June 30, 2007

The Holy Spirit's Work


Posted by jennbeck at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2007

God's Work in Me


Today I began the second week of the Living Beyond Yourself Bible study by Beth Moore.  The focus this week is on the Spirit, and I was amazed by the power and energy of the Holy Spirit, and its role within the trinity.  To think that Jesus needed the Spirit's power to be able to live a perfect life and go to the cross for me... He relied on the Spirit (Hebrews 9:14)!  Even though He was fully God, the Spirit empowered and energized Him to do the work of the Father.  I am more certain than ever that the Spirit will be able to empower me to do whatever God wills for me to do and reveals to me through His Word.  The Spirit will not just empower me to do the big life-changing things, but the Spirit will also empower me to do the everyday things that seem beyond me, like keeping my cool with my kids and settling conflicts wisely, like homeschooling 2 older children while caring for a preschooler and twin toddlers, like eliminating the mountain of "stuff" that occupies my basement (and my life) without losing track of my other responsibilities as a wife and mother....The Spirit works in me to accomplish these "little" changes, which aren't so little to me, to change me into the person God wants me to be...the woman He created me to be.

Lord, I am amazed at who You are.  Even after drawing the picture and contemplating the way You work, I cannot say that I fully understand it.  I look forward to the day when I will see You face to face and understand exactly who You are.  I can only imagine what my reaction might be when I finally "get it".  Thank you for revealing Your will to me through Your Word and for empowering me to do it through Your Holy Spirit.  Help me not to rely on my own strength and get discouraged in difficult circumstances, but to seek Your will and allow Your Spirit to work in me to accomplish what I could not do in my own strength.  Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me!  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2007

Cleaning house...


Today I watched the Session 1 video for the Living Beyond Yourself Bible study, and I spent some time in prayer, and I drew some pictures to remind me of what Beth's key points were.  And then I walked through the dumping ground or dungeon of my house on my way to my husband's computer where I scan in my pictures.  I saw a little more floor space, a little less clutter than was there a few days ago, and it felt good to know I've made some progress in decluttering this mammoth area that recently doubled as my morning obstacle course.  Then I realized that God was teaching me to do the same thing spiritually...Wow!

Holding on to what's in my basement instead of just getting rid of it when my family's done with it...well, that's like holding on to my sins...not bringing them before the Lord to receive forgiveness.  And holding onto boxes of stuff that other people have given us but we haven't used in the years they've sat in the basement...that's kind of like claiming someone else's sin as my own.  As I sort through the boxes, keeping things that are of use and placing them where they belong, and tossing the enormous amount of garbage, and giving away things that are useful, just not for us...that is like examining my life through God's eyes, allowing Him to help me see where I need to change, what I need to set aside because it has no place in the life of a child of God (selfishness, pride, fear....).  Of course if I don't actually accept His forgiveness for the wrong attitudes and the sin in my life, it does no good...just as if I just move all the stuff from my basement to another room, it will make my house no better.    Even the garage isn't the most suitable place...after all, my kids started emptying one of the boxes I had set in there that needed to be donated to charity!  I just have to get these things out for good!

Eventually, I will need to let go of a lot more of the junk down here, even those I think I may need someday.  Those represent the concerns I have in life that I need to give over to God.  I need to bare my soul to Him, just as this basement area will need to be emptied out.  My husband and I have dreams of finishing the basement, of perhaps having a home theater in it someday.  An exercise room would be nice...or maybe another bedroom, as we're quickly running out of space upstairs!   A section of this basement area is already trying (quite unsuccessfully) to be his office.  A lot of stuff just has to go!

So after I clean out the basement, we had better do something with it fast, or it will once again become a dumping ground for our old stuff.  In the same way, I need God to fill me with His Spirit so that I don't once more become a stronghold of fear, selfishness, pride... 

If I allow God to transform me by His Spirit, I will become a competent minister of that Spirit.  I will bless others!  God will use me to fulfill the purpose for which He designed me.  And as my basement is transformed through having walls and a ceiling, perhaps some tile or carpet on the floor, it will be able to fulfill a good purpose as well.  The room that is stubbed for a bathroom will be able to serve it's purpose far better without boxes of Christmas ornaments, seasonal decorations, and camping gear stashed in it.  My husband's "office" will be far more useful if it becomes well-lit, and boxes of old cords, software, keyboards, and monitors are removed...if real walls replace the cardboard boxes that he has leaned against the wooden beams. 

