Sunday Thoughts: Boredom

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Sometimes the everyday hustle and bustle of life rubs and rubs until you become blind, deaf, and dumb with the wear. You stop seeing magic. You stop seeing joy. You stop seeing life.

But, what has truly happened is you’ve stopped seeing by faith and started seeing with fallen, old-man eyes. Faith no longer clouds your view. Only deep dark shadows fill your world. You fall before the boredom and monotony of eating, sleeping, cleaning, chores, bills, needs, election cycles, loads of laundry, care for the young and old, wars and the rumors of war, birth and death. The repetitiveness of the world weighs down on you until you forget.

(NOTHING CHANGES!)

This malaise seeps into our churches. The preaching becomes only so many words falling together, powerless as autumn leaves. The saints are no longer a glorious army of the Lord riding forth on white steeds under Christ’s mighty banner. They’re dull, ordinary, offensive people you no longer wish to be with. Sunday isn’t our day of rest, or the Lord’s Day. It is an interruption, taking away hours that could be spent trying to maintain control of everything else in life, or actually resting.

Believers see with eyes of the world. Our old, dead eyes. We get lazy. We stop being Vigilant. Our Christian-colored glasses slip off our nose and aren’t pushed back up. We haven’t stayed in the fight. We haven’t kept the hope.

The regularity and rhythm of life bows us down.

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Awake! Awake! Awake, my soul!

Renew. Refresh. Push your glasses tight against your nose and SEE by FAITH!

The Kings of the earth rage and God laughs.

His hand isn’t weak. His kingdom isn’t failing or even losing the battle.

Put back on your armor and fight! Fight, by God’s grace and in His might, the temptation to see life with dead, old, rotten eyes. They lie.

See with truth!

The preached word is our mighty King speaking to us. The church is the body of Christ and our true family. Do not let the world push you down in the rut of life and cover your eyes with the muck at the bottom. See the world around you with the light of the Word! Christ has already won the war. He is King over-all and He is saving His people!

This is our true reality, our true eternity.

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(Inspired by Dr. Robert Oliver’s preaching on Psalm 2)

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What Infertility has Taught Us

 

The Lord, in his wisdom and goodness, gives each and every one of us tailor made struggles to help us grown in holiness. Infertility is one of those struggles for me and several women I know. Even women who are able to have children struggle with not getting to have as many as they like, miscarriages, and difficult pregnancies. Our goal is not happiness, it’s holiness in our individual circumstances.

One of the other ladies in my church who struggles with infertility approached me with the idea of writing down lessons she’d learned through this very personal and private trial. I offered to share what she had to say on my blog in the hopes of encouraging others. From that sprang the idea of adding my own lessons and that of another woman I know in another church who also deals with this.

Here are 15 things that the Lord has taught us:

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Leslie Stice

1. I am not in control. I know this seems obvious but I have friends who are teachers and can plan to have all their children in the summer time when they are already off. I get frustrated when I can’t do the same and I have to remind myself of who is in control. I know I’m ultimately mad at God for the situation I’m in and I don’t like that. I think my plans are the best when in fact God knows what is best for me. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9  

I know God’s plan for my life is better because “… all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

2. Our ultimate call to life is not to get married, get a 3 bedroom 2 bath home, and have kids. You can be blessed with those things in this life but Psalm 1 describes a blessed man in this way, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Our ultimate calling is to love and serve God in this life. We are to strive to be more Christ-like and to “set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” Colossians 3:2.

It might feel as though you aren’t as blessed when you don’t have a spouse or kids. It doesn’t make you any less of a person if you aren’t married or don’t have kids. Some people make it seem like there’s something wrong with you if you aren’t married or don’t have kids and they try make things “right” for you. I feel sorry for Hannah because she was provoked by Peninnah for years.

The Bible doesn’t talk less about women who were barren nor does it say that they are being punished in some way. When these feelings come about or people say things that make me feel like there’s something wrong with me, I remind myself of the truth.

