Category Archives: Devotional

Birthdays and Such…

Today my family is having a birthday party for me and Brody.  Derick is hosting it.  I am cooking for it.  And I am skipping church so that I can clean my house for it.  I guess I don’t really have time for this blog, but sometimes writing about what I have to do helps me clear my head so that I can be more productive.  I guess this is a good way to get a jump start on my house.  I am constantly lamenting to Derick about the state of… everything.  Well, not everything.  Sometimes when my house is a mess it feels like everything else is bad too.

I think I’ll start in the bathroom and go from there.  The bathroom is quick and it’ll make me feel like I’m actually getting something done.  Then the hall and follow it to the kitchen and down the basement stairs.  Not really sure what I’m gonna do once I get down the stairs and actually in the basement (since I usually want to run and hide rather than face the mess that is my basement).  I guess I’ll just start at the bottom of the stairs and work my way out from there.  We’ll see how it goes.  I guess Derick’s family already knows that I have a bad case of the messies.

I really believe this is a spiritual battle for me.  I want help from God to have strength, energy, etc… But when it comes to cleaning my house, sometimes I think that praying for help is too trivial.  Why would God care to help me with that?!  Maybe because He knows that I want to honor Him with my house and everything in it.  *sigh*  Well, I guess I better get to it!

I Corinthians 10:31~

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Colossians 3:23~

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

WHATEVER I DO!  Anything!  No thing is too small for me to work at it  for the Lord.  So, work hard.  Work hard until my family returns from church.  Work hard until my family returns, not for them or me, but for God and to His glory and with His strength.

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Happiness vs Holiness

Focus on the Family, this morning, was a repeat from yesterday.  I was a little irritated at first.  I listen every day that I deliver the papers.  Of course, I can never listen to the whole thing.  I’m constantly getting in and out of the car.  Most days I listen to WCIC, the Christian contemporary radio station here in Peoria.  The songs get old sometimes but I like the overnight DJ.  He talks like no one is listening.  Its pretty entertaining.  Then at 5:00 they air Focus on the Family.

Today, was a repeat of yesterday, though.  I can only imagine that it was an honest mistake by the radio station.  It was the second half of an interview with Gary Thomas, the author of the book Sacred Marriage.  Like I said, I was a little irritated at first.  I’m always interested in what that day’s broadcast is going to be.  Today was supposed to be about dispelling common myths of parenting.  Great!  I can always use some parenting advice!  Can’t we all?!  Anyway, I decided to go ahead and listen instead of changing the station in search of something new.  I can always use marriage advice just as much as parenting advice.  (Sometimes I think I’m doing just fine, and Derick needs to improve our marriage.)  The theme of the broadcast was marriage being design to make us Holy like Christ, not happy.  What a novel concept!  I really believe this to be true, I just don’t think about it very often.  Nor do most people.  Most of us are out to find what makes us happy in everything, including relationships.

I am divorced, so I understand the feelings that go along with being happy and in love to being so anxious to be done you can hardly stand it!  But, for Derick and I, divorce isn’t even in our vocabulary.  We decided before we got married that it simply is not an option.  I was talking to my brother-in-law the other night.  He was expressing some frustrations that he is having with a group that he works closely with.  Basically, he has leadership responsibilities but no authority to carry out those responsibilities.  He said its very frustrating!  I thought about it this morning, and my relationship with Derick as my leader.  If that is how I treat Derick, I’m sure it would not only lead to frustration, but also to anger and resentment.  This doesn’t make our marriage Holy.  Not even close!

Gary Thomas talked about Mary Todd Lincoln for a bit.  Apparently, she was a very difficult woman to get along with.  But, God used that to build the strength in Abraham Lincoln that he would need to lead our country during the Civil War!  Many people say, “behind every great man, there is a great woman”.  Or even the opposite may be true.  But, maybe God wants to use that not-so-great man or woman to make us better husbands and wives.  God has a purpose and a design for everything!  I mentioned yesterday that God will use whatever means necessary to get our attention and draw us to Him.  Even if that means being married to a controlling husband or a contentious wife.

