Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Life of Mrs. Wife

WOW. It's been a long time since Pearl Girl has written a blog post.

A.lot.has.changed since the last time I posted!! 

In a nutshell, I have a new last name and my status has gone from single to married. (I am blessed!)

As I've been adjusting to this new role, I woke up determined to tackle my ever-growing to-do list today. (Starting a new blog was not on that list!)

So here's my brilliant idea for the blog: The Life of Mrs. Wife: The Exciting {and Not-So-Exciting} Adventures of a New Bride. 

Alright, my friends, back to my to-do-list. Stay tuned!

{Blog coming soon} 


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Do you mean what you pray?

"This, then, is how you should pray..."

A few days ago, a friend was telling me how she heard a compelling sermon on The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6). Our conversation prompted me to stop and think about the prayer that Jesus Himself modeled for us so that we would learn from His example; so that we, unlike the foolish who spewed out many useless words just to be heard, would actually MEAN what we say and DO what we pray.

Going through the prayer, I got stuck on verse 6:
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

W-O-W... We are asking Our Father to forgive us in the same way that we have forgiven others. Do we really realize what we are praying? Do we REALLY mean that?

What would it look like if God forgave you JUST LIKE you forgive others?

A look at the amplified version further clarifies what Jesus meant by this:

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.

This reminded me of something I read a while back from Philip Yancey's book "What's So Amazing About Grace."
Walter Wink tells the story of how a group of Polish Christians came to this very realization. Two peacemakers went to visit a group of Polish Christians ten years after the end of World War II. "Would you be willing to meet with other Christians from West Germany?" the peacemakers asked. "They want to ask forgiveness for what Germany did to Poland during the war and to begin to build a new relationship".

At first there was silence. Then one Pole spoke up. "What you are asking is impossible. Each stone of Warsaw is soaked in Polish blood! We cannot forgive!".

Before the group parted, however, they said the Lord's Prayer together. When they reached the words "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive . . . ", everyone stopped praying . Tension swelled in the room. The Pole who had spoken so vehemently said, "I must say yes to you. I could no more pray the Our Father, I could no longer call myself a Christian, if I refuse to forgive. Humanly speaking, I cannot do it, but God will give us strength!".

Eighteen months later the Polish and West German Christians met together in Vienna, establishing friendships that continue to this day.

In a similar way, I admit that forgiveness does not always come easy for me. It's so much easier to hold a grudge and remember the hurts and pain others have caused us than it is to extend LOVE and grace to them. But because of Christ, because His sacrifice has freed US of the penalty WE deserved, because God let go of our debts and has given up resentment against us, we are to do the same with others. This is the very thing that sets us, Christians, apart from other religions!

We definitely can't do this on our own. But I pray that God would give me, and anyone else reading this, the strength and grace to forgive. To forgive ourselves and others in the same manner that God has forgiven us.

The price has already been paid. We are forgiven. We are free. So lets put down our stones. Lay down our arrows. And live and love like Jesus.

Când ierţi, te vindeci. Când renunţi la eul tău, te maturizezi. Când plângi înaintea lui Dumnezeu, te predai. Când iubeşti necondiţionat, arăţi altora ce înseamnă dragostea lui Hristos.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Be still.

Camping in the tranquility of God's creation, I stumbled upon this timeless devotion from Streams in the Desert. What a beautiful reminder that in the midst of chaos (and mosquitos!), confusion, and questions, we can be still and trust that He is God. He is faithful. And He will guide us down His perfect path. I'm huddled in a corner, getting bit by mosquitos of course, trying to post this from my phone: this is THAT good that I don't want to put off sharing! :)

Hope everyone is having a relaxing fourth of July weekend. Thank you, Jesus, not only for the freedom we take for granted living in America, but for the sacrifice you paid so that we could be free from sin. Let us understand anew exactly what that means today. Amen.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Isaiah 30:21)

When you have doubts or are facing difficulties, when others suggest courses of action that are conflicting, when action dictates one approach but faith another, we should be still. We should quiet each intruding person, calm ourselves in the sacred stillness of God's presence, study His Word for guidance, and with true devotion focus our attention on Him...Soon He will reveal by His secret counsel a distinct and unmistakable sense of His direction.

It is unwise for a new believer to depend on this approach alone. He should wait for circumstances to also confirm what God is revealing. Yet Christians who have had many experiences in their walk with Him know the great value of secret fellowship with the Lord as a means of discerning His will.