3. My sin and discontentment not only affects me but also my husband and vice versa. We both want kids so it’s a struggle for both of us to not have any. We don’t like seeing each other sad or disappointed and sometimes we feel like we failed each other. We have to remind ourselves of number 1 and 2 and realize that discontentment can sneak up in any season of your life.

4. A blessing of not having kids is that my husband and I can serve our church in ways we couldn’t if we had kids. We are trying to use this time to serve our church more.

5. Finally, God uses the trials of this life to bring us to our knees. He wants us to pray. I pray that God will be merciful to me and forgive me of my unbelief. James says it well, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8

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Abby Jones

1. Idol Factory: I can make an idol out of anything, even something good like having children. It’s easy to look at others who have what you’ve always dreamed of having, and create a scenario in your mind of ultimate happiness: I’d just be happy if I had kids.

You build up this chief goal and the next thing you know, it’s your god. This leads to bitterness and discontentedness because your god isn’t meeting your desires.

Infertility has caused me to wrestle with worshiping other gods and put me on my guard. Even good and right blessings can be turned into idols if we don’t protect ourselves with truth.

2. God’s Goodness: Infertility has forced me to deal with the issue of God’s goodness. Do I trust God is good? Do I trust God is good when I don’t have children? Do I trust God is good when others have multiple children and seem so fertile and I don’t and I’m not? Do I trust God when I get asked again about having children both by people I know and perfect strangers? Do I believe God is good when empirical data suggests otherwise? See 8.

3. Hope: Does my salvation and standing before God depend on having children? No. Am I outside the Kingdom in my childlessness? No. In heaven we won’t even be married! Am I outside God’s will for my life? No.

See, God never promised me anything but to make me more like Christ and all the blessings that entails. Has God used infertility to bring me closer to him? Yes. Has he used it to loosen my death-grip on this earth? Yes. My hope isn’t in having children. It’s in Christ’s death and resurrection. Even if I was to have children, they wouldn’t be my hope.

The Lord helped me push past that dream and cling ever more to him: my true hope. He kept his promise to use everything for my good.

4. Contentment: Infertility could breed bitterness, or by God’s grace contentment. After many tears, many prayers, and much thought, God gave me a certain amount of contentedness in this area. This was a hard, long battle.

He used my infertility to crush idols, challenge my trust in his goodness, turned my eyes to heaven, and in all that he has given me peace. This in turn has produced:

5. Tenderness: I know what it is to want something with an inexpressible desire. I know what it is to have to set a good dream at Jesus’ feet and trust that its lack of fulfillment is good for me. I know what it is to go to another baby shower, or congratulate another woman on her pregnancy, while trying to hold back the tears. I know the “bitter watches of the night”, the discouragement, sense of failure, and even disgrace. All of this makes me gentler with the struggles of others. You never know the fight someone is engaged in, so you go gently. You talk softly. You watch your words. Infertility has taught me tenderness.

 

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Paige Giarrizzo

1. Christ is My All in All. Infertility is teaching me that Christ is My All in All. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is all I need. Infertility is teaching me that Christ is my only hope, my only strength, my only joy. He is the giver of life, the opener and closer of the womb. Apart from Him, there is nothing. Before infertility, I knew this in my mind but through infertility, God has continually brought me back to Himself. I’m learning He is all I need. His grace is sufficient. When I suffer, I know that Jesus suffered more intensely than I ever will. When I’m lonely, I know that He, the incarnate God, has experienced loneliness greater than I will ever know. Hebrews 4:14 tells us that Christ sympathizes with our every weakness and we can call on Him in our time of need. I’m so thankful for that truth, because infertility has taught me that I am completely reliant on Him for everything.

