He Will Take Great Delight in You.

God delights in us. He loves us as His children. Just as we take delight in our children’s first steps, happy faces, school accomplishments, happiness, and talents, so does God with us. No matter how old you are, whether you are on spiritual milk or solid food, God loves you as His sons and daughters. We make  God happy. He likes to watch over us. Our happiness is His happiness, our triumphs His triumphs. Our pain is His pain, our hurt His hurt. He is deeply connected to us. He wants to watch us lead good lives, live out our holy purpose, follow Him, and follow our dreams.

Just my happy thought for the day!

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Dreaming With God

This is an interesting biography/bible study written by a ballet dancer. It is about following your dreams while walking with God. There are some good questions at the end of each chapter. There’s only a little space to write, so if you want to journal through the book you should probably get out a separate notebook. But the book is a worthwhile read and the questions are good to ponder. It talks about a couple of things, well several really. But the two messages that stand out are 1. to be open to what God is trying to do in your life and go where He is trying to send you. 2. To realize God gives you your gifts and your dreams for a reason, and you should see where you can go with them. It is an inspiring little book and an elegant read.

Delight

This verse poses two interesting ideas. First of all, delighting in the Lord. It is so easy, especially when you are in spiritual doldrums, to see God more as  judge and creator of rules and morality. And He is these things. But He should also be a source of joy, someone to delight in. God should be seen as a loving Father, the creator of all things beautiful and good, a light in a very dark room. And Christ should be a friend. He even refers to the disciples as His friends.

Then there is the last part of the verse, the part that says that if we do delight in Him, He will grant us the desires of our hearts. God does want us to have the desires of our hearts, but through our relationship with Him the desires of our hearts are supposed to be transformed. It is only human to have some selfish desires, but as we grow in faith the desires of our hearts are supposed to change. We are supposed to say, Lord, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is okay to have dreams and ambitions and want to use your gifts, but it should be with the attitude that what you really want is what will fit with God’s plan.

I am not good at this. I am more into my will being done than anything else. It is just so hard not to have dreams and desires. Sometimes it feels like what God wants is for me not to be human. Sometimes I can step back and say, thy will be done. But most of the time I very much want what I want. It is difficult to remember that God’s design for my life will be so much more beautiful than anything I could come up with myself. Then though, I think “Why would God give me a desire in my heart, if He did not want me to have it, to follow it?” Some of my desires are purely selfish, but others aren’t selfish at all. They are for me, but they harm no one. Where is the line? What is okay and what is not? How do you reach the point of such abnegation of self that you really are willing to let go of everything you wish for, everything you hold dear, and say “Thy will be done?”

A Beautiful Woman

I try to be a nice person. Really, I do. But periodically I bite. Proverbs tells us to add sweetness to our speech and to speak softly. Sometimes I don’t speak very softly. I am loud.

My husband and I almost never fight. But on the occasion we do, I am usually loud and sharp. I need to add more kindness to my words. My speech is not sweet. It is acidic. It eats away at everything, burning it. I ought to have a gentler and quieter spirit, which is beautiful to God. God does not look at a woman and find her beautiful for her clothes and her figure and her makeup. He finds women beautiful who have gentle and quiet spirits. (Not that it isn’t okay to wear nice clothes and makeup.)

He expects us to cultivate what is on the inside, not the outside. He values the gentle, the grateful, the obedient, the modest, the submissive. He wants sweet speech and soft words. How can I practice these things? How can I be a woman after God’s own heart? Here is a list I have come up with. Many of these things I already do – I just don’t do them enough. If you think of anymore, comment or email me.

  1. Never raise my voice. You can not have a gentle and quiet spirit if you are yelling.
  2. Pray regularly to tell God what I am thankful for.
  3. Listen for the Holy Spirit as I write, pray, and think. Follow the voice of the Holy Spirit. Be obedient.
  4.  Try to cover up any low cut dresses with my infinity veils when I go out.  Showing some cleavage is okay when I’m at home, and practically unavoidable at formal events, but for the day to day I should be well covered. It is hard not to buy things that show a lot of cleavage when your breasts are as big as mine, but by wearing the right kind of veil I can buy all kinds of dresses and still be modest.
  5. Obey my husband. When a woman obeys her husband, she obeys God, who has place her husband in authority over her. This doesn’t mean I can’t lobby and petition for what I want and need. I can and I do, rather vigorously at times! But I am my husband’s helpmeet and God has ordered me to submit. So ultimately, my husband has final say.
  6. Be less prideful. God hates a haughty heart. I need to search myself for pride and tear it out. Am I too prideful when I get a pretty dress? When I have a day that I feel I look extra good?  When I add to my book collection? When I learn new things as I study? There is a fine line between appreciating things and feeling good about yourself, versus being prideful. Maybe one way to combat this is to give thanks to God for whatever I am proud of, whether it is a publication credit, a day of good complexion or hair, or my awesome library. And not to focus on it. Take a picture of me or my clothes or my library, and then move on. Be humble and remember that anything good that I have or achieve is through the Grace of my sovereign God. Enjoy the beauty in my life, but remember from whom it comes.
  7. Dive into the Word. A gentler, more peaceful spirit is a natural byproduct of being immersed in the Word.

