Love is (part 1)

I think God is trying to teWhat_Is_Love_Quotesach me a little something about love these days.  I heard it preached about from my favorite preacher at Soma this week.  It keeps popping up in my morning Scripture reading and devotion time.  And I have been reading all about it in blogs and facebook posts…

Love.  What is it?

And can I love God, my husband, my kids and ice cream and coffee all with the same kind of love???  I don’t think so…  Therefore, I am going to try to take a slow look at the love that God calls me to have over the next few weeks and months.

God has written down what LOVE IS in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  And if this is what God says love is, then this is how I need to be loving people in my life.

Today, lets start with patient.  Love is patient.  If love is patient, what is patient?

A definition I found: bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.  

So if this mom is gonna be patient I need to bear annoyances and delays with calm and without complaint or anger.  OUCH!!! That one hurts, especially this week because I know that I have not been very patient, though I have had plenty of opportunities.  With tying shoes, learning the “Jones family house rules”, waiting for meal time, waiting on sleepy, fussy children to finally go to sleep, waiting to see my little boy who mommy misses very much, waiting to spend a little time with a friend, waiting on my husband to return from camp, waiting on a case plan, waiting on things in my life to go back to “normal” so that I can feel sane again… all of these little annoyances and delays I must bear with a calm spirit and no complaint.  Seriously, God?  Are you sure this is love???

Pair “love is patient” with what I have been reading in 1 Peter all about suffering.  (Sidenote: I realize fully that what I am experiencing this week– adjusting to life with our new foster kids, trying to help them be ok where they are right now and how much they miss their mom, missing my husband and son, and all the other little bumps life is throwing at me right now– is not truly “suffering” like I know some are suffering.  But I think God sees my current suffering and gives me permission to apply these verse to my current circumstance.) I have been reading things like:

1 Peter 1:6-9 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  To me these verses bring comfort, that yes, I am suffering, even though it may seem small to others, it is big to me right now.  But there is a purpose in my suffering– to prove my faith genuine, to bring me joy and to bring about the salvation of others.  

1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  When I am going through rough waters, I need to be like Jesus and entrust myself to God who judges justly.  

1 Peter 3:15-17 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  These verses remind me that sometimes it is God’s will for us children to suffer.  And I was reminded earlier this week in another study by Beth Moore, that He only allows us to go through suffering that is necessary for OUR journey.  And no matter what, He will be there with me through it all.  

1 Peter 4:1-2 (AMP)  So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God],  This verse reminds me that it is better to be patient with the suffering than to not please God, which is our ultimate purpose.

1Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.   Another reminder to commit myself to God in the face of any suffering.  

So if love is patient, honestly, this week I have not been very loving.  I have not endured without complaint.  But I am committing myself to a change of course– working on my love toward others, to being more patient and to not complaining.  And that goes for my husband, my children, my friends and even those who could  be considered my “enemies”.  God wants me to love and God wants me to be patient in suffering, no matter how big or how small.

Looking Beyond Myself

It has been a long few days at the Jones house.  Maybe even a long few weeks.  In case you have missed it, it is WINTER time in Ohio.  And it has been crazy.  We have had lots of snow days and even “too-cold-to-go-to-school” days.  

And when this happens, I will admit, I get crazy with cabin fever.  Yes, I often get to go to my job on these snow days, but even being out of the house for 3 1/2 hours doesn’t cut being cooped up at home with three crazy kiddos who are always “bored”.  

This last round of winter weather brought ice and with ice usually comes downed power lines and very cold houses.  I will let you in on a little Jones family secret– I don’t like being cold in my own home very well.  I have witnesses who could tell some great stories about that, but we will hold on to them for another day…

So yesterday I woke up super thankful that our home was one of the lucky ones who did not lose power through the night.  But I also woke up cranky because I have had a nasty cold for three days.  So I stayed in my nice warm home and worked on Blizzard Bags with my children for most of the day, while I watched on Facebook about all my friends whose homes were struggling to keep power.  

Yes, I did the right thing and offered that they come over.  No one took me up on that… but who would want to do with nasty cold germs infesting my home.  I also offered that some go to our church to get warm there.  But all in all I stayed focused on the fact that I had a cold and I was super cranky.  Doesn’t sound very Jesus-like, does it?

This morning on my drive around the block to work I saw this… 

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In this moment I realized how truly blessed and thankful I SHOULD have been yesterday.  This little accident is right behind my home.  And yes, there is a power line that is ALMOST down.  But praise Jesus that it isn’t.  (I can’t even imagine how bad my attitude would have been if I would have been COLD with my COLD.)

But that brings me to what Jesus spoke to my heart this morning… “Grace, sometimes you can’t look beyond myself.”  Sometimes I just stay so focused on my needs.  Like yesterday, I really needed to get rid of this cold because I am too busy to be sick.  And I really needed my children to be quiet little angels because I had a super horrible headache.  And I needed them to finish their Blizzard Bag without much help from me.  And I really needed my husband to get home so I could go to bed…   When really, all these things that I thought I NEEDED are not what wanted me to be focused on.  

He wants me focusing on His Kingdom and what I can do to help further it.  I have kingdom work to do right here in my home— raising three children that God has blessed me with, helping them work on school projects with a good attitude and with minimal unglued momma moments, honoring my husband and doing things to help him when he is out at work, encouraging friends and helping neighbors.  

This week the verse I am working on for #TheJesusProject is pretty simple and it speaks directly to my cranky attitude from yesterday: Do whatever He tells you.  John 2:5

So I guess the next time that there are effects of WINTER all around me, I need to look beyond ME and see God’s Kingdom and what He is telling me to do.  I hope you will do the same- eyes wide open, palms turned up, ready to work further God’s cause.  