2. I Need the Church. Infertility is teaching me that I need the local church. Where would I be without the body of Christ? Throughout this infertility journey, Christ is teaching me to truly love His bride. I have been overwhelmed by the love of others who have come alongside me with encouragement, fervent prayer, help, and exhortation. I’ve had people who I don’t know that well tell me that they are praying for us regularly. I’ve even been surprised to find out that dear brothers and sisters in other churches in other states are also remembering us in their prayers. What a blessing this has been! The church has comforted me as they have been comforted. The church has mourned with me as I mourn, with literal tears and weeping, and they have also rejoiced with me as I have rejoiced. My friendships have deepened, my love for Christ has been strengthened, and God has used me to encourage others as I have been encouraged.

3. It’s Not About Me. Infertility is teaching me that it’s not about me. Growing up, I dreamed only of two things: getting married and being a mother. Like many children do, my sister and I used to love to play house. As the older sister, I was always the mother, of course; my sister was the father, much to her chagrin. And we always had lots of children. As a high school student on career “dress up” day, I dressed up like a mother. (Well actually I dressed up like Santa Clause to be funny, but I reasoned that Santa and a mother were pretty much the same thing!) The plan seemed simple. Find a spouse. Have kids. Easy. David and I met in high school and were married in our earlier twenties. The plan was coming together nicely. But God. He had other plans. It wasn’t long into our marriage until we realized things were not going quite as planned. I literally thought we would get pregnant the first month we officially “tried.” But the months turned into years, and our plans, we felt, were crumbling before us.  Through this time we are learning over and over again that it is not about us. We have celebrated many new babies over these years, but never our own. And we are learning, it’s not about us. We are learning to die to self, to rejoice with others, to seek Christ above all. His ways are higher than our ways and the secret things belong to Him. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.

4. Gratitude. Infertility is teaching me to be grateful for what God has given me. We so often focus on the things God is withholding, rather than on the good gifts God has already given. Infertility is teaching me to count my blessings. I am thankful God called me at a young age to follow Him, sparing me years of heartache and searching. I am thankful for God’s gift of a godly husband and a beautiful 10+ year marriage. I am thankful for a wonderful church with a plurality of elders who seek to follow God’s Word. I am thankful for many friends and family members who are in Christ and stand beside me in joy and in pain. I am learning to be grateful, even for the seemingly small gifts God has given. He is showing me that everything I have is because of Him and nothing I have is my own.

5. Vulnerability. Infertility is teaching me vulnerability. I have always had a difficult time developing deeper connections with others and had attributed this to “shyness” or my lack of conversational skills. My circle of friends was very small and I rarely took the time to develop significant relationships outside of this circle, not because I didn’t want to get to know others but because I didn’t want others to get to know me. My insecurities, thoughts, and feelings would be too exposed with too many. However, infertility is teaching me that I’m not the only one with insecurities, heartache, despair, loneliness, joys, and struggles. As I am learning to be more open with others, to share details about my life and what God is doing in these details, I am getting to know many others who experience the same things I experience and who enjoy talking to someone who can relate. Infertility is teaching me to let down my defenses, to show others who I really am, and in turn to develop deeper, meaningful relationships in Christ.

2 cor 4.16-18

Infertility is a pain you carry around for many years. It affects both spouses. It can make you feel on the outside of life looking in. But, God has used it mightily to bless and sanctify me and these two dear sisters. We hope that by sharing basically the same things in so many different words, we can be an encouragement to other couples, to those who are single, to those who are lonely. God is good. He can be trusted. He keeps his word.


Being a Childless Wife

Happy Mother’s Day (A Happy and Sad Article)


 

Two Years Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Sunday, I marked the 2 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m two years old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

Imogene's second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

Imogene’s second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband was leading our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed.

In 2015, I developed a chronic issue, Epstein-Barr Virus, that made it impossible to maintain the writing schedule I’d had last year. Instead of multiple posts each week, I barely kept up with a few posts a month. I didn’t even really have the energy to care. What little writing I did get done revolved around the books I was reading. The Lord has seen fit to continue to bless me with readers and, as I’ve started to feel better, time to write.

I had two funny situations this year:

One, I actually introduced myself to Tom Chantry as “A gentle and quiet Spirit” at the ARBCA-GA.

