Chosen By God

chosen by God | Mary Bernard | WritingMomof3.com

“Chosen By God” Photo Credit: ?ethan via Compfight cc

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

We Need Reminders of God’s Faithfulness

Reminders of God's Faithfulness | Ebenezer

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shenand called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” —1 Samuel 7:12

Lately, I’ve felt far from God. Just disconnected and removed. I can’t pinpoint an actual event that sparked it, but I will say in the “departments” of money, budget, job growth/security, church life, and family members, etc., I haven’t known what God’s been up to for many years.

In 2010, our church closed, which was devastating to us. To this day, we mourn its loss. In 2012, my mother died—a painful absence which I feel every single day. I hate thinking I’ll be having to do life without her for 40ish more years.

[Read more…]

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Guest Post at Sweet Box of Wonderful: Three Steps To Better Loving Yourself

Today, I’m pleased to have a guest post at Sweet Box of Wonderful, a new blog by my friend, Latoya Heard.

Please read my post, “Three Steps To Better Loving Yourself,” and take a few minutes to check out Latoya’s new blog!

About a week before Christmas this year, I had a meltdown. Having run myself ragged taking care of my home and family and preparing for the holidays, I was done. I was tired and discouraged.

And I hated myself.

When my husband asked what was wrong, I simply said, “I don’t like what I’ve become—I am the maid, the cook, the accountant, and the chauffeur. Everyone takes me for granted and I have no idea who I am or what I like anymore.”

It was a pivotal moment for me. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who was really good at carving out “me time” as all the books and magazine articles say I should do. But I had fallen woefully short of doing so during the last couple of years.

I realized I hated myself because I didn’t recognize myself. I had lost the pleasure of “being me” in an effort to be all things to my family, my co-workers, and my clients.

Read the rest of my post at Sweet Box of Wonderful.

When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong

2 Corinthians 12:9-10Something woke me in the middle of the night. It had been a few days since we found out that my husband was unemployed—with an increasingly sinking account balance and no immediate prospects for a job.

As I tossed a bit and tried to get comfortable in another sleeping position, the thought came booming through, out of nowhere.

I am powerless. Powerless.

And a feeling of vulnerability and weakness washed over me.

In the next thought, though, I reassured myself that powerless was exactly what I should be.

It’s strange to be there—in that moment of paradox. Utterly dependent yet completely confident. Scared to death and perfectly at peace.

Weak yet strong.

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. —Romans 12:9-10, ESV

Day Eight

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Easy Yokes

As Slow As Molasses

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” —Matthew 11:30 (ESV)

I’ve spent much of this year feeling as if I was walking through molasses. I have a tendency to finagle (isn’t that a great word, by the way?) events to the best possible outcome, which causes me the least amount of energy, interruption, or discomfort. I can latch onto a great opportunity, idea, or endeavor and throw myself at it full force. I’m so good at working hard, capitalizing on a “good idea,” and employing every tried-and-true strategy.

There’s just one problem with my working so hard in my own strength.

It’s not the way God wants me to work.

And so, when I do, it’s hard. So hard. So tiring, so long, so complicated. My best efforts are met with resistance. My best attempts are fraught with failure. My energy depleted, I ask God over and over and over to bless “the plan.” And I work harder. And a little bit harder.

Earlier this year—when I was working four part-time jobs and so exhausted—a good friend pointed out to me the obvious fatigue my efforts were yielding. She reminded me that God says his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

I often think about this verse in terms of having some grave worry that’s bringing me down and that if I just “give it to God,” I’ll have the burden lifted. Of course, that relates. But the application from my friend is appropriate, too.

When I’m doing what God has called me to do, created me to do, and prepared me to do, it’s easy. Just the opposite of dragging myself through molasses.

I don’t mean that there are not times in life when God calls us to walk through dark places or tough situations in order to teach and refine us. I’m talking about the times when we take charge and try to forge ahead in our own strength for selfish motives and within our own wisdom.

But when we rely on Christ alone for wisdom, strength, and direction, even daily cross-bearing is easy and light. In a real sense, it feels good.
Creative Commons License photo credit: technicool

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Cranberry Sauce and the Resurrection

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Creative Commons License photo credit: busbeytheelder

I noticed bags of cranberries in the produce department at the grocery store last week.

It’s not even Halloween, and already holiday meals are anticipated. Most people may not even notice the bags of fresh cranberries in the store. Most people, after all, get their cranberry sauce or jelly from an Ocean Spray can.

