Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Christ-Centered Conversations

The Girltalk Blog posted a wonderful quote yesterday by George Whitfield on conversations:
"[I]f you are in company, let your time be spent in that conversation that profiteth: let it not be about your dressing, your plays, your profits, or your worldly concerns, but let it be the wonders of redeeming love. O tell, tell to each other what great things the Lord has done for your souls; declare unto one another how you were delivered from the hands of your common enemy, Satan, and how the Lord has brought your feet from the clay and has set them upon the rock of ages, the Lord Jesus Christ; there, my brethren, is no slipping. Other conversation, by often repeating, you become fully acquainted with, but of Christ there is always something new to raise your thoughts; you can never want when the love of the Lord Jesus Christ is the subject. So let Jesus be the subject, my brethren, of all your conversation." O Come Thou Long Expected Jesus p 13

I love this - if Christians truly do share with one another what Christ has done & is doing in their lives - focusing on Him alone - not only is that a rich and satisfying conversation, it's God-glorifying!  I think we've all been in those conversations that don't go anywhere; you may discuss the weather, how your kids are doing in school, or what your weekend plans are, but are those conversations fulfilling or Christ-exalting?  I haven't found them to be.  It's my favorite when a friend calls and immediately asks, "So how are you really doing?  What have you been learning lately from Scripture?" OR the friend just dives right into what she's been struggling with in life and how God has been helping her see the good from it all and enabling her to persevere (James 1).

One of my Cali besties and I discussed once how boring it is to just talk babies, husbands, work, etc.  Isn't there anything else - more soul satisfying?  Let's encourage one another to go deep; to not just know about each other but to KNOW one another as sisters in Christ.  Yes, the walls of pride and self-preservation must be torn down; it's during these times that our faith and friendship is most strengthened.  We can then be encouraged in the LORD and know how to pray for one another better.
(Are babies and husbands and work important?  Absolutely!  But let's make Christ the center - not the earthly gifts He's so graciously bestowed upon us.)

So I want to encourage you today: Share with others what you've been reading and learning from in God's Word lately.  What has he been teaching you?  Let's strive to make our conversations Christ-centered and not focused on the earthly things that are passing away.
O tell, tell each other what great things the Lord has done for your souls...

Today I spent time reading and praying over Isaiah 45.  My favorite verse from the chapter:
"Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it,
'What are you making?'
'Your work has no handles?'"
I was very convicted by these words this morning - it's too easy for me to tell my Maker what I think He should be doing with my life and then fussing when it doesn't look the way I want it to.

Recent Instagrams:

 Our boy loves bubbles.
 We dogsat last week.  Aidan just adores this little puppy; she's the perfect size for him.
 Aidan's borrowing a few toys from Grandma & Bop's house.  They've been the biggest hit!
Brian comments about how Aidan has my packing skills - let's just say that's a good thing!?  Ha.
Mama's favorite helper.
House chores have never been so much fun!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Spiritually Encouraging & Fun Package

While we were in CO a special package was delivered to our door:
I am such a sucker - I can't keep rewards points in my account for anything.

We started our women's bible study The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in Psalms & Proverbs and I just love the author, Nancy Guthrie.  While I was Amazon-ing her name, so many other books she's written came up.  I was ready for a new devotional so I took full advantage!

I was praying for so much grace to enter life again in Garner after a week of vacation.  Right before we left, there were some hard meetings for Brian in addition to the everyday "wear-and-tear" emotionally & spiritually of being in the ministry full-time.  I was ready to shut myself up in the house!  
So last night after unpacking, I sat down and ate up five of these devotionals.  After losing two babies to a genetic disorder at 6 months, Nancy Guthrie knows all about finding your hope outside of this world and its circumstances.  She writes to you as a friend.

The following quote encourages believers to be grateful for life with Christ (as well as a million other earthly blessings) despite circumstances that scream "Just quit":
Gratitude plows up the ground for God's peace to grow.  This is the kind of peace in the midst of pain that is foreign and unintelligible to the world, and can only come supernaturally.  Peace is a gift of God, but we prepare ourselves to receive this gift as we pray about everything, cultivate gratitude, and refuse to surrender to worry.
(Based on Philippians 4:6-7)

 Be Still, My Soul -Embracing God's Purpose & Provision in Suffering is a devotional edited by Nancy Guthrie with big names (classic and contemporary) as authors of the individual devos.
The first one I read is by Tim Keller.  It is soooo good!  It's titled Suffering: The Servant of Our Joy.
He writes that we are the first culture to be surprised by suffering - how true!  I have been surprised by my "suffering" because I had nothing more stressful than a big test or a teacher evaluation in my life before full-time ministry!    What a wuss I've been.  
Keller, in this first devotional, goes on to say how the people of Corinth (II Cor. 11:24-28), Job's friends and most Christians today say, "If God is with you, this wouldn't happen...etc."  Paul doesn't say that, though.  "Paul says that the suffering and hardship he has experienced is not a denial of the gospel, but a confirmation of the gospel."  "Jesus' suffering and death led to a greater life..."  Suffering leads to not only greater spiritual life in those around Paul (and Christians), but also in him (and in you and me!).  I LOVE his analogy for this:
It's like what happens to an acorn.  Do you know how much power there is in an acorn?  An entire huge tree can come out of one small little acorn.  And out of that tree can come innumerable other trees.  One acorn has the power to fill a continent with wood.
But only if it dies.  Only if it "falls to the ground and dies" (John 12:24) is that enormous power released.
Every human soul in the image of God has infinitely more life potential than an acorn.  Every soul has the capacity for compassion, beauty, greatness, composure, and character - but it will not be released until there is death, the death that comes through suffering and trials.

