Happy Birthday, Katie!

Thirty years ago today, I pushed my way into the sacred land of Motherhood. Literally. Water broke at midnight and 12 looooooooong hours later - including 4 hours of pushing (given the malpractice landscape of obstetrics today, that would no longer be an option!) - the world became a better place.Katie Alice Chambers was born.

My life changed in ways I never imagined...no one told me that, from that day forward, my heart would walk around outside my body. I would never ever read a tragic news story in the same way....because I would feel the pain of those involved now. Truly feel it. No birthing class prepared me for what it was like to take the product of that process home. Every bruise was surely leukemia and every headache, a brain tumor. Then there were the emotional maladies!! One cannot begin to imagine the fury inside the heart of a Mom whose child has been mistreated. The anxiety of waiting to find out if your child is "in"....the playground game, the birthday party, the nursery school, the team, the circle...always. The doubt and confusion of figuring out what a Mom is supposed to do. (Good grief, there are so many different opinions!!!) The unbridled pride you feel when your child wins...the race, the award, the mastery of some skill - no matter what that is. The amazed joy that God chose you to parent this kid. Wow. God's undeserved gifts.

And now she's a grown-up. My task is pretty much done. Now I get to enjoy the fruit of my labor....and God's grace. She's married, an extremely well educated SAHM and quite a fabulous one, if I do say so myself! But to me, she'll forever be the one that made me a Mom. My firstborn. The one I practiced on...the one that had to absorb most of my mistakes. A role model to scores of women…including me. The one that God gave to me on 12-12-88. God's undeserved gifts.

You're always Princess to me. Practically perfect. I love you. I am so proud of the woman God has grown you into that I could burst. I love being your friend. And your Mom. Happy Birthday.


The conflict on the outside..........

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you James 4:1-10


The fights among us................are due to the battles within us..........the conflict on the outside........is because of the war on the inside.


Boom.


What does this mean and how can it make a difference in our relationships?

In verses 1 and 2, we find the reason for the conflicts in our relationships - this translation uses the word "passions" but others use the word "pleasures" or "desires". What they all point to is that we experience conflict because, simply put. there is something we want and if we perceive someone is blocking the fulfillment of that desire, we fight to get it.


These "passions, pleasures or desires" are not necessarily for bad things! We might long for a well-behaved child, or a loving husband, or a good night's sleep :) And if those desires (which we all too often label as "needs".....) are unmet, then we fight, quarrel, or get angry (which, by the way, Jesus explains in Matthew leads to murder).


Underneath our "desires" are foundational longings for security, acceptance, significance, love. What we might label as "wanting to be pretty" could actually be a deep God-given need for acceptance and esteem. And it probably is.
It's not wrong to want to look pretty ( or be treated respectfully or to be appreciated or to feel safe) but when we assume we can find a consistent source of attainment apart from Christ, well, that's when we run into trouble. No other person can meet those needs deeply enough to satisfy us fully.


No matter how much we might fight to get them to.


God stands ready and overwhelmingly able to meet our deepest needs.


Instead, we either fail to ask Him or we ask for the wrong thing.


Like asking for friends to make us feel better..........when He's the only one who can.


Now, granted, often He manifests Himself through the kindnesses of others. But we gotta realize that other people are just the delivery boy. God Himself is the Source for what we need.


And in verses 3-5, we see that He makes that very point by allowing us to experience conflict.


Galatians 5:17 puts it this way : For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
When we think someone or something other than God can fill our need for security or significance or acceptance, in essence, we are seeking to worship it. And God loves us too much to allow that! He doesn't need to be "made Lord" - He IS LORD! And all those lesser things that try and set themselves up on the throne of our heart are waging a useless war. HE IS LORD. He will let the battle rage but He will not step down from the Throne.


In the next few verses of this passage He explains how to resolve the conflict. How to find genuine fulfillment of those longings deep within
Verses 6 -10 - realize who He is... And who we are not. When we humble ourselves He floods our hearts with grace. With the desire and the power to obey Him This grace is what we need to trust His goodness - to submit to His authority - and to withstand the one who tempts us to believe anything else but Christ can satisfy. The grace we need to draw near to Him in worship....where we will see who He is...and who we are not. The grace that shows us our sin and breaks our hearts over our unholiness. And the grace that empowers us to be made pure, to be cleansed.
The grace that is only found in the presence of The Lord.
That's what meets our deepest needs.
That's where and only where our soul will be exalted .
And the conflict will cease. Within ... And without.
Amen.

A sun and a shield

Psalm 84:11 tells us The Lord God is a sun and shield; He gives grace and glory.  No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

 

“to those who walk uprightly” – is this a promise only for those who can live perfectly? 

Thankfully no!

  Since Jesus imparts His righteousness to His followers and we do not have to depend on our own “uprightness” in order to obtain His favor, we can be confident that He is always acting as a sun and a shield in our lives.

  Sometimes as a sun, pouring forth warmth and light and power. Other times, we see His actions as a shield, protecting us  not only from what we know to be harmful but also from what we don’t know. He is a shield from everything that will not achieve His perfect plan in our lives. Even when what we think is a “good thing”…If He withholds it, even if it looks like a good thing to us, it’s not a good thing.

He gives us grace, grace to accept that what He is doing – or not giving us – is still good. Grace to embrace and obey Him.  And He gives glory…the absolute presence and essence of Himself.

  And He never withholds that – the best gift of all.

How do I love thee?

One of the things that Moms want to be sure their children are confident of is their love.  We want them to know how we value them, which can be sometimes be difficult and complicated. One of my young-Mom friends recently asked me how I did this as well as how my four kids turned out to be such great friends to one another.  I told her I'd get back to her on that - not sure I feel qualified to answer that question -- but I do want to try.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!   As we pause today to be thankful, let us remember to Whom it is we give thanks....

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High
Psalm 92:1

proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
    and telling all your wondrous deed
s  Psalm 26:7

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”   Revelation 7:2

In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus    I Thessalonians 5:18

Thank you, Lord, for Your abundant grace towards us all.  Amen.