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  • Abraham Lincoln on Criticism

    "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
  • Consider the Cost

    "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." ~Winston Churchill
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    "Our blessed Lord reveals himself to his people more in the valleys, in the shades, in the deeps, than he does anywhere else. He has a way and an art of showing himself to his children at midnight, making the darkness light by his presence."
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    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or whether the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight of life, knowing neither victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
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  • The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter

    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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Virginia Trip Travel Log #4

The last two days we focused on getting Jillian’s front room finished. We’d painted the deacons bench, nightstand, shelf, and corner bookshelf. We bought all the little do-dads that she needed to complete the look. We hung everything that needed hanging.

She went with the Old World Style, a look that I am rather fond of myself. Here are pictures of my last day when we pulled it all together. I have to say, I think I enjoyed the process as much as she did. Maybe some day we will go into interior decorating together. We have many similar interests, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”
Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)

I definitely enjoyed the journey as much as the destination in this case. So often we will see “before and afters” published but not the “in-betweens” – the grunt work, so to speak. Yet, I just can’t show the in-betweens – check out the “before and afters” on Love My DIY Home. We finished Jillian’s front room the night before I left for home.

It was with a happy heart I drove home. I spent nearly three weeks away from home visiting family – many people helped me on my trip. My peeps not only gave me gas money, shelter, and fed me, but they cared for me in a way I never ever expected. I will never get used to being loved. It’s a malady I will always carry with me, I suppose, because of the difficult times I have experienced in the past. But that can’t be such a bad thing, can it – to feel so blessed each time love is shown, to be in awe of the moment, to choose to look back over and over to relive it because it is such a treasured memory? I think not. I hope it never changes for me. I love being loved. I love knowing that a handful of people in my life will love me no matter what. Wow.

Here are some more pics of my trip. Such a blessed person I am!

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I stayed with family in Ohio on the way home – such a fun family they are!  Though I traveled alone, I had the support of family, church family, and friends. God showed me His faithfulness by protecting me and giving me people in my life who care. Thank you everyone for giving me such a memorable 3 weeks!

Chiastic Structure Isn’t Just in Literature

Occasionally I run into truly amazing people. You know, the ones who just jump out at you as being above and beyond – a person who is truly like Christ. Often we accept as normal the disloyal, unkind behavior of those around us – whether Christian or not. We excuse it as, “Well, they’re having a hard day,” or “You just need to ignore her, she’s always been like that.” While I do believe we need to cut people slack and be forgiving in difficult situations, I think we have turned into a mamby pamby type of Christianity where we can’t tell a difference between the Christian and someone who is lost.

This past 7 weeks has been extremely hard for our family. We’re encountering the same type of attacks on our family from Satan that we’ve seen before. It’s been a no-holds barred type of attack on our children. The other time we experienced the same type of length and intensity was just a few years ago. It was so bad for our family that we ended up leaving the ministry. Of course we’ll not let him win, for we fully intend to re-enter the ministry in the future – after we’ve recovered, but I also know that Satan is alive and well and doing his best to damage families whom he feels is a threat to his agenda. Though he’ll never win the war, he’s doing a pretty good job at trumping the Christians in his little skirmishes. Of course it doesn’t feel like little skirmishes to the Christians who are in the midst of them, but to God they are little and of no consequence because He can take them and turn them over – for His glory and our good. This time I am seeing the attacks differently because I know his agenda from my prior experiences. Apparently he’s extremely threatened by our family and wishes to “take us out.” But I know God is greater than him and will work all this out and give us victory just like he did Daniel, Joseph, Moses, and all the other Bible heroes set up as examples for us. I have learned amazing things about myself and others these past 7 weeks that I would never have learned any other way. I learned more about God and have seen the true worth of many around me – and found some true abiding in the faith believers that I didn’t know were there. It’s been a truly amazing experience – amazingly painful and amazingly enlightening.

I’ve been studying Esther in my ladies’ Bible study (Beth Moore) and have found myself to be living her story. I’m expecting God to do something great through our family – even in the midst of extreme pain and trial where I can’t see Him doing anything miraculous outwardly, but I am seeing miraculous things being done by his people on our behalf. It’s like the chiastic structure that we see in literature. Chiastic structure is a literary term for inverted parallelism. Here’s an example: We don’t live to eat, we eat to live. You take the Greek letter “chi” and it’s an “X.” Put the word live at the left top of the “”X and eat at the right top of the “X.” We should not live to eat, rather, we eat to live. Put the word eat at the bottom left of the “X” and the word live at the bottom right of the “X.” There you have a mirror image (the bottom of the X) only inverted (or switched). The statement “we live to eat” is not a proper statement – we should only have the attitude of “we eat to live.” That is chiastic structure. Here’s another one: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” ~ John F. Kennedy. You take that statement and invert it (inverted parallelism) and it becomes a noble statement rather than a selfish one. Esther is riddled with chiastic structure. God used the greed, pride and corrupted beliefs of a vile man and turned them around to do His will – But he didn’t just wave His hand and make it so, He chose simple, inexperienced believers to save his people – people who love Him enough to risk their own lives to help others.

