Tag Archives: family

Genesis 47-48; Psalm 25; Galatians 3

Joseph has been heavy on my mind–not only because of the readings, I’ve heard his story preached online a lot recently. I consider him, his trials and testing and perseverance in light of a bigger plan.

This weekend marks a year since my father’s death, and a year since my whole world shifted. Joseph likely never imagined the turn of events that one day as he trotted down at his father’s request to check on his brothers at work; I look back in contemplation at a year I never could have imagined.

My focus with Joseph was a list of questions: Did you know your brothers hated you? What were you thinking as they sold you as a slave? What went through your mind when Pharaoh’s wife set you up? And those years in prison–how did you get through each day of wait?

But today, I focus on what God is doing. Certainly, I’ve seen his hand in my own life this past year–even recently, when our dog got loose. She’s been gone several days. I sat on the couch last night under a wave of gratitude for a God who loves me and loves my dog, who has taken a heart-aching situation and used it to open doors to prayers I’d been whispering to connect with others in my community. In the process, he’s sparked a new flame in my heart. He is molding me into someone new.

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust. (Psalm 25:1, NIV)

And this is how I can look back at a hard year, grateful, that his hand has never left mine–in fact, he holds me. He has not forsaken me.

Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:4-5, NIV)

Lord, how I’ve learned what little I can control, sometimes not even my own tears. You have taken my head knowledge and moved it into my heart to show me so very personally that you are sovereign and your ways are good. When trials cut deep, you are with me, catching every tear, and working every moment for my good and your glory. Thank you for holding me and my family, and I pray that you’ll bring our dog home to us soon.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Numbers 3; Psalm 37; Song of Solomon 1; Hebrews 1

These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar – Numbers 3:2 NRSV

I wonder how Moses felt seeing the sons of Aaron given lineage to the house of Levi while he had nothing to pass down to any of his family. As I just entered my 55 year and entitled to my first seniors discount at my local pharmacy, I look back at my life and see the hand of God.  I am sure Moses saw the same.

Do not fret…Trust in the Lord…Take delight in the Lord…Commit your way to the Lord…Be still before the Lord… – Psalm 37:1-7 NRSV

I had a pastor that loved Psalm 37 and preached it often.  So my life was shaped by  these truths and the promises are real. The relationship I have experienced with God is one where worry and anxiousness are replaced with peace, where faith grows so much through each encounter with Him that trust becomes second nature, where I look forward to spending time with God just to enjoy His presence, to understand that where I am He wants me to be His and to take time not only to do the talking but the listening as well.

Ah, you are beautiful, my love;
    ah, you are beautiful;
    your eyes are doves.
 Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved,
    truly lovely. – Solomon 1:15-16

Jesus has made that happen.  I was introduced to Jesus when I was 14 years old having attended a Sunday School class only for the third time.  I knew who He was, no one ever told me why.

But in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,[a] whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains[b] all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high – Hebrews 1:2-3 NRSV

Lord, I find it easier and easier to call you my Lord as You engage into my life and where everything in my life matters to You.  As You make my life matter, more and more I realize that all that really is important in this life is knowing and following You.  May my heart never find itself in a place where I take You and Your presence for granted.  May I share my inheritance with those who do not have the same hope, may my testimony set people free, may Your grace always sustain me, may You be glorified and praised because of what You have done in my life.  You are beautiful, my love…

evanlaar

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Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessalonians 2

3It takes wisdom to have a good family.

It takes understanding to make it strong.

4It takes knowledge to fill a home

with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4 (ICB)

As a mother my desire is to have a great relationship with my kids. I want my home to be a place of safety, full of wonderful things and even better memories. I want my kids to be connected at the heart with me, their Daddo, each other. And, most importantly I want them to love Jesus with all their being.

There are many days I feel like a failure in all this; days when my bad mommy moments vastly outweigh the good ones. I am probably my own worst critic. It’s probably better than I sometimes think it is. I choose to hold on to the hope that my kids remember more of the positive moments, the fun times, and forget the times I’ve lost my patience and my self-control went the way of the dodo.

28A person who does not control himself

is like a city whose walls have been broken down. Proverbs 25:28 (ICB)

When I lose self-control, yell, scream, lecture, spank…I immediately witness the tiniest thread of connection my daughters and I have in that moment disintegrate like a hiker walking through a spider web stretched across the trail. Even if my calm, steady voice paired with “the look” isn’t working to get their attention, the tension-filled, impatient, MOM voice and ugly face, turns them away from me even faster.

