Sunday, July 20, 2008


Yesterday was not so good. Certainly not the worst day of my life; simply not so good. I find myself back in a place of frustration. I am weary of my own inefficient and ineffective child training, drained from constant physical discomfort of one sort or another, sick of feeling sick... Most of all, I am exasperated at my own thick-headedness! No matter how often I am rebuked by my Lord, I continually fall into selfish attitudes of the heart. I want what I want. Why? Why do I want anything more than what He has ordained for me? Fool that I am, I come to the very brink of surrender--enough to taste it--then rather than drinking my fill of Him and experiencing the joy of being completely within God's will, I shrink back. Why do I resist so at trust? How simple it would be to put myself completely aside, to no longer think of myself at all but to glut my thoughts with my Father and His kingdom. That is a special kind of freedom, I think, freedom from self and all its ridiculous vacillations.

One of the nastiest bits of yesterday occurred when I was convicted by my own words to my children. I was dealing with a discipline issue and felt as if God were shooting a significant look my way when I spoke. Ugh. That happens far too frequently for my liking. I do wish I had it all together before God blessed me with children. How much easier would it be to teach them self-control if I had already mastered it! And why, oh, why my Father did you give me such a mulish and harrying son? The child is so incredibly smart, but I can not let my guard down for a moment! When I do, I pay dearly, and he seems to continually probe for weakness. I feel so inept! Wouldn't he have done better with one of those super-parents who manage to always discipline out of love and keep their anger in check? Or even me before my resolve was eroded by constant fatigue? I know the Lord knows best, but it is knowledge borne of faith and not sight!

Speaking of faith, I am also saddened at my amazing lack. Each time I feel a teeny bit strong in my faith, God shows me how utterly weak I am. For each time I succeed in taking every thought captive to Christ, there are 50 times I fail. Oh, how I want to keep my mind full of Him, and how impossible it seems to be sometimes! I am reading The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. He talks of how he would calmly expel vain or useless thoughts each time they arose in his mind until they were gone. How I desire to do just that, and instead I am swept away by some idiotic "what-if" fantasy or some equally selfish matter. And so my discouragement mounts.

Finally, there is my struggle to renounce personal desires altogether and completely submit to the authority God has placed me under (or even His own). Rather than feeling bitter or ill-used when I am not able to do something I want to do, why do I not joyfully accept it, let the matter slip from my mind, and move on? Why do I stubbornly hang onto personhood? If I am to be cleansed and a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful to my Master (Timothy 2:21) then I need to be empty of personal ambition and desire. When do my dishes ever complain that I do not use them as a frisbee? Or my coffee mug whine because it prefers flavored coffee to the potent stuff I drink? I am the creation, not the Creator! Why do I have such a powerfully foolish will?

Point in fact, this all boils down to a failure to surrender--to give up the steering wheel. Oh, I've done it here and there, but like many things in my life, I am not consistant. I long to just sit back and enjoy the ride, but some nagging anxiety always prompts me to try my hand at driving yet again. Father, please rid me of this need to remain in control. Help me to let go of what I want, help me to let go of myself entirely. I pray that I will be supple in Your hands for You to shape as You wish without resistance on my part. Forgive me for failing in faith and surrender. I raise up my request to be wholly Yours, nothing held back, permanently. I want to, and yet something holds me back. Expose it, remove it, and use me as You will. In Jesus' name I ask for the grace to utterly relinquish control--forever; amen.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Father's Love

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say, "His steadfast love endures forever.

Let the house of Aaron say, "His steadfast love endures forever." Let those who fear the LORD say, "His steadfast love endures forever."
Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:1-6

Just the other night, I was frustrated. Due to an escalating discipline issue with our son, I was feeling like a failure as a parent. My homeschool year is looming and I did not feel ready. My once healthy body seems to be falling apart, treatments for one set of problems do not always work in conjunction with treatments for another set, bits of me seem to be aging prematurely in the most depressing ways, I'm tired of pain, tired of medicines, and tired of being tired all the time. There was more, but suffice to say that I was feeling simply overwhelmed. After putting the children to bed, I trudged downstairs ready to attack chores that had been left behind due to the time-consuming battle with Little Man and his great, big stubborn streak.

As I wearily prepared to wash the dishes, I felt a strong urge to go outside. I started to resist but recognized my Lord's quiet voice urging me and so abandoned the dishes and went. It was beautiful out; the heat of the day had given way to a pleasantly warm evening. I began to pray, laying all my frustrations at God's feet and trusting Him to know the ones I couldn't voice. As I prayed, tears began to fall and I fell silent, gazing at the horizon. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky was streaked with faint color. I sat for a moment, then stirred myself to rise and go back indoors. Again, that urging, "Just sit. Wait. I have something to show you." I sat. I listened. The cicadas were beginning their evening song. I realized that I used to enjoy listening to the cicadas on summer evenings but had not had the time since moving into and trying to maintain our big house. As I listened, I began to hear not only bird song, but individual birds and became aware of their locations around me. Always, the cicadas hummed their rising and falling song in the background. Peace washed over me and suddenly the pale colors in the sky began to seem a little richer... and a little richer... until the sky blazed with red-gold tinged with violet. Still, all around me the birds, cicadas, the frogs in the lake sang their goodnight praise to their Maker. Distant voices, rather than disturbing the symphony, were simply a part of it; the owners an unknowing participant in a harmony of worship. I began to worship silently, enjoying the show, enjoying feeling wrapped in my Father's arms.

When my husband arrived home from his errand, I was still lounging in the grass. I knew in my heart that my problems were not miraculously resolved. I knew that my health trouble was not over, nor was the battle to apply my son's stubbornness to the correct path. I had something better--my Lord had reminded me that He would be with me every step of the way. He had reminded me not to forget to praise Him through it all. By bringing my attention to the song of His Creation, my Father caused me to remember that He loves me too much to remove the trials. No matter what comes of it all, He has my best interests at heart. After all, no matter what happens to me here on earth, it is all to prepare me for a much greater chapter of my life after this earthly life ends. I came away, not with solutions, but with the peace that comes from understanding in a more complete and deeper way that I am in training for eternity. Yes, the work is hard, but it will be worthwhile. And most importantly, my Father truly does love me. Me personally. That amazes me most of all.

Gracious Father, we thank and praise You for Your goodness, for Your might, for Your compassion, and for Your strength. Your Creation sings Your praise. Thank You that we are invited to join this song! Help our frail, human minds and wills to remember You in all things--the good and the bad. Increase our faith and our sensitivity to Your Spirit's leading so that we may honor You in all we say, think, and do. May we bless You with our lives. In Jesus's precious name we praise and ask, amen.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Squash Vine Borer Woes

For the second year running, I am losing plants to pesky squash vine borers! I tried digging them out with a razor today, but I fear I did more damage to my precious plants than the silly bugs had already done. The poor plants were doomed to die, but I fear I brought it on earlier... A long pin or sharpened wire to kill the little beasties was a second recommendation, but naturally I tried the most damaging first. My only acorn squash plant has succumbed to my ministrations, as well as one zucchini and two crookneck plants. I fear for my pumpkins, too. My only consolation is that I did have the satisfaction of drowning a few fat, white larvae. Hah!

While I was looking at my poor, wilting plants with all their beautiful flowers and mourning their early death, an adult moth scared me half to death. I thought it was some strange, fat, black and red wasp. However, in my web search for anything--anything at all--that could be done for my poor plants, I found a picture of the mature menace. Grrrrrr... What is to be done? Perhaps I will skip all squashes next year and starve the little critters. More room for my corn, then, eh?