Two, a pastor-friend pointed me out at our SBFC-SW as the woman who wrote My Church is a Failure. I almost had a heart attack as that is the article that I got the most negative feedback over, but at the same time I felt so excited.

Life as a writer, right?

Now, let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 206
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Cindy V, and TheGatheringFire.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Brazil, the Untied Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
  • Top Posts: Being a Childless Wife with 1,356 views. Followed by Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 376. And My Church is a Failure at 272. I have no idea why the Red Heels article is so popular. The Childless Wife article was shared by several other friends and blogs. I think it hit home for many women. Plus, it providentially went up at Mother’s Day.
  • May 2015 was my highest traffic month with 2,130 views followed by Sept with 1,058. While my numbers are lower over all than last year, it’s not by much, which is very encouraging.
  • This year, I also redesigned my blog to fit my personality better. I think it has also made it easier to navigate.

Last year, I submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration. Those stories got lost in cyberspace, so I touched base with SGP again this year and we’ve started down that road again.

This year, I also finished up the major plot re-write of my YA Fairy Tale Book 1: The Cost of Two Hands. And, I finally started Book 2: The Sparrow and the Star. Book 1 is in the hands of some excellent beta readers. It is my goal to finish Book 2 and Book 3 before starting in with heavy edits. I’m so thankful for all the dear women who have agreed to read the Cost of Two Hands and help me see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

God is good. God is trustworthy. Dealing with chronic exhaustion has challenged my commitment to God’s goodness as many things I love had to be set aside, many opportunities to serve had to be passed on, and many things I wanted to do had to be postponed for the foreseeable future. God is still good. He has used this sickness to grow me, grow my relationship with my husband, reprioritize my life, and enjoy the service of others.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my books, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this second year!

Sunday Thoughts: Divine Impassibility

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As you all know, I’ve been struggling with my health this year. I’ve been making slow but steady progress for the last few months, until about a two weeks ago when I regressed terribly. Back to the doctor! Guess what? I’m anemic. In fact, I have a severe case of anemia. Now, thankfully this is something easily fixed with a diet change, some supplements, and patience. More meat for me!

Within less than a day, I was feeling much better.

Here’s the interesting part: prior to the diagnosis, I not only felt drained physically, I also had no stress threshold of any kind. I had zero emotional control. Every little thing became a point of high anxiety for me. Mole hills became mountains. I cried over things I normally am able to shrug off. I explained all this to my doctor and she said that was totally normal for an anemic person.

Iron. Iron, or the lack there of, affected my emotions.

We live in a day and age when we encourage everyone to follow their heart except my heart was way off point because I didn’t have enough iron in my blood. My emotions are once again proven to be untrustworthy because they can be affected by such a small thing, like diet. My Mom likes to quote Dickens from The Christmas Carol:

“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are.”

All this to say, guard your heart. Your emotions are not the most trustworthy way to divine truth. They can be manipulated by something as straightforward as a low iron intake.

After learning all this and feeling better after some meat, I realized yet again how thankful I am for the doctrine of Divine Impassibility. My emotions get yanked around. God is without emotions. He loves me now as he has always loved me and will always love me and nothing great or small can change that. God can’t suffer from a low iron count that makes him cry over the smallest thing or seize up in terror at some perceived fear. God is not like me and for that I am truly thankful because I can trust him. His love will not change. He will not suddenly fear for me. He holds me safely in his might. He will never lose me, or be annoyed by me. He is unchanging. His love will never change. I am the creature. My emotions affect things like my love. They misguide me. I can’t trust them. But, I can trust an impassible God. My God.

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God without Passions by Samuel Renihan.

This book was probably one of the most theologically rich books, or deep books that I have ever read. I tend to go for books which are heavy on life application as opposed to books that are rich in doctrine. This is a trait that I’m working on changing thanks to my husband’s teaching on Systematic Theology and Amy Byrd’s book Housewife Theologian. I’m slowly learning that Systematic Theology and doctrine are completely applicable to life, and rich in head and heart knowledge.

