Day 6: Living God's Way

20140219-112412.jpg "But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."

-Galatians 5:22-23, The Message

My husband is studying to be a worship minister, and in the mean time working part time as the worship minister for a church. I never saw myself as a minister's wife and being able to pastor those in the church and ministering to others. Since the day my husband has decided to obey God's call to ministry, I have been terrified. What if don't measure up? What if can't do this?

Really--I've been asking the wrong questions. I should be asking God to set a fire in my heart and soul to not only hear His call, but to boldly walk alongside my husband in his profession. Just because he is being called to be a minister doesn't necessarily mean it's my calling. Instead, my calling is to be his wife and walk alongside him.

I may never feel qualified to pastor someone by way of a church minister definition--but my husband does. When I became his wife the day we were married, I had no idea where God would lead us, and I was terrified. But I did know He would lead us. And even today--in whatever calling and capacity God asks--I don't know about you, but I am still terrified.

But God equips us for whatever path He lays in front of us and we choose. To combat the fear I believe we need passion. Something so deep in our soul that begs us to cry our for a God who loves us and guides us.

Cultivating that passion comes with prayer and in boldly telling God we want more of Him in our lives and our marriage. Over the years, I have learned that being a wife is more about my husband than it is about myself. This partnership works only if we selflessly offer Grace to our spouse and care more about their well-being and needs than our own. It's not easy-- giving up ourselves never is-- but it is so worth it.

Today wives, I encourage you to ask God to set a fire to your husband's soul--ask Christ to cultivate a passion for His love so that our husbands may walk through life with affection, exuberance, serenity, commitment, compassion, conviction , wisdom, and holiness. For when they do, they will be leading us along and passionately showing us how God is near.

-Caitlin

Holy God, Today I come before you unsure of where you are taking me but boldly asking you to lead. As you have so perfectly placed me in my husband's life, use this journey of marriage to equip me to walk alongside him in the way he feels called. I praise you for your love and goodness, and I come before you today lifting up my husband. As he follows your guidance, set a passion and fire in his soul so that he will seek nothing and no one but You, Lord. I pray that as new days come--both good and bad--that he would desire more of you Lord. So much of you that he cannot contain nor control his passion for you allowing it to overflow into his life. Today, Holy One, fill him with the fruits of your spirit. May he show exuberance for life, compassion, and commitment in all that he does. Cultivate such a passion in him that it would overflow into our marriage and his calling so he may lead me with Your Spirit. I ask that these spiritual fruits manifest during this prayerful journey so that my husband may live out a full & well life that speaks honorably and passionately of You. In your most Holy name, Amen

Day 4: Full & Well

20140217-120422.jpg "Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you; take heart to my commands. They'll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.

Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and best. your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving corrections. It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight in behind all this."

-Proverbs 3:1-17, The Message

 

Today--God truly spoke to me when I opened my Bible. THIS, friends, is what He wants us to hear.

I often forget how much He wants us to live a long life both full and well. Lately, my life seems too full--of things that are chaotic and everywhere at once.  Not full of Love and Loyalty.

I feel this verse speaking to my heart today, reminding me to slow down and breathe and to lift up my husband. To pray that he would listen for God's voice and run to Him because if he is Honor God in his everyday moments, it will remind me to slow down and to find the right kind of fullness. As these words speak to you today, may I encourage to lift them up? Pray His Word thoroughly so that our husbands will run to Him and not only find that desperately beautiful and full life He promises, but live His commands so that they may take lead and encourage not only us but those around them.

-Caitlin

Creator God, I thank you for a new day in you, and for the chance to feel not only your love but the love of my husband. Thank you for hearing my prayers and for instilling such a heart of Christ in this man you have paired me with. I lift up your words so that You may move today. Be in him and be in me as we obediently walk together. I pray that today my husband will not forget your teaching, but keep your commands in his heart. Prolong my love's life for many years so that he may bring You prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave him; bind them to his neck, and write them on the tablet of his heart. May he will win Your favor and become a good name in your eyes and in the eyes of man. I continue to lift him up to you, Lord, and ask that he would whole heartily trust in You with all of his heart, and lean not on his own understanding. In all of his ways, may my husband acknowledge You .  I ask that you make his paths straight. May he not be wise in his own eyes, but instead fear you and shun evil . I ask that this bring health to his body and nourishment to his bones. May today he honor you, God, with all of our wealth, with the firstfruits of all of our crops, so that our barns will be filled to overflowing, and our vats brim over with new. Above all Lord, I ask that my husband not despise your discipline nor resent your rebuke but instead remind him that it is in LOVE that the discipline comes. May he begin to see how much You delight in him as a your Son. In your precious Son's name I pray,

Amen.

