Lately I have been studying the topic of guidance and the discerning the will of God. It has been bugging me for a while, so once classes finished up I got a book (Step by Step) to read and have been looking at Scriptures. Annoyingly, as I read the book I realized the author does not believe that God has an individual will for each of our lives. And, although he has not come right out and said so, it seems that he does not believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today. I am reading it anyway (right now I'm past halfway) because he has some good points and I've benefited from his insight on the role of wisdom. It forces me to think more deeply about everything he says, because I cannot accept it at face value sense I disagree on major points. I know that I disagree with this author about God speaking to us - I believe the Bible clearly shows that he does, and I have heard his voice many times. I'm still trying to sort much of the rest out though. Often, as I read the book and look up the Scriptures referenced, I wish that things weren't so confusing. It doesn't seem like God meant for doctrine to be so challenging to grasp....maybe I am not bright enough, or my sin somehow clouds it. Anyway, once I finish the book I'll write more about the topic of guidance and the will of God. Hopefully it'll all make sense to me by then!
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, 'He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."
This morning I went to church in need of a "faith booster." I was questioning my confidence in God's promises to me, and that the time would come (anytime soon) that he would fulfill them. I knew God was displeased with my lack of faith, and I was ashamed at how easily it was shaken. My soul told me that faith is in the unseen and my hope in the God of the impossible, but another part of me conjured up every source of doubt conceivable.
Worship began, but the theme didn't really have anything to do with faith. Realizing this, I prayed to the Lord asking him to send someone with a word up front to encourage me and answer my questioning spirit. About halfway through worship, someone came forward. When I saw this I eagerly anticipated the Lord's word to me. The person read read Hebrews 10:35-37 that I quoted above. I knew it was for me!! If he had said anything besides the scripture it might have hemmed it in with an irrelevant context, but he did not. It was just the scripture; God's word alone. The Lord is so gracious to answer my prayer, and to speak to me through a scripture that perfectly fit where I was at.
And yet, I have to keep reminding myself of God's promises and to have faith in the Lord. By his grace, I must continue to persevere, for this is the Lord's will and in that he will be pleased...hopefully it will need be for only a very little while longer! (hehe) The Lord is mighty to save, and no one can withhold His hand! When the Lord moves, none can stop him nor thwart his purposes. None can delay God's plans. If the Lord is with me, who can be against me?!
It is a little pitiful that lately I haven't had any entries with something significant to say. I hope that it is only because I have been out of town and had the surgery, not because I'm turning shallow. Ha! It is probably the latter. Oh well, eventually I'll gather my thoughts and reflect upon something meaningful. It doesn't matter whether I am busy or slow, it just helps me to have somewhat of a plan so that I can live purposefully. I guess I am the sort of person that does better on a schedule. Without a semblance of routine I become disoriented and start falling apart. Hehe. Keep myself disciplined, and things go okay.
I'm looking forward to settling into my summer schedule. I'll have extra time to be able to read and study, and spend with the Lord. There are a few doctrinal topics that have been weighing on me and puzzling me for a while, so I especially hope to be able to sort them out more. I can count on more grocercy shopping, cooking, and who knows how many times I'll chauffeur my little brothers to the mall.
As you might know, Monday morning I had my wisdom teeth removed. Today I am feeling very odd, like my brain is in a blender and my energy has been zapped, but I'm not quite sure why. I decided not to take any Rx pain medication today, to see if it would return me to normal, but I still feel like I'm on cloud 9. Hopefully this entry is still somewhat coherant. I spent all of Monday sleeping, only waking up long enough to take more pills and change the guaze. Yesterday I slept about half the day and lounged the rest...I guess I watched TV, I hardly remember. I have been told I look like a chipmunk, but I am grateful that at least I'm not in a lot of pain. I'm just waiting for my head to be re-connected to my body and to return to normal. (Not that I ever am "normal.") Time to go rest some more... :)
What we did on vacation.
I have some time to write before I get back to my laundry and messy bedroom. Today has been a productive day (cleaned the children's bathroom, got three loads of laundry through, cleaned the church offices, worked out at the rec center, went grocercy shopping, and ran some errands) so I feel at liberty to write. At least, before the race comes on. The Winston is always fun to watch, especially sense it is within a few mintues of my house. I used to be able to go outside during a race and hear the engines, but now the city noises have encroached upon us. Anyway, enough rambling. Here is my trip...