Are you uncertain about what direction you should go? Take your question to God and receive guidance from either the light of His smile or the cloud of His refusal. You must get alone with Him, where the lights and the darkness of this world cannot interfere and where the opinions of others cannot reach you. You must also have the courage to wait in silent expectation, even when everyone around you is insisting on an immediate decision or action. If you will do these things, the will of God will become clear to you. And you will have a deeper concept of who He is, having more insight into His nature and His heart of love. All this will be your unsurpassed gift. It will be a heavenly experience, a precious eternal privilege, and the rich reward for the long hours of waiting (pp. 240-241).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Choice: Even at 5 a.m.

To those who happen to be awake at this hour.   

Father, may the Fruit of the Spirit be evident in our lives no matter the circumstance. Amen.

(From When God Whisper's Your Name, by Max Lucado).
IT'S QUIET. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose. 

I choose love . . .
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves. 

I choose joy . . .
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical . . . the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God. 

I choose peace . . .
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live. 

I choose patience . . .
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage. 

I choose kindness . . .
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me. 

I choose goodness . . .
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness. 

I choose faithfulness . . .
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home. 

I choose gentleness . . .
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. 

I choose self-control . . .
I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rock Bottom: It's a good place to be.

We’re all bound to hit rock bottom at some point in our lives. (more like at many points in our lives).  

Such is life as imperfect humans in an imperfect world.

Sure, we’d all love being on the mountaintop forever if we had a choice. Who doesn’t like it when the piggy bank is overweight? …when you have the perfect job. The perfect relationships. Health. Security in storing up treasures for ourselves and reaping the benefits of everything “we” have worked hard for.

It’s easy to forget God when we’re on top of the mountain and have fallen in love with the accumulating objects and junk cluttering our lives. 

‘We don’t need anything, so we don’t really need God. We can do it all on our own.’ We would never DARE admit such an atrocious statement, but guess what? Actions speak louder than words.

Just don’t get too comfortable. When we're on the mountaintop, there's only one place to go from there: down.

And when you hit rock bottom, you have two choices: you can either lie there in defeat and self-pity or you can look up to God, trusting that He is in control. (I am still learning this...)

Thank God for the gift of hitting rock bottom. Thank God that in the plunge down into the deep valley, His strong, faithful hands are there to catch us. To comfort us. To remind us that when we have nothing left, He is all we need.

When we have exhausted all our options, plan A through Z, and we have more questions than we have answers, those, my friends, are the perfect conditions for God to get to work. 

When we get over ourselves and quit relying on our own abilities (which will eventually fail), when we finally step aside and humble ourselves, we can let His perfect will be done.

In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, written by a scientist/shepherd, Phillip Keller gives insight on verse 4:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
“… Here is grandeur, a quietness, and assurance that sets the soul at rest, ‘I will not fear, for thou art with me…’ – with me in every situation, in every dark trial, in every dismal disappointment, in every distressing dilemma. In the Christian life we often speak of wanting ‘to move onto higher ground with God.’ (This is in reference of moving the flock of sheep to summer pastures further up the mountain). How we long to live above the lowlands of life. We want to get beyond the common crowd, to enter a more intimate walk with God. We speak of mountaintop experiences and we envy those who have ascended to the heights and entered into this more sublime sort of life. 
 Often we get an erroneous idea about how this takes place. It is as though we imagined we could be “air lifted” onto higher ground. On the tough trail of the Christian life this is not so. As with ordinary sheep management, so with God’s people one only gains higher ground by climbing up through the valleys. 
Every mountain has its valleys. Its sides are scarred by deep ravines and gulches and draws. And the best route to the top is always along these valleys. Any sheep man familiar with the high country knows this. He leads his flock gently, but persistently up the paths that wind through the dark valleys. It should be noticed that the verse states, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.’ It does not say I die there, or stop there – but rather ‘I walk through.’
… Most of us do not want valleys in our lives. We shrink from them with a sense of fear and foreboding. Yet in spite of our worst God can bring great benefit and lasting benediction to others through those valleys. Let us not always try to avoid the dark things, the distressing days. They may well prove to be the way of greatest refreshment to ourselves and those around us (pg. 100-101).
Father, thank You for the trials you allow in our lives. If we never knew the pains of the dark valley, we would never know the joy and victory that comes with relying on You to take us up the steep road to the high hills. Help us not give up so quickly, but rather, trust in You and in Your perfect ways. Give us the strength to take our eyes off of ourselves, off the things of this world, and fix them instead on You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What good is the Armor of God without a WARRIOR on the inside??

"Finally, be strong in the LORD and in His great power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil's evil tricks. Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world's darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. That is why you need to put on God's full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. So stand strong with the belt of Truth tied around your waist and the protection of Right Living on your chest. On you feet wear the Good News of Peace to help you stand strong. And also on use the shield of Faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. Accept God's salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God's people." -Ephesians 6:10-18

That's deep! Have you ever seen empty armor without a warrior inside fighting a battle? Not me! ...not even in a movie!  Yes, God has equipped us with all we need to be effective for Him but we must do our part! We have to be willing to practice self-discipline and resist the forces around us in order to be most effective!