-Prayer adapted from Proverbs 3:1-12, NIV

 

Day 3: Trust In The One Who Answers

Image-1 "I don't fear; I'm confident that help will come to the one anointed by the Eternal: Heaven will respond to his plea; His mighty right hand will win the battle. Many put their trust in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God. Soon our enemies will collapse and fall, never to return home; all the while we will rise and stand firm." (Psalm 20: 6-8)

In an uncertain time, in an uncertain world, we need a God that will answer. We need to know why we choose to place our trust high above the things of this earth. There are millions of distractions daily, tiny little greedy tentacles of a scaly, slimy enemy, vying for our attention. I once heard that the enemy isn't necessarily aiming to turn us 180 degrees away from God, but even just one degree. Just enough to eventually get us off track and our eyes far from Heaven. So today let's pray for our husbands to look intently towards the Lord. To have strength to turn their backs, even if just for today, from the pull of the temporary... the "chariots" and "horses" of our day. That their focus and the depth of their heart could be deeply rooted on the Eternal One. So that, even at the end of today, they will be able to stand firm amongst a sea of souls who have chosen the things that will never love them back.

Be blessed today, wives, for you are so deeply loved by your King.

Laura

Eternal One, Your beauty is matchless. There is not one thing in this entire world that compares to even a glimpse of you. How gracious and loving you are to allow me to know and love you, even in my ever present state of sin. Thank you for promising to listen to my prayers. Thank you for giving me the gift of confidence in your answering. Lord, I carry him to You, knowing that Your love for him far outweighs the love in my heart for him. I pray that You would bring contentment to his heart, allowing him the freedom and desire to turn his back on the things that draw him to this temporary world. Spirit, fill his entire being with such peace and satisfaction in You and all that You have given him that he feels no need for the idols of this place. Open his eyes to all that You are, allowing him to go forward in this day with the confidence that his God is the one true God who tenderly listens to him and fiercely moves for him. God, You are unbelievably good. Please remove the scales from both of our eyes today so that we may see a bit more of who you truly are. We love you, and so long to love you even more. Show us how, Lord Jesus. It's in Your mighty name I pray. Amen.

Imperfect Obedience

I had a rather random thought earlier about child leashes. You know, the ones that are masked as little critter backpacks but in all actuality are a leash for parents to keep track of their wandering, and likely disobedient, rascals. I truly don't like those things. In my inexperienced parenting mind I think to myself, "Come on, parents. Just teach that kid some obedience and make the effort to keep them with you." Notice how I said my "inexperienced parenting mind". Because I only have one and he is only 15 months... so I still have a lot of realities ahead of me in the world of wrangling little ones.

Recently, M has brought us down some uncharted territory with his behavior and it has forced me to face some parenting and teaching milestones I thought were still a little ways out. How often do I need to go back to the tv, or the computer or the stereo and teach and train him not to touch it? Seemingly often, I guess. For a little person who is constantly wrapped in a diaper, he sure reacts as if he's being tackled by a mugger when I attempt to change the poop nestled in his pants. I find myself exhausted at the end of the day, feeling drained of all patience and wondering if any of these moments are even making a dent. He is a strong-willed little boy.

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God, in His beautiful and albeit comical, timing and sovereignty is showing me just how much M and I have in common in this phase of life. M's outward behaviors are, I'm realizing, the physical manifestations of my spirit, heart and mind. The problem is that obedience is such a legalistic concept to me. I obey because I'm supposed to... because if I don't there is someone (the law, my family, the church, my employer) I am letting down. I do this to the extreme in that I struggle to throw a recyclable item in the trash because I know that, even in that plastic yogurt cup, I am letting the image I have made for myself down... even though no one even knows it happened.