That’s how I knew cranberry sauce growing up: a red blob with the tin can shape intact. It didn’t look appealing, nor did it taste all that good. I vaguely remember it being a very tart goo. After trying it early on, I never did again. Why ruin an otherwise savory meal of turkey and dressing?

And then I began cooking my own holiday meals. Inevitably, somebody wanted “something cranberry” to go with the turkey. A few times, I’d purchase the obligatory cans. I never even thought homemade cranberry sauce was a feasible option. I thought it must be too difficult or too messy or something.

But one day—probably inspired by a cooking show—I decided to turn over the back of a bag of fresh cranberries. There was the recipe: sugar, water, cranberries, heat. It was so easy, so simple. And it produced something so fresh, so tasty.

I couldn’t believe I had been duped all these years by tin cans of red goo. (Mom, really, why didn’t you just make your own cranberry sauce?)

Earlier this week during a Bible study class, my friend and pastor talked about the fact that we are “resurrection people.” We possess the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Our dead bodies will be resurrected at the last day. We are new.

What does it mean to live as a resurrection people? I wondered.

As I tossed this question around in my mind, I came back to the cranberry sauce. The dichotomy between what I knew to be—and had settled for—as cranberry sauce and what cranberry sauce can really be.

The surprise in all of this to me was that homemade cranberry sauce is really, really good, yet I had never known it to be.

The canned sauce is merely a shadow—almost an imitation—of the real thing. It’s like boxed mac ‘n cheese or instant iced tea. The shadow retains some of the trappings and characteristics of the authentic, but is ultimately a hollow representation.

The cranberry sauce in a can? It’s a shadow of the feast that is to come. Homemade cranberry sauce? It’s nowhere near the banquet that awaits, but it’s a good reminder that canned cranberry sauce pales in comparison to the “real thing.”

Life in this world is full of shadows of that which is to come. To live as a “people of the resurrection,” we must not become too cozy here in the shadows. We mustn’t look to the things of this world to satisfy only that which Christ can. We must allow the shadows to prepare our hearts and offer anticipation for that which is to come.

And while I don’t think it’s necessarily a requirement, I heartily recommend eating homemade cranberry sauce every chance you get.

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

How the LOST Series Finale Was Deeply Personal and Why I Loved It

I’m turning 40 this year, and I’ve been having a hard time with this reality.

I think I’m scared that my life is “over.” That somehow I’ve missed my “greater purpose.” That I’ve made my rut and now I’m doomed to tread it with bills and groceries and the carpool line.

(And I know, I know that I’m blessed with a great life and healthy kids and a wonderful husband, but, hey—I’m being honest about my warts—when I wallow in self too long.)

And so, to the Lost series finale, I brought my pity party.

I remember when Lost premiered in 2005. I’d watch the promos that summer and think, What an idiotic premise for a show! But after the show began, a friend suggested we watch it. 
We did, and we were hooked. I spent my first trimester pregnant with twins—battling the nausea and all—watching the show.  We never missed an episode, not even that first season’s finale, when we were walking zombies because of acid refluxy twins. 
The brillance of Lost was something to look forward to every week. 
And, frankly, as I pondered its demise this year, I was just a little bit heartbroken. 
It’s been a chapter of loss in our book lately anyway. I ended 2009 with friends and loved ones battling cancer and enduring marital strife. I began 2010 with constant prayer vigil for a college friend who was missing in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. We eventually learned that he died in the earthquake. Our precious church of almost 11 years closed it doors. A few months later, flood waters destroyed chunks of our city, washing away our friends’ and loved ones’ homes and lives.

Loss and pain have been all around me.

It’s trivial, I know, to be so attached to a television show. Still, it was my weekly escape. Lost brought me into its world for one hour each week. I laughed and cried and loved these characters. I scratched my head and pontificated at plot twists and cultural references. It motivated the artist—the writer—in me to be deliberately creative. 
I was better for having immersed myself into the Lost culture. 

What I found surprising as I watched the finale, though, was the way that God brought it to me as a deeply personal experience. God gave me useful insight into my own dealings with suffering and insufficiency. He gave me tools to deal with my own searching and trepidation.

Because of its treatment of life and death, pain and comfort, purpose and journey, I discovered some things about myself. While I acknowledge the show was not theologically sound, it was nonetheless effective in drawing me nearer to the heart of God. The artistry of the storytelling broke through some of my own questions and quandaries.

In the next post, I’ll talk more about my take on the theological nuances and symbolism of Lost.

After the Nashville Flood

(This photo was taken on Monday, May 3, 2010. It’s Old Harding Pike, between Morton Mill RD and Poplar Creek RD. The golf course is behind the trees on the right; the red sign belongs to the Active Learning Center on the left. Our house is within walking distance but at a higher elevation.)

