Embrace

Untitled design-3Today’s word is Embrace. I’ve been reading my Bible using he Dr. Horton’s plan, which is a chapter in ten different books every day. One of the books we started with was Job. I admit I’ve always struggled with Job. We talk about the patience of Job, but he wasn’t all that patient. He had some pretty hard words for God and his predicament. Now his friends were worse, but even they had some truth in their theology.

The main principle, per the commentary I’m reading to help me grasp this book, is the Retribution Principle. Which implies that God only punishes the wicked, which is why his friends seem so intent on telling him he has sinned somehow and needs to repent.  But with that as the controlling angle of their argument, they aren’t facing reality. Job quickly points out how many wicked people have prospered, and good people have suffered. Obviously the Retribution Principle doesn’t hold up.

But Job figures something is wrong for him to be suffering as much as he is. The universe has gone wrong somehow and he wants a chance to point that out to God. The good thing that Job does is his only concern is to restore his relationship with God. He isn’t worried about the physical benefits of following God. This is what the accuser actually raised in the first part of the book. “Of course Job loves you, you have protected him and showered him with children and riches.” But Job proves God right, he doesn’t care about all that, he just wants to know what went sideways in his relationship with God.

That is restored in the end, and Job admits he must be silent in the face of God. He has no case to argue. God can do what He wills and we have no business complaining. This gets down to two different aspects of God. We have to trust Hhe is sovereign, He really is in control of all things and we can trust all events to His providence. But we also have to trust that He is good. We have to know that the way He orchestrates events is really for our good. Now we may differ on what our “good” is. We think ease and safety. He thinks transformation and recreation to reflect His glory and be like His Son who died for us.

We should be content in all things, because God has it all under control and He is good.  I have spoken some about lament and when it is proper. I’ll hopefully speak more about that as the month progresses. For now, trust God. He is faithful!

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Capture

Untitled design-2Today’s word is Capture. My heart has been captured by God. He pursues and seeks and woos until the heart turns to Him, and mine has. The devotion book I’ve been reading lately, Voices From the Past, has been talking about God being my portion. Being captured by God is a good thing and puts e in a good place. I have access to God and Christ, to the riches of the covenant of grace, to His grace and mercy. What more could I want?

I may have questions about where He is taking me and how long I have, but He comforts me, He convinces me I don’t need to know all the answers to be content. I can be content in trusting Him. As one of the devotions said, we do the duties, Christ controls the events.

I am captured, and this cancer has brought me closer to Christ than anything else in my life. My prayers are richer and truer. My devotions and reading are more focused. I am more content in all things. I still have my moments, but they pass much quicker and leave me grateful and leaning on Him. He is changing me and I am so excited to see the changes. I am becoming more like Him, that’s all I want anyway!

May you be captured by our mighty God! He is pursuing you, don’t rebel too long, dear one.

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Friday

No five minute free-writes prompt for today. Let’s see what I pick to write about. 🙂

WUntitled designe were supposed to go see a friend yesterday, but she had a fever and I’m avoiding sick people while I’m on chemo, which will be forever.

That gave me a day to get started on the write31days project since I had done nothing up until then. It was nice to start creating graphics and thinking about future blog posts. And to think about how to track and follow all the cool blogs coming out of this. And it is fun to be challenged to remember how my blog works. I haven’t updated it since last year until driven to write again.

Ah, my topic for today is “hesed” love.  Which auto correct despises, by the way. It much prefers “heed” which doesn’t mean the same thing. 🙂

We started a Bible study at church using Paul Miler’s book A Loving Life about the book of Ruth in the Bible. He pulls out the details of how “hesed” love is demonstrated throughout the book. Hesed is sacrificial love, with no expectation of anything in return. It is the best kind of love, and things work well when we demonstrate that kind of love. For example, when my husband leaves his trash all over the counter (because he is incapable of putting it in the trash), I can either berate him,resent him, or just throw away the trash and move on as if it isn’t a big deal. Because, really, it’s just trash on the counter.

(As always, this is not to encourage physically or emotionally abusive relationships. Run away and stay away from those!)

