Andree Seu continues to challenge and inspire me

World Magazine has a columnist who hits home for me almost every time.

Here is her latest from the Worldmag blog. Very good stuff!

Owning It

Written by ANDRÉE SEU

Read this half verse with me: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy …” (Jude 24).

If you just read it the way I used to read my Bible, it didn’t help you much. But I have discovered the blessing of praying immediately after reading a passage of Scripture.

Now read the same verse again and spend time praying over it afterward. (I’ll wait.)

How did it feel when you asked God to “keep you from falling”? Or when you thanked Him for being “able”—and willing—to “present you before his glorious presence without fault”? Did you get excited at the thought? If not, did you ask Him to make you excited? Did you insist on more of a sense of His “glorious presence”? Did you pester Him for that “great joy”?

There is a mystery in the universe that you and I have not begun to plumb—the spiritual alchemy that happens when we speak back to God about what He just spoke to us (preferably out loud). It completes a metaphysical circuit. (I believe the Bible hints at this in Romans 10:9.)

The opposite alchemy is dreadful. I find that if I do not pray at once over spiritual teaching I read in a book (such as by John Piper or Martin Lloyd-Jones or John Frame), or spiritual teaching I hear in a sermon, it turns into an intellectual collector’s item. It either evaporates from the mind like letters written in disappearing ink, or it becomes a vile idol in my intellectual arsenal. What was meant to give life brings death.

Read it. Pray it. Own it.

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Count me IN!

I need to put this down so that I will remember and I will hear the words that aren’t getting completely to my brain and heart this week.

Let me start with our big God-story from 2007. Anthony lost his job during the summer and spent about 4 months looking for another job.  I know that isn’t long compare to many others. But when you don’t know how long it will take, every week feels very long. Right after he lost his job, the Ligonier Fall Conference was here in Charlotte. We had registered months earlier because this was not an opportunity to be lost, they were right here! The converence topic was God’s Sovereignty. I sat there for 1.5 days listening to RC Sproul and Steve Lawson declare the sovereignty of God from every angle. There is nothing that is not under His control. He knows all things, He loves me and watches over me and is never surprised by anything that happens to me. This was huge for me as I wondered how we would make it on my salary alone.

[Side note, I am all for Biblical roles. I struggle in some ways to figure out how what I do fits in, but I agree with the complementarian view. One thing I certainly am willing to let go is being the primary (or only) bread winner. That is some stress right there and I applaud men who do it every day for their entire life.]

I held onto God’s promise that he was in control and we kept paying bills with the money in the checking account and I was amazed at how the money came in. Nothing as amazing as stories of needing $133 to pay for a specific bill and then having a long-lost relative send a check for $133 for something long forgotten. Just normal, daily coverage for our life.

I write that to remind myself that He is faithful and fear is a waste of energy (except for the fact that it drives me back into His arms).

Now, why I need to remember that…

I have made three fairly big decisions in the past few years. 

Two years ago I decided to pursue my EMBA at a local university. It started as a search for something to do to rejuvenate my work and attitude. I prayed about it because it was a big step. I got accepted, got support from work, and also got a promotion and I firmly believe it was all God’s doing. I didn’t want to go forward if He didn’t want me there.

In May and June I decided to homeschool my nephew. That was a lot of research and planning, but also prayer and willingness to do what was right. I have my plan, but I have tried hard to hold onto it loosely and be willing to follow His plan as it unfolds for me.

This April I took a new job at my company. I am not as positive that I bathed that in enough prayer. I certainly prayed for the position, but I may not have been as open to staying at my old job if that was His will.

[Note. I also know that underneath all of my daily life issues is the continued concern for my Dad who is still unconcious in the hospital. I could have been a better daughter and I would like a “do over”, but in the eternal matters I’m at peace with Dad. I’d just like more time to hang out with him.]

The EMBA program finishes in 2.5 months! I have learned a lot and am glad I did it. I am not sure I’m the executive type so I don’t have a clear view of where I will go as a result of the degree. But I certainly have more knowledge and experience now.

Homeschooling as I see it will go on for the next 5 years until he graduates. That may change and I’m trying to remain open to His possibilities.

The one that isn’t going as planned is my new job. My position will not be funded in 2009 so I need to find a new job at my company between now and the end of the year. There are possibilities. Someone else in my department may choose to move and I take on their work. I could call on some old colleagues and go back to the area I came from. I could make a connection with someone  and get a job in another part of the company. Even further outside my current realm of possibilities, I could be let go and find a job at a completely different company. I just don’t have anything lined up yet (it’s been a week since I found this out) and the possibilities are not all rosy. 

Tonight my husband was talking about how I got the other jobs and positions I’ve held at this company. But none of them came through job hunting. It was all people I knew and possibilities that just opened up. Even the job I took this year came into my inbox from my old manager. Faith says I should trust that God knows what I will be doing in 3 months and I need to be responsible but not afraid.

