Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 65 - A Little Bit of Spurgeon

I love the writings of Charles Spurgeon. He is so relevant today even if he did live in England over 100 years ago. I guess that's what is so special about the Word of God and the trials and struggles people go through. They never change! I seem to quote Spurgeon a lot on my Facebook status. I have a daily devotional that I read by him and there are so many nuggets of truth in them, I just can't resist!

Here is what I read today:
March 30
Walk Close to Christ
Charles Spurgeon
So walk in Him.
Colossians 2:6
If we have received Christ Himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with Him by a walk of faith in Him. Walking implies action. Our religion is not to be confined to our closet; we must carry out into practical effect that which we believe. If a man walks in Christ, then he so acts as Christ would act; for Christ being in him his hope, his love, his joy, his life, he is the reflex of the image of Jesus - and men say of that man, "He is like his Master; he lives like Jesus Christ." Walking signifies progress. Proceed from grace to grace, run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of knowledge that a man can attain concerning our Beloved. Walking implies continuance. There must be a perpetual abiding in Christ. How many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus and may then give their hearts to the world all the day. But this is poor living; we should always be with Him, treading in His steps and doing His will. Walking also implies habit. When we speak of a man's walk and conversation, we mean his habits, the constant tenor of his life. Now if we sometimes enjoy Christ and then forget Him, sometimes call Him ours and again lose our hold, that is not a habit; we do not walk in Him. We must keep to Him, cling to Him, never let Him go but live and have our being in Him.

This hit me right where I am (love when the Holy Spirit does that). I know that God is changing me. I can see it in so many areas of my life but the ONE area that I don't see it is my weight! AHHH! It doesn't even seem like much of a struggle for me lately. I am being more purposeful in my time when I am home at night, I am being more disciplined in my thought life but when it comes to eating less and exercising I seem to be failing. I need to be walking in Christ in ALL areas of my life. And my weight is where my biggest stronghold is. And this is why I will struggle with it all my life. the solution is not just a pill I can take or something I can quit all together. It's a daily, hourly, minute by minute struggle that I have to submit and give over. The GOOD part in all of this is I don't see myself eating emotionally as much as I was. I have seen improvements in that. It's just my choices are not the best when eating.

May I not be the Christian that "think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus and may then give their hearts to the world all the day." But instead,"we should always be with Him, treading in His steps and doing His will."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 61 - Ahhh, The Weekend!

Martin and I are headed to the Carter's house tonight to see their new baby, Jonathan David. I love getting together with old friends. I guess I can call them that. I've known them almost 10 years and Martin has known Jayme since they were teenagers.

Tomorrow I am hoping we can work out in the yard together (remember, together is me doing one thing and he doing the other but still in the same area [see day 44 for explanation]). It's supposed to be cool but sunny. It's raining today so the ground will be easy to dig in (for new bulbs I bought) and rake (Martin's using a metal rake to rake up the old, dead grass and leaves that is now packed in the ground and not allowing new grass to grow). It's so weird that we actually have so many Saturday's free. For four years Martin had to use his Saturday's for studying but now we have the time to be together.

I'm going through Romans for my devotions. Some chapters go faster than others. Chapter seven is one of those slow ones. Not because I'm bored but because there are so many questions. I read verses 13 - 25 and wonder is Paul talking about himself before he was saved? He surely can't be talking about himself at that present time! THE Apostle Paul! But after reading several times in different translations then going to a commentary by John MacArthur, I think my questions were answered. In verse 19 he says, "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." This is me, even if I want to pretend I live most of my life victorious. MacArthur says that he believes Paul is seeing how evil his heart really is and admitting it and admitting it takes strong maturity. Oh to be as mature as Paul! And the more mature you are, the more you see how evil we all really are in the flesh. Then the best part of this chapter: verse 25a, "I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!" It's all because of Him that we can fight off sin. That we see our sin. That we desire to be dead to sin. Thanks be to God for great things He has done!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 59 - Ripping Out The Sin In Our Lives

Oh my. I know that if you go wholeheartedly to God He will do great things. I just didn't realize that what Martin and I have been doing is going halfheartedly to Him. And guess what? We get halfhearted results which are like wood, hay and stubble - burned when tested.