Lord, thank you for the lessons you're teaching me about cleaning out my house and cleaning out my soul.  Help me to remember to come before You daily to confess my sins and lay out my concerns before You.  Help me to acknowledge and accept Your forgiveness and purification, and to be constantly filled with the Spirit instead of trying to fill my life and my body with the things that do not satisfy.  As You transform me, make me a blessing to others, and help me to fulfill Your purpose in my life.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2007

My Daddy and Me


I have the best Daddy in the universe!  He's not my natural Daddy...no, He adopted me, rescued me from a life of slavery and is taking me home with Him.  He already seems to know me more than I know myself, and He accepts me and loves me just as I am anyway!  He knows what I need before I even say a word about it.  His gifts are wonderful - they are perfect and good!  He meets every one of my needs.  When I'm hurt, frustrated, or upset, He's there for me, giving me the comfort and compassion I need.  His love for me is so great...He calls me His treasured possession and tells me I am the heir to all He has.  I can hardly imagine that.  I can only cry out to Him, "Abba, Father!" or "Daddy, my Daddy!"  He's the best Daddy there ever could be.

Lord, thank you for being my Daddy.  Your love is truly amazing!  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2007

Heirs of Abraham's Promise



I must admit that after I read Galatians 3 today, I just didn't get it.  There are times when Paul's writing seems complex and difficult to understand.  This was one of those times.  Reading Romans 4 helped a little, and then putting it together with Genesis 12:1-3 helped me make sense of a key point - God's promise to Abraham and his seed was a promise to Jesus (his Seed) and to all believers including me (also his seed).  I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around this and understanding what it means.  Drawing a picture helps me to visualize it and make more sense of it.

By faith Abraham was made righteous, becoming the heir of God's promise.  Similarly, through faith I have been made righteous, also becoming the heir of God's promise.  Jesus didn't need to be made righteous, but as the seed of Abraham, he also receives God's promise.  Abraham believed, as I do, that God has the power to do whatever He promises - He can do anything; He's God! 

So what does God promise to Abraham, Jesus, and me?  He will make a great nation of us.  He will bless us.  He will make our names great.  We will be a blessing.  All peoples on earth will be blessed through us.  Clearly God's promise to Abraham was fulfilled - he became the father of the great nation of Israel.  He was blessed.  His name was certainly great - I'm still reading about him today.  He was a blessing to others during his life, and Jesus lineage is traced back to him...he truly was a blessing to all peoples on earth even far beyond his own lifetime. 

God's promise in Jesus has also been fulfilled.  Believers are the nation God has made of Jesus.  He has blessed Jesus and given him all power and glory.  Jesus' name is the greatest of all, and He has become the greatest blessing the world has ever known.  His sacrifice on the cross was for everyone...whoever believes in him regardless of their nationality is blessed with the gift of eternal life. 

Galatians 3:29 tells me: "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."  So how is God fulfilling His promise in me?  Am I becoming a great nation?  Well, 5 kids is certainly a start!  Have I been blessed?  Absolutely!  Is my name great?  "Mommy" is spoken more often than most any name in this house.  Have other peoples or nations been blessed by me?  I certainly hope that my participation in short-term missions trips to California, Argentina, and Russia, and any contributions I have made either in prayer or money have resulted in blessings to people of other nations.  Is God finished fulfilling His promise to me?  Not at all...He won't be finished until I join Him in heaven...or perhaps not until the end of time. 

Lord, thank you for the amazing promise You made to Abraham...and that it wasn't just for him.  I always had an inkling that you had a similar promise for me, but today you made it clear that the same promise is for me.  Help me to continue to believe Your promise.  Help me to listen and pay attention to what You are asking me to do, that I may not in any way hinder the fulfillment of Your promise to me.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2007

Surrendering to God


Today my preschooler came downstairs to see me just before I finished my Bible study.  As she climbed up into my arms, I remembered how I need to crawl into the arms of my Father to receive His comfort and peace throughout my day.  As she asked me to change her diaper, I thought about how I need to ask God to change me, even when I don't feel like being changed.  As she asked me to walk with her to get her milk, I realized how I need to invite Jesus to walk with me through my day - in His presence there is peace, security, love, hope...

As I reflect on the things I do for my children, I realize that I am becoming more Christ-like each day.  I'm not all the way there, of course, not by a long shot!  But I'm learning to set aside my goals and my agenda to surrender to what He wants me to do, even when I'm busy, cranky, tired, moody, or just don't feel like it.

Lord, thank you that You always open Your arms to me.  Change me, Lord, and walk with me today.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2007

Who am I serving?


Today I read the whole first chapter of Galatians along with other references in Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself Bible study.  The chapter was about not being misled by false teachings.  I thought about all the false teachings that are out there - even in many churches the Bible is not believed or preached as truth.  There are many false teachings out there in the world - what about the one many of us have learned that we can never have too much stuff?  Or how about the teaching too many young women believe...that if you don't have a perfect body, you don't matter.  There's the false teaching that the only thing that matters is how much fun I have (my kids believe this one).  And there's the false teaching that too many parents believe - my kids will turn out ok even if I don't spend much time with them.  I admit I've been swayed by every one of these false teachings. 

