Monday, March 2, 2015

Verse 5

My first verse for March is one that I have loved for a long time.  It is from the book of 1 Samuel.  I love the story of Samuel.  From the once baren Hannah pleading to the Lord for a child, to dedicating that child to the Lord as she promised - Samuel was born out of a faithful holding onto the Lord and he continued to live his life in that same steadfast manner until his death.  Before he died, Samuel addressed the people and summed up his message with these words:

"Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you."  1 Samuel 12:24 (English Standard Version)

I love that He points out that our only fear should be the Lord - there are many earthly things that can cause us to be fearful, but the only thing worth fearing in the end is the Lord - not man.  He also makes it clear that a life well spent will be spent serving the Lord faithfully, not out of duty or obligation, but with your whole heart.  To sum all of it up, Samuel points to gratitude - an attitude of remembering the greatness of God and all He has done in our lives.  This one verse sums up so many truths that I want to write deeply on my heart.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Verse 3 and 4

Well, that didn't take long to get behind... such is life, I guess!  I will be posting the two verses I selected for February - even if it is a litle late.

The first passage is from James.  I was having a particularly frustrating day in parenting, when I realized that I hadn't been praying (duh!) and was directed to the Word.  As I was praying and reading the book of James, not only did I feel peace that had been eluding me, but I also felt assurance that these trials of parenting are producing for me a harvest of righteousness that I have the opportunity to impart to my children.  Ironically, or maybe that is just how God intended complete exhaustion and inability to 'fix it', leads me to the the lap of Jesus.  There I find the strength I need and the comfort I need to in turn give to my children the patience and grace that they need.

From the English Standard Version:

" Know this, my beloved brothers, let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.  For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires."  James 1:19-20

I pray that this is true of me not only in parenting, but in all of my relationships.  I want to be the one who hears others, which requires patience and intent to listen.  I also want to have a temper that in line with the spirit.  I don't want to yell, speak harshly, or be rude to others simply because I am not in a good mood or things did not go my way - those behaviors do not produce the 'righteousness that God requires.'

The second verse I selected is from Psalm 91.  I taught a lesson about God's protection from this passage to my girls in Sunday School and I loved the imagery from one of the verses.

" He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection."  Psalm 91:4 New Living Translation (NLT)

I love this picture of God covering me with his mighty wings as I arm myself with promises of his faithfulness.  That is truly God's protection.  It is not the absence of danger or risk, it is not the removal of pain or suffering, it is not the promise that those things will not come... it is the promise, the assurance, that when it does come - He will be there and even in the midst of it, His feathers will cover me and his faithfulness will remain.  So often we focus our prayers on the prevention of pain or illness or the alleviation of existing pain or suffering, when God's protection does not exempt us from these realities, but offers us hope and peace in the midst of them.  It is the assurance that He will be enough.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Verse 2

Time for Verse 2 of the scripture memory challenge.  The goal is to memorize two verses per month so at the end of 2015 we will have memorized 24 verses.  I came across this verse during some reading last week and knew it was one I needed written on my heart.

" O God, You are my God; I shall seek you earnestly, my soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water."  Psalm 63:1 - English Standard Version

This verse is vital to true soul satisfaction.  I have found/created 'God substitutes' at various points in my life, not intentionally, just through exaulting and relying on my husband, friends, or family to make me happy, to understand me, to support me.  None of those things are inherently bad, but when I quit looking to God to meet my needs and instead placed that burden on other people, I found that ultimately, each one left me disappointed, hurt and frustrated. Why?  Because they could never love me enough, understand me enough, encourage/support me enough - I always felt some twinge of human disappointment.

Was this their failure or lack of caring?  No, it is a reflection of the deep desire in our souls, created by the Creator, to be fully known and fully loved... and yet, we are surrounded by imperfect beings that are not capable of that kind of perfection.  I am not capable of perfect love - I can be short tempered, forgetful, self-centered, busy.  But, there is One who loves perfectly, who will never disappoint, never turn away, who knows and understands us more fundamentally than we know ourselves; that is our Heavenly Father and none was meant to ever replace Him.

So, this is my reminder to press into the one who satisfies fully and not place that burden on other relationships that were not intended to fill me up.  This is where we find fulfillment and lasting satisfaction.  It also frees us up to appreciate and enjoy our human relationships with friends and family without unrealistic expectations that they will meet our every need and make us happy all the time, because that is just not reality.  When I'm feeling disatisfied, disconnected, or easily frustrated with others, that is usually my cue that I'm looking in the wrong places and I need to quit trying to find water in the desert and instead go to the spring.