It took me a while to get through this book. I took it in small chunks. Some of it was hard to read and follow based on the English language at the time of the writer. Some of it was just really deep requiring a logical following of the argument to gain the point.

All in all, it was a very encouraging read and mostly for this point: reading the work of other Christian brothers over the last several hundred years gives you a sense of connection. We are not an isolated bubble in history. No. We stand united with many many other dear saints who have gone before us and have held to the traditions as dearly as we do and should. We are not alone in this river of time. We are joined in one great battle against the darkness with our fellow saints. You want proof? Here are men going back and back writing about the same issues we so recently dealt with in our association and still continue to wrestle with. We are not alone in this. Our older brothers also thought through and examined this doctrine. Our older brothers stood their ground and upheld the doctrine of Divine Impassibility and we may count ourselves in their number now. God is good.

My favorite quote from the book was from John Tillotson and his book The Remaining Discourses, on the Attributes of God:

“If God be pleased to stoop to our weakness, we must not therefore level him to our infirmities.”

Amen!

God’s gracious mercy to us to come to us the creature and make himself known to us, doesn’t mean we can turn around and subject him to our creaturely way of looking at the world.

My other favorite quote was by Benedict Pictet and his book Christian Theology:

“. . . thus he did at the same time decree to create men, and to destroy them by a deluge some ages after.”

God’s repentance at the flood wasn’t a changing of his character but a stooping down to us to help us understand. God decreed the flood from the beginning. He doesn’t change, but he does gently stoop down to his children.

I found this quote interesting as a storyteller because we plan the suffering, change, and growth of our characters without, on a human level, changing ourselves. Everything may change in the character’s life, including death, and I’m the same me. I had a character who was the worst of reprobates, a betrayer of friends, who was forgiven and redeemed. He changed, not me. I planned his salvation from the beginning. (Obviously, this analogy breaks down because I change and I change my mind, and sometimes out of the blue, I’ll think of something for my story, but it still helps me to grasp the idea of Impassibility.)

The more I contemplate Divine Impassibility the more beautiful it becomes. One, I’m secure in a God who doesn’t change and can’t be change. Two, I have Christ. Oh, the beauty of God who became man with all that we are, without sin, and died for me. Christ suffered. Christ felt. Christ died. He did all that we long to have in a Savior. Why try to change the very nature of God, making him passible, when we have Christ? What more do we need? We have divine God, who is impassible, and Christ, who in his human nature, is passible.

Christ is our mediator. He bridged the gap between God and Man, and in him, in the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility I find heart. I find great love beyond understanding. I find all the emotion I could ever want because God became Man and dwelt amongst us.

If you wish to have a better, historical sense of Divine Impassibility I suggest God without Passions. It may be weighty, but it is good and worth the work.

Dream Builders have to have Helpers (Part 2)

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I’m going to chalk this up to being sick since the day after Christmas. A day after I posted my article last Monday on Dream Builders have to have Helpers, I remembered a whole other point I was going to include in the article. Like I said, I’ve been sick. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

Service.

That is the point.

Think about the quote. “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.”

Do you hear the implied concept that it would be a bad thing to be hired to help someone build their dream? This quote is saying it is evil or at least bad to help others build their dreams. How self-focused can you be? Is not helping others a worthy way to spend your time?

Service is a worthy way to live life. We should always be serving. We should pour ourselves out in service.

How much do we hear about ‘me time’? Now, I understand that a few minutes to re-focus, time to think, and doing something you enjoy, or even just taking a hot bath can make it much easier to serve. I know. I worked retail for 14 years. You wanna talk about service. We made service the hallmark of our boutiques. We demanded it of our employees and I set the example at every step. I have spent hours at other people’s beck and call. I know how taxing it can be. I know how it can eat away at your soul to do that every day. So, I’m not talking about the things servers do to rejuvenate so they can face the next day of demanding customers. I’m not talking about the mom who needs a break so she can tend to her family, or the caretaker who needs a few days away in a cabin somewhere to refresh herself.