 

 

(for more information on #TheJesusProject, go to Ann Voskamp’s website.)

Christ is Enough

This week in A Confident Heart Online Bible study, we have been wrestling with the chapter on “When Doubt Whispers I’m Not Good Enough.”  

This morning in my car I heard this song and it really spoke to my heart in regards to these “not good enough feelings”.  I need to come to a place where I get my good enough from Jesus.

I have by no means mastered this. Actually just yesterday and today, I have been struggling ALOT.  But I am choosing to replace Satan’s lie of not good enough with Jesus’ promise found in Ephesians 1:3-12 (The Message version)

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.  Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.  It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

I don’t know about you but being the focus of God’s love to be made whole and holy through his love– that sounds like I am enough.

I am free, ABUNDANTLY FREE.  And I need to get on with glorious living that God has planned for me rather than wallowing in Satan’s pit of lies.

If I was enough for Christ to send His Son to die for me, then I need to let go of my HIGH AND UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS of myself and allow Christ to be enough for me.

Romans Project- Week 12

So I am still truckin’ along with memorizing Romans chapter 1. No I have not been perfect with each week’s verse, and I have had to review some weeks because I didn’t quite get it… but I am still committed to obsessing about God’s Word and not all the other things that threaten to take up space in my brain.

After reciting Romans 1:1-20 to my accountability partner tonight, I come home and flipped the card to this week’s verse and it is already messing with my heart. This week’s verses are Romans 1:21-22

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools,

I do know God. But I have been realizing that there are some gods in my life that I may have been glorifying rather than the one true God. And then it hits me… How often do I forget to give thanks… How does it slip away so often? My heart falls back into panic and worry and fret mode. And I forget that to be dependent on Jesus, I must continue to give thanks to Him for all the good gifts He gives. I must do this the in midst of health issues and family stress and learning to parent foster children and all of this on top of normal every day life stress like laundry, bills, groceries, packing lunches, etc.

So again, I pick my list…
490- the prayers of a friend
491- good company at Missional Community
492- celebrating small victories

I don’t want my heart to be darkened. I do not want my to be a fool.

I want to be sold out for Jesus and give Him my everything.

Pumpkin Cookies

What to do on a rainy, cold fall day?? Especially after you spend 3 hours out in the rain cheering for your youngest’s soccer tournament??

Bake.

Tonight I tried a new recipe for Pumpkin Cookies. I would say it is a keeper!! I got it from http://www.verybestbaking.com. It was very simple and I had everything in my cabinet except pumpkin. I love recipes like that!!

Column 1
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Column 2
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick of butter, melted

Column 3
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Set oven to 350 degrees. Mix column 1 together in a bowl. Then beat column 2 together in a separate bowl. Add column 3 into the bowl for column 2. Then dup in column 1. Drop cookies by rounded tablespoons on to cookie sheet. Bake for 15 mins.

After they are semicooled down, glaze them with powdered sugar glaze.

(Glaze- I used 2 cups of powdered sugar, 3 tbsp of milk, 1 tbsp of melted butter, and 1 tsp vanilla.)

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The Woman at the Well

well-w-bucket

This week I have been focusing on the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. It can be found in John 4. I am sure you have read it before but it does a heart good to reread the story and see what God wants to show you.

This morning when I read it again, God really opened my heart that I am not too far off from this woman He had to go see. This is a mess of woman who is going about her normally daily duties when she encounters the Lord. What stood out to me the most this morning is that she desperately wants this living water. She wants a quick fix to cover up her sin problem. And she wants a quick fix so that her sin will no longer affect her daily life. In John 4:15 she says “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

I have been there. Actually I think this is where I have been living my life with Jesus for far too long. I want Jesus to give me a quick fix to get over my sin so that I don’t have to keep coming back to this same place time and time again. Also I am weary of my sin affecting my family. But I believe all quick fixes do is bring temporary relief to a deeper issues.

So, of course, Jesus doesn’t offer her a quick fix, He goes deeper with her. Jesus offers her his perfect love in the midst of her mess. She had been with five men and was living with guy number six. None of  these men could fill this deep need of love in her life. She was speaking to the man who could offer her perfect love. Not in a sexual kind of way, but the perfect love that comes out of 1 Corinthians 13- patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud or dishonoring, not self-seeking or easily angered. A love that keeps no record of wrongs, that rejoices in truth, protects, trusts, hopes, always preserves and NEVER fails. This is a love that no man could show her. Only the one, true God could allow her to feel this kind of love.

God offers this same perfect love to me. In the midst of my mess. In the midst of my sin. There are no quick fixes in Jesus, only His perfect love that was shown on the cross. And the great thing is there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can do to earn it and nothing I can do for it to be taken from me. God’s offer of His perfect love has no strings attached.

Today, I would like to end by sharing one thought taken from the book, “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope:

Sweet friend, wherever you are, Jesus meets you there. You and I are not worthy of His love and we can never do anything to deserve it– but we are worth His love because He chose to give it to us. We are His! Hold on to this promise and live in the power of its truth: because God’s love is perfect, you don’t have to be!

Today I am choosing to walk in His #perfectlove.  How about you?

I want to say YES to Him

yes to god

This morning waiting for me in my inbox were tons of messages.  But this blog from Ann Voskamp was what my heart needed to hear this morning.  Maybe it will speak to yours as well. 

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/10/how-to-find-peace-what-the-answer-is-when-you-just-want-answers/

Today I am choosing Jesus.  Today I am choosing peace.  Today I am saying NO to the enemy of my soul.  Will you join me?