In the past, and even occasionally now, I have a hard time reconciling myself to the fact that I am divorced and remarried.  I was raised to believe that you get married once and its til death do you part.  I never imagined that I would be faced with infidelity and divorce!  But, God has brought healing to my life.  I would not appreciate Derick the way that I do, if it had not been for the first marriage that I went through.

So, God designed marriage to make us Holy.  I Peter 1:16 says, “Be Holy, for I am Holy.”  This is God speaking.  I Corinthians 2:16b says, “But we have the mind of Christ.”  Christ was holy like the Father and we have the mind of Christ.  We can be Holy like God.  So what does that look like in a marriage?  Probably like unfailing commitment, til death do us part.  Probably not how we think of love.  Most people think of loving someone as very similar to infatuation.  God designed marriage to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church.  We, the church, do not deserve to be loved.  We deserve to be left to fend for ourselves.  But, not only did God love us, but when we were at our absolute worst, that’s when he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die for us.  If we really want to be Holy in marriage, this is the model that we need to follow.  Derick and I have not been at our best over the last couple of weeks.  But, in order to be Holy in my marriage, instead of making myself happy, I need to figure out how to change me, not him.  I need to be mindful of his needs and his desires above my own.  There’s no promise that this change in attitude will produce a perfect marriage.  But, in my own experience, when I focus on Christ alone, He works out situations that I never could, He fills me with more love and grace than I could ever expect to give to Derick on my own strength.  And that is more fulfilling than anything that I could get out of marriage without Christ.

So, today, I’m going to start cleaning my bedroom.  I don’t want to, but I know that’s what Derick wants.  I’m not solely responsible for the mess, but I know that today, this is the best way to put Derick’s interests ahead of my own and allow God to make my marriage Holy.

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The Voice of Reason at 3am

I think the Lord speaks to me when I deliver papers.  He speaks in a still small voice, in the quiet of the night under a blanket of stars.  Sometimes I think I have the radio too loud for me to hear.  The God that I serve is not pushy.  He is not rude.  He is not forceful.  But, at the same time, he will do what he needs to in order to get my attention.  I have been delivering newspapers since the end of January.  I didn’t want to.  In fact, Derick and I had a route about 4+ years ago, and we said when we quit that we would never do that again! We would have to be destitute to do that again!  Well, here we are, delivering papers again, just to make ends meet.  I should be thankful.  I am thankful!  I am thankful that I have the physical ability to deliver papers.  I am thankful that Derick and I are both driven to provide for our family.  I am thankful that I have a reliable car with which to deliver the newspapers.  I am thankful for the exercise.  And today, the Lord asked me to be thankful for the solitude.

I have trouble, sometimes, finding the time to do the things that I need to do, especially the things that really need to be done everyday.  Sometimes I lack that sense of urgency.  That could be anything from reading my Bible, to cleaning the bathroom, to just picking up after myself.  This is a struggle for me.  I also struggle with teaching my kids to have this sense of urgency about getting things done, even homework at night.  Its hard to teach something that you really know nothing about.  So, how do I learn to have this sense of urgency, this need to keep things neat and in order.  I realized today how the Lord wants me to learn to spend time with Him everyday.  It is through delivering papers.  I am past the point of keeping my eyes glued to my route list everyday.  I basically have it memorized.  Well, enough that I can put my mind on other things… like listening when the Lord is speaking.

Like I said in the beginning, the Lord speaks to me when I deliver papers.  Last night, I had a melt down over the state of my house.  It is a disaster and I would be embarrassed for anyone to see it right now!  I feel so overwhelmed that I just cannot move forward.  I feel like no one in my house cares, even though I know that isn’t true.  I remember my mother having that same complaint as I grew up.  She wanted a clean house.  She wanted to know what to do to keep it clean and she wanted to know what to do to teach us to do these things.  I know that I have complained about my messy house before.  I seem to make worthless promises to myself that I’m gonna keep it clean this time.  This time will be different.  But, it never is.

This morning I realized, its not just that I want it to be clean.  I want to be a good steward with what the Lord has given me.  Maybe that’s the key.  I need to view this house and everything in it as belonging to the Lord.  Essentially it all does, but do I really believe that?  Do my actions suggest that I believe that?  I want to believe, but my actions definitely don’t show it!