7But we were very gentle with you. We were like a mother caring for her little children. 8Because we loved you, we were happy to share God’s Good News with you. But not only that, we were also happy to share even our own lives with you. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (ICB)

I don’t want to go through life feeling like I had a good day simply because I didn’t make front page news. I want to know that my family had a good day because I was gentle, caring, I was patient and full of self-control, even if my kids weren’t. I want them to experience my love first hand, not just hear the words come from my mouth. I want to show them who Christ is through my example. I want my family to be happy that we share our lives together. I want my house to be filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

On Sunday, I actually had it together. I had some alone time, with God (an important key), and then miraculously got everyone dressed, fed and out the door on the way to church 10 minutes early. Once I got us all belted in and we were on the road, I looked in the rear view mirror at my oldest and asked her how the morning was. She thought for a moment and told me it was a good morning. I asked her why. She said, “Because, we didn’t fight.”

The treasure chest filled up a little bit more…

Yesappa, Thank You for showing me how it can be when I rely on Your wisdom and understanding to build my family up and fill my home. Help me in those moments that I struggle to see what You see. Help me love my kids more like You love them. Help me discipline like You discipline Your children. Give me strength to choose self-control and patience, and make me into a gentle mother. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

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Ezekiel 46-48; John 16

Offerings. Boundaries. Understanding.

Reading of a prince’s offering, the best of grain and animal. I think about offerings and the “best of” what I have. Who and what get my best? Where does God fit in all this? Some days, I feel really spent and have little to offer. God has been teaching me a lot about offerings and boundaries this year. And in this, I’m learning how I can offer my best and not feel exhausted or unbalanced. (This has nothing to do with over-achieving, showy super-stardom. My 8-yr-old gave me a simple example of the best of yesterday–leaving co-op, I passed through the lunchroom and wanted to say goodbye to her. She gave me the best of her in a squeezer of a hug and telling me, wide-eyed, of the important things that happened to her that morning. She gave me kisses and spoke love to me.)

Boundaries. It was no wonder that I had little to offer when I felt overbooked and overwhelmed. Old Testament reading of actual land boundaries–but that word is key to my lesson this year. Boundaries in what’s asked of me. Boundaries to protect my family time. Boundaries in relationships, especially those unhealthy ones that want to sabotage other areas of my life.

Understanding. Jesus tells the disciples that (in a little while) he’s going to leave, but that the Advocate will come.

12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ John 16:12-15, NLT.

Lord, my mind will make up all kinds of scenarios as I try to sort things out and fill in the blanks. I want to focus on what is true. I want to be mindful of the land you’ve given me–a home, family, tasks, relationships. I want to offer what you think is the best of me, and not someone else’s definition of best. Lord, please guide my steps.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Samuel 1-2; Psalm 120; Acts 5

Psalm 120:1 In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.

The Biblical story of Hannah the woman who pleaded for a child has perplexed me on many levels. First I hear the deep grief and humiliation she suffered due to the social stigma of being childless. The love of her husband was not enough to bring joy to this barren wife. Her religious convictions and obedience to God were performed externally, yet she had no peace internally. Hannah focused on the one thing that she did not have, a child, and believed God was the only answer to her prayers.

Yet, I too have been enmeshed in my own myopic version of need. Even though I had family, friends, church, and home, that elusive advancement on my job left me grumbling. I’ve spent large amounts of time serving in the church and when my motives and priorities were challenged by family, I was indignant and held selfishly to what bolstered my self-esteem. Lately, I’ve seen this problem of narrowing perspective in my pursuit of what I believe will be in the best interest of a family member – I’ve told myself that I will not be satisfied until this is done.

The second enigma in Hannah’s story is that she promised to give this child back to God, literally. The child was two, maybe three years old, and Hannah actually took him back to the temple and gave him to the priest.  I realize there is a cultural and generational gap the size of Texas between Hannah and me, but she was a mother of her first child!  I am a mother and I can tell you that I would not have been able to fulfill a vow to God to give up my toddler! I would have been back in that temple, pleading to keep my child. Yet we do not read that Hannah mourned for little Samuel; instead each year she took him the garments she stitched herself, seemingly at peace with this arrangement. Arguably, she did have other children after her first born, but none can replace a child in the heart of the mother. So how was she able to do this?

A third perplexing statement in Hannah’s story comes from her husband Elkanah. While waiting for the day to give their son to the priest, he said to Hannah, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the Lord establish His word,” I Samuel 1:23. This is Elkanah’s first son by the woman he loves most, but he agreed to give up his son because Hannah said that is what she promised to do.  According to Judaic law, he could have dismissed her vow to God.

Instead, he dropped his worldly desires and accepted the story yet to be written when he said, “Only let the Lord establish His word.”

What if we could really let go and trust God’s will be done?

What if we really knew that God was on our side? Then we might say as in Acts 5:29a, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

If we could believe or even if we could just live as if we do, perhaps then we would welcome God’s will and like Hannah be able to say, “No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God,” I Samuel 2:2

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