced not one inch of Colorado is ugly, but there’s something majestic about being surrounded by the mountains on every side of you. Estes Park lends itself to that kind of view. We ended up on the lake this go around after renting a paddle boat and pontoon boat and it was so much fun! I literally laughed the entire time. Who knew that paddle boating was such a workout? Of course, the minute we got on the lake it started raining, but I’m not sure it would have been as fun had it not have rained. Afternoon rain showers in the mountains are nearly unavoidable. But there went my straight hair!

Our view while paddle boating. Rough, right? Also, the rest of our family is on that pontoon boat. Who in the family is smarter? Laughing.

After that we walked around downtown Estes for a bit before driving home. It was such a fun day!

The Celebration:

When my Grandma and Grandpa celebrated their 50th anniversary, we threw a big party for them! It was like a second reception. However, neither of them are really keen on parties, so for this anniversary, we just had a small family “linner”. You know, Grandpa can’t eat too late lest it mess up his stomach. We are rarely ALL together as an extended family, so this was a treat. We had a private room at a neat steakhouse there in town and we all left stuffed to the brim. I’ve said this at least a thousand times, but I’m truly so blessed to have been able to witness their marriage up until now. Far from perfect or easy, but they’ve been so faithful to each other. They have loved so well, the best they humanly can.

Lovebirds for 60 years!

Thing One and Thing Two:

If you’re familiar with Dr. Seuss, then you might get that reference, but if not, I am betting right now you are terribly confused. Allow me to explain: We (the grandchildren) had some funny shirts made that numbered our birth order. (Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3, etc.) These “Things” in the Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat, are apparently the cause of much mischief. We figured this was appropriate since we’ve brought much mischief to their life as grandchildren. This also helps them keep us in order. It may be incredibly cheesy, but we got a good laugh out of it, as did Grandma and Grandpa. Take a look for yourself:

You would think with as many pictures as we took we’d have a least ONE where we’re all smiling and our eyes are open. Nope. Not one. It’s so unfortunate. This is the best I could do. But you get the point.

Also, you might find it humorous that while we desperately wanted a picture with Grandpa and Grandma, Grandpa was actually sacked out in his chair while we were being photographed. But it’s his party and he can sleep if he wants to!

Cousins!

My brothers. :)

Fort Fun:

Because what else do you do in Fort Collins? Grin. Saturday evening after all of our celebration festivities, the cousins loaded up for a bit of fun at Fort Fun. It threw me back to 8th grade when my friends and I used to frequent Mountasia. It’s just a fun little place where you can ride go-karts, play laser tag, putt putt golf along with all the arcade games in the world. We ended up just playing putt putt in which we confirmed that I am the world’s worst putt putt golfer. It’s a sad reality, really. That, or I just need some more putt putt practice. We also rode a giant slide that also brought out the inner ten-year old in me. Fun times.

I mean, y’all. My sweet cousin may have been terrified. I just laughed the entire way down. Also, right before we took off she grabbed my hand. I obliged!

The static!

By the end she was laughing. And this picture pretty much sums up my trip. Fast, furious, blurry and hilarious!

Fort fun ended our weekend adventure, because sadly, yesterday afternoon I hopped on plane with my big brother and we headed back to Houston where we were greeted by the lovely Houston humidity the minute I stepped on the jetway. Lovely.
I’m so thankful for a small weekend getaway and all it meant. I will treasure this weekend forever!

Anything exciting happen on your end? You know, like putt putt golf?

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