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I’m talking about a me focused culture. A culture that is all about what my needs and wants are without any concern about other people. We have a whole generation growing up who were never taught that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They were never taught to serve.

Why? Well, there is a humility to services. There is, if you want to serve well, a forgetting of self. There is an attitude of I don’t matter, you do. There is a laying down of self.

We don’t like this. We instantly rage: What if someone takes advantage of me? What if no one ever appreciates what I do?

That may happen. Think about it. Think about Christ dying on the cross and how many people don’t appreciate that, even believers at times.

Listen to the messages of media, music, art, television, and novels. How many of them preach that you are significant? How many of them teach our children that they are the most significant thing to come along, ever? But are they? No. They are sinners just like us in need of a Savior. There is only one truly significant and important person ever born—Christ. And what did he do? He washed the apostle’s feet. He served in all humility. He came, lived, and died for us, to save us.

Instead of worrying so much about living a significant life, following our dreams, making sure everyone thinks well of us, making sure we never care what anyone thinks about us, we should lay it all aside and seek to serve one another. Yes, you may not be appreciated, but if you are serving for Christ’s sake than you can trust that he sees the work of your hand even if no one else does. Yes, someone may take advantage of you, I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it. But, Christ sees. He knows. And He is trustworthy. The joy of watching Christ work outweighs standing up for our rights any day.

Standing up for rights is short-sighted and often selfish. (I’m not talking about constitutional law, I’m talking about the constant demand for me and my rights.) Instead of waiting on the Lord, quietly and meekly, trusting Him with our souls, we loudly demand our rights, our acceptance, our significance. Dear believer, if you will wait quietly you will see the hand of Christ in your life. Trust your heart to Him. Is He not mighty enough to protect it?

Don’t worry about your dreams, whether they are being built or not. Worry about serving your church and your family and trust your dreams to the one who gave them to you. He is far more creative about how those dreams are fulfilled than you ever will be. And remember, this life is not all there is. Oh, if you can only grasp that one little concept. This life is not all there is. You don’t have to try and fit every dream and desire into this one life time. Serve Christ and his people and trust yourself to Him. Get in there and do the hard work of service and you will be blessed to watch Christ tend to you and your needs. You are His and He won’t forget you.

Okay, rant over. I promise.

A Short Story: The Pearl King’s Son

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This is a short allegory about Christianity. I’ve been trying to find a good story for years to describe our rebellion against God. We often glorify rebellion, especially in America, and I’ve wanted to try to show that we rebelled against a good King when Adam fell in the garden. I rarely write allegory because it becomes frustrating and breaks down the closer you examine it. Thoughts appreciated.


 

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful kingdom by the sea. Her buildings were carved from the white glistening shells of the ocean. When the sun rose in the east and set in the west the Pearl Kingdom glimmered and shown so brightly that far off wanderers could see her light.

A wise and good King tended the kingdom, both in the city and the green fields that surround it. The people lived free and happy lives protected by the King and his knights from her enemies and guided gently away from any ills by his wisdom. No trash marred the beauty of the Pearl Kingdom. No families lived without a roof over their heads, food on their tables, or clothes on their backs. No one went without work for their hands to do, or art to share with others. Everyone helped their neighbors. The countryside was orderly with good crops and fat cows and sheep, goats and chickens. Little wild places broke up the farms full of hidden delights for children and adventures alike. It was a good Kingdom ruled by a good King, a jewel on the Earth.

But, one day, darkness came.

It was not a natural slipping down of the sun into the sea and a rising of the silver moon, but a pestilence, a plague. It whispered in the ears of the unwise and the foolish that this land wasn’t the best and the King wasn’t the kindest and wisest. It whispered that far across the land an Onyx Kingdom lay where everyone could really be free. Where everyone could be their own king.

A rebellion arose against the good King. His once happy people shook their fists in his face and hurled horrible words and rotten food at the beautiful white walls of the castle. Then, they followed the darkness out across the land to the Onyx Kingdom where they could be free.