I’ve been quiet for a week or so now. My Internet has been down because my phone line was down because the Nashville flood shut down our city for a few days.

We didn’t receive any damage to our home. Other than a ruined digital camera (that got some water damage when taken in the rain to capture some flood photos), our belongings and lives were left untouched.

So grateful. So. Grateful.

And honestly, I’m still processing all that I’ve seen around me during the last week.

Devastation and tears. Generosity and love.

But there’s so much to say. I’m sure I’ll be posting on this in bits and pieces for months, as the thoughts come. As the words form.

A few points I’ve been pondering:

  • God is huge. Creator God—who formed the river and the hills and valleys—allowed peril and turmoil and material devastation, in just a few hours. Still, all that we have witnessed and endured is to be subservient to our salvation (see Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer #1).

I’m so very glad that I worship, love, know, and am known by this God, rather than the opposite. His power is mighty. His ways are mysterious. His grace washes over us, just as the flood waters did a week ago.

  • God is so concerned with the detail of our lives that it simply astounds me. I’ve been listening and reading to all of the important considerations about mold and mildew removal. It can be deadly! I had no idea. But God did.

In Leviticus, he gives explicit instruction for mold, mildew, and disease removal from homes. How many times have I read that passage, glassy-eyed and yawning, thinking, Yea, yea, yea. Whatever? Yet hearing these news reports (and apparently how easy it is to not remove mold properly), I am impressed more and more at the tender compassion of God, that he would not want his children to get sick or die from disease caused by mold.

What are your initial insights after The Flood? What is God teaching you?
 

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Life’s Struggles. Hope in Christ.

I’m sitting down to write tonight and just feeling the weight of being a grown-up.

As a child, teen, college student, and even as a young adult, I confronted inevitable tragedies with a hope that things would change and improve. While that is still a somewhat valid coping mechanism, it’s ultimately empty.

That belief places its hope in some nebulous something (what? the future? “life”?) that is fallen, temporary, and unpredictable.

The older I get, the more I realize how empty and futile it is to put my hope in anything in this world.

Within the last couple of weeks, I’ve received all sorts of bad news–sad, heart-breaking, concerning news–from family and friends.

I am faced with so many realities in these sober times.

My loved ones aren’t necessarily going through things that are terribly exceptional. Others have endured similar pain, suffering, and confusion. But their pain is so close.

And it makes me sad.

I am reminded that everything (EVERYthing!) in this world will ultimately disappoint–if not destroy–us.

I can only deal with what “this day” may bring because I have Christ.

So, how do we respond?

  • We must live always with the end in mind. I’m not afraid to die, nor do I dread it. No. I want to more deeply, more consistently, more consciously meditate and long for heaven. I am merely a sojourner here. Understanding our place in this world is central to dealing with suffering.
  • We must not clutch too tightly to the temporary, sin-tainted things of this world. At best, their good qualities are but a fraction of that which awaits us; at worst, they become “little gods” for us and derail us from the whole-hearted devotion to which God calls us.
  • We must prioritize our lives accordingly. One of the most important tasks I see before us Christian parents is to equip our children for their future battles. I don’t know that they will face anything more seemingly insurmountable than other covenant children have faced previously. But I am convicted that we, their parents, are much less prepared to train our children adequately for maturity in the Faith. We must feed our own souls so that we are strengthened to nourish them.
  • We must live in the love of Christ. Jesus has conquered all of this! He has defeated sin, death, sorrow, and suffering. Jesus is the Rest that gives a final relief, a complete comfort, and an everlasting peace.

(I’ve submitted this post to the Blog Nosh Magazine’s Loads of Hope for the Holidays Blog Carnival. Read some of the other carnival entries here.)

On Christian Motherhood

…with every infant born into the family comes the injunction from God, “Take this child and bring it up for Me.” It is one of God’s own children by creation, sent to be trained up in the way he should go, that is, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. …

But can anyone, will anyone, teach, or teach effectually, that religion which she does not feel and practice herself? Therefore, I say, a mother’s heart must be deeply imbued with piety if she would teach it to her children.

Female Piety is one of my favorite books. The language is a bit of an acquired taste, but once you dig in, you won’t be disappointed. The advice is eloquent and rich, sobering and challenging.

Christian mothers, John Angell James calls our homes, “seminaries for eternity.” I love the picture of our preparing our children for their eternal home, where they will glorify God and enjoy him forever. What a great God we serve who equips us with the grace to fulfill those requirements he makes of us!