Tonight we went to a Young Life dinner. I feel like I’m living in a bubble right now and everything I do is colored by this new concern for my job. Even sitting through church or the program at the dinner tonight requires effort to concentrate through the buzz of worry. But the speaker at the dinner was really good and kept my attention. Of course, he was trying to explain what Young Life does and why we should help support the program. What I heard was God answering my cry for assurance and encouragement.

At one point, the speaker told a story about his daughter who, when she was little, climbed up a ladder onto their roof and then would walk along the roof every time he tried to climb up the ladder to get her. He finally called her name and told her to jump! She believed that her daddy would catch her, and she exercised faith when her feet left the roof and she leaped into his arms. 

Here is what I take from that. I can continue to worry and be anxious while saying that I believe that God is sovereign and has a plan for me.

OR

I can have faith and refuse to continue to worry and be anxious and distracted and stressed. 

To put that even more succinctly: Y’in, Y’out?*

*(Are you in or are you out?)

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A Day in the Life – Tuesday

I got this idea from here. It’s like blog-scrapbooking. I’m way more likely to do this than the real thing.

I didn’t see this until Tuesday and now it’s Wednesda and I can see this isn’t going to be a real success. I am not a natural picture taker and the opportunities fly by and much later I realize it would be nice to have taken a picture. So, I’ll practice.

But wait, I can start with Monday night.

I finished two books last night (but the vacuuming didn’t get done). Both of these were on my list for Fall Into Reading. Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge was my first by her. I’ll need to read another to form a complete opinion.  At Home in Mitford was wonderful, of course.

Here is the stack of other books waiting to be read this fall.

Today I put through 3 loads of laundry and had Connor put through one.

I also stood in his doorway to provide motivation for Connor to clean his room (mostly). 

Then Connor did his 1st Review in Easy Grammar – prepositions.

What I didn’t get a picture of – we made tacos for dinner. This is a great step for us, we don’t do real meals together often.

Anthony and I went to a meeting about Self-Directed IRAs. Then I did my homework while Anthony went for a bike ride (yay!).

That was our Tuesday.

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30 Days of Nothing

I found this idea, but not until the last few days of Sept. We have decided to do this for October.

Here is how it was described:

These are expensive times, and families are having to get creative in maximizing their resources. One blogger, Mary of Owlhaven, is a mom of ten kids committed to teaching her kids common-sense frugality by example. She’s hosting a carnival at her blog called 30 Days of Nothing, an idea originally launched a couple of years ago at another blog. The idea is, at once, simple and daunting: Mary and her family aim to cut out all unnecessary purchases, and focus only on the essentials, for 30 days. But Mary’s motivation isn’t purely a financial one.

Reasons for doing this include a disturbing sense of entitlement and taking control of our spending

It will be difficult, as anyone who did in September can attest. Iron Man came out on DVD yesterday, but we don’t really need it so we’ll put that purchase off for now [as Anthony pointed out, I’m the one who wants the DVD].
We had already agreed to be accountable to each other and vet every single purchase before we made it. This takes that to another level where the answer will be “no” much more often.  We’ve talked about “no doodad” periods before but we haven’t successfully controlled our discretionary spending in awhile. I think this will be good for us.
We’re off!
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Free handbag?

Free handbags.  One every hour for 24 hours.
It’s worth taking a look!
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Dad update

My dad is still sedated and in ICU.

The pneumonia is looking a little bit better and they have stopped that antibiotic.

They are still treating the VRE infection, and everyone is still wearing gowns and gloves.

He is off the IV drip and just on the stomach tube, so no insulin anymore.

They are going to work on weaning him off the respirator, but it will still be awhile.

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Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Hymn 598 in the Trinity Hymnal, balm to my soul this Sunday. Click here for the tune.

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
[or Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer…]
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st Thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold:
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer,
Sin, and Satan and the grave,
Sin, and Satan and the grave.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.

Musing on my habitation,
Musing on my heav’nly home,
Fills my soul with holy longings:
Come, my Jesus, quickly come;
Vanity is all I see;
Lord, I long to be with Thee!
Lord, I long to be with Thee!

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The Grand Weaver – review

I wanted to participate in the I Read It! for the 5th Tuesday of September. The struggle of course being finding time to read. I walked back through some of the books they have reviewed on 5 Minutes for Books lately and picked The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias. I have listened to Ravi and even heard him speak at the Ligonier National Conference 2 years ago. He is a great speaker, has wonderful illustrations, and talks to practical topics. 

The Grand Weaver is the first book I’ve read by Zacharias. He does a good job with this book in illustrating various areas of our life that God designed and uses to weave our lives. 

In the chapter on our DNA he discusses how we should accept and celebrate our personality, that this begins our understanding of the Grand Weaver’s design for our lives. Then he discuss our disappointments, explaining that we need to allow our heart to be made tender by God, not callous, by the pains of this world. Then we must strenghten our mind through faith. And always, the cross should be primary, the bridge between him and us.

The chapter on our calling defines it as “God’s shaping of your burden and beckoning you to your service to him in the place and pursuit of his choosing.” Zacharias mentions that this calling may not always feel pleasing, but it will tug at the soul. We are encouraged to submit to God’s design and live a life of humility.