Where do we see this kind of love in the book of Ruth. There is Ruth’s initial plea that she will follow Naomi wherever she goes. And Naomi is speechless, not even a thank you at this point. Then when they return to Bethlehem, the women are all over Naomi but Ruth seems to get ignored, which she has no problem with. It isn’t about her, it’s about Naomi/Mara

Then Ruth gets up the next morning (or sometime soon after they arrived) and heads out to get food for them. She takes Naomi’s advice, but it’s assumed she has to be the one bringing home the bread (literally).  Naomi’s advice is sound and Ruth finds a good field. Naomi is thrilled when she finds out who Ruth met. Naomi is slowly transformed by Ruth’s hesed love. She gets over her bitterness. Maybe she even realizes God is not against her, I read a poem I found in a cancer article the other day, the middle stanza seems to speak to Naomi’s position and my own these days.

the guesthouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

Something to think about. And another form of “hesed” love. Blessings dear ones!

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Calling

IMG_2217My calling, lately, has been to live with this cancer and figure out what to do next. Like Long Term Disability, Social Security Disability, using 401(k) funds for medical expenses. Hair thinning, fatigue after chemo, encumbered by chemo and feed and fluid bags,. Many many more trips to the bathroom, living with an ileostomy bag. Letting others love on me and help me. Findings ways for others to help me. Finding ways to help others feel they have done enough.

I admit when this first started, I only told two friends. One of them had gone through breast cancer herself and said be prepared to be loved on. It was a minor remark to her as she was actually focusing on another point. But I shuddered when I heard that. I’m an introvert at heart and I’m uncomfortable with attention and love (apparently).

But I have found that by God’s grace I relish the signs of love that I get. I have gotten a TON of cards from 70 individual people. I have comments all over my caringbridge journal entries. I have hugs and encouragement from people at church and high school friends, and college friends. It has been wonderful and I know it is only by the grace of God that I have been able to accept the love in all the many ways it has been shown to me.

For those who have loved on me since this all started, thank you so much! It means the world to me. I know God loves me, and He is using many of you to demonstrate that during this fairly dark and scary time. He is holding me up and I can only rest in Him.

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Landing Page for 31 Days of Writing

I’ve joined a cult I think. It’s a group of people who decide to write every day for the 31 days of October 🙂

I’m going to try to do the same, so this is my landing page where I will add all the posts I create for this project. It looks to be fun. And I may just spend too much time reading all the other people who are doing this and never get around to my own.

I thought at first it was more like the “we send you a word and you write about it” but it is much more free form than that, which is nice.

But I did want something to give me a point to write every day so I found the 5 Minutes of Free Writes

My button for the series – Just Keep Moving – God is faithful but we have to sometimes just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving in faith that He knows what He is doing.

IMG_2216

 

 

 

 

This is the five minute free writes list of topics for the month. I’ll try to follow it pretty closely. It will work out well I think.

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Links to posts as this moves along!

  1. calling
  2. Friday
  3. capture
  4. embrace
  5. home
  6. possible
  7. love
  8. purple
  9. Friday
  10. ready
  11. rest
  12. storm
  13. patience
  14. fly
  15. laugh
  16. Friday
  17. offer
  18. worth
  19. honor
  20. temporary
  21. wave
  22. value
  23. Friday
  24. silence
  25. crash
  26. whisper
  27. perhaps
  28. hope
  29. sea
  30. Friday
  31. almost
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Trust Him

Tracie Miles at traciemiles.com is doing a study on Stressed-Less Living She has a program for other people to blog about the topics on Friday and link to her.

The subjects for this week are;

  • God wants to be our first responder, not our last resort.
  • “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11
  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

We should just talk about one, but all 3 are so linked it’s hard to handle then separately. First, I get the weary verse. There are times when I can’t keep my eyes open. And I just have to lie down and rest. But I also take it to Jesus. I pray before I fall asleep, letting him know how tired I am. Now, he already knows, but this is like talking with your husband or best friend. He likes to hear from me and I like to talk with Him. And when I’m overwhelmed at the thought of things that I have to do, or that will be left undone when I’m gone, I turn to Him and drop them at His feet. I don’t have the energy to carry them any more, so dropping things at His feet is becoming easier.