What verse is on your heart?  Share your memory verse in the comments below!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Verse 1

This year I am participating in Beth Moore's Scripture Memory Challenge and inviting my favorite 7th and 8th graders to join me in memorizing two scripture passage each month.  I am going to post on here at the beginning and middle of each month the verses I will be memorizing and why.  Those joining me in the challenge are welcome to leave a comment sharing the verse you will be memorizing as well.  You can choose the same verse or a different verse that is meaningful to you.  Sharing with each other is not only a way to help hold each other accountable, but is also encouraging to see what Scripture is meaningful to our Sisters in Christ.

So, verse 1.  It is actually 2 verses, but you can choose to just do the first one if you want to use this passage as well.  I am using the English Standard Version, but feel free to use whatever version you have or like best.

"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."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

I am also keeping a small journal where I m writing my verses down.  I think something about physically writing out the scripture passages helps with the memorization.  So, I encourage you girls to write down your verses and keep your journal with you to help with memorizing.  FYI, I will be bringing journals to church next Sunday for each of you =)

So, why did I choose this passage?  Well, I frequently need to be reminded that it is not my own ability or awesomeness that makes anything good happen, it is by the grace of God.  Even more, no matter what I am facing, His grace is enough.... especially when I feel like I am at the end of myself and I can't do anything else... great!  That is exactly where He will meet me if I will turn to Him, embrace my own weakness, and say 'Help!'  I chose to include verse 10, because it talks specifically about embracing weakness and hardship - things our human nature rejects.  I know from experience though that when facing hardship and calamity, fighting it makes it worse, embracing and allowing brokenness is where growth begins.  Praying for my girls, that you will join me on this journey and we will get the privilege of encouraging one another and growing together!  So, what verse are you choosing?  Let me know in the comments!

New Year

Wow... it has been a while.  2014 was a significant year in our household.  The year began in the wake of significant heartbreak following the loss of our sweet Ethan.  That loss really opened up something in my heart that freed me to quit trying to hold it together or work hard enough to earn God's favor.  It was simultaneously painfully difficult and wonderfully freeing to come to a point of real brokenness, allow myself to feel hurt, anger, disappointment, and deep grief. 

In His mercy, God did not leave me there.  He showed himself to be ever-present and no matter how I came to Him - angry, defeated, hopeless - He did not withdraw His hand and continued pour out kindness.  In the Spring, shortly before Jeff's birthday, we found out that we were pregnant again.  I remember feeling immediately terrified and not very joyful.  Through each doctor's appointment and ultrasound, God carried me, despite the terror and the uncertainty - He was faithful.  I was consistently reminded that no matter what the outcome of this pregnancy was - I would be okay.  That is a benefit to facing your worst fears and coming out on the other side ... there isn't anything to be afraid of anymore. 

On November, 18, 2014 at 11:58 AM after just a few hours of labor, we welcomed our daughter, Lydia Grace Priour to the world.  She is perfect.  She has a ton of hair, a beautiful smile, a sweet and easy going nature.  She is all we prayed for and hoped could be ours. 

Our first meeting

While this is certainly what we prayed for and we were overjoyed to bring our daughter home, it doesn't re-write our story.  There is a Lydia because there is not an Ethan, there was an Ethan because there was not a baby conceived before him.  There has been significant loss that will always be a part of our family.  I couldn't have chosen this path and having a healthy baby right now does not erase the pain of the years prior.  However, having been through that pain I learned things about myself and my family that I can't imagine we would have learned otherwise.  I am certain now that God will be enough ... no matter what.  When Lydia won't go to sleep, when she screams at me and I don't know why, when being Mommy is hard, it is much easier to choose gratefulness and patience.  I am grateful for our family, and I am also grateful for the journey to this point - even the painful, terrible parts.  It has shaped each of us - Jeff, Haydn, myself.  I don't pretend to understand why for some the journey to grow a family is difficult and painful and for others it is seemingly effortless, but I do know that no matter what your story is - God wants to use it, if you will let Him.  I am excited about 2015 and the new adventures God has in store for us.  One day at a time, that is all we have been given and what is entrusted to us... one day.  Live it fully, whether rejoicing, grieving, or waiting, God has a purpose for this day.