According to Paul the only thing that truly matters is that God approves of what I do, that what I do pleases Him.  I don't need to worry so much about pleasing my kids, my husband, my parents, my friends, my church, or any other person including myself!  Instead focus on pleasing God.  I imagine in pleasing Him I will also please many of the people in my life, but God doesn't want me to focus on them (or myself) so much that I don't even ask Him what He thinks. 

Lord, I am blown away once again by the power of Your Word.  I am convicted of how many times I have acted without a thought to what Your will is.  Forgive me, Lord, and help me to walk in Your way, asking You what Your will is before I start doing what I want or what I think will please someone else.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2007

Using Influence Despite Hardship


Today I read about Paul as he worked with the churches of Galatia (Acts 13:14-14:23).  I read about how the honorable God-fearing women exerted their influence to persecute Paul & Barnabas.  I read about Paul's persistence in preaching the Gospel even more boldly in Lystra when he faced opposition, and how even though they stoned him and left him outside the city for dead, he got right up and went back into the city!  Being a Christian means confronting hardships head-on by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I doubt that Paul had the strength and wisdom to endure all these things ....but he did have the Holy Spirit, which gave him all the strength and wisdom he needed.

And I have that same Spirit living in me!  My problems pale in comparison to those Paul faced, but they are very real to me.  Lately very few days go by without me being reduced to tears of frustration, as I just feel like giving up.  But God doesn't want me to give up - he wants me to look to Him for the strength and wisdom I need to persevere in influencing my children to do what is right and to honor Him. 

Lord, You have called me to a difficult task - one for which I do not have sufficient strength or wisdom.  Thank You that I don't need to do it all in my own strength or with my own wisdom.  Help me to look to You when daily problems arise, and to keep on persevering even when life is so hard.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2007

Living beyond myself

Can I just say, "Wow?"  I just listened to the introductory video for my next Bible study, Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore.  This study just seems to naturally pick up from the one I just finished, and I can hardly wait to dig in.  I had no idea that the focus of the study was going to be so much on the Holy Spirit.  DUH!  I should have realized that since it's a study about the fruit of the Spirit, it would have something to do with the Spirit...and that if I'm living beyond myself I am living by the power of the Spirit! 

In the introduction Beth broke down the title Living..Beyond...Ourselves.  I need God to continue to change my life and my day by the power of the Spirit  So much of what I encounter on a daily basis is beyond my ability to do on my own...that's saying nothing of God's overarching purpose for my life which certainly is beyond me.   And God wants me to come out the tomb of my self and allow Him to use me in a way that I cannot even imagine. 

The introduction gave me hope.  The last study I did on Managing Your Moods merely scratched the surface...I don't feel like I really made much progress other than to realize exactly what I am up against inside myself.  But God can change my moods.  He can change ME. 

Lord, thank You for the breath of fresh air.  Thank You for restoring my confidence in You and Your ability to work in me beyond what I can do or feel or know on my own.  Help me to learn to live outside of the bonds of my feelings, moods, and abilities...to truly live by Your Spirit.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

Honoring God even when it's hard


Psalm 22

Today Psalm 22:11 really hit home for me:  Do not be far from me; for trouble is near and there is no one to help.  How often I need to pray that prayer.  Being alone with 5 children most of the day can be fun, but it can also be full of challenges and troubles.  I am challenged to keep peace among them, entertain them at times, discipline them, love them, and constantly be there for them, often setting my own needs and desires aside to meet theirs.  I must admit that sometimes I get tired of doing all this.  There are mornings like today when I wake up tired, but get up anyway to spend my time with God, only to be joined almost immediately by one of the children.  Do I send her away or go somewhere else?  Or just let her witness what I do each and every morning?  I pray that my example will lead her to draw near to God on her own as well...that welcoming her to sit with me as I search the Scriptures qualifies as my proclaiming His righteousness to her.

Lord, help me to remember You throughout my day, to turn to You and bow down in Your presence spiritually even when I don't have the freedom to do it physically.  May Your praise be on my lips even when I am tired and worn out, surrounded by troubles.  May I worship You even when it seems my needs aren't being met.  Help me to serve You rather than myself, to do what You would have me do.  I pray that the things I do and the words I say would honor You.  Help me to be the example for my children to follow, so they would learn to live for You even as I struggle to do so.  May my life, not just my words, proclaim Your righteousness.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2007

Overcoming the World


Lord, every day there are so many things to overcome - battles with children, misunderstandings, my own moods and emotions...  Thank You that You have overcome the world, and that if I continue to trust in You then I have already overcome all of these troubles.  Help me to trust You and do good.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2007

Serving God Without Tiring


"Let us not become weary in doing good," Paul reminds me (Galatians 6:9-10).  But I am weary.  How do I keep on doing what is good and right, sharing selflessly, being hospitable, staying in control of myself, and having a clear mind without wearing out? 