The point that God’s plans are good for us is critical. I was just reading a blog post pointing out that sometimes knowing God is sovereign is not enough. We have to trust that He is good,, even if the worst happens. He knows something we don’t and somehow that is for our good or the good of someone else. God is good in his essence, He cannot not be good. We have to trust that even when things look very bleak.

I don’t like to “play the cancer card” but I do have terminal cancer and it is a part of my life now. I have maybe 4 or 8 years, but probably not longer than that. I have to trust that God is good. I pray that he’ll take care of my husband when I’m gone. I like being his helpmeet and I don’t want to leave him. But God seems to think my job helping my husband doesn’t need to last 50 years. 26 or 30 are enough apparently. So I lift my husband up to God and trust He has his good in mind as well as mine. I get to go home early, without the troubles of aging. But my husband has to go on without me. At least that’s how it looks like it will work out right now.

So that takes us to the first point. He should be our first responder. But we often don’t trust Him. We don’t trust he can handle it (His sovereignty) or we don’t trust that He is really good and that this will work out right if we trust Him. We have to trust Him before we’ll get in the habit of turning to Him for everything.

He is trustworthy and faithful. He will do the right thing at the right time because He is perfect. He isn’t like us, having bad days or missing cues or screwing things up. He knows exactly what His plans are for us and they will occur just that way. I can relax because it isn’t all in my hands. It’s all in His hands.

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Thoughts on God and prayer

God is AWEsome, he is AWEful.  And we usually don’t approach him with the reverence we should. In fact typically we’re rather informal and even flippant when we approach God.

I bet we often pray like this:

Hey God, thank you for the blessings today. Please help Aunt Bessie with her bursitis. Help me with the big project coming. Thanks much. In Christ’s name, amen.

Now, I’m not trying to say that we should be all formal and stilted in our prayer either. I can just hear that.

Oh heavenly Father, I thank thee for all thy blessings. Um, I pray for the suffering in the world, that thy would care for them. … Er, I thank thee for the success of my project at work. Well, In Christ’s name, amen.

Oy, not very real. One sided, not expecting a response, and really not sincere. Very self-aware though. It would sound beautiful in front of a certain group of Christians.

Lately I’ve been praying the Lord’s Prayer multiple times a day. And I’ve been doing it slowly. Think about how it starts.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

I tend to stop here and pray this same thing in a few different ways.

Oh yes Father, that your name would be glorified in all the nations. That people would recognize you and glorify you. That I would glorify you in all that tI do.

Back to the prayer

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

I pray some more. Oh Father, I do pray that your will would be done. Guide me so that I do your will today. I pray the nations will turn and do your will. Oh come, Jesus come!

And that’s just the first line! The rest of the Lord’s prayer has so much in it.

 

Sometimes, we need to become speechless. Sometimes in our prayers we need to meditate instead of talking. I’ll be praying and then stop and think about Christ on the cross. This always makes me cry, I admit. I think this is one of the things that the movie The Passion of the Christ did for people. It showed the raw pain, agony, and suffering of Christ. Especially the physical side of things.

Christ died an ugly and agonizing death for us.

For me

For you.

The worst part can’t even be shown physically. He bore the wrath of God for all of our sins.

All of my sins.

All of your sins.

How can you not weep when you think of that. The grace and mercy of that. The pain and agony and fear and trembling and terror of that. Christ did that for us. He knowingly went to that cross. He prayed that the cup be removed. As a human he was overwhelmed at the thought of what was coming. But he was the God-man. He knew that he had to do this for us. It was the plan from the beginning when Eve and Adam sinned against God. He had to crush the serpent’s head. And he did!

And we benefit. For no reason except that God chose us.

He chose me.

He chose you.

How do we respond to that gift? Sometime it is just speechless gratitude. The Holy Spirit has to pray for me with groanings. It is too great for me to grasp. Too wonderful for me to truly appreciate.