MoA___Vampire_Castle_by_ATA

Free to lie about and do nothing. Free to forget their neighbor and keep even what they didn’t need. Free to say aloud what they thought of others without restraint, and free to eat and drink until they grew sick with diseases. They were free to mock the kingdom they left and the King. They were rebels and traitors condemned under the law to die if they ever came home. Instead of cowering under their condemnation, they fought the Pearl King, and stole from their old kingdom. They crept in at night to take and whispered to any who remained in Pearl Kingdom to come away with them.

But the King wasn’t content to let the darkness just have his Kingdom. He wasn’t content to have his people blind, sick, and lost in the unlit streets of the Onyx Kingdom. He wasn’t content to let his people be eaten by the King who ruled that land for that was their fate. When they had grown fat in the darkness, the Onyx King’s slaves took them and fed them to the Onyx King.

He sent light with a promise of hope and mercy. Here and there, it slipped in searching under windows and behind doors for the King’s true people. The wealthy of the Onyx Kingdom pushed the light away, so it went to the poorest of the poor. It went to the lazy, the deceased, the dead. The light went into the darkest of the dark and searched out the King’s true people.

The Onyx King sensed the light in his shadows and sent his goblins and trolls to snuff it out. Over and over, they slayed the lights, but the Pearl King only sent more and more. Little by little, his true people came back. They came back filthy, broken, reeking of their own laziness and putrid rotting. The ones who made it to the Pearl Kingdom fell on their knees and begged mercy knowing they had to die for their rebellion. They knew they had broken the old laws. They knew they’d broken the King’s laws. Traitors had to be executed. But, they begged the good King for mercy. The King washed them, clothed them in royal robes, and gave them rooms in his castle. He helped them see the black lies they had believed. They dared to hope in the King.

Not everyone came. Not all who once lived in the Pearl Kingdom returned. Many, far more than the ones who came, stayed in the Onyx Kingdom. They hunted down the light. They slew those who listened to it. They revealed in the darkness. The Onyx King sent them out into the highways to attack and maim the ones trying to return to the Pearl Kingdom. Some they killed, and some returned to the darkness deciding the Pearl Kingdom wasn’t worth fighting to get home to.

The Onyx King was hungry. He wasn’t willing to let one person from Pearl Kingdom slip through his fingers. He wanted the ones who had left him back. He smiled. He had a plan. They were traitors and there was a law, after all.

The Kings met on the line between light and darkness. Behind the Onyx King gathered his vast black host. Behind the Pearl King stood only the weak and broken host of those to whom he had shown great mercy.

The Onyx King laughed at the Pearl King.

“This is a trick. They can’t be free. What of the old laws you yourself wrote?” he said. “They must be executed as traitors. It is the law.”

The Pearl King agreed. It was the law. Only death could a traitor expect.

The executioner came from the black land with his dirty axe on his shoulder.

“I will pay the price, Oh Father King,” a quiet, meek voice spoke out.

From out of the crowd of broken people needing mercy stepped the King’s only Son. The Pearl King nodded, granting the Son’s request. “If you pay this price, these people will be yours forever. Not one will ever be the Onyx King’s again.”

The Onyx king nodded, delighted to watch the Son die for such a group of useless people. He was losing nothing by their redemption for they were the poorest of his poor, scrawny and hardly worth eating.

As the Son knelt before the executioner, the poorest of the poor fell to their knees and wept that the good and kind Son would die in their place.

He freely laid his fair and noble head on the chopping block and the axe fell. His blood was shed in their place.

The poorest of the poor cried and wept.

“The price has been paid,” The Pearl King announced. “I declare peace on the earth and my good will towards my people. Pardon has come to all who now come because they heard the light.”

Much to the Onyx King’s surprise, many of his vast host quit his ranks, dropped their swords, and walked through the Son’s blood to join the poorest of the poor on their knees behind the Pearl King.

“And now, my law has been satisfied,” the King said. “Grace has been shown. The Dead are no longer Dead.”

