Monday, October 13, 2014

What God Wants from Me (& You)

It's easy to get off track sometimes. We get stuck in our own little worlds at this time of year because we've finally gotten back into to the groove of the school year. There are oodles of agro-festivals--corn, pumpkins, apples-- and plenty of last-minute outside festivities--hay rides, corn mazes, school carnivals.

Everybody's getting in their last kicks in the great outdoors before the first winter snow hits.

It's easy to grow busy and, therefore, complacent.

One place where we should never grow complacent, though, is at the foot of the cross.
A picture of Bible Study complacency: Kitty sleeping on the job.
A theme God has brought up in my own personal study (and even in yesterday's sermon at church) has been about His greatest desire from us.

He wants our hearts.

Our pastor preached from Ezekiel chapters 8-11 yesterday, about God physically leaving the tabernacle because the people of Israel had constantly pursued idol worship.

Yes, we Christians participate in idol worship when we don't place God first in our lives. We might worship the idol of our children or family. We might worship the idol of our ministry and what we have accomplished for God.

He is not interested in our efforts, our money, or our sacrifices if they are not done with the right heart attitude (i.e. keeping Him in His rightful place as first).

In Psalm 50, God says He doesn't want our sacrifices.
"For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon the thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine." (vv.10-11)
God doesn't need 
       our efforts, 
          our money, 
            our stuff, 
        or our sacrifices. 

Besides, we can't give God anything that doesn't belong to Him already--except for our hearts. And He won't force us to do that because it's our choice to give our hearts to Him. We need to heed His advice:
"Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: and call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." (vv. 14-15)
In Psalm 51, David says,
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (v. 17)
It doesn't matter how much we put in the offering plate, how much time we spend at church "doing ministry," or how celebrated our personalities are in Christian circles.

What's important to God, what matters most of all, is where our hearts are focussed. If our hearts are not humbled and focussed on God, they are not focussed on the right place.

I'm not speaking about some emotional trip, either. If you want to hear God speaking to you, then you need to get into His Word every day. Start reading Psalms or Proverbs or the Gospel of John.

We have to side with God against ourselves. We have to give Him every area of our hearts. Even if it means doing less at church so we can take care of our families the way He requires us to. Even if it means giving up a precious extra 20 minutes of sleep each day to read His Word.

God wants your heart. Does He have it all or does He have it in part?

In His Great Love,
--Mrs. D.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall is in the Air!

Fall has subtly crept back into our lives, and I guess I can no longer deny it.

I noticed this shift of season most acutely when we sat inside the office of our local rental company on Friday, waiting to sign the lease agreement for our new apartment. A stuffed scarecrow greeted us when we first arrived, and every corner of the rental office displayed leaves, gourds, pumpkins, and the like.
Fall decorating will be pointless in our home this year because we'll be moving right in the thick of the season. Although not decorating makes me a little sad, an even greater part of me is simply reveling in the idea of moving to a nicer apartment!

Size-wise, it's not much bigger than what we have now, but it has one claim that our current apartment cannot boast of--washer and dryer hook-ups!

For the last year and a half, our washer and dryer have been sitting in storage, neglected. But very soon, we shall be able to use them again, and I could not be more grateful.
As for our lack of interior decorating, I think it's beyond safe to say that God is a much better decorator than myself. We are already enjoying His handiwork: vibrant green leaves becoming lovely jewel-tones and local farms brimming with pumpkins and various squash.

And just because we won't be decorating our home doesn't mean we can't enjoy our favorite fall foods.
Candy corn sugar cookies! I used the idea/ technique from Our Best Bites and the sugar cookie dough recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie.

Last week, we made pumpkin-peanut soup. Sometimes we use sweet potato, sometimes pumpkin; either way, it must be eaten with sriracha sauce!

This week, we're trying a Dorito-beef casserole. We're going to use Cool Ranch Doritos. Red Beard and I are both pretty excited about this one. :)

As the chilly air rushes in to signal the change of season, I can't help but think about how much our lives have changed in the last year (I know, I know... sentimental cliche... oh well).

We're at a new church, working with new people. Red Beard has had several promotions at work, and he is almost done with the first leg of his college career. And I'm now a FT wife (so weird!).

I know sometimes we can feel trapped in a particular season of life. Maybe "stuck" in high school or "stuck" being single or childless or jobless or whatever. But the truth is, as the Bible tells us, our lives are but a vapor (James 4:14).

One of the things God has really been pressing upon my heart lately is to not wish any time away--savor what you have, because tomorrow the winds of change will blow through and you'll wonder where the time went.

That's kind of how my dad felt post-surgery. He had to be out of work for several months to recover. At first, he was very frustrated to not be able to work, but he eventually realized how valuable his time at home was--to the point that he didn't want to go back to work when it was time to!

I know sometimes, in certain seasons, you get that same feeling you got as a kid when you received socks or underwear for Christmas instead of another toy. As a kid, it seemed lame and disappointing. But later, as an adult, it makes more sense. Maybe your family was poor and didn't have money for necessities.

I mean, what if you didn't have socks or underwear? I'm pretty sure underwear takes precedent over a toy (just sayin').

Kids don't get new toys for other reasons, too. Perhaps the kid was so rotten, he or she didn't deserve a new toy... or maybe he or she wanted a toy that was for an older child. I mean, you can't give a toy with small pieces to an infant; it wouldn't be safe.

And the same is true in our lives as Christians.

We are God's kids. Sometimes we get only what we need (the proverbial socks and underwear) and not what we want (the proverbial toy). Does that make God a bad Father? By no means!

He knows what we need, and if we are mature enough to handle more. Maybe we want something we aren't ready for or something we don't have the character to handle.

I know that if my husband had come along when I wanted to have a husband (at least 7 years prior to when God placed him in my life), Red Beard would have (or should have) run the other direction! I would have made a mess of a marriage, no matter how ready thought I was.

I pray that you are enjoying the new season of fall and, more importantly, enjoying the season of life in which you currently find yourself. Thank God for what you have, and let Him decide when you need more.

--Mrs. D.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Checking In: 9/10/14

Last week, Red Beard started his new job (same company, different department, more pay). We're very grateful for this change-up; it will afford him some new career opportunities, and it will afford us less stress in the bill-paying department.

And, of course, his start-up coincided with me being sick.

It was one of those kinds of sick where you barely leave bed, and you don't even care that you're missing out on the outside world because all you want to do is lie down.

Thankfully, it wasn't anything more serious than seasonal allergies. I just have really bad reactions to the seasons changing sometimes and guess what, y'all--Fall allergies are out! It's been years since it hit me that hard.

Today is the first day I actually felt like doing much of anything since last Wednesday (oh yes, our apartment looks amazing right now, lol).

I've been pondering many things, though, and I've continued to read my Bible (there was only one day I couldn't because my head hurt too bad).

God's been good and there are exciting things to come in our lives.

I hope everyone is well.
--Mrs. D.