 

God is holy His justice had to be satisfied. But he is also tender and loving and full of grace and mercy. His justice makes all of that even richer and more precious. I know some people struggle reading the Old Testament because God seems to be a wrathful God. But if you pay attention, he keeps wooing Israel back. He is full of grace and mercy on every page of the Old Testament. It is Israel that is hard hearted and turns away from Him again and again. They don’t pray to Him, they don’t offer sacrifices of a contrite heart to Him.

 

But some did. The book of Psalms is a great place to go to find good prayers to God. Feel free to use them, that’s why they are there. You don’t always have to come up with original prayers. You can borrow some of the best in the world. And maybe, while praying a Psalm, you stop and expand on it in your own words the way I demonstrated with the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe you stop altogether, speechless in the face of this AWEsome God. That’s okay, too. The Holy Spirit appreciates those times. God recognizes your heart feelings and is glorified when you stop in awe.

 

Pray as to a friend, but stop and recognize the transcendence of this friend. He is holy. He is not a vending machine. He is real, He is alive. He is waiting to hear your prayers. He loves to be with you. Turn to Him. Whether you pray to God, to the Father, to the Son, or even the Holy Spirit, He hears you. Sometimes we find ourselves praying to the Father and the Son in the same prayer. That’s okay too. The message gets through, the communion of spirits happens. Just love Him. Love what He has done for you. And rejoice that He wants to hear from you. He chose you specifically to be in union with Him. Rejoice!

 

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God’s Promises

A First5 entry had me look up these verses and then summarize what they said. I thought the progression was really interesting.  Let’s work through them again in this post.

First verse is: Deut 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Next verse is: Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Then we looked up this verse: Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

The last verse: Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

What do we see in these verses? I love how it starts simply, “I am with you so be strong and courageous”. I can rest in the surety that my God is with me and He gives me strength and courage to face whatever circumstances come along.

Then we move closer to the root of the matter. As I come to love and trust God more, I desire what He wants. I truly mean the words that His Kingdom come, His will be done here on earth. So He delights in fulfilling the desires of my heart since my desires are for His will to be done.

As my trust in Him grows, my desires are for His will to be done, then I trust that His will for me is good and that even in bad circumstances, He is working for my good to come out of that.  So I can truly pray for His will to be done and then rest that it will be ok, even when the storms get rough.

This is where the last verse comes in. He will supply my EVERY need in whatever circumstances I am in. He put me there, He knows what I need, He will meet every need. I can relax and trust Him.

The memory verse for another Bible study I’m doing is James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

That is a good one to remember, because often I get into circumstances and try to handle them all on my own in my own strength and wisdom. But He promises to give me wisdom if I turn to Him and ask. That’s all I have to do – ask. And He will provide generously and graciously.

 

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Sanctification time schedule

I was diagnosed with cancer in April with 2 surgeries in May that didn’t actually remove any of the cancer, then chemo treatments started in June which have worked to reduce the cancer. It’s signet ring cell carcinoma, which doesn’t have a great survival rate, so my life expectancy is now much shorter than normal. Although, really, we could all die any day. I’ve just had the luxury of assuming I won’t die for a few decades removed from my reality.

I have stayed in the word in a dozen ways since this started. Joni gave me the current volume of Divine Hours (I’ve since purchased the other 2 volumes to cover the entire year). Reading that 2 or 3 times a day has been great. I even started sharing it with Mom and she’s picked up the autumn/winter volume for herself.

I started the Dr. Horner reading plan this week and I’m enjoying the NIV Application Commentary on the book of Job.  Another friend gave us a devotional with writings from the puritans, Voices from the Past.

And Proverbs31 Ministries released an app called First5 to use to get you into the word even before you check Facebook 🙂  They released a simple study guide to go with it which has driven me into some deep thinking about the scripture and how it should be impacting my life.The next book is Genesis, which will coincide with the sermon series at church.

The thought that came to me today while doing the First5 reading is that so often we want to change faster.We get that Justification happened once and for all and we learn to rest in that truth. But Sanctification seems to take so long. Why do we still sin? Why can’t God just fix us 100% right away instead of waiting for the day of our Glorification?