In a mom's facebook group I am a part of, a mom recently asked what it means for you to have your child's heart. This, apparently, comes from a verse in Malachi, basically meaning that your child trusts your guidance so wholeheartedly that even in the moments they don't want to obey or don't understand why they must, they do it because they trust that you know what is best for them. The example given was that when you tell them to obey you and sit down when you ask, they are not still standing up on the inside.

My legalistic view of obedience does not allow me to fully give my heart to God. My obedience is not because I trust Him, in my vulnerability and questioning, to know what is best for me. It is because I have a fear of letting Him down. This creates a relationship that lacks intimacy. And produces minuscule rebellion.

On the other side of the coin lies perfection. The paths this life has taken me down have built up quite a strong demand for perfection. That has not, however, produced in me a person who is excellent at everything she does, but a person who tends to quit a lot of things because, "If I can't do it perfectly I just won't do it." As I walk down this path of learning to be obedient to Christ, I struggle with the journey. I struggle with all of the imperfection that paves the way.

Is it easier for me to just stay in this place? Where I don't live freely, but at least I live in these chains perfectly? The thought of facing, moment after moment, the crossroad of obedience or chains, is exhausting. Thinking of the moments where I will not be strong enough to obey is enough to make me want to run, arms flailing, as far away as I can.

As I examine these realities of my heart I see clearly just how much I am like my son. And just how much more patient my Father is than I. I am the child with the little critter backpack attached to the leash of mercy. His mercy. It keeps me in His reach, so each time I go back to that imperfect place, He trains me. Whether it's by the sting of consequences or the gentle love of His Word, He has mercifully kept me in His reach. When I face my lack of self-discipline, and every fiber in my being wants to just rebel in the simplest of ways (laziness, selfishness, biting words, too much chocolate) He comes back once again to guide me to His perfection.

The height of this lesson for me is found in the imperfection. Before Christ came and rose from the grave, perfect obedience was what was required of those who desired to spend eternity with the King. Your salvation depended on perfect obedience. Then our Savior came, the one true spotless lamb, and knowingly walked up that hill so that you and I would not need to be perfect. So that our obedience could be because He had our hearts. On that day, the requirement for me to be perfect, hung next to Him, never to come down. I am free to say "no" to selfishness, disobedience and sin with my physical body, and also with my heart, knowing that He is more than enough and incomparably better than any and everything I've ever run to before.

He loves me, so He puts the little critter backpack on me and covers me with grace as we face the world, day after day. Beautifully imperfect with no requirement to change that, but to accept His mercy and praise His holy name for being the perfection that I cannot be.

Here are things we will never perfectly be, but can always strive for. They are also things He always is, and will never not be.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Cor 13:4-8)

We will have moments when we don't want to persevere. We will have moments when we might delight in evil. In our sin we may choose to protect ourselves over another. We will never do these things perfectly. We will fail and fail again and fail again... The beauty in this is found in verse 10.

"But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears."

When He returns, our imperfection will disappear for all eternity. When He comes into our sin today, His perfection covers over our imperfection in the form of forgiveness and grace. He will come one day, and we will be those things without putting forth even the slightest effort, because we will be truly and fully made new. Today, I am on my knees in humility, so thankful that He chooses to come to me every day, providing me the grace to be imperfectly obedient.

There is absolutely no such thing as a "Perfect Christian". Unfortunately many people have tried to show themselves as such and it has created a facade that does nothing but fade with each passing day. In this moment I am thankful that He has never expected me to obey Him perfectly, but wants to walk with me, guiding me through the training moments, until the day He returns and wipes away all imperfection.

Man, how He truly and deeply and perfectly loves us. And how graciously He remembers the beautiful moments with His child, and mercifully forgets the sin-filled ones.