Day 1: Got up bright and early to leave the house at 7am for two of my finals. Once they were done Jonathan and I drove up together and got to Franklin, West Virginia and arrived around 7:30pm. The drive up was fun. We listened to music (I even suffered him to listen to my new Enya CD!) and chit chatted. I did get a little tense when Jon was driving up the mountains in WV, and told him that my abbs got such a workout just trying to hold myself upright around the curves that I wouldn't have to do any crunches that night. Hehe.
Day 2: After sleeping in (first time in several weeks! yay!) I joined my family who was trying to decide on The Plan for our day. They decided we would all go golfing at a course about an hour away. I do not golf. Last time I tried I wiffed the ball more often than I hit it. The rest of them are quite into it, so I brought a book along and rode in the golf cart. I was reading Northanger Abbey (a book by Jane Austen) but every two minutes I'd hear, "Carolyn, come over here!!" "Miiiiiiissy!" "KK!!!" (nicknames) and I'd stop reading and catch up to them. I enjoyed it for the first 6 holes, but then I was ready to go. Six hours later they finished the 18th hole and the day was complete. Not my favorite thing to do, but it was fine and the rest of my family had a good time. I was wearing a sweater because it was cool out, but the sun was strong so got sunburn on my neck. It even peeled later, which hasn't happened to me in years. Of course, my skin is still white as a ghost despite the sun.
Day 3: Slept in again. Another family counsil was held to decide on The Plan. It was settled to go to Senca Rocks and hike around. I was feeling pretty icky that day, so I wasn't very thrilled about hiking up the mountain. Mom wasn't very excited about that either, so in the end we walked around the bottom and enjoyed the streams and pretty sights from there. Then we ate lunch at a country resteraunt on a deck that overlook Senca Rocks. The weather was beautiful and it was very pleasent.
Later in the day some of my family went fly fishing and my dear friend, Bethany, came over and we had a great time catching up and being together. We didn't need to do anything, because it was so wonderful to be with her again. I am trying to figure out a way to get her to Charlotte!
Day 4: Mother's Day arrived, and we went to Living Faith Church (a PDI church) in Franklin. Dad spoke, and then after the meeting we took mom to a country resteraunt called The Cabin. It was a wonderful time to be able to encourage Mom and thank her for all the ways she blesses our family. The theme of encouragement seemed to be Proverbs 31:26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." I love my mom!
This was the only day I tried to ride a 4-wheeler. With Stephen sitting on the back, I drove up and down mountains for a little while. At one point, the 4-wheeler started making strange sounds and loosing power. Then it stopped. I tried to start it up again, but it wouldn't work. I was thinking, "Oh no! I am going to have to try to push this thing, or we will have to walk aaallllll the way back over the mountain." God was so merciful, however! We were on the top of a mountain, so we were able to drift down for a long ways, and to use that momentum to glide on straight areas. But then we got to the bottom and could glide no longer. I kept praying, "Lord, please let this start!" Again, by his grace it did!!! We were able to make it the rest of the way back to the house, and it stopped again half way down the driveway. *whew* I decided that was all the excitement I needed for the trip and didn't ride them again.
Day 5: The rest of my family wanted to go golfing, only this time I opted to stay back. Bethany came over again, and we had more fellowship and fun. Before too long my family came back from golfing, having been rained out. My parents decided to try fly fishing anyway, so Bethany and I went with. The weather was crazy that day. One moment it would be perfectly clear, blue skies and literally ten minutes later dark clouds would roll in and the rain would pour. It was neat to watch! When it rained Bethany and I ran to the van, but my parents kept on fishing. After a few hours Bethany and I were in need of a ladies room, so we drove to town about 20 minutes away. The road was scary! We had our giant van, and we took up the whole road. On top of that, there were hairpin turns and rivines off the edge. I was just a leetle nervous driving along there, hoping that no car would come the other direction, because I didn't know what we'd do then. Hehe. God protected us, however. It was another wonderful time with Bethany!
Day 6: This day we went to Seneca Caverns. I don't think I've been in a "real" cave before, so I enjoyed seeing the stalagmites and other formations. The tour itself was a little strange. Our guide was a backwoods, redneck lady who could not speak one word in proper English. All throughout the tour she kept pointing to various formations and giving them silly names. "This is our pet alligator." "That is a slab of bacon." "This one is an owl." "We call that popcorn." Mom said that she thought the lady has spent too much time in the cave.
Day 7: Because my family got rained out before, they went golfing to finish their round before we left. They took off, and Amanda came over. We hung out and chit-chatted, and had a wonderful time catching up. Around 7pm my family finally took off and headed back to Charlotte. Woohoo!!!