I found the chapter on morality interesting. We cannot escape the need for morals but there is a lot of discussion about who creates morals. Morality can become legalism if it isn’t tempered with grace and mercy. Zachias mentions that perhaps the point to some of the parables isn’t what appears to be the main point. Perhaps the older brother was the real point to the story of the prodigal son. I find the story of repentance and acceptance (younger son and father) very reassuring, but the action of the older brother hits too close to home sometimes. Or maybe the real point of the stofy of the good Samaritan is the priest and Levite and their behavior. He uses another one – maybe the point to be learned from the women arriving first at the tomb was the fact that the disciples hadn’t. I think this one is the most surprising for me. I’ve always been amazed that the women were headed to the tomb even though they were aware that there was a big stone they couldn’t move, they trusted that a way to handle it would come up as long as they did what they needed to do. I wonder if the disciples didn’t go because they knew there was this big stone in the way?

The chapter on spirituality gets to the point that it is truth what separates true spirituality from false spirituality. We are warned not to get sidetracked by ceremony or legalism. He discusses our will and how salvation also brings a change in our hungers. We will new things. But in our fallenness we often put our energy into peripheral or wrong pursuits instead of concentrating on following Christ alone. 

We are made to worship, it seems. But our worship belongs to God and we are too quick to turn to other things. In this chapter Zacharias talks about the church and how we are supposed to build each other up, bring hope and healing to each other. But too often there is pulling down, condemnation, and reprimand. Worship is primary and here Zacharias uses the imagery again, worhip “pulls the many threads of life into a beautiful whole.”

He ends with a chapter about our Destiny; our eternal life in heaven being known by God and knowing God. I have always thought the image of being completely known is one of the most comforting allures of Heaven. I seldom feel truly understood and often don’t understand myself. To be known completely by a loving God, and perfected to boot, sounds wonderful!

I am glad I read this book and found much to meditate on. I found his writing to be a bit distracted and had to search for his point a few times. He speaks much the same way, the stories and illustrations may be disconnected, but each is worthwhile and the effort required by the listener to interpret the whole out of the pieces is a good exercise.

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Home again to Mitford

We’re on to chapter 13 now. Olivia and Father Tim are talking about Hoppy and how he’s acting since learning about Olivia’s condition. The weather is fowl and Father Tim is finally ready to get his car running again after 8 years of not driving.

Father Tim is searching the church bottom to top. His Bible has been missing for weeks and he wants it back. He smells Chicken Noodle Soup, most of the extra food in the basement is gone, and he found a chocolate bar wrapper in the attic. But he found ways to explain it all away. 

Hoppy is fired up that he can’t just sit by and do nothing for Olivia. He, Father Tim, and God are going to team up to look for a transplant that will keep Olivia alive.

Father Tim goes to visit Homeless Hobbes and they have a nice talk while Homeless makes dinner for them. It is good to have someone you can level with.  A very refreshing visit, marred only by Barnabas’s reaction to the car driving down the road on the way home.

The police call with some interesting stolen jewelry news and now want to inspect the candy wrapper from the attic. And the traveling businessman calls with a very different perspective on life!

Today we met Absolom Greer, the pastor of Harold’s church where Emma is getting married. They have a wonderful time of fellowship and understanding as two men of the cloth. Just as it ends we learn that Absolom proposed to Miss Sadie once!

Cynthia came to dinner! What a homey comfortable time. 

Father Tim is worried that Andrew is involved with the stolen jewels transported in hollow table legs to furniture stores.

Olivia is very sick and now in the hospital. Time to wait to see if a transplant is available.

While Father Tim is praying before his sermon, the stairs to the attic descend and a man walks down them to make a confession. The crime is the small part of it. The faith and intimacy with God are what will last.

Barnabas has been snatched by a car driving past. They accused Father Tim of taking their dog. But Baranabas didn’t seem eager to go with them.

They baptized George Gaynor, the thief that was living in the belfrey. And the paper is going to run a picture of Barnabas. 

Seems people all over the county are sending shoes and foot for George Gaynor. Now they are starting a collection for a reward for Barnabas.

It’s Maundy Thursday, a quiet and sad service. I always like our Maundy Thursday service. It feels weird though, to walk out of the church and find folks chatting in the parking lot. 

We found out that Puny is seeing Joe Joe Guthrie – that sounds like a good match.

Cynthia and Father Tim had a difficult talk. Not much was said, but they are talking. Now, if only we could get rid of that blasted Andrew!

That’s four more chapters. I like the way the Mitford books work. Small bits of time for things that often don’t seem all the important. But that is so much of life. The daily living and fellowship and friendship and duties that all add up to a complete and full life.

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Noah’s Ark – this looks interesting

I got this in an email and thought I’d share it here. It is helpful sometimes to see something in a more realistic scale. Here is a replica of Noah’s Ark (or one man’s interpretation of it) according to the measurements from the Bible.

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