That is what I am asking God to do for our family. I am asking Him to take our circumstances brought on by sin and to reverse them to bring Him glory and my family’s good. He can do it. He did it for Esther and He will do it for me. I have a Haman and a King, along with a Mordecai and Esther in my story – and God will work through them all to bring us victory. I even have a Hatach! I need a peripety – a sudden change of events that reverse the expected or intended outcome. God is a great God and can take any situation and change it around. He did it for us Wednesday of this week already. We found two men, Jimmie and Jeff, men who we never met before, to bring us our needed peripety (sudden change of events) for one of our sons. These are true men of God. They heard our cry and met our needs – sight unseen. They didn’t know us, but they knew God and that was all that mattered. They are true Christians who let God work a miracle through them. They went out of their way and helped another believer. Wow. That’s pretty amazing. The impact of God’s love freely received by a believer can change another person’s life. I know it has mine.

So, now I’m lookin’ for another miracle because my family needs one. I just don’t know by whom or how it will happen. All I need to do is live my faith and God will take care of the rest.

My Awesome Unseen God

This spiritual journey that God has sent me on isn’t like all the others. In the past, He’d been gracious enough to just give me one major crisis at a time. When looking back through the past 25 or so years, I can distinctly remember thinking that I was grateful that God allowed one serious trial to stop before another came. Because we had adopted many special needs children, we lived from crisis to crisis all those years. It’s only been the last six months that that has lessened and we’ve actually enjoyed several months in a row without incident – until recently.

From Scripture, I know that God never gives us more than we can handle – part of the reason for this is that He knows our spiritual state and can gauge our ability to handle things, and part of it has to do with His ability to sustain us as believers. So, based on that, I know that He must think I can handle more than I have in the past – and apparently all at once. Added in is the agony I feel when I see my husband go through the trials too. Usually one of us is “up” when the other is “down.” It’s as if God is stripping us of all we have in order to rebuild us into something better. Having the book of Job and Esther has helped me endure. I’m sure Job, just like me, feared going to his door each time bad news knocked.  You get to the point where you say, “OK, what else can go wrong?” Well, we’re to that point. Daily we get news that stirs the pot of discouragement more. We step to the right think we got an answer only for it to change the next day. So we step to the the left and knock on another door to no avail. There’s got to be a window somewhere that God can open! I just know it!

I know that we shouldn’t get too discouraged when things don’t go right, it just means that God either has another path for us to take or the timing isn’t right. Maybe God has some things to put in place before we accomplish what we set out to do. Like the book of Esther, we can’t seem to find God anywhere. We don’t see Him stepping in and managing things like we normally do. That’s not to say He’s not there, for we know He is. But it just means He’s stepped back and watching things play out. This is definitely not a parting of the Red Sea event. It’s more like in the book of Esther where He guides and directs us to accomplish His will. There is a lot of responsibility to do so on our part. We need to make sure our faith and ability to hear Him are up to par. We need to listen to that still small voice directing us as if we were His puppet. In this instance, we need to be like His puppet, we must allow Him to completely work the strings to our hands, feet and mouth. It’s not easy for us to put ourselves in that position – we do tend to want to do things with our own abilities and wisdom. But especially when the stakes are high, like they are now, we need to be completely turned over the the Spirit’s leading. Sometimes I feel like I’m wandering around in the dark. I know God is there but can’t see how it’s going to work out for His glory and our best.

Yet, even wondering how it will all work out, I have to trust Him. What other choice do I have? So, I sit here wondering what’s next and how I’m going to handle one more rock in the road. A long time ago I realized I care way more deeply about situations and events than most people and I am much more proactive than the average person. I’m a fixer. If I have nothing to fix, I am very content to just enjoy life. But if there’s something that needs fixing, I’m very impatient with other people and expect them to diligently follow things through to the end. It is very frustrating for me to have my future or my family’s future in someone else’s hands. I can’t fix them, but God can. I just need to be content to let God handle it – He does it so much better than I do!

Here’s the moral to the story that has not finished playing out in my life. No matter what others do, God will always manage my life for His own glory and my good if I follow Him and trust Him to direct my ways. I may not see Him or feel Him in the midst of trial, but I know He’s there. Some day I will be able to look back and tell you how God worked it all out, but for the moment, I have to just sit and wait and realize He is able. Perhaps I might even be able to do that patiently.