Peter answers, "With the strength God provides"  (1 Peter 4:7-11).  If I serve in my own strength and with my own selfish words, I will certainly wear myself out.  If I forget to get up in the morning and spend time in His Word, I will certainly not know what He wants me to do or say, and I will not even have the strength to do it.  And if I do not stay focused on Him and what He calls me to do after I have spend time in His presence, how can I faithfully do what He wants me to?  My own selfish desires take over, and it's all I can do to merely survive.

Yesterday I learned about how big God's love is, and that I can depend on God and His love.  Well, my emotions were all over the map yesterday - frustration and weariness set in, probably because I put my agenda ahead of God's will. 

Forgive me, God, for putting the goals of neater house and a napping toddler ahead of Your will for me to love my children deeply.  I know this hurts me most - I'm the one who ends up in tears feeling like a failure.  If I just go after Your goals instead of mine, You will give me the strength I need and the words to say, and everything will turn out alright.  Help me to trust in You and be able to get back on the right track.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2007

Emotions & Moods - What good are they?

In life I face every emotion and every mood imaginable.  I don't so much mind the good ones - the high mountaintop experiences of great happiness over winning an award or getting married, or just feeling close to God.  But the bad ones - being hurt, having to wait, disobedient children...I'd prefer if they weren't there.  What good are these negative emotions anyway?

Well, they teach me 2 things - how great God's love is and that I can depend on God no matter what.  His love is wider than any rift or other obstacle that may exist between me and someone else, including Him - He can bridge any gap.  His love is longer than my entire life, including all its good and bad times - he can meet me through my entire life, and even after I die.  His love is higher than the best mountaintop experience I could ever have - he can lift me higher still!  And His love is deeper than my deepest depression - He can lift me out of it.

I can depend on His strength and wisdom to find my way back to Him or a friend or family member I feel distant from.  I can depend on Him in all I do, for my entire life.  I can depend on Him for salvation and peace when my life is in turmoil, or I am feeling down.  And I can depend on Him through the greatest successes of my life.  I need to depend on Him and  diligently keep His commands no matter what my mood.

Thank You, Lord, that Your love reaches me wherever I am.  Help me to depend on You for wisdom, strength, peace, and salvation in all I do, and help me remember to do what You tell me to do.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2007

Choosing to Serve God

This is one of those mornings when I feel tired and worn out.  And then I read about being a good steward of my moods and emotions - something challenging new that I certainly don't feel up to.  I'm having a hard time even being happy this morning, though I certainly want to be, and I want to do good.  I am seeking God this morning, but am I also chasing after the things of this world?  Lord, I don't feel up to the task this morning, but I want to serve You.  Help me to have the strength and energy to accompany the will to serve You.  Help me to be able to wear a smile on my face and to be a good steward of my moods and emotions - whatever it takes, whatever it means!  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2007

From mixed-up emotions to the Path of Life

Lord, when I get mixed up and my emotions are all out of whack, please lead me  back to Your path.  Find me, wherever I am, and help me to see the light of Your Word so I can see.  Broaden my path for me so I can tell where it is and avoid falling.  Your path leads to true joy, true pleasure, and to Your very presence.  Thank You, Father, for revealing it to me.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 06:49 AM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2007

Lead me!

It's amazing how many times in the Psalms David asks God to lead him.  I found myself praying those same prayers this morning as I read through verses in the Psalms.  This picture is an expression of my prayer to God.

Lord, lead me to Your Holy Mountain, guide me into God's presence, teach me to live in righteousness and truth, and don't ever let go of me.  Be my light so I can stay on Your perfect path and avoid being drawn back to the dark ways of sin.  May Your Spirit ever be with me on my journey, helping me to discern Your will.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2007

Following our Shepherd

I love to read Isaiah 40:11.  I've read it many times and heard it set to music on one of my children's lullaby CDs.  In fact as I read it this morning the tune went through my head and has stuck.  In my Bible, I wrote the name of my 3rd child by that verse - I probably wrote it there as a verse of reassurance when she was just a tiny baby.  Now she is older and has asked Jesus into her heart.  While she is a young Christian, she is not quite as vulnerable a little lamb as my twin babies, whom Jesus is carrying in His arms as He leads our family.  My husband and I certainly have our hands full and appreciate any time anyone is able to lend us a hand holding or caring for or carrying any of our children.  What a comfort to know that Jesus is carrying them, protecting them, and keeping them close to His heart.  And in these challenging years with young children, I certainly need His gentle leading.

The Bible calls Jesus the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter), the Good Shepherd (John), and the Chief Shepherd (Hebrews).  He knows me, and I know Him.  He lays down His life for me, so that I can live a life full of His joy.  He equips me for the good work He calls me to do, and He works in me to make me more like Him each day.  I know some day He will appear so that I can see Him, and He will crown me and lead me to a spring of living water, where I will always be refreshed and full of joy, never sighing or sorrowing or crying ever again.  As I ride this world's emotional roller coaster, knowing my heavenly future is truly a comfort.