I get frustrated and upset with people and then regret and repent and wonder why God makes me go through this period of not quite when he could just finish it.

Then I get this diagnosis of cancer and the day of my Glorification suddenly seems much closer. I’m actually ok with that, I’ve told Anthony that I’ll miss him terribly and I hate to do this to him, but I’ll be very happy where I am going.

But we do the chemo and live drags on and then recovery and recuperation start and it all seems so hard. But God says this is for my good (by his definition, not mine). And I am called to accept, even embrace, what God sends my way. I have found that the big issue of cancer and life or death has been easy to release to God. I didn’t even pray much about that one. I had other prayer warriors praying for it and I trusted God’s plan. My issue has always been in praying about the small things, the day-to-day things.

I have found myself praying for the small things with this disease. The middle of the night pain, the exhaustion/fatigue, the hand cramps or weakness that interfered with doing things, the patience to deal with the ileostomy bag. I’m praying more and it’s more about the little things I would try to show my independence in before. Now I’m reduced to turning to God for help in everything. And He hears me!

I was reviewing my other blog, the Imperfect Reader, and reviewed things in the book Not Knowing Where by Oswald Chambers. I found this quote on God’s definition of good:

“We must never lose sight of the necessity for discipline in the life of faith; only by means of this discipline are we taught the difference between the natural interpretation of what we call good and what God means by good. We have to be brought to the place of hearty agreement with God as to what He means by good, and we only reach it by the trial of our faith, never the stoical effort that says, ‘Well, I must make up my mind that this is God’s will, and that it is best.’”

and then this quote on patience:

“Patience is not the same as endurance, for the heart of endurance is frequently stoical, whereas the heart of patience is a blazing love that sees intuitively and awaits God’s time in perfect confidence.”

We fuss and stress because our sanctification is moving so slowly, and then we fuss and stress when He speeds up the timeline to sanctify us faster.I’m trying to be joyful and grateful that He has sanctified me in this area this year and brought about some drastic changes that would have taken years (have taken years already) on the old time table.

God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good. He has proven faithful and good through these 4 months of cancer and I trust Him for the days to come.

 

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It’s that time

The new year is approaching. A time to set new resolutions and set up Bible reading plans. I also lurk on LibraryThing where people are setting up all their reading plans for 2015, with great expectations of being distracted and derailed through the year.

On the topic of Bible Reading plans, Tim Challies and Ligonier, among others, have put out good lists of options. And they do a good job of covering the good and difficult aspects of a reading plan.

Then today I found this post about a reading plan for people who love to read. This one resonated with me. I think my most successful reading in one year was the year I just trekked through every book of the Bible one after the other, reading however much I could, when I could. I even included it in my LibraryThing reading tracking for that year.

I have been avoiding setting a reading plan. I did purchase the book God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment sort of with the intention of using it for my reading plan. But I realized I get overwhelmed when I start to think it through.

And I realized the reason I get overwhelmed is also the reason I won’t be using a “specific” Bible reading plan this year. Although I am really liking the thought of maybe taking the 4th quarter to do the plan for readers.

Here’s how I will get in my Bible reading this year. I attend and teach (one month a quarter) Sunday School. I hear preaching every Sunday as our pastor walks through a book of the Bible, usually in good detail allowing lots of study. I attend (and often lead) two Bible studies. I’ll attend the Ligonier National Conference in February. I have an intern living in our house who loves to discuss (and debate) all kinds of topics. I am 3/4 of the way through a Bible study on the book of James. I have two books by Jonathan Edwards that I want to read this year. I am listening to a series of sermons on the book of Ephesians and this year I would really like to read Christian in Complete Armour on Ephesians ch 6.

I also have Sin and Temptation by John Owen, and God in Our Midst by Daniel Hyde on my reading list for this year. Sure, these aren’t the Bible, but they will send me back to in in many ways.

I fully support having a plan to read the Bible, and I think it is very helpful to read the whole Bible in a fairly quick time period (one year is better than taking 6 or 10 years to cover the whole Bible). And I also think reading and studying  a smaller portion is helpful.

And some years you have to do what you can do 🙂

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