So, what do I do about it?  I need a plan.  A realistic plan.  A short term plan that I can slowly expand as the Lord teaches me good stewardship.  Two verses came to my mind this morning when I thought about how overwhelmed I get.  The first is Psalm 30:5b which says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”  The second verse is Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  God will bring me new mercy and joy every morning!  Whatever happened to my plan the day before, today is new!  His mercies are new!  His joy is new!  And they are mine for the taking!

The first thing I need to do, is make sure that my kitchen is always clean.  That is the first thing people see when they walk into my house.  If the first impression is a messy kitchen, then who cares about the rest of the house.  The next thing I need to do is use my time wisely, starting with the hours of 3:00am to 7:00am.  I usually leave my house at about 2:50am to go pick up my newspapers.  If the papers are on time, I am delivering between 4:00 and 5:30am.  A few months ago, I wrote out Romans 8 on note cards, fully intending to memorize it.  Well, I got sidetracked and it didn’t happen.  I can’t really sit down and read a few chapters in my Bible at that time, but I could easily spend time meditating on small passages and memorizing scripture while I’m walking the streets of Peoria.  I think I’ll dig out those note cards again.

The next thing I want to do, is help my kids to learn scripture too.  Verses like, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”  Colossians 3:23 or “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31.  I want them to know that every gift is from God alone, and it is our responsibility to take care of it and appreciate it.

And last, I’m going to try to blog about the things that the Lord speaks to me about while I am delivering papers.  Most days, I go back to bed after I’m done delivering.  I love to blog though, even if I am the only one that reads it.  It helps to clear my head.  Oh, yeah, I’m also going to limit my time on the computer.  There are always more important things to do that get on Facebook!

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South America – Day 142

I don’t know how it is but somehow the readers come out of the woodwork when I write about a bad day.  I think I must have one person that reads my blog and then calls all their friends when its a depressing post.  It’s funny and amazing to me!  I don’t know who you are, I can only see how many of you there are. 

I think my depression has piqued for this season of separation from Derick.  I hope it has anyway.  I discovered what I needed to help me through this.  I need to make time for myself.  Not just take it when it is available to me.  And, this weekend I needed a visit from Jesus and those things are exactly what I got.  My Bible study and MOPS are starting in the next week, so I think that will help with the me-time.  Sometimes I feel selfish when I take time just for myself and do things like get my hair done or go shopping for clothes for myself, especially when I go somewhere without Brody.  Or I feel guilty asking someone to watch all 4 of my kids.  Four is a lot!  But, Saturday afternoon, God heard my prayers!

Romans 8:26 – “Likewise, the spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

My brother Isaac and his wife Rachel, had plans to babysit my sister, Carrie’s kids.  Carrie’s husband got sick and suddenly Isaac and Rachel had no plans.  I watched their son all afternoon, and when they came to pick him up I planned on leaving my kids with them to go mail a package to Derick.  Except I didn’t realize that the post office closed at 3pm.  (Grrr!)  But, Rachel, (God bless her!) made me leave anyway and go do something alone, with no kids… not even Brody.  And I wasn’t allowed to come back for at least 2 hours.  So, I took a Christmas present back to Bergners and used the cash I got back to take advantage of Bergners clearance sale.  I bought myself 3 new sweaters and a pair of jeans.  I am hurting badly in the area of wardrobe!  That, right there, is almost the extent of my wardrobe.  I’m not the typical girl.  I can always think of things I’d rather spend my money on than clothes.  But if I don’t have anything to wear, I’m the first one to whine about it. 

Sunday morning, I went to church in a new sweater and new jeans and felt really good about myself.  Still have weight to lose but I was wearing nice clothes that fit the way they are supposed to.  I don’t usually go to Sunday School because Brody needs to eat, but the kids enjoy it so they go and I sit in the mother’s room and feed Brody.  Christian came and found me for the church service so he could sit with me.  Yesterday, I think, was one of the most Spirit-filled, anointed services I have ever been to at Northfield Christian Fellowship.  From the time I walked into the sanctuary I knew that God was in that place.  I knew that God heard my prayers.  He has not forgotten me and my little children.  He will take care of us whether Derick is here or overseas.  He has everything that we need!  I’m not going to try to analyze my loneliness or misery.  But, yesterday, I was broken before the Lord and today I feel like a new person.  I know that I live with little kids and have to make an effort to talk to adults.  I know that my little kids will get my new clothes dirty and my house will get messy.  But I also know that the answer to my problems is not Derick’s return.  It is Jesus.  He will sustain me.  He will give me strength.  He will help me to take my focus off myself and see that others are hurting too. 

