Tag Archives: Christian

Poor in Spirit

I loved my elementary school counselor.  She was sweet, gentle, and compassionate.

However, in her office, I remember my first official secular education on self-confidence.

But if was years before I even comprehended that self-confidence is a clearly secular teaching.  And so, my lack of self-confidence has been a constant sting of inadequacy and discontentment.

But God doesn’t desire me to be SELF-confidant.  

In fact, the message of the cross, the message of the gospel is Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Mathew 5:3).

Until recently, this verse confused me.

What does poor is spirit mean?    And what could this possibly have to do with the kingdom of heaven?

But our church recently did a sermon series on the sermon on the mount.  And on Easter morning, it suddenly became clear.

It refers to the depravity of soul.

And so, this lack of self confidence is not a flaw in my faith.  Instead, it declares my need for faith.

 Because I have a deep depravity, I need Jesus.

I need the Cross.

I need the Resurrection.

And in His salvation, self confidence is replaced with my identity in Christ.

God-confidence.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Mathew 5:3

 

Hold Me Tight

Walking through a parking lot with four young children invites countless opportunity for irreversible mishaps.

I only have two hands.  And so, I balance the diaper bag, my purse, and Leesy on one arm.  And then with my other hand, I hold Zaiah’s hand – who holds Eli’s hand – who holds Abby’s hand.  It’s an excursion rather avoided.

DSCN6856During one of our outings, I let go of Zaiah’s hand to adjust my purse.  But Zaiah was clearly displeased.

“Mama,” he squealed, “Don’t let go.  I might run away!”

He was acutely aware of his own temptation.  He needed me to hold him tight.

And I need God to hold me tight.

Especially in those numerous moments of temptation.

And failure.

But I often fail to lean on Him.   And I stumble.  My concerns slowly penetrate my hearts peace.  And soon, those concerns magnify and occupy my heart.  And that crippling anxiety threatens to overcome me.

But as that fear creeps into my heart, my desperation leaves me acutely aware of God’s loving embrace.

Even in my failure, God is holding me tight.

And I am confident in Him.  I will never return to where I once resided in complete defeat.

His power resides in me.

And He will finish the work He has begun.

 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

                                                                                      Philippians 1:6

God’s Love Covers Me

Behind the plastered smile lays the real FEARSANXIETIES,and STRUGGLES.

I ignore them, and instead of God interrupting my sinful heart, hypocracy invades my sinful heart.

And I fool myself into thinking that plastered smile is real.

I bury my HURT.

I bury my FRUSTRATION.

And I bury my SELFISHNESS.

And then, when I realize the awful path I have chosen, I cringe at my failure to rely on God.  My body physically reacts – my muscles increasingly, and powerfully, tense up until a muscle tic overtakes my control.

Panic sets in.  Then, I realize that I lost focus.

 And I hate it.

But when I don’t pretend perfection,  God heals the hurt, frustration, and selfishness.

But despite my imperfect faith, GOD IS perfect.

Even when I wallow in my imperfection, his LOVE covers me.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear……….

1 John 4:18

This post can be found at Grandma’s Blog Hop

Where I am Weak, He is Strong

The Mistake

Any sain individual would have been hysterical at the absurdity in our household.

Over cookies.

Mike, unfortunately, had a day that involved inside-out underwear, no lunch and a large pile of work issues.

He had a bad day.

And I knew it.

He asked me to make him cookies.  Eager to bring some light to his day, I agreed.  But, as the evening wore on, a pile of dishes beckoned along with the procrastinated checkbook, bills, and taxes that needed my attention…immediately.

Overwhelmed with my surmounting list of duties, I opted out of the cookies.

Mistake.

We battled all evening.

I calmly held my position of martyred, overworked wife…until I finally snapped and exploded on his selfishness.  And he, of course, bitterly and intensely battled for the one morsel of goodness in his day.  It wasn’t just cookies – he wanted me to make them (out of love, of course).  And my heart was violently opposed to any devotion of love.

It finally climaxed as he cleaned the kitchen AND cooked the one kind of cookies I hate - Peanut Butter.

A bitter end.

Guilt

As the day ended and I looked at him fast asleep, the guilt kicked in.  I knew I had failed on so many levels.

Even when he provoked me, he needed my love and encouragement.  And instead, I dished him out the same dose of conditional love and disregard he had received all day.

But to add to my distasteful failure, I had also been praying for extra grace, patience, and kindness so that I would not explode on him.

And I still exploded.

But, fortunately, my God already is graceful, patient and kind.

Where I am weak, He is so STRONG.

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Praise Him | Gotcha!

Leesy captivates my heart….

  • She says Mama and Dadda.   But I really love it when she squeals Gotcha!
  • Eli was sitting in his favorite chair.  She climbed up on his lap, touched his face, and then gave him a big hug.  Eli was ecstatic with her extension of adoration.Eli and Leesy
  • She just learned how to use her hands to play peek-a-boo.  She loves it.

  View a peek-a-boo video:  http://youtu.be/YyW-BI3qoo8

I enjoy these precious moments.

But I am so tired.  I am completely worn down.

I am not justified to complain.   I have a great marriage.  We have four beautiful, healthy children.  God has abundantly provided all of our needs.

And I know my response should be praise and gratitude.

Yet, my sleep has been completely tattered by sick, hungry, scared, or early rising children.  My days are consumed with fulfilling the basic needs of four young children.  And my husband has been working unusually long hours.

I am weary.  This weariness leaves me vulnerable for Satan to take captive my mind.

