Monday, September 26, 2016

My Week Without a Phone

Today marks one week I've been without a phone. Last Monday morning, my kiddo decided to throw it on the ground with all his might, and broke the glass just right so that (though just a few small scratches on the screen) it no longer functions. And in my family's efforts to be frugal, we are waiting a while to get it fixed.

So as a stay at home mom, what have I been doing with my time this last week with no smartphone to entertain me and communicate with? Well with Facebook and iMessage, I have been able to use our computer to communicate with the necessary people in my life. And, I hate to admit, to entertain myself I have been streaming Netflix throughout the day as I take care of my home.

I'm not going to lie, everyday I miss doing something on my phone. One of the worst parts was for the 3 days before it died, I could hear every phone call and text message alert. It felt kinda lonely not being able to see who was trying to contact me. I even miss my phone as a time waster to play games and check social media.

But I remember that wasting my time is not making the most of this short life God has given me. And how blessed I am to have AC and hot running water.

So in this period with no phone, I want to be grateful for what I do have. I want to use my time wisely, time that would have otherwise been wasted. I want to. embrace this opportunity to accomplish things I otherwise would have made up an excuse for.

Psalm 101:3
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What Are Broken and Contrite Hearts?

The name for this blog comes from the following verse:

Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. 

This verse was my anthem song during a period in my life where I was struggling with shame and church hurt that were some of the consequences of my sexual sin. I felt this verse was perfect for my situation because David wrote this psalm as a cry of repentance over his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. 

Many people feel broken and hopeless. But it isn't until you bring contrition into the mix that you can experience true healing. 

The word "contrite" is not very common in today's modern vernacular. And while "repent" is a a good synonym, it may sound kind of "churchy" because church is where this word is often heard. I believe the simplest common word that comes closest to explaining the meaning of contrite is "remorseful." When a person is terribly remorseful and deeply regrets an action he committed, he is contrite.

Even in the Old Testament days when the list of laws seemed ridiculous to follow, God was only concerned about the heart. David knew God would not be pleased with his offering if his heart was not in the right place. 

"The sacrifice [David] had to bring was a broken and contrite (crushed) heart—a humbled spirit fully penitent for sin. That is what God desires and will receive... In the New Testament the word of forgiveness is forever written in God’s Word—the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from sin (1 John 1:7). Yet even in the New Testament a believer must have a spirit broken of all self-assertion; he must acknowledge his need before God to find spiritual renewal and cleansing (1 John 1:9)."1

So exactly what are broken and contrite hearts? 

They are the hearts of people who are so distraught over their sin that they know their only hope is to humbly cry out to Jesus for forgiveness. For some people, it takes terrible circumstances and consequences to bring them to this place. They have to hit rock bottom. For others, God brings them to this place before they experience any major consequences.

However, no matter how desperate a person must find himself before being broken and contrite, it is not the FULL consequences of his sin. The full consequences of our sins are the wrath of God and eternal separation from Him.

If at any point on earth you are brought low in order to recognize your desperate need of the Savior, God has been truly gracious to you.

1 John 1:7-9
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgives us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

1. Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 833.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Embracing Change

A little over four years ago, I had just graduated high school and had many ideas of what my life would turn out to be. And none of those ideas came to least not yet. I knew change was ahead of me, but I didn't know exactly what.

In these four years since graduating high school, I quickly went from dating to marriage, moving out of my parents house (yes, in that order ;) ), moving 5 times, giving birth to my first son, getting pregnant with my second son, and graduating from Bible college. And that's not to even mention the times the Lord has worked tremendously on mine and my husband's hearts through deep heart conviction, continuous times of struggle, and beautiful redemption. 

It boggles me how much life changes in just one year. Our family grew from two to three (while I believe this technically happens as soon as my baby's life was conceived, the big change in family dynamics doesn't seem to take effect until the baby is born), and the change from a newborn to a wiggler to a crawler and soon to be walker is very real. And to know that our family will again grow to four is hard to imagine. 

Sometimes it's hard to embrace change. Going from working to bring in additional income for my family to managing my home full time with my baby and living off even less money with more mouths to feed was a tough change to embrace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;

A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
 time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn and a time to dance.

A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
 A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
 A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
Life is composed of seasons. Going from one season to the next requires change. Some change is exciting and some change is painful.

For the painful and stressful changes, take heart that sooner or later a season of hope and joy is to follow. Remember Romans 5:4 :

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The Lord uses painful times to increase your perseverance, build your character, and produce assuring hope. 

So whether good or seemingly bad, embrace the change. Know that God is on your side through it all.

This post is linked up at Coffee For Your Heart and Wise Woman Linkup

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My Nutty Rant

Do you ever just feel like a cruddy person? Well I do. I allow my mind to fill to the brim with negative thoughts about everyone and everything around me. You name it, I've got a way to make it a bummer.