I have a lot I need to work on. The Christian walk is a never ending journey, a constant refining of gold from dross.

Faith

I have faith that Christ is my savior, that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

In so many other things though, I do not have enough faith, or even any faith at all. I get so worried, for instance, that for whatever the reason when Craig is up for his next set of orders there will be literally nothing in Norfolk. This is mostly ridiculous. Norfolk is the biggest Naval base in the country. There is bound to be something there for him. And if it is God’s will that we go back to Norfolk, He will make a way. And I really must hope and  believe that He will make a way, because I long to live near my parents again. I miss them. I need their support. My daughter needs to grow up with grandparents actively involved in her life. God hears the longing of my heart and knows my needs, and I must believe that He will provide. And if His answer to this prayer is no, I must have enough faith to follow His path and remember that He orders all things to our good. If God’s answer is no, I must go where He sends me. But my God is a loving God and knows what I need.

For now, in this difficult season of being so far from my parents and support system, I must learn to lean on God. I still need my meds. I still need friends. And no matter how far away I am, I need my parents and call them and text them as much as I can, and visit them as often as I can. But I need to rely on God too, as my strength and refuge. How can I build my faith? My Bible studies and devotionals and other books on various aspects of the Christian life certainly help. I think the fact we are beginning to go to church again will help too. But I think I need to spend more time simply abiding in God.  Simply feeling His presence, acknowledging His hand in every area of my life.

Sometimes I worry about how well we will do when Craig gets out of the Navy. Will there be a job for him? How much will it pay? Where will it be? I try to remember that God provides (and of course, we will have that pension, which many people don’t have), but it is hard. I know the economy isn’t good and a lot of smart, educated, skilled, and experienced people are out of work or making very little. But God will provide us with what we need, and if we do go through hard times God will watch over us.

I am currently on meds that are working absolutely fantastic. I haven’t had a mood swing in weeks and I’ve been getting up early. But I am so worried that they will burn out, as every drug I’ve ever taken has. If they do burn out though, I will have to lean on God until I find something else that does work. But for now, I shouldn’t be worried about when these drugs will quit. I should be enjoying this very pleasant ride. Only God knows what the future holds, but right now I have it pretty good.

I have so little faith in so many areas. I have little faith that my daughter will find a good Christian to marry, that the world will be a safe enough place for her to make her way in. And so many other things. I need more faith. Faith can move mountains. Why is it I believe in God so fervently, but do not rely on Him?

God’s Promise.

God's Rainbow. Noah and the Flood.

 

I love the true meaning of rainbows. This is what the rainbow really means. A promise from God never to flood the Earth again and wipe us out. A covenant with us. Many times nowadays people think of gay rights when they think of the rainbow, but God created the rainbow and He gave it a meaning first. No matter how much you stick rainbows on flags that represent other things, this is what the rainbow has always meant and will always mean. I understand the gay community wanting some sort of flag or other symbol to show solidarity, but at the end of the day God had the rainbow first.

Dead Faith

Faith without works is dead. The Bible says so. But yet so many people in the Christian community say that all you have to do to be saved is accept Jesus as your savior. And while there is truth to this, it is not entirely true. The Bible does say that to be saved you must accept Jesus as the son of God and believe in him. But it also says that faith without works is dead, that some people who call Jesus Lord will be turned away at Judgement Day and Jesus will say he never knew them, and that we must follow Jesus. We must become disciples. So clearly it is not as simple as believe in Jesus and you are saved.

The simple truth is that while believing in Jesus is the fundamental component of being saved, if indeed you really believe in Jesus and you are saved you will have good works to back that up. People who say Jesus Jesus Jesus but do not have good works are not following Jesus and the Bible tells us that they are likely not saved. Because it is impossible to know the love of God and not give some of that love back. It is impossible to be a disciple of Jesus and not do good for those around you.

No one is perfect and no one is without sin. But if you can’t remember the last time you reached out to try to make friends with somebody you might be doing something wrong. If you can’t remember the last time you gave to charity or tithed with your church, you might be doing something wrong. If you can’t remember the last time you helped someone, you are probably doing something wrong.

I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I have definitely helped people out in the past and tried to do good things, but I haven’t done anything in a while. Part of it is that I don’t feel fully connected to the community here yet. But I’m working on that. At least as much as a bipolar introvert can. We tithed to a church last week. But it has been a while since I’ve been able to do something good. I’m sure someone out there needs help, but I’m not sure who. We recently donated some stuff we don’t need anymore to a charity that supports a monastery of nuns. So that was nice. But it’s been a while since I have helped somebody in need with a car payment or phone bill or anything like that. And I can’t remember the last time I volunteered.