For some time I have been wrestling with why it doesn't seem like God is doing much in our lives. I would say He has a in a holding pattern for something big. I don't know that for sure but I have always felt that Martin and I were called to something bigger than ourselves and the mediocrity that the average Christian American lives in. Recently, I have stopped focusing on what God wants to DO in our lives and have been trying to just focus on God. And when you place yourself in a vulnerable place - at the throne of our Great God, asking to change you - He starts revealing sins and idols in your life that you didn't want Light cast on. That's what He's done in the past weeks to Martin and I. It is good. He is good. It hurts to be sanctified sometimes. But I don't care if it hurts. I just want to serve Him and please Him. That's all.

JJ Heller, a singer/songwriter that we have become huge fans of has a song called "Only Love Remains." I love when a songwriter takes what is screaming in your soul and puts words to it. That's what this song does.

Only Love Remains
Scenes of You come rushing through
You are breaking me down
So break me into pieces
That will grow in the ground
I know that I deserve to die
For the murder in my heart
So be gentle with me Jesus
As you tear me apart
Please kill the liar
Kill the thief in me
You know that I am tired of their cruelty
Breathe into my spirit
Breathe into my veins
Until only love remains
You burn away the ropes that bind
And hold me to the earth
The fire only leaves behind whatever is of worth
I begin to see reality
For the first time in my life
I know that I'm a shadow
But I'm dancing in your light
Teach me to be humble
Call me from the grave
Show me how to walk with you upon the waves.
Breathe into my spirit
Breathe into my veins
Until only love remains

I think that the best part of God ripping the walls around our heart that we've been trying to hide our sin in, is that He gives us great release from that harshness. Monday night our friend Amber who we met at Word of Life and sang in our wedding came down from Upstate New York. She and I went to NYC yesterday to drop somethings off at the Brazilian Consulate. We were able to hang out in the city and catch up. My legs are sore from all the walking but my stomach is sore from laughing so much. She was able to be around for only a short time but the timing was perfect - even if she didn't realize she was coming around a very hard time for Martin and I. I am so thankful to God for friends!

Oh, by the way - JJ Heller is a great investment for your music library. She has three albums (Only Love Remains, The Pretty and the Plain, and Painted Red) . All albums are great and her style is folk (kind of like Sara Groves in her writing and music style but her voice is very pure sounding). Just great music to listen to while doing anything - and the words to the songs are very full of God's truth.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 51 - So Thankful for the Sun!

I woke up this morning thinking I would feel terrible. I didn't. I felt refreshed and renewed. The sun was shining for the first time in a week and my heart was at rest. God is so good that His mercy's are new every morning!

I met with one of the girls I disciple last night and focusing on her and taking her to the Word with her questions was just what I needed. Our God is truly is better than life! I shared with her a video sermon that I had watched last week and the pastor was teaching on the book of Luke. He said that when he was in Israel the tour guide, an archaeologist, showed them the ancient local toilets. They were just a row with holes in them. Running in front of the ancient public toilets was fresh water where they would scoop up clean water to wash themselves after doing their deed on the toilet. The poor saw an opportunity to make some money so they put a sea sponge on a long stick and dipped it in the water and then wash the people for money. Obviously doing this to hundreds of people a day can spread disease so they started dipping the sponges in sour wine or vinegar to kill the bacteria. He said that as the tour guide is telling him this - a part of Scripture came alive to him. When Jesus said "I thirst" he always thought they were showing him a bit of compassion when they shoved the sponge up to his mouth. But seeing this, he realized it was probably the toilet sponge that they stuck in our Savior's mouth. That the last taste on earth was the most disgusting and vile thing a human can produce. And with that Jesus said, "Father, forgive them they don't know what they are doing." We beat Him, abused Him, gave Him an unfair trial, and shoved human waste in His mouth and He allowed it all - because He loved us so much.

I don't know that love. I will never reach that level of love. And He did all of this so that I could have everlasting life with Him and the Father. God is quite amazing and I'm thankful He chose me to be His child and not for anything that I did - All I did, do and try to do is worth nothing - it's all because Christ died on that cross. Amazing!

Oh, and I'm 100% not pregnant. I'm sure you figured that much but I didn't want to leave anyone hanging.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 50 - What A Day!