When we go for a hike as a family, one adult tries to stay near the front so no one gets too far ahead and loses their way, and the other brings up the rear, so no stragglers wander off or are left behind.  It's the same with God - He both leads us and comes behind us, helping us to know the right way to go. 

I must choose whether to listen to His voice and walk in His way.  Am I listening to Him as He reveals to me which is His Way of Holiness?  Or am I listening to the voices from off the path, calling out for me to come another way?

Lord, thank you that You for leading me and my family so carefully, so tenderly.  Thank you for making sure I know Your path, and help me not to be confused or mixed up emotionally by other choices that are not of You.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2007

Dealing with Mixed-Up Emotions

I have to make so many decisions every day.  What to wear?  Where to go with the kids?  What to do about blatant disobedience?  How to parent my children?  How to spend my "free time"?

How lost I sometimes feel, so uncertain of what to do or which direction to go.  I allow the world or myself to be my shepherd instead of trusting the True Shepherd to guide me home.  I end up on a mountain of futile thinking.  I ignore what I know God wants me to do and become insensitive to the leading of His spirit.  I become helpless, and it seems everyone is harassing me, even though they may mean well.  I become afraid and terrified even when there is no reason to be.  I roam and wander aimlessly, trying to find my way back home to my resting place.

Jesus has not forgotten me.  He is out looking for me, and He will find me and bring me to the resting place He has prepared for me because He came to seek and to save what was lost.  He is compassionate, righteous, and holy, and He wants to grow those qualities in me. 

On the way home, I need to shed my old self -- all the sins, cravings, desires, and trappings of this world.  I will need a new attitude of the heart and of the mind, and then I will be able to put on the new self, which is like Jesus. 

Lord, help me to stop wandering and listen for Your voice calling out to me.  I want to be able to know which direction You want me to go in.  Help me to stop going my own way or the world's way, but to walk in Your way.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2007

Responding to life (and P.M.S.)

My words reveal what is in my heart -- whether I am being controlled by my old evil sinful nature, or whether I am allowing Jesus to reign there. 

Lord, help the words coming from my lips to reveal my good heart, full of Your presence, Your love, Your Son.  Help me to say what glorifies You.

Who am I more like -- Ms. Foolish or Mrs. Wise?  The differences are striking.  While Ms. Foolish is busy loudly nagging her children, Mrs. Wise is quietly encouraging hers.  It's clear that Mrs. Wise is very knowledgeable, especially of God's Word, which she holds tightly in her hand.  Ms. Foolish is ignorant of the most important things, and God's Word is nowhere to be found in her part of the picture.  She is reckless, not thinking before she acts, while Mrs. Wise is quite discreet, carefully thinking through each thing she does or says before opening her mouth or moving forward.  Mrs. Wise strengthens her family -- see how her children are standing at her side with smiles on their faces.  Ms. Foolish, on the other hand destroys her family by what she does so that her children are running the other way rather than coming when she calls them.  It's no wonder - they know how quarrelsome she is, how she complains about everything, and how contentious she is...just looking for something to fight or argue about all the time.  But Mrs. Wise's children appreciate the way their mother makes peace, expresses gratitude, and is easygoing...not making a big deal over the many little problems life throws at her.  I think Ms. Foolish's children are smart to run the other way - anywhere is probably better than being within earshot of their foolish mother.  I imagine her husband has already run the other way...she probably chased him out with all of her foolishness.

Lord, I see too much of myself in Ms. Foolish, and too little of myself in Mrs. Wise.  I'm sure many other people see it the other way around, but they don't see my heart.  Change my heart, Lord, so that even when the difficult circumstances and moods of life come my way, I can respond with quiet peace instead of lashing out recklessly.  Amen.

To be like Mrs. Wise, I must learn to fear the Lord.  I begin by grabbing hold of Jesus with one hand, and His Word with the other, and not letting go no matter what.  I must trust Jesus and walk in His ways.  The Bible will help me to find knowledge of Him and teach me His commands so that I can keep them.  I must love Him sincerely with all of my heart, praising Him and blessing Him.  If I truly fear God and show it in all these ways, He will help me live contentedly and protect me from many troubles.

Lord, help me to become truly wise.  I know the first step toward wisdom is to fear You.  Help me to love You more each day, to know Your way and walk in it, and to serve and praise you wholeheartedly.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 07:07 AM | Comments (5445)

June 10, 2007

Scattered or Focused?

Life as a homeschool mother of 5 is busy.  I have many responsibilities - keeping everyone fed, keeping the house safe and clean, teaching the kids, paying the bills, being the "taxi-driver", settling disagreements, disciplining my children...  It is no wonder I feel pulled in many directions constantly, rushing here and there to rescue one of the babies or pull the pizza out of the oven or keep that pile from falling over... It really wears me out. 