How do we know that this will work?
II Cor 4:14 "... because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence."

Yay!  I could go on & on - this devotional is awesome.  If you have any pain or suffering in your life (don't we all!?), then it's a must purchase.

I haven't started this one yet, but I love Gary Thomas.  Hoping I can bless Brian with ideas from this book.

Fearlessly Feminine - Boldly Living God's Plan for Womanhood by Jani Ortlund is a book that was highly recommended by a seminary-wife friend of mine.  I can't wait to get started.

On our trip, I read the fictional novel Gilead by Marilyn Robinson.  It was very good - I mostly enjoyed the random, wise quotes in it.  The setting is Gilead, Iowa in 1956.  A dying Presbyterian pastor is writing to his seven-year-old son about his life.  I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Home about this pastor's best friend (a Congregationalist minister in the same town) whose wayward son is coming Home.  The back says, "Home is a luminous and healing book about families, family secrets, and faith from one of America's most beloved and acclaimed authors."

Happy reading!  Please pass along to me any devotionals or books you've been enjoying recently.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Our trip to Vail, Colorado was absolutely wonderful!
We left with terrible summer colds and were super exhausted, both physically and emotionally; my prayer was that we'd come back refreshed and encouraged.  And the LORD answered our prayers - we are refreshed.
Last Tuesday - Friday we were in Vail just the three of us.  
Friday we drove back down to Denver for my cousin's wedding.

Someone asked us, "What are you going to do there this time of year?"  There wasn't a lot to do and there were hardly any people there, but it was perfect for us.  The pace was slow; Aidan naps for three hours each afternoon and goes to bed early.  We got lots of reading and napping done.  The changing leaves and mountains were breathtakingly beautiful.

Each morning we explored Vail Village:

 Our climber.

It got warmer and warmer as the days went on.  We were thankful that the predicted thunderstorms only lasted a few hours before the sun popped out.  Thank you, Lord, for nice weather!

This is what we looked like most of our vacation: closely behind Aidan.
Everyone asked, "Is he two?"  How did they know?!

One evening we drove to Glenwood Springs and rode the gondola up to their Adventure Park.

Mommy steals kisses whenever she can.

Aidan is two inches shorter than the required height for all the rides (36") so we played in the truck area.  I think this was the trip highlight for Aidan!
Two-year-old meltdown.

My boys taking in the breathtaking views.
 I love how you can see the road, train tracks, and the blue rafts in the river in this picture.
The tunnels through the mountains were Aidan's favorite.  "Orange tunnel" he'd say.

At the Glenwood Springs Adventure Park, Aidan "mined" for precious gems.

 After dumping in the sand, he'd swift it through the water.

Look at all those rocks!
He excitedly named all the colors and practiced saying "quartz" and "Tiger eye".

I am such a nerd - I totally wanted to ride the Alpine Slide!  It was super fun.

 At supper that night, our son was exhausted - nearly too exhausted to eat so Brian "raced" him to the food.  That seemed to solve the problem.

Vail Village has a playground that Aidan very much enjoyed.

 One of the shop owners brings her dog to work each day.  So for three mornings in a row, Aidan looked forward to seeing it.
 A few months backs, I saw an article on the benefits of balance bikes.  Instead of training wheels, kids learn to balance first.  They had one for rent in Vail.
 The first day Aidan wanted nothing to do with the helmet so we left. 
Throughout the day, we pointed out all the bike riders with helmets on and the next day he decided he was ready to wear a "red one" and ride a "blue bike".

After spending just a half hour with Aidan on that bike, our lower backs were nearly broken and we now understand why training wheels were invented.

On our last morning, we switchbacked up the mountain to Vail Stables where Aidan enjoyed the petting zoo.  On our ascent, we stopped to take pictures.

Or should I say that Brian took pictures?!  It was too cold to get out. ;)
 One of our Garner favorites has the same vehicle as our rental; Aidan often asked, "Where Miss Sue?" as we'd get in and out.
At the petting zoo, Aidan didn't think the animals were quite as fun as the diggers.  In fact, those geese tried to eat his diggers and that annoyed him. "Away. Away!!" he'd yell.

Something happened to Mommy on this trip: I decided I may like cats.
Or at least this cat.
 He was so friendly and cuddly.
 Aidan decided he likes cats too.

 "I hold. I hold."
Brian reminded me that we'll never own a cat.

Friday we drove down the mountain to Denver.  It was the sunniest, most-perfect weekend.  We enjoyed staying and shopping along 16th Ave, celebrating my cousin's marriage, and spending time with all of my extended family.  Unfortunately, we left the camera and I didn't take a single picture the entire weekend - I'm so bummed!  But I know Brian took a few on Instagram so I'll post those at a later date.
Thankful to Jesus for a wonderful, beautiful, relaxing yet exiting, fun-filled vacation.