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Today, I've been romanced

and it was in the most unexpected of ways. We started our morning with an outing to the farmer's market. After grabbing a 1/2 peck of Honeycrisp apples (thank you, U of M, for creating such a deliciously crisp apple) we got in the car to head home. But I faced a dilemma of sorts. You see, I have a thing for a little place called Caribou Coffee, and she and I have been separated these last three years. So as you can imagine, I take advantage of most opportunities to indulge myself (I say "most" but what I really mean is "each and every"). Here in lies the dilemma... the farmer's market shares a parking lot with Caribou. Shares it. So you can see why I really basically had no other choice. And they have a drive-thru, a.k.a. I don't have to take the baby out of the car seat. Double-whammy. Before I even realized what I was doing I was already sitting at the speaker listening to the cheerful lady ask what she could get started for me. After discovering that one of my favorite drinks (a vanilla rooibos tea latte) had zero caffeine I quickly adjusted my course of action and asked for a medium light roast with white chocolate... the cheap girls version of a frou-frou drink. *Let me pause and adjust your visual here. My parents just got a new vehicle and I have been blessed enough to cruise around town in it. It is by no means flashy but definitely new and definitely an upgrade from our already "good and gets the job done" Endeavor. As I drive it I enjoy pretending like I actually could own a car with satellite radio and a back-up camera. It's fun and I'm enjoying it while I can. I also, personally, don't believe that young people should be able to have such nice things. There's a reason why the older you get the nicer your stuff gets. You work hard while your young to enjoy your harvest when you're older. So I enjoy little glimpses to the future. Or maybe even the never, who knows.*

As I waited for the car in front of me I counted the dollar bills I had with me and talked a bit with M in the back in an effort to keep him awake until we got home so he could lay down for his nap without interruption. We pulled up and I waited. A lovely young girl carrying my precious coffee greeted me with a grin and said, "The person in front of you already paid for you coffee and wanted to tell you to have a great day!" So, naturally, I quickly adjusted myself and lifted my chin from the dropped position and began to smile so wide and asked, ever so awkwardly, "What? Are you serious?" To that she said, "yes" and more smiles were exchanged and even more stutters and stumbles (all from my end). All in all the exchange lasted a little longer than probably necessary considering I didn't actually have to give her anything at all, just had to take the cup from her. After I took it and drove away I began to really realize what had happened. You see, I've been making a significant effort to spend M's morning nap doing my BSF study as well as spend some time in prayer. These last few days have been pretty busy, making today the first day in a while I've had to set the better part of his nap aside to spend with my Lord. Knowing this, I was all the more anxious to get him in bed for a full nap because time was of the essence. As I pulled away with my coffee I made the realization that I was, in fact, being romanced by the Man I was about to have a date with.

And He treated.

Talk about romantic. There was always something special about going out, even for coffee, and having T offer to pay. I felt special. Taken care of. Worthy. This morning, He showed me that I am those very things to Him. He needed me to know that even though I cannot go on a coffee date with my love, my Lord and love will join me on one every day of the week. And He will romance me in a season that could be considered very romance-less.

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Another thing I realized upon receiving this coffee was the power of obedience, which coincidentally came up in my study time. The person in front of me could have seen a young girl in a nice new car and thought, "pssh... she obviously isn't in want. I'm sure she has no problem affording a cup of coffee. I'll seek out someone who I think is more deserving." There was no way of them knowing that I am actually an Army wife who is not in want but does not necessarily have excess. He has provided for us all that we need, but it is true that sometimes a cup of coffee is a luxury and I am more than okay with that. Or that my husband, and the father of my child gurgling in the back seat, is across the world and we will not see his face, except for a blurry skype call, until the beginning of summer. But they did not judge. They did not assume. They just blessed.

How often do I just bless? Without asking questions, or making assumptions. Just do as I'm asked. I have to say, not often. I always just know that I know what's really going on. Who people really are. Reality is, I have absolutely no idea. Repeatedly I am surprised by the kindness of people around me, most of which are the most unsuspecting. And yet I still walk around like I know all. It's pure madness!

Obedience is the lesson of my romantic encounter with my Lord today. It's pretty tough to be obedient in an very disobedient world. But it's something I will always need to be brought back to.

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And that He delights in romancing me. He knows my heart. He knows what makes me smile. He knows I'm worth far more than a $2 cup of coffee. And He will forever show me that in beautiful, unsuspecting ways. How sweet is my Lord.

P.S. Can we just take a minute and look at how cute my honey is? *He's the one with the killer smile and smiley eyes*

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My heart melts.