Friday, September 28, 2012

patience is a...

Welcome to Lynchburg: people drive the speed limit.


One thing that I constantly "struggle with" is having patience (I put that in quotes because more often than not, I simply live in my impatience rather than struggle to do something about it). Typical scenario: driving home in traffic. I leave at the same time everybody else does. I hate waiting. I hate sitting there while people (who obviously don't have the same urgencies I do..) delay at green lights, are too cautious to merge, drive 10 under because that's just the culture of driving up here, and commit other such annoying postponements.

Sometimes I feel justified because I am mostly impatient with things that take up my time for relationship. I usually get impatient with people or things that take me away from MY people or things. I feel like my impatience is warranted because I am "only trying to get back home to my husband" or "only trying to get my errands out of the way to be able to chat with my girlfriend"! Well, as it of course turns out, there's something somewhere in the Bible that talks about love being patient.

Not only is there something somewhere out there that states that love is patient.. but that's the FIRST word that is used to describe love in that particular definition! You've heard it before: 1 Corinthians 13:4
 "Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant..."
Well, I have felt bad lately about how impatient I have been, mostly because my impatience has caused me to look like a mean girl. That's what impatience is... meanness. I deceive myself by saying that I'm not mean, I just have really important things to get to and don't have time to waste! I think that John Piper says it better than I do (HAH.. of course he does):

Impatience is a fruit of selfishness. And selfish is simply an ugly, accurate description of my fallen, depraved nature, which wants all of creation to serve me. Love is patient because patience is a dying to selfishness. It is the belief that in this dying we will find greater joy in the joy of the ones we are seeking to love: God and neighbors. 
Yikes. I should work on that. I can "talk away" my sins justifying them all day long, but the reality is that I'm being selfish and not loving others like Christ called me to do. I'll never be able to do that perfectly, but the Bible leads me in the right direction by listing the first step: be patient.


[and no, I searched, but there is no clause that says, "be patient except for when people are slow drivers.. then cut them off" - sorry]

Monday, September 24, 2012

mondays.

We all know what the stereotypical 'monday' entails.. if you don't I'll give you a picture of the one I experienced this morning and see if it rings a bell:

Wake up late.
Feel like a complete slug.
Moving slowly.
Can't find anything to wear.
Iron the thing you find to wear.
Put it on and spill liquid make up on it.
[Now really can't find anything to wear.]
Stepping over the mess you've created.
Bad hair day.
Eyes are puffy.
Knock over entire jewelry holder while trying to pick out jewelry.
Running late and realize that means no parking spot for you.

It goes on but you get the picture.. happy Monday.

Well, it was the definition of a stereotypical "Monday" for me this morning. One thing that was very different was my sweet husband (an amazing gift of grace in my life) who grabbed me in the midst of my huffing through the morning, gave me a long hug (that most definitely delayed the process of me getting ready) but who then began to pray over me. What a reminder of where my mind/priorities should be!
"Lord, thank you for another day and help us to get through it remembering the gift that it is!"

The circumstances of my morning did not change, but my attitude did. There's nothing more humbling than to have, in the midst of your whining and complaining about your morning, someone who comes alongside you to pray a prayer of thankfulness for what you have.. the day.

It'd be so great if I could tell you that I stopped myself and prayed that my attitude would change, but there was no such obedience on my part. Thankful for a prayerful and encouraging husband. We can all be that to someone who is going through something stressful, difficult, or frustrating. Stop with them in the midst of it all and pray. I promise you it's hard to keep on complaining and whining when you've been walked straight to the throne. 

 Happy Monday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

one day.

This video needs no explanation. If you have a spare 10 minutes to sit and 'be still', please watch and enjoy. Merrill's love for Christ and for his recently-passed wife are absolutely inspiring:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

baby steps.


I don’t know why but, for whatever reason, spiders and critters have become somewhat of a “vehicle” for the lessons that the Lord has been teaching me lately. Our back porch is small but it is a great place to sit together and enjoy a cup of coffee and the beautiful transitional weather we have been having. Lately, however, this transitional weather has apparently summoned all different kinds of nasty spiders: long legs, short legs, green, black, fuzzy, small, HUGE .. the list goes on. I am terrified of spiders.

[Side Note and MAJOR Props for Tay: I killed one the other day. I think I had “had it” at that point of the evening..big girl!]

Anyways, this recent development has unfortunately given me slightly more of a reason to enjoy time indoors instead of on my porch, or at least be MUCH more cautious when I go to sit on one of our porch chairs. I check, double check, and then re-check once I have been sitting for a few minutes. All of that said, now you get a glimpse of my fear.

Lately I have been reading the blog of a missionary pilot’s wife, Joy. It has been so encouraging to me in this journey of thinking through what that life might look like. Her words are very humble and very real and very funny. You can check it out at: gracefullmama.com.
Today when I was exploring her page, I came across this picture…


HAH! I know you know what went through my mind.. “no, no, no, no, no…” Quite frankly, that is possibly my worst of all worst nightmares right there. I emailed Harris instantly and told him that we had better have at least 2-3 brave children before we go on the mission field. Boys or girls (maybe the girls won’t inherit their mama’s fear!) who are not afraid to kill spiders and bugs so that they can kill them while he’s away working. [Among other noble reasons to have children, of course!]

This afternoon I sat outside on the porch and did my usual check for spiders as I thought about the blog I read today. The fears came back, “Oh Lord, how in the world, if I’m so fearful of these pitiful-in-comparison spiders, am I ever going to live in another country where the spiders are as big as my FACE!?” I looked around and hanging from the back of my chair was the world’s smallest, almost invisible, baby spider. The Lord spoke truth in that moment, “Baby steps, Taylor. I will prepare you one step at a time: for the big spiders as well as for the mission field. You won’t have more than you can handle.” This instantly calmed me. It reminded me of the verse in Corinthians:

“No test of temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message)

Why the Lord uses spiders to teach me lessons, I don’t know, but I’m so thankful he speaks into my fears. He has the courage I need, I just have to come to Him for it every [baby] step of the way. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

busy world.