I’m not the only mom that feels out of control.  I’m not the only one whose husband is overseas.  I’m not the only one whose husband will be job hunting soon.  I’m not the only one with disobedient children.  I wasn’t the only one that was lonely during the holidays.  But, Jesus understands all of that.

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” 

Sometimes, I get so caught up in waiting for the event that I forget to wait on the Lord.  I don’t know what God is going to do next.  When Derick first left, I was energized.  I was ready to see what the Lord had for us, specifically during the 6 months that we would be apart.  Somewhere along the line I lost my focus.  I was focusing on being alone, instead of being with Jesus.  Yesterday, God reminded me that I am his ambassador where ever I am and in whatever situation he puts me.  I am not here alone, to pine away for Derick.  I am here, alone, so that I can focus on Jesus.  Sometimes God has to use what seems like the most difficult circumstances to really get our attention.  And if it doesn’t work the first time, He’ll keep doing it until it does.  Today, my focus is on Jesus, and I pray that I don’t lose focus again.

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South America – Day 97

I just realized that I am past the half way point.  I have a calendar with the days numbered according to how long Derick has been gone.  He is scheduled to return to the States on February 15.  So, I only have 87 days left until that day.  I missed the half way point by 10 days.  I guess if this is a journal of my life while Derick is gone, I should write about Thanksgiving.  I kind of had a rotten Thanksgiving.  But at the same time I was getting Twitter updates from a friend whose Thanksgiving was worse than mine. 

My kids and I layed around all morning, yesterday, and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Then at 2:00 we went to my aunt and uncle’s house.  I wasn’t there 20 minutes before Allyn peed his pants.  My mom came and told me while I was feeding Brody.  I gave her new pants and told her that if he pooped I was going home.  Well, sure enough, about 20 minutes later, my little cousins came and found me and told me that he pooped his pants.  I started sobbing.  I took him to the bathroom and gave him a wet wipe bath.  Then I loaded up him and Brody and I went home.  I was there one hour and I had one plate of food.  I wanted to feel sorry for myself but I kept getting these Twitter updates from a friend who got turkey caught in his throat yesterday and had to have emergency surgery to remove it.  Now that’s a rotten Thanksgiving!  At least I ate my turkey!

I read another chapter in my book, “My Heart’s at Home” by Jill Savage.  This one is called Home as a Church.  I think one of the biggest things that I got out of this chapter is being able to pray with my kids.  I have friends in my life that pray as a family and their little kids pray on their own and they all talk about God as if it is just overflowing from their life.  Every word of encouragement that comes out of their mouth is to keep strong in the faith.  Every situation that they talk about involves what God is currently doing in their life.  It is woven through every part of everyday.  It is not their church life, their home life, their work life.  Its all one.  And God encompasses every area.  They open their mouth and God just spills out.  But its never in a way condemning to the people around them.  It is always in a way that demonstrates Christ’s love. 

There are two things I took away from this chapter in the book.  The first one is that I want to be able to pray about everything in my life as if it is second nature.  And the second is that I want to teach my kids to do the same.  In order for me to do that, I have to make sure that I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, not just the religion of Christianity.  If Christianity were my religion, I would be able to seperate it from the rest of my life.  When I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, he is part of everything I do, much like the relationship that I have with Derick.  Even though Derick is out of the country, we are still “one flesh”, (Genesis 2:24). 

So, how do I do this, and teach my kids to do this?  I think the first thing is to get beyond meal-time and bed-time prayers and begin to pray about everyday situations and people in our lives.  Start by asking them what they think we should pray for instead of having a “routine” prayer every night.  Or pray for little things like skinned knees.  Also, thanking God for things that he has given us and for keeping us safe.  I remember once when Christian bumped his face and got a nose-bleed (he was 3), Derick and I told him to pray for his nose-bleed.  He promptly put his head between his knees and said, “Dear God, Thank you for my blood!”  And after that for a long time he thanked God every night at bedtime, for his blood.