Oh my, oh my. What a day I've had. Day 50 - you might go down in the history of days as a real doosey! I am late. Not late for a very important date late but late as in I could be pregnant late. I am a clockwork girl and for me to be three days late is really odd. From Friday night to this morning I entertained the thought of God's small revealed plan for Martin and I changing. But curiosity got the best of me and I went out and bought one of those expensive pregnancy test. It was NEGATIVE. I'm fine with it and so was Martin we were both a bit disappointed but me - I was disappointed in an odd sort of way. It's been years since I was anxiously awaiting each month to see if I was pregnant. I'd fool myself into thinking that my symptoms that month were different than the previous and I would get excited only to be disappointed month after month. Some months were easy some were not. Then I started praying (as I know many others were too) that God would relieve me from that bondage. That is no way to live a life. I don't care what your views are but being consumed in something two out of the four weeks of a month - that's an idol if I ever saw one.

I was disappointed because something came over me that I never realized was there. I was upset that I might be pregnant. What?!?! Are you reading that correctly? Yes! I was upset. I was excited that there might be a life inside of me but God revealed another idol in my heart in the midst of it. "Martin and I are called to adoption, God!" "We have laid down a plan and You need to go by that plan, God." Wow. Maybe not those exact words were in my heart but they were formulating. We are taking the year to "pray and pay" and then next year we are taking the year to start the walk through adoption. It will take a couple of years and we will be able to have everything paid off and I will be able to stay at home with my child. You see, as of now we have become dependent on my income. It was intentional because we figured that once Martin graduated with his MBA he would be placed in a higher paying job and all my income would go straight to adoption until we were ready to go get our little one. But that's not what God has shown us in the past year. Martin is still at the same job with the same pay. And this means that if everything stayed the same then I would have to be a working mother and that was not in my plans! Not that God is bigger than all of that. He loves to show off and He might have chosen to do so in ways I can't imagine. But the bottom line is - I said God was that big but when push came to shove - I didn't believe it - and that is sin.

So, I sit here still late but with a negative test. Showing the idols of my heart and so, so thankful that God revealed them to me even if it seems a bit harsh. But it's sin. It needs to be dealt with harshly. We're talking about stuff that sent our Savior to the cross - all to make us righteous in our Father's eyes. That deserves harshness don't you think?

I read today in Romans 6:6 & 7 - Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

What a day - Day 50 you have been.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 44 - Pictures! Pictures!

Well, here are some pictures of our finished kitchen renovation and a couple more! I am so happy with our accomplishment. It was a team effort done exactly as this Fern family likes it - Martin did things alone then passed the torch on to me to finish. We don't work well together. It's those first child qualities in both of us (I know I'm a second child but Clint is so laid back SOMEONE had to take those qualities but then I'm cursed with the second child qualities too - I'm so thankful I was chosen to be a child of God). But we are great encourager's as one does the work and the other stands back. I took some extra time this morning to take pictures before work. I'll go over all we did. Sorry, we are not available for hire. We just don't have time. But we will boss you around as you do it! We're great at that!

Below is a view taken from the walkway to the family room. Martin really wants a high top table and stools. So you might see those in a few months if you happen to stop by.

I love this shot below. It makes our house look very complete. I'm also so thankful for great windows! This is the morning light shining through. It goes from the back of the house to the front so we get amazing light all day.

Below is a view from the family room. We weren't going to paint the overhang where the clock is but as I was painting I just thought it made sense. It makes our cute $10 Ikea clock (featuring Celsius temperature and barometer) pop. Also there is a glimpse of our new faucet. We put in black granite counter tops in September and got a fun faucet. I love it!

So what does that writing say on the wall? Here's a close up. I need to change it more often but erasing the wall gives me chill bumps! I have to just suck it up and do it!

On the wall beside the chalkboard wall hangs our mission statement as a family. We found it in Lancaster (Amish country) at a great craft place. It's so simple but so powerful - much like our God.

Moving on to the outside! I was cleaning out my wallet last week and I found two target gift cards that were stuck in a section of my wallet that hardly sees the light of day. I went online to see if there was any money left and there was - $25 total! What an amazing surprise! I saw a wreath at Pier One that was Easter eggs and I loved it but it was more than I wanted to pay. I happened to see a similar one at Target a few weeks ago and thought maybe I'd save my money and buy it. It was $19.99 and I went right out and got it! Wanted to share it with you. It's so cute. And we got a wreath hanger at Pottery Barn over Christmas that says "The Ferns" on it. It's brass or silver plated and wasn't too bad in price and I think it looks great with the egg wreath.