Each week at Liberty, students and staff are required to attend Convocation to hear from different speakers from campus or from anywhere in the world. This week I listened to a sermon by someone who works in the same office as I do, but whose message really lit a fire under me! I wanted to share:

To watch him speak (definitely worth your time), just click the link below and click on the sermon titled:


The basic message of the sermon is just what the title says, remaining spiritually strong amidst the craziness that we ALL have in our lives. I have included my notes on the sermon below in case you don't have time to watch the whole thing (which is ironic, because that's the whole point of his message, ha!) Enjoy!!

Scripture: Mark 9
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 14-16When they came back down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them, and the religion scholars cross-examining them. As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them. They ran and greeted him. He asked, "What's going on? What's all the commotion?"
 17-18A man out of the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn't."  19-20Jesus said, "What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here." They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.  21-22He asked the boy's father, "How long has this been going on?"    "Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!"  23Jesus said, "If? There are no 'ifs' among believers. Anything can happen."  24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, "Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!"  25-27Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: "Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!" Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, "He's dead." But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.  28After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, "Why couldn't we throw the demon out?"  29He answered, "There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer."
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Basically, Jesus gives the disciples, if you look back to Matthew 10:1, the power to cast out demons if they were continually in prayer and used that prayer to do so. Unforuntately, the disciples had gotten busy doing really wonderful ministry, but they were not praying and engaging with God. They lost the fundamental power they had because they were too busy. [Something we can all relate to].

REALITIES:
1- Power comes only to those who intentionally engage God.
        
2- Past victories do not guarantee spiritual power today.
        - just because you've had a connection with the Lord before, does not guarantee it today
        - it is a choice of your heart to continue to connect TODAY
Everyday we should think, "Where was my spiritual victory today?"

3- Spiritual power is most evidenced when you make your own choice to stand.
        - there is ALWAYS somebody watching you, they just won't tell you they're watching (maybe they will after the fact.. maybe)

4- If you are weak, people will think your God is weak.
        - What happened to the man between when he was CONFIDENT about bringing his son to see Jesus to be healed and when he actually spoke to Jesus??.. He saw weak Christians.

PRACTICAL ADVICE:
1- Use studies, church services, small groups, etc. that you are already involved in to be your personal devotions.
        - we don't need to add yet ANOTHER small group, devotion time, etc. and fill up our schedule; use what you are already involved in and meditate on it and discuss it.

2- Have at least one intentional spiritual discussion every day.

3- Never pray the same way twice. Be authentic.

4- Engage God as you go through your day. At every pause you find yourself idle.
       
5- Do whatever it takes to protect your time with God. Run away from distractions.
        - when you wake up, if the computer/emails are a distraction, do not turn them on until you've spent time with the Lord

6- Do not rely solely on Christian leaders to help you. They can provide encouragement, but just being present and listening to sermons will not suffice for YOUR own personal relationship with the Lord.

7- Celebrate every spiritual victory! (Even, and especially, the little ones)
        - God never "dogged" you for baby steps!

8- Take it one day at a time.. refresh and repent!

9- Find someone who will keep you accountable.

10- Remember: God always loves you, even when you fail.

** You can't become so busy that you just "let it slip" - it's too important.**

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

praying in pain.

My small group this past year read through an incredible book, A Praying Life, by Paul Miller. It is an AMAZING book that will really feel more like a conversation than a book; Paul's honesty and genuine transparency will endear you to him instantly and will help you respond to his plea for trying out constant prayer in your life.

My family (minus my brother and sister-in-law who live on the other side of the country now) came to Lynchburg to visit us this past weekend. It was SUCH sweet time together, not because of anything spectacular we did, just because of the company. We explored, laughed, shared, played, and relaxed in each others' presence. Well, as you might have guessed, they had to leave at some point. I mentioned in a previous post how well I've been doing with the move; not so many cry-fests and heart/homesick moments that I imagined I would have before we left. Well, for whatever reason, I found myself really struggling with this transition when my family was preparing last night to depart early this morning. Tears would not stop - and I fell asleep that way.

We woke up, began getting ready for the day, and we said our goodbyes to the fam. I continued to cry. I found myself embarassed by how much my heart was hurting. It seemed somewhat silly that a grown (or grown-ish) woman could not quit the tears when her mommy, daddy, and sissy left. Then, as I was getting ready for work, I read this verse that I have on my dresser,
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled." -John 14:27 

The book by Paul Miller has so many 'quotable' quotes and reminders for life, but one that really applies to my morning is, “Don’t be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying.”

I'm so glad I had the verse written there because it caused me to stop immediately, (amidst my struggle to press on through the morning, my favorite time of the day, NOT) pray that the Lord would bring me the peace he promised, and also to say a 'side prayer' to make my incessant tears stop. The tears did stop and I made it to work sans red-eyes or puffy-face. God delivered a peace that surpasses understanding. It surpasses understanding because in all reality, I would not have peace about not seeing my family, friends, or community in Rome that I love so much. It surpasses understanding because it came so quickly. It surpasses understanding because it is a deep-rooted peace that I know in my heart but cannot really explain.

Prayer does change things.. even if those things aren't circumstances. Don't be embarassed by a need to pray. Don't be ashamed that you need Christ to help you through transition. He loves when we come to him with sniffles just as much as he loves it when we come to him with smiles. I'd encourage you to read the book by Paul Miller as well as to simply run to Jesus whenever you're feeling whatever you're feeling.