I don’t know why, but I think this can be a tough chapter to apply.  (Its even tough to write about.)  I think praying with someone is so intimate that it just feels awkward at first, almost intimidating.  I want to teach my kids to have faith that God can do anything.  That “If you ask anything in my [Jesus] name, I will do it.” (John 14:14).  But in order to teach it, I have to believe it.  Sometimes, the actions have to come first.  I need to pray about something  just because I know that I need to and believe that God will give me the faith required.  Othertimes, I seem to have the faith first and its just natural to follow with prayer.  The best way to teach this is to be an example.  I have to be faithful in praying for my friends if I expect my children to pray for theirs.  If I don’t believe God can change my situations, then I can’t expect my kids to pray about situations that they are faced with.  And if I am not praying for my children then they are lost, because I can’t expect anyone else to do it for me.  

“When home is a church, I know my heart will find faith when I’m at home.”

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Picking and Choosing Christians

Derick comes home from drill today.  It wasn’t as tramatic of a weekend as some may think it would be.  We really fared quite well.  I was only really emotional on the day that he left, and that was just from feeling lonely, fresh after his departure.  Other than that, the weekend went fine. 

Christian went last night to Ron and Angie’s house.  They are his grandparents from my previous marriage.  I actually get along quite well with them.  I think I have a better relationship with them now than I did when I was married to their son.  I actually haven’t heard from my exhusband in a few months.  It makes me wonder what’s going on.  I am torn as to how I should feel about him.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, I want him to change his life.  I believe that Jesus can give him the power to do just that.  I think he can be a strong and very influential man of God.  I think that he has an endless amount of potential with all of the artistic talents that God gave him. 

But, on the other hand, as the mother of a child who’s father has addiction issues, I would just as soon, he drop out of our lives all together and let Derick adopt Christian.  I know that is the wrong attitude, but from a human perspective it is so easy to just ignore the obvious will of God for someone to accept Jesus.  (2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.)  I feel like Jonah.  God told him to preach to Ninevah.  First he ran away.  Then when he finally did preach to them, they repented.  They changed their lives… and Jonah got angry and bitter.  He took it upon himself to decide that they didn’t deserve mercy.  Its easy to read that story in the Bible and think that Jonah is so dense.  Can’t he see God’s bigger picture?  Can’t he see how much God loved them too?  But is it really any different with any of us (with me and my ex)?  Am I so much better than he, that God would choose me over him?  Yet, I still feel tempted to sit here and rationalize my feelings.  Its ok, I might say… I’m only human.  God understands why I feel that way.  Its only natural, after all, I’m Christian’s mother.

No, God calls us to a higher standard than that.  We, as Christian’s need to own our actions and take responsibility not just for that but for our attitudes too.  I was reading Galatians 2 today when Paul confronted Peter about making the Gentiles live like Jews, when he himself was not.  And suddenly I wondered if Peter ever questioned why God would save a man like Paul.  Surely the disciples had first hand encounters with Paul before his conversion.  They knew how ruthless and unmerciful he was tward Christians.  Did Peter ever think, “Who is this man that God should save him?  I have been a follower of Christ from the beginning and now this sinner is telling me what to do??  Who does he think he is?!”  Did he ever think, “I may have denied Jesus, but that’s nothing compared to torturing and killing his followers!”  If he did I’m guessing he didn’t dwell on it because the Bible doesn’t talk about it.  I have to wonder if those thoughts crossed his mind simply because he was human just like me.  And I have to keep reminding myself that Joe is just as worthy of salvation as Paul was.  And, certainly, just as worthy as I. 

Lord, Jesus, I need to take a minute to pray specifically for Joe.  I pray for his sincere salvation.  I pray that you would make the path straight before him so that he could allow you to change his life.  He is not a lost cause, as you have continuously shown me.  He still has a calling on his life and it is not your will for him to perish.  Thank you for your love and forgiveness.  Thank you for your neverending mercy and grace.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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