Remember 21 days ago when the ground was covered in snow and huge piles were in our yard from shoveling the driveway? Well here's what is left. I had to get a shot of it today because at 8 o'clock this morning it was 50 degrees so I have a feeling this pile will be gone by the afternoon. Spring is coming! What an amazing promise!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 43 - At the Truck Stop

I've kinda sorta fallin' off the wagon. I'm truckin' along but I stopped at a truck stop this weekend. That's the best way I can put it. I didn't exercise all week then Saturday I cleaned the house and was active all day but also ate my share of food and some other's share of food.

Here's the thing: I'm battling a lot in my mind about some things and instead of going to the Word of God I waller in my thoughts and get all dirty like a pig and if I'm dirty like a pig then my actions are going to show that - so I ate like a pig. No excuse but it shows the effects of sin. Thinking through things from a human standpoint without allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me with Truth is sin. Plain and simple. Thankfully, yesterday was communion which God always uses to bring me to Him by confessing and worship. What a great reminder communion is!

Hoping this week will be a much more focused week. I want this process to go faster but I guess Progressive Sanctification is forever (on this earth at least) huh? More on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 38 - "Puttin' On"

I have to admit, if I want to, I can pretend everything is great in my life even if my heart is breaking. It's not a gift, trust me. It's more like a curse. But I think that we as humans and even deeper as Christians, choose to not see when someone is hurting. I'm really good at reading people. I guess it's the gift of discernment in some ways. But many times I see that friends, family members, church people, and co-workers are hurting but I choose to ignore them. So now that I think about it, maybe I just think I'm really good at "puttin' on" (as my Granddaddy Lawson would say).

I did terrible on eating last night. I sometimes think I can eat as much as I used to. When I shove it all in really fast (not stuffing it but eating something then another then something else) I don't allow my body register that it is full. So I was miserable after dinner and too full to work out. What a vicious cycle huh? Hopefully I learned my lesson.

I'm going through the book of Romans for my devotions and I'm trying to go really slow. I'm in chapter four and in verse five it says (Amplified Version) "But to one who, not working [by the Law], trusts (believes fully) in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as righteousness (the standing acceptable to God)." I read my MacAurther study Bible notes along with it and John Mac says, "Faith is not a meritorious work. It is never the ground of justification - it is simply the channel through which it is received and it, too, is a gift." I have no idea why any of that hit me like it did but sometimes I guess I forget that faith is a gift. It's not something that I can simply have because I'm human but instead because I am a child of God. Thank you Father for the gift of faith and that it is just a way to know You more and love You more.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 36 - I Want My Steps To Be His Steps

Many people know what they are doing or going to be doing for the rest of their lives. They have an idea or a goal. Sometimes I feel like Martin and I want to be those people but we aren't. I struggle knowing why God hasn't allowed me to be in the place I desire to be in. Is it because I have done something to hinder that desire? Are we missing something? Do I really know what I want? Am I there but being discontent?

I get scared sometimes. What if we missed our opportunities to be parents? What if my inability to lose weight has caused us not to have children? What if our unwise spending (including grad school) has hindered what God really wanted to do through us? But then I must stop. I must stop wondering. I must cling to what is true. What is true is that God has us right where He wants us today. We are seeking Him and looking to Him for our next step so I can truly say that with confidence.

I was talking to someone yesterday about the difference between hoping and clinging. She had recently broken up with a guy and said she wasn't sure if God wanted them to be together one day. I told her it was okay to hope in that if that was a desire for her. She said she couldn't hope. Hoping wasn't healthy. But I corrected her - hoping in something is different than clinging. She shouldn't cling to the idea they may one day be together again. Clinging is a great picture word. Clinging to the idea that they might be married one day makes it look like she would be putting all her effort and trust in to that idea. There is only a few things we should cling to - God and the things of God found in His word. Those are clingers! Hope is something we can live around. It's confident expectations. I have lots of hopes in my life but they aren't going to hinder my walk with God.

So I will hope for certain things - children, a great job for Martin, a time where I can stay home, a time when we can be debt free (no more school loans - *sigh*). But I will cling to God's promises.

We've got missions committee meeting tonight. Love ministering in that committee. What an awesome responsibility.