David described these feelings:  "I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.... My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes" (Psalm 38:8, 10).  "...Troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.  They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me" (Psalm 40:12). 

Job described the feeling this way:  "The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me" (Job 30:27). 

Every one of these emotions touches me on an almost daily basis.  On what day do I not feel weak, feeble, and beat?  When am I not overwhelmed by the myriad responsibilities I must take on?  How many days do I, at some point, feel like a terrible mom, a complete failure at what God has called me to do?  How can I not suffer when my child is hurt, or my kids pestering one another, or when one or more of them is testing the waters of rebellion to see how far I will let them go?  How many days do I come near to crying, or not be able to hold back the tears because the weight of all my burdens is enough to crush anyone?  I rise too often in fear of what worse thing could happen next, I tremble to imagine it, and I watch in horror as my worst fears are realized. 

I take comfort in the promise of Psam 73:26, that even if my heart stops working or I become too weak to do what I think I need to do, "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." 

Once again God reminds me that all of the things around me that cry out for my attention aren't as important as I make them out to be.  Babies will grow up, so what if the pizza is a little overcooked, and that pile of stuff probably belongs in the trash anyway. 

That's why today's picture finds me on my knees in prayer, crying out to God for help, just as David did (Psalm 102:1, 63:2-4).  I need God to teach me His way, so I can walk in His truth (Psalm 86:11). I must find strength in God when my strength is spent, and set my heart on one thing (Psalm 84:5). 

For the past few days I have been thinking and praying about that one thing, my pilgrimage, my purpose on this earth (or at least for this season).  Why has God put me here, and what does He want me to do?  He wants me to honor and worship Him, and to raise children who love, honor, and fear Him.  I must focus on this purpose to keep my life in perspective and avoid running every which way to handle all the problems life throws my way.

Posted by jennbeck at 03:31 PM | Comments (4916)

Same Old, Same Old... Coping with Life's Doldrums

In Psalm 69:1-3 David prays:  "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.  My eyes fail, looking for my God."  I feel that way sometimes...like all I am doing is waiting. 

I have my routines of things I do, or at least that I need to do, to get from one minute to the next, one hour to the next...one day to the next.  At times it seems that nothing I do really matters in the end.  Life becomes uninteresting at best (when I follow my routines), a fearful mess at worst (when I don't).  Even my children get tired of life always being the same.  Earlier this week, my oldest daughter asked, "Why can't we change our routine one day?"  She and I are both having trouble keeping a positive outlook.  Sometimes life is just boring and no fun, no matter what we try to do to liven things up. 

From the Bible I gleaned four questions I need to ask myself when I am stuck in the dreary doldrums of life's sameness, day in and day out:

  1. Am I inquiring of the Lord?  (Jeremiah 10:21)  If I am not, I will not have the sense I need to raise my children, and they'll scatter in all different directions.  If I am inquiring of God, then I will prosper.
  2. Are my eyes and ears open to see and hear Him?  (Acts 28:27)  When I close my eyes and ears to God, my heart becomes calloused.  But when I open my eyes to seek Him and my ears to hear His voice, my heart will understand what He wants me to learn, I will turn toward Him, and He will heal me.
  3. Am I forgetting basic spiritual truths or putting them into practice? In other words, am I acting like a baby or like a mature follower of Christ?  (Hebrews 5:11-14
  4. Am I waiting patiently?  (Romans 8:23-27)  If I were shipwrecked in deep water, I would certainly wear myself out and drown if I thrashed about and fought the water.  But if I remained calm, I could rest to conserve energy and even float atop the waves until I am rescued.  Do I struggle and fight against my circumstances, or patiently wait, knowing for certain that help is near?

In addition to these questions, the Bible also reminded me of the presence of the Holy Spirit - with me and in me.  At times I have no idea what God wants me to do and not a clue where to begin praying.  God's Spirit helps me pray the right thing and even prays for me.  What a comfort!


God promises in His Word that the doldrums will not last forever.  I will not be forever plagued with my own faults, the busyness of life, and the imperfections of those around me.  All of this will someday end.  It really is temporary.  Heaven awaits!

My biggest concern in life is for my children, so I was delighted to read and claim Isaiah 44:2-5, where God promises to pour out His Spirit on my children and grandchildren.  This passage is the core of my illustration today, with Jesus standing open-armed to embrace and bless all 5 of my litle ones.  It put me in mind of the time when Jesus welcomed the little children, took them in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:16). What an incredible picture that is of what God is doing for my children as I lift them up to Him in prayer and as I teach them His Word!