So, I will choose God’s unending joy.

I surrender my heart.

And I will praise Him forever.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Hebrews 13:15 NIV

 

Control | 103.6

The Fever

Zaiah has 103.6 fever.

Control

My mind immediately reverts back to a year ago – when our children couldn’t stay well.  Before we completely conquered one illness, a different sickness would penetrate our household.

Six months later, the children finally recuperated.

Now, I am a hand washing, hand sanitizing Nazi.

And it has worked.  Until now.

103.6 fever.

And I have lost control.

Control

Fortunate for me, kids need structure.  For awhile, that surmounted to control.

But they got bigger, and despite a structured schedule, I lose control.

This afternoon, we had a sick kid on the couch, one kid arguing about cleaning his room, and a dancing ballerina twirling around the house. Then, Leesy shattered a bowl into tiny peices.

I think it is safe to say that I lost control.

I did not have an emotional outburst (although that would certainly be a distinct possibility under the circumstances).  But I did lose my sense of direction.  Nothing I could say or do could restore my afternoon to its status quo.

My Husband

But , why do I need to restore my day?  Why can’t I enjoy a ballerina?  Or patiently hold a sick child?

Maybe I need to trust God to provide in every moment.  Maybe I need to cherish life as it comes.  Maybe I need to stop.  And breathe.

But despite my weakness, or perhaps because of my weakness, Gave gave me a treasure.  My husband.

He completes me.  He balances me.  Where my distress creeps in, he seizes the opportunity. Where I see chaos, he sees excitement.  And when my heart is about to thump out of my chest, he is a calming balm.

He is God’s perfect gift.

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 NIV

Patience | A Paralyzed Brain

Sleep deprivation paralyzes any brain cells my overwhelmed disposition has left intact.  Today, I burned Eli’s toast in three consecutive attempts, lost my keys in my pocket, forgot to eat lunch, and broke one of our new glasses.

My kids, though, don’t comprehend the sleep deprivation associated with four measly hours of sleep accompanied by a crabby nap-refusing baby.

They have no mercy on an emotionally distressed Mama.

And unfortunately, my husband, Mike, just returned from a work trip.  He was exhausted too and didn’t have the capacity to compensate for my own mental depravity.

My nerves were shattered.  Our nerves were shattered.

All morning, and into the afternoon, I pretended patience.  I tripped over toys and politely requested the toy offender clean up his mess.  I cleaned up stray glitter from a non-approved, early morning project the kids had embarked on. I refereed whiny kids.  And I searched for missing socks and cleaned messy faces.

Patience

Meanwhile, my impatience boiled below the surface – festering with each  offense presented.  But I plastered on a smile, softened my voice, and calmly tamed my disposition.

But finally, I blew.

And my apology was merely followed by consecutive emotional outbursts.

I do not want to act like an ungracefilled wife and mother.  But I do it anyway.

I am pretty sure the problem isn’t the words coming out of my mouth but the unedifying thoughts I stuff in.

And only God can change that.

This week, I am committed to regularly praying that God guard my thoughts.  And plant in me his peace, patience, and enduring kindness.

Especially when I am so desperately tired.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

Rely on God

Rely on Him | The Ruckus and Labels

(A follow up from The Baby Gate …)

Lack of Ruckus

My kids seem to get up extra early on the weekends.  Last weekend, they were particularly quiet so I decided to go investigate the reason for their lack of ruckus.  I found Eli and Zaiah covered in those bright garage sale labels.

Smiling big.

february 004

Labels

This morning, I returned to bible study.    This week’s lesson was on the labels we place on ourselves.  The negative ones.

I am socially challenged.  Anxiety driven.  Rejected.

It’s kind of ironic since last week I was consumed by these very labels during most of the study. I failed to rely on Him and instead wallowed in fear and inadequacy.

So this week, I spent a lot of time in prayer.

I prayed that God would guard my heart.  That He would give me clarity and strength. That He would keep me focused on Him.  That He would free me from the bondage of those labels.

And I didn’t hyperventilate.  My voice didn’t shake.  My heart didn’t race.  My palms didn’t sweat.

I can rely on Him.

On His greatness.

His love.

And His perfection.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 NIV

For a devotional on Relying on God, visit:

http://www.juliabettencourt.com/dev/frogdev.html

Love | Life Abundant

Dear Jesus,

I always knew you loved me. I knew you carried my burdens.  I knew you carried my shame.  And I knew you desired to give me life abundant – full of joy, hope, and peace.

Love

But I have spent my life holding your love with a rigid and distrustful grip.  Choosing to be independent.  Snatching back all that I laid at your feet.

Yet pretending you blessed my efforts.

Pretending that I had it all together.

But my day came.  I couldn’t do it alone.  Not anymore.  My spirit slowly crushed under my own weight.

Until I snapped.

And I needed You.  I needed your love.

I prayed and pleaded.  I sang your praises.  And I obsessively read your entire love story.  Your Spirit sliced through my heart with conviction and clarity.  Suddenly all the stories, prophesies, and letters orchestrated in perfect harmony. I could see your unending, zealous love.

For me.

You have changed everything.

That life abundant – full of your joy, hope, and peace – it squeezes out the sin and grievances that penetrated my heart.  The light of your love floods my soul.  Your hope celebrates and explodes in the chambers of my heart.

february 2013 077

I love you more than ever.

Forever Yours,

     The One You Love

I have loved you with an everlasting love;

Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.

Jerimiah 31:3 NASB

An excellent devotion on God’s Love:

Know Real Love