Other tidbits: The only spiders I found this year were outside, although there was an abundance of mouse poop. Thankfully I didn't see any mice! The only casualty this trip was my rose plant, which was yellow, dry, and infested with bugs upon returning home. Amazingly, Bryan did not crash any 4-wheelers, but somehow he still managed to fall off one. (He also did a number of other things like accidentally fire a gun. ) I didn't do nearly as much reading as I anticipated, because we did more activities and I was able to spend time with Bethany and Amanda. I did finish reading Biblical Womanhood in the Home, read Northanger Abbey, and got about half way through a book about guidance/discovering God's will for our lives. I'll probably write about that when I finish the book. There was, of course, more to the trip but some things are too personal to write.
I'm alive! (mostly)
We returned safely late Wednesday night - technically Thursday morning. By the mercy of God we did not damage anything and nobody was seriously hurt!!!! I think that was a first! :D Also, I did not come close to dying, and Bryan didn't really wreck the 4-wheelers (he merely...uh...fell off them).
I worked yesterday, was at the Rec Center last night, then unpacked, and I am working again today. When I get some time I'll write up a few stories about what we did. I am glad to be home!!!!!
Leaving for Vacation
Tomorrow after I take my last finals we leave for vacation until next Wednesday. We'll be going to Franklin, a tiny little town in the West Virginia mountains. This is always an interesting trip, full of surprises and adventure. - Most of which I wouldn't mind missing.
Last year we had quite a few "incidents" that I hope are not repeated this year. For instance, a very scary encounter my mom had with a grill that blew up. Or, the several times one of my little brothers crashed a 4-wheeler (resulting in damage to the vehicle, though little to him). Or, when my older brother led me down a steep mountainside on a 4-wheeler and I honestly wasn't sure if we'd make it alive to the bottom....while we did not make it to the bottom at least we survived the adventure. That same night I got frostbite on my hands, which turned them ashen, stiff, and numb for a while. Hmm, I'm sure there was much more but my psych probably blocked the disturbing memories. Hehe, so prayers for our protection would be appreciated.
One of my favorite parts is enjoying the incredible beauty of nature and watching the sun set behind the mountains. It is also a great time for me to read books and study Scripture. That is what I spend most of the trip doing. I am really looking forward to spending some time with a dear friend of mine who lives there. And of course, being with my family is wonderful too.
I don't think I'll have computer access there, so I will be back on Wednesday the 22. Have a great week!
All Things for Good
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
"And he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.' And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" Mark 14:34-36
"He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philip. 2:8-11
Last month I was watching the three year olds during our church services, so I have missed out on the corporate worship and teachings that I cherish! This morning it was wonderful to again be able to sing with the band and the whole church - I miss that!! But today's message (by Joe!) particularly hit home. To make it concise (how it looses its effect then! ) he described Jesus' agony in Gethsemane but how Christ obeyed the Father because he knew that his Father had his best in mind. Therefore, we should remember Christ's example and also that we should recognize that God's glory and his desire for our good are inextricably intertwined. It is hard to sum the whole message up, but it encouraged and strengthened me a lot. Like Joe said, we can know these things but are we assured of them? Too often I "know" without being assured. I hope that I remember Christ in Gethsemane next time that voice inside is demanding my way over God's will.
Fill Me, Oh Lord
"The Shell" by Amy Carmichael
Upon the sandy shore an empty shell,
Beyond the shell infinity of sea;
O Savior, I am like that empty shell,
Thou art the sea to me.
A sweeping wave rides up the shore, and lo,
Each dim recess the coiled shell within
Is searched, is filled, is filled to overflow
By water crystalline.
Not to the shell is any glory then:
All glory give we to the glorious sea.
And not to me is any glory when
Thou overflowest me.
Sweep over me, Thy shell, as low I lie;
I yield me to the purpose of Thy will,
Sweep up, O conquering waves, and purify
And with Thy fulness fill.
May that be my prayer as well.
The Lord has been helping me to "let him fill me" lately...it is a little hard to explain it, but it is quietly allowing his love and sufficiency to fill my soul. A gentle and yet exhilarating knowledge that He will be with me forever and will be all that I ever need. It is amazing how much peace that brings! There is so much uncertainty on earth, and yet of this we can be without doubt: God will always be with us and he will always be the same loving, wise, and sovereign King tomorrow that he is today.