God has chosen me to serve Him.  He urges me not to be afraid (Isaiah 44:2b), but to come to Him.  He will refresh and satisfy me (Jeremiah 31:25), give me rest (Matthew 11:28), restore my confidence and strength, and help me to be patient (Psalm 27:13-14).

Lord, help me to wait and trust in You when life is a drag.  Thank You for the promises in Your Word.  Help me to remember them and practice what you are teaching me so that I may grow into the woman You have created me to be.  Thank You for the reassurance that Your hand is not just on me and my life, but on the lives of my children as well.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 02:34 PM | Comments (6305)

June 03, 2007

A Psalm of Revelation

I really enjoy reading the Psalms and noticing how each one highlights the differences between believers and unbelievers.  The focus of Psalm 21 is primarily on the one who has faith in God.  As a believer, I trust in God, ask for His help, and sing praises and rejoice in Him.  God answers me, blesses me, and welcomes me into His presence.  He crowns me and bestows upon me glory and majesty -- what a picture of my ultimate coronation in heaven, when God will actually place on my head a crown with jewels representative of what I have done for Him while on this earth.  Along with splendor and majesty, He pours out victories, blessings, joy, love, and eternal life.

Upon the unbelievers, who are His enemies and have plotted evil against Him in their wicked schemes, He will pour forth fire.  The picture is one of God siezing them with one hand while shooting an arrow with the other.  The similarities to other passages in the Bible that talk about what happens after this life are striking.  It makes me wonder if David had a revelation of the end similar to what Daniel and John experienced and wrote about.  Some dayI will have to ask him.

Posted by jennbeck at 04:39 PM | Comments (21600)

Commissioned by Jesus

This morning's study took me to 3 passages about standing firm (John 14:27, 1 Corinthians 15:2, Philippians 3:12).  They were all great verses, great words of wisdom...but I couldn't get the story of Joshua out of my head.  So my picture this morning is of Jesus commissioning me, as God commissioned Joshua in Joshua 1:6-9:  "Be strong and courageous.  Lead My children (they really belong to Me) into the land (that they may know Me, serve Me with all their hearts, and join us in Heaven).  Hold on to My Word, and be careful to obey it so that You may prosper and succeed.  Don't worry and don't be discouraged (even when nothing seems to be going right...it's ok)!  I am always with you!  (You are never all alone!)"

With one hand I am holding on to the Word, and with the other I am holding on to Jesus Himself (also the Word), receiving the peace He gives.  I know He will lead me just as God led Joshua across the Jordan and into the promised land.  I will face battles, just as Joshua did, but God promises the same kind of victory Joshua claimed if I continue to follow Him and obey His Word. 

Lord, this is truly a great commission, to lead these 5 children, to teach them, to help them grow, and to bring them Home to You.  I know I cannot do it in my own strength.  You've commanded me to be strong, but I often feel so weak;  be my strength.  You've commanded me not to be discouraged, but so often I am completely overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do;  show me Your way and Your plan in these moments.  You've commanded me to be careful to obey Your Word, but my human nature seems to get in the way;  change my heart so that it may reflect You, and my mind that I may seek to do Your will alone.  Help me to overcome the enemy and win every battle for You.  Amen.

Posted by jennbeck at 04:19 PM | Comments (3745)

What about worry?

I don't know if this Bible study book, Managing Your Moods, is really helping me.  Some days it seems like the topic of study is just completely magnified way out of proportion...like I'm making no progress and am helpless to overcome the mood I seem to be stuck in.  I guess my biggest worry is that I won't do a good job as a mom.  I greet too many days with fear of how I can possibly get through the morning and deal with the whining, complaining, and bickering that accompanies 5 kids...without "losing it" myself, and while still being able to feel that I accomplished something.

The woman in my picture has a lot she could worry about...attacks, bad news, food, drinks, clothes, tomorrow, evil men... I'm sure that list could go on for awhile.  If I allow such worries to control me, it will paralyze me.  David's faced fears like these and wrote about it:  "My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught... My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me.  Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me" (Psalm 55:2b, 4-5).  But he also wrote the prayer that remedies those fears: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts..." (Psalm 139:23).  When I am confronted with worries and fears, as I am on a daily basis, I need to lift my heart to God, allow Him to inspect it and heal it.

If there is a theme to conquering all the "moods" of my life, it is to "trust God".  Trusting God is the first part of the antidote to fear (Psalm 56:3-4, 112:7).   I must regain a godly perspective, having faith that God is bigger than whatever it is that I am afraid of, and that he will protect me.  Psalm 91:1-5 provides the image of me as a baby bird who can't fly yet (sorry, didn't draw that), and God as the mother bird who will shelter me under His wing when there is danger of any kind.  When He protects me, I need not be afraid, but can rest in the certainty that He is my refuge.

