Monday, February 23, 2015

A story, pride, a sermon, the Sermon, grace and being first.

[The title of this blog post could also be "I didn't know how to title my blog post", but the current one pretty much sums up what I want to share with you.]

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” Matthew 5: 23-26

I recently heard a sermon on the Sermon that convicted me and tugged on my heart.

First, here is a story.

A few Saturdays ago, I told Greg that I wanted to go to the morning mass the next day because I had to work in the afternoon. He agreed and we made plans to go. The next day, I woke up earlier than usual to get ready. I tried to wake up Greg a few times, unsuccessfully. He woke up fifteen minutes before church, but I told him I didn't want to go to church anymore. Mind you, our church is five minutes away. I chose to confront him and make it a bigger deal than it was.

Suddenly, everything he did or said annoyed me. I didn't talk to him for the rest of the day. I went to work upset, came back upset, and went to bed upset. An “I am sorry” would have sufficed, but I wanted him to say it first. After all, he was the one who wasn't considerate of my needs and did not wake up on time (my “on time”) for church.

Pride is a powerful sin.

Back to the sermon on the Sermon.

I realized how much this applied to our marriage. Not just because of the church incident, but because of how many times we've done this. Sometimes, we go to church angry at each other. Some other times, we choose not to go. We go to work without saying “I love you” or “I hope you have a great day”. We go to bed without saying a word.

I realized Jesus doesn't want this. He doesn't want me going to church, to worship Him, when I am upset at my husband (or parents, brothers, sister, friends). He doesn't want me to be like those hypocrites he talked about. I realized Jesus is calling me for something more.

 He wants me to go first.

Not because I am a doormat to someone else. Not because he just wants me to “let it go”. Not because he wants others to take advantage of me. No. He wants me to go first because of the grace he has given me first. Jesus wants me to go first while I still have time to show that grace to others. He doesn't want me to wait to say “I love you and I am sorry”, just because I feel like the victim and then live in the prison it would be if the opportunity to say it wasn't there anymore. No amount of pennies could buy back the time I could have used to show that grace.

I am guilty,
Ashamed of what I've done, what I've become.
These hands are dirty,
I dare not lift them up to the Holy one.

You plead my cause, You right my wrongs.
You break my chains, You overcome.
You gave your life, to give me mine.
You say that I am free.

How can it be, how can it be?
(How can it be – L. Daigle)

I hope this encourages you as much as the actual sermon on the Sermon encouraged me. Most of all, I hope you explore where pride exists in your heart, how it is expressed in your life and go first because he went first for you.

Under so much grace,


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

There is always something to be thankful for. 10.0

Grainy phone picture. ;-) My first attempt at sewing.
Hello everyone! It’s been quite a while since I’ve done one of these posts. I’ve been meaning to blog so much, but it seems that I am quite…stuck. Blogger’s block, anyone? That, plus not having internet at home is the perfect way to neglect your blog. ;-)

I could probably write hundreds (okay, maybe not hundreds) of reasons why I am feeling so thankful these days, but I’ll keep it brief. Kind of.

1.       Books, books, books. Back in January, my sister and I had a sister date at Barnes & Noble and…well, we bought some books. My goal was to finish all three books before February, but I am still in the process of finishing the second book. They are so intense. Then, a bloggy friend invited me to a book study/group through FB. I am extremely excited to join these wonderful ladies and learn more about our faith. And, just in case I don’t have enough of books, I am also joining a book study at my other bloggy-turned-real-life friend’s church. So many books, so little time. I’ll keep ya’ updated.

2.        We helped a friend and her husband move the other day, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet her family! So, so fun. I am quite excited to have friends in Minnesota. :-D

3.       “Facetime” with my family! Even though we are miles and miles away, I feel so close to them because of this way of seeing each other.

4.       Quiet, snow days. I don’t like driving in the snow, but the days seem cozier.

5.       My friends’ future marriages.  I am so excited to go to a barn wedding…and be a bridesmaid…and wear a navy blue dress…and wear heels/boots…and see my high school best friends…and go to Texas.  Wedding season is just beginning, y’all.

6.       Do you know that feeling you get when you enter a fresh, clean home (kitchen, specifically)? Ah. I am so thankful. It makes days much less stressful for both my husband and I.

7.       For my mother-in-law teaching me how to sew! I made a skirt for my niece’s doll and a flowery/calico print headband for me. I am so thankful for this new skill. I’ll be honest, though, they were a little crooked. Now I need to buy myself a sewing machine.

8.       Constructive encouragement/criticism. I have a difficult time not becoming defensive over this, especially when it comes from my husband.

9.       Praying with my husband. This is something we started doing together a few months into marriage. In the beginning the prayers were rushed and felt somewhat…weird. Now, I can definitely see how the Lord is working in us as a marriage and as individuals. The prayers are much more intimate and, I believe, this relationship with our Savior has brought us so much closer.  

10.   Lenten season. This is the second year my husband and I observe it. I just hope that Jesus helps me like fish. I don’t like it…at all. In all seriousness, it is a blessing to have a purposeful time of prayer and fasting…all while building a more intimate relationship with Christ. I’ll keep you updated about that, too. For now, here is what we learned last year. 

What are you thankful for this week?
Do you observe Lent?

Please pray for the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs, their families, and those who beheaded them.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” Ecclesiastes 3: 20


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Re-post: Dying to self this Valentine's Day (and every day).

[I wrote this post exactly a year ago. I decided to re-post this one because...well, it's one of my favorites!]

Ah, this is so hard for me to tell you about. I promise it won't be preach-y and be too long, it's just been on my heart lately.

For years, and I mean years, I did everything for me. My wishes, my success, my ambitions, my goals, my plans, my way. ME, ME, ME. With a decent consideration for others, of course. Afterall, I called myself a Christian, right? Not the exact portrait of a woman who "denies self".

And then, I entered marriage.

We have been married for only a few months, but let me tell you, this overused and sometimes scary phrase - dying to self - is a difficult process. I am constantly reminded of how full of self I was during my unmarried years! Jesus must have known I needed my complete opposite - my husband - to teach me what it is like to truly carry my cross and follow Him (Matthew 16: 24).

I am learning that when dying to self:

It doesn't mean I am rejecting myself.
I stop trying to get my own way.
I stop trying to "lead" my marriage (family).
I stop trying to be in control of a situation.
I don't make decisions by myself.
I let go of anger/rage.
I have self-control. I watch my behavior and my words.
I don't become defensive when I am questioned. 
I stop thinking that my husband is responsible for my happiness.
I aspire humility.
I give.
I receive.
I place my trust in God and learn to accept His will, even if His plans have nothing to do with mine.
I ask for forgiveness and I forgive.
I aspire modesty of heart and dress.
I respect others (especially my husband) and assume them higher than myself.
...the list goes on and on.

It's such a difficult process (I know, I've already said that). Sometimes - scratch that - most of the time, I fail. I have so much to learn, and I just can't do it by myself.

I need Jesus to guide me. I need Him - His Spirit - to show me, convict me, slay me and humble me. Dying to self would be a fake act if it wasn't through Him.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2: 20

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like...But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5: 19 - 25

And, baby, that's the beauty of submission.

This Valentine's Day (and every day) I pray I do that - deny self. I invite you to do that, too. And believe me, you don't have to be married to deny self. You can give this Valentine's Day (and every day) gift to your husband, to your parents, to your siblings, to your friends, to your authority, to our Savior.

What do you think? Come learn this with me! Let me know how it goes. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

How He loves us!
So much Love,