How do we do this? Well, like any warrior preparing for battle, we have to be "fit" to fight. A warrior has to be physically in shape and in the same manner, we have to make sure we're in top shape by feeding ourselves with the Word of God, clothing ourselves in prayer, empowered by the Spirit, and constantly seeking Him.  

Yes, the battle is not ours, but the LORD's (2 Chronicles 20:15), but we have to be present, willing to let God use us in the battle.  

Jesus, help us to be fully clothed by the FULL armor of God so that we may overcome as you have overcome. Amen. 

Have you talked to a chicken lately? Meet: The Chicken Egg

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or ask the birds of the air, and they will tell you. Speak to the earth, and it will teach you....Every one of these knows that the hand of the LORD has done this." 
(Job 12:7-9)

       A fertilized chicken egg is a very special creation. Before even thinking about a chick developing in an egg, it is interesting to ponder how the chicken manages to get a shell around that slippery, raw, fertilized egg. It is a rare sight on the farm to see raw egg smeared on the outside of the shell. Have you ever attempted to put an egg back into its shell after it rolled off the counter?
The shell itself is highly specialized. Each egg shell has about 10,000 tiny holes or pores. How does that chicken form a shell around a soft, messy egg and design the shell to have porosity?
 Put a raw egg in warm water and soon you will see tiny bubbles floating up. These bubbles are escaping through the pores in the shell. The developing chick needs these pores to breathe. Evolution requires a need before an organism will change. How does a chicken know it needs to make a shell with porosity, and how can it manufacture such a shell? The chick does not know it needs the holes in the shell to breathe until it dies for lack of air. Of course, dead chicks cannot evolve.
Within the first few days after the egg is laid, blood vessels begin to grow out of the developing chick. Two of these attach to the membrane under the eggshell and two attach to the yolk. By the fifth day, the tiny heart is pumping blood through the vessels. What makes those blood vessels grow out of the chick, and how do they know where to go and to what to attach?
The chick feeds from the yolk with the yolk vessels and breathes through the membrane vessels. If any of these vessels do not grow out of the chick or attach to the correct place, the chick will die.
The chick gives off carbon dioxide and water vapor as it metabolizes the yolk. If it does not get rid of the carbon dioxide and water vapor, it will die of gaseous poisoning or drown in its own waste water. These waste products are picked up by the blood vessels and leave through the pores in the eggshell.
By the nineteenth day, the chick is too big to get enough oxygen through the pores in the shell. It must do something or die. How does it know what to do next? By this time, a small tooth called the "egg-tooth" has grown onto its beak. It uses this little tooth to peck a hole into the air sack at the flat end of the egg. When you peel a hard-boiled egg you notice the thin membrane under the shell and the flattened end of the egg. This flattened end, which looks like the hen did not quite fill up her egg shell, is the air sack. The air sack provides only six hours of air for the chick to breathe. Instead of relaxing and breathing deeply, with this new-found supply of air, the chick keeps pecking until it breaks a small hole through the shell to gain access to outside air in adequate amounts.
On the twenty-first day, the chick breaks out of the shell. If one step in the development of the chick is missing or out of order, the chick dies.
Each step in the development of the chick defies evolutionary logic. The process must be orchestrated by God, our Creator. The impersonal plus time plus chance is not an adequate explanation for the incredible complexities of life as we observe it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sea Hearts

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day. - Psalm 25:5 

What can ride ocean currents for years before finally washing ashore and springing to life? According to National Geographic's World magazine, it's a nut that is native to South America and the West Indies. Some people call them "sea hearts."

These 2-inch, chestnut-colored nuts are hardy, heart-shaped seeds that grow on high-climbing vines. They often fall into rivers and float out to sea. There they may ride the currents for years before coming to shore and sprouting into a plant.

This life-bearing, time-enduring, wave-riding seed illustrates a basic spiritual principle. God's plans may include extended times of waiting for Him to act on our behalf. This was true of Noah, who endured ridicule while spending 120 years building a ship; of Abraham, who waited for the fulfillment of God's promise that he would have a son in his old age; and of David, God's anointed, who chose to wait for God's timing rather than take the life of envious King Saul.

Sea hearts can't choose to be patient, but we can. Nothing is harder or better for us than to follow the example of David, who wrote Psalm 25. By waiting on the Lord we can have peace, and our faith will grow - even while we are riding out the waves.
-Mart De Haan II

What circumstances make it hard to wait for the Lord? How do we know we won't be disappointed when we wait for Him?

God stretches our patience to enlarge our soul.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Disturb Us, Lord.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

-Sir Francis Drake, 1577

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