Fear could paralyze me and prevent me from pursuing God's best for me, if I let it.  But Psalm 37:1-4 reminds me not to fret or worry, but to trust God and do good.  I'm not to let fear be an excuse for my laziness or refusal to act.  I must do what God tells me to even when I'm afraid of the outcome.  This week I have been praying about and planning for the upcoming homeschool year.  It has been heard to stay focused on the goals of what my oldest two children should learn this year without worrying about how in the world I will be able to juggle their schooling alongside the needs of their 3 younger siblings...and everything else that needs to be done.  But I think that I put together some great goals and chose curriculum that will help us accomplish the goals and hopefully be fun for all of us.  I now need to trust  God to show me how to use the curriculum (or not) to reach the goals...or redirect me to His goals for me and my children if I've somehow missed what He's trying to show me.  I must not let my worries and fears overwhelm me so that I can't or won't start moving forward. 

Posted by jennbeck at 04:16 PM | Comments (1222)

When I feel alone...

It is amazing how lonely a person can be even when surrounded by kids.  This picture today is of a woman with 5 children, who is just longing for help, comfort, and sympathy from friends.  How ironic that this same woman received those things as she met with some other moms for dinner this week.  OK, I admit the picture is of me.  So what should I do when I am feeling alone and brokenhearted, and no friend can come and lend a hand or a word of encouragment (Psalm 69:20)?  1 Timothy 5:5 may be addressing widows, but it offers some timely words to me as well:  Trust in God, keep praying, and ask Him for help.  Psalm 62:8 reminds me to trust in God and pour out my heart to Him, allowing Him to be my refuge.

God reminded me today that I am never alone.  Not only is God always with me, showering me with peace and love, but Jesus is walking alongside me too, holding out grace, mercy and peace...and the Holy Spirit is with me and in me, providing the fellowship I need and revealing to me the truth.  But that's not all... Paul himself wrote (Colossians 2:5) that he is with me in spirit, delighting to see the order in my house and how firm my faith is.  I imagined him up in heaven, cheering me on, yelling, "Go Jenn!". 

That reminded me of 2 other ladies whom I have never met but who have reached out in love to me and countless other ladies in the world, kind of in the spirit of Paul.  One is FlyLady, who mentors and encourages me to gain and maintain order in my house.  The other is Cindy Rushton, a fellow homeschool mom who mentors and encourages me in relating to and teaching my childen, and deepening my walk with God.  I am truly never alone.  I know God is with me and that both of these ladies are loving and praying for me even though they have never met me and probably don't know me by name.

Of course, I know others who love me and are certainly praying for me as well - my husband, my children (I hope), my parents, my mother-in-law and others in my husband's family, friends from church, from Bible study, from Awana, from choir, people I've met and befriended but lost touch with...yet they still remember me and pray for me.  How thankful I am to know my life matters to so many people.

Thank you, God, that even when I feel all alone and frustrated, like no one understands or cares, it's not true.  Help me to remember that You never leave me alone, but are with me personally.  Help me to remember that others are out there praying me through each day - some that I know, some that know me, and others who are just praying for the people their lives are touching in cyberspace but don't even know my name.

Posted by jennbeck at 03:29 PM | Comments (3340)

Living together and trusting in God

Psalm 20 is a blessing.  David was not saying any of these wonderful words of encouragment and truth about himself, but about another who is in need.  Verse 5 is the key for us:  "We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God..."  What a reminder to me that I should not live my Christian life in isolation from others, but be out there standing at the side of other believers, sympathizing with them, crying with them, blessing them, encouraging them, and ultimately rejoicing with them over every victory -- turning each victory (whether theirs or mine) into an exclamation of praise to God.

I had the opportunity this week to join with some of the ladies that had been in my Bible study group this year.  Not many could make it, but those of us who could spent time together at a local restaurant over a late dinner.  The service was slow, but we hardly noticed because we were so busy talking with each other, sympathizing with the situations 3 of us have with our 8-year-old daughters, encouraging one another, and generally laughing and having fun together.  I had considered skipping the get-together because it meant leaving my husband to get all 5 kids ready for and in bed, and shouldn't I have stayed home and spent time with him or gotten some extra sleep?  But how I needed that night out with the ladies -- what a necessary break it was for me, and how often the words spoken that night come back to me... what precious memories I have of that evening and of how special and loved I am, how the struggles I face are not just mine--others face them with me and alongside me.  Thank you, God, for showing me how much I need to reach out to other women to encourage them, and receive encouragement from them as I face challenges.

The verses from this passage that stick out to me the most are 7 & 8:  "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm."  This psalm reminds me that I should never trust in the things around me to bring me comfort, help, victory, or even happiness.  If I put my trust in "stuff", I will end up on my knees and eventually fall.  But if I put my trust in God and call on Him, He promises to give me everything I need, and even more -- the desires of my heart.  Then I will rise up, stand firm in Him, and win the ultimate victory!

Posted by jennbeck at 02:53 PM | Comments (293)