I think to myself, "No wonder God doesn't bless me or fix my problems. My thoughts don't even go toward Him." I don't pray naturally. Naturally, I go "woe is me."

I feel lonely. I feel* like no one cares, and I feel like the few who do quickly grow tired of caring because I'm pretty much a Debbie Downer. And that gets old to anyone after a while.
*Please note the key word here is "feel." I know the truth is thatGod has given me people in my life who love me and care about me. But sometimes I completely forget about that and just feel totally alone.

I don't handle stress with grace. I don't handle Satan's attacks with strong faith. I don't inspire people with my supernatural spiritual strength. In fact, I am jealous of those around me who seem to be "Christian people magnets."

These thoughts that I described above just barely scratch the surface of the dark sins that I struggle with. I could go on and on for pages about how much I fail at being a "good Christian." But the fact is, I'm not a good Christian. I'm a pretty cruddy one. I want to be...but I think that's my problem. I want to be the "great Christian." I want to be the perfect mom and housewife. I want to be that amazing friend that somehow everyone flocks to.

I get so caught up how much I fail at greatness, I lose sight of the only worthwhile goal: becoming more like Christ.

But Christ had supernatural strength. He consistently prayed. He drew in crowds that He sometimes couldn't get away from even when He wanted to. He's inspired billions of people across the ages. How am I supposed to be like that?

I don't know...

I don't always have answers when I want them...

Aren't blog posts supposed to end with some incredible answer or solution to a problem? Or some amazing new insight on how to live life?

And all I've given you is a roller coaster ride of problems. (That's how I feel like my life has been: a roller coaster. Some seasons of life I am so close to the Lord and I know how to handle anything. Other times I withdraw myself from Him and wallow in that "I'm screwed" feeling.)

Well I don't have any amazing insights or incredible solutions for you. Sorry :( All I can offer you (and myself) is the healing truth of Scriptures to which we must be faithfully obedient:

Philippians 2:14-15
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.

Cling to the hope that no matter how much we fail, God's love endures through all of it (Psalm 136). Remembering that God is consistent, unchanging, and perfectly loving and patient with me, gets me through all seasons of life. 

Sorry about my nutty rant. My only hope in publishing this post is that someone else out there knows they are not alone in struggling with this Christian walk of ours. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Feeling Helpless Against Evil

Living in Houston, I hear and read a lot about human trafficking. Sadly, this city is notorious for the despicable crime. Lately, people have shared first hand accounts of shady people stalking mothers with young children in the grocery stores. Some sources say that some sickos are taking kids as young as 2 years old for sexual exploitation. 

This breaks my heart. It shakes me to the core knowing that evil people are getting away!

In fact, a couple months ago, I was seriously doubting God's care for people. In my own finite human thinking, I cannot understand how such a loving God allows such evil to take place, especially to children. I was filled with anxiety over all the evil going on around me, in my own city! I felt angry at the Lord for allowing such horrible injustice to go on day after day.

Habakkuk 1:2
How long, O Lord, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to you, "Violence!"
Yet You do not save.

 I still struggle with this aching over my city's suffering and feeling completely helpless to do anything about it.

But let's study the Scriptures together. While we don't know much about the man Habakkuk from the Scriptures, we do know from chapter 1 that he was a man who loved his country and hated seeing pagan, unrighteous foreigners destroy his land and people. He questioned the Gods justice, just like we do.

Now the Lord doesn't owe us anything. He is perfectly holy and sovereign and has every right to deal with things the way He sees fit without offering any kind of explanation to us. Yet He was gracious enough to answer Habakkuk in chapter 2. He assures Habakkuk that the evil, oppressing Chaldeans will receive the punishment they deserve, but in His timing.

Habakkuk 2:16
You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup in the Lord's right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory. 

We can take comfort that those who, without repentance, live by evil in this world will see God's wrath. (Yes, even today, God has wrath. God is just as loving and holy and just today as He was thousands of years ago. If you need New Testament proof, take a look at the book of Revelation).

We need to take our eyes off of the storms and evils around us and focus them on Yahweh. Focus on His character, His voice, His attributes, and (most importantly) His Word.  

Habakkuk 3:16-19
I heard and my inward parts trembled,
At the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones,
And in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
For the people to arise who will invade us.
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

Amazingly enough, when my eyes are focused on my Savior, I feel a deep love for my city that I could never have on my own.

Today's post is linked up with Think Tank ThursdayThe Charm of HomeFaith Filled FridayFriendship Friday, and Weekend Wind Down

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mountains and Oceans

I've often struggled with pessimism, finding it especially difficult to see any silver lining in tough times. Yet God convicted me that holding onto negative attitudes drives a wedge between me and Him, and I am a fool not to trust Him. 

Exodus 14:21-22

 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.  The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

Matthew 27:51
And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 

Here is the story behind the song, "It is Well." Well worth watching!