But I don’t even know where I would volunteer and what I would do. I have no special skills. I’ve considered the SPCA because I like bunnies, but I don’t really wish to work with cats or dogs. And I really wouldn’t be good at that anyway. I’m trying to donate some stuff to a church Children’s Program, but I don’t really know where to get involved. They have a craft group that I’d like to join if we continue going to this church, but that doesn’t count as volunteerism. Maybe I should volunteer with the children’s church. I’m just not sure that I should. On one hand they usually need volunteers to help with special programs or work the children’s church during the service to take care of the kids. And I really appreciate the people who do that. At the same time though most of them really love children and have a heart for children’s ministries. I nannied and babysat so much that I have kind of burned out on kids. I enjoy being with my own child, but not with everyone else’s. Helping out a friend with their kids would be okay on occasion,  but it’s not something I want to be committed to every Sunday. And besides so many kids nowadays are behaving so badly and I do not have the patience to tolerate that crap. Even if it is church.

I have thought about fostering a child but so many foster children come with problems that I am not equipped to handle while I am in the midst of taking care of my own child. And then if I got attached to a child I couldn’t bear to give him or her back. So I don’t really think that fostering is for me.

I used to tutor middle school kids and I really enjoyed that but I would have to find another organization that is looking for tutors and I’m not sure if there is one around here. I also used to have a job in college tutoring a Korean family in ESL and I absolutely loved that. Partly because I really loved the family and partly because the work was enjoyable. Maybe there’s an immigrant community around here looking for ESL tutors. That would be something I could do. But I’m not a professional ESL teacher and many such organizations want professional ESL teachers.

But God expects results, not excuses. There is undoubtedly someone out here who needs help and I should be helping them. There may be an organization that needs volunteers. I should be volunteering. There has to be something that I would be good at and could go do whenever I happen to have the babysitter – something I could be committed to but that has flexible enough hours to work around family life and the babysitter’s schedule. There must be something I could contribute.

I thought I saw something on this Church’s program about bringing communion to people who are shut-in. That is a ministry my heart would really be with. Who knows. If we commit to and join this church may be opportunities to give it to be involved will come my way. If not I will have to do something to find them. To whom much is given much is expected. Much has been given to me. I need to give back.

He is Risen!

Here’s a small example of what I wrote about the other day with creating digital art in praise and worship of God. I have several of these and I’m going to make more, all with Bible verses. I feel like I was designed to worship creatively.

 

Bible Journaling

A woman in a Christian group that I’m in posted a couple of beautiful, colorful collages with Bible verses and Jesus on them. I asked who did them and she said she didn’t know, but that she had a whole bunch on her profile that I could download. I did just that and I’ve begun posting them to Instagram, putting a call out to find the person who made them. But it gave me the idea to make some myself, and look up my own Bible verses that I like. Instead of using paintings, which is not all but most of what she uses, I am downloading free stock photography, making collages, and editing the pictures with an app I really like, then adding a verse.

I think this may be my new way of Bible journaling. I may even start a separate Instagram for these images, but for now they are mixed among my poetry and family photos. I have tried Bible journaling in a Bible before, but I hate to cover the verses with anything. Not to mention, I have no talent. I can neither draw nor paint. So my Bible journaling did not really work out. Instead of worshiping through the creation of art, I was just sullying Bible verses. But this allows me to worship and make something beautiful to share with the world. I am creating beautiful art for the Lord. Obviously the work isn’t all mine, but the selection of images, arranging of images, editing of images, and choosing the verse are all me. I am using multiple, stunning tools to create something in worship of the Lord.

This makes me happy. I am always looking for an outlet for creativity and worship. Some of my poems are about God, but many are not. While my theology is infused in everything write, most of it is not overt. I still offer my poetry to the Lord and give joyful thanksgiving for the inspiration and creativity he gives me to write. But I wanted a way to really dig into the Bible with my creativity. I am so happy right now that I have found something.

Soon I might start doing alcohol ink on tile. I have been looking at some gorgeous alcohol ink online and I kind of want to try my hand at it. I tried my hand once before and got mixed results, but why not try again? Someone suggested to me that I should use my blow dryer to create really cool designs. I love the colors and abstract designs. Some alcohol ink artists create realistic, concrete images with their ink, but I’m not really interested in doing that. I like abstraction, pure color, and random designs. In everything I do, from poetry, to art, to worship, I focus on color.

I have been reading poetry and writing poetry. In short, I am going through a real creative renaissance right now. I hope it keeps up.

Prayer: Thank you God for the opportunity to worship you with my passions and gifts. I pray that what I offer to you, through all my creative work, is pleasing to you. Thank you for my gifts and opportunities. Where you close one door, you open another. In Christ’s name, Amen.