With his words, the earth cracked between the two kingdoms and the sky broke apart casting the Onyx Kingdom into utter darkness never to see the sun again while the Pearl Kingdom rose into the heavens.

Lo and behold, the Son who had died rose up. All the host of heaven cheered with joy. He took his great spear and cast it down into the darkness right into the heart of the Onyx King.

His people surrounded him, forgiven, loved, the law satisfied and the Darkness slain.

The End

Thanksgiving 3

thanksgiving

I’m thankful for salvation. I’m not a worthy saint. I’m not a nice person. I’m a miserable sinner. I stand in need of a mediator between me and God. I’m so thankful for Christ, who came to this earth, took on flesh, lived a holy life, and died for such a wretch like me. You would think that the older you get the more you acclimate to the miracle of salvation. That it might grow dull due to familiarity. It doesn’t. The longer I walk this world the more precious to me it is. The more I cling to it. This world fades around me, and Christ becomes ever more dear to me. Look at what He has won for me!  Life, adoption, eternity! How I love the Captain of my Salvation!

One Year Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Saturday I marked the 1 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m a year old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

My blog and Imogene share a birthday!

My blog and Imogene share a birthday!

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband lead our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed. I have had more views this year than I had in the total run of my previous blog. I have made some good online friends, connected with other Confessional blogs, and I may have made a few enemies. That was terrifying interesting.

Let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 160
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Claudiajswain, Cindy V, and Lizzigroves.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Canada, the Untied Kingdom, Brazil, and Australia.
  • Top Posts: My Church is a Failure with 1,376 views. It is followed by Happy Mother’s Day! with 291, and Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 221. Look at the difference. That’s quite a jump from 291 to 1,376. One of my friends said the My Church is a Failure went viral. I don’t know that it went viral as a whole, but maybe amongst Reformed Baptist.
  • August 2014 was my highest traffic month with 2,384 views followed by Feb with 1,564 when a guest post I wrote for Strokemanswoman was shared by Tim Challis. This guest article has gotten as many or more views as My Church is a Failure.

This year I also submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration.

God is good. God is trustworthy.

You might think that’s easy to say with the limited success I’ve had with my blog. Of course, I think He’s good when things are going better than I could have ever imagined. God is good, not because this change in my life has rewarded me with better blog success. God is good because He has saved me and made me His child, then He slowly and gently worked in my life to bring me to the point where I could lay aside what I wanted for Him. Seeming material or no material reward, I would still praise Him for He is mighty. He owes me nothing for the sacrifices I have made for they are just a happy following after of my elder brother, my heavenly husband, my Standing Lamb. If the blog had flopped, I would have experienced His sanctification in that and by grace would praise Him still. The success of my blog or lack thereof doesn’t change the joy I have at the great mercy He showed me. I trust that He would still use the gifts He gave me even if it’s not how I expect. He has given me everything and owes me nothing. These aren’t rewards. These are graces. These are a kind gift from the hand of a kind Father, not a debt He owed me for my great sacrifices.

I’m very thankful He gave me some tangible gifts when I switched my writing course. He didn’t just give me some, He richly gifted me. Its humbling and all I can say is use me more Lord. Pour me out for your sake.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my stories, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this first year!

Do I have to have a gentle and quiet spirit to be a Christian?

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WordPress keeps its bloggers abreast of their stats, followers, and which searches led readers to their blog. We even get a little map of the world with bright colors showing us which countries our readers come from.

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Just fyi…these are not my stats. 🙂

Several months ago someone googled: Do I have to have a gentle and quiet spirit to be a Christian? This question led them to me and I’ve been pondering it for a while now. (I wonder if the lady who searched Google for information was surprised to come across a blog with posts about soldiers and action flicks? Not very gentle and quiet, huh?)

My pondering, which included talking about it with my husband, focused on the fact that much like Christianity the answer is yes and no. No, you don’t have to be gentle and quiet to be a Christian. To be a Christian you have to be a sinner in need of grace and you have to have faith in Christ and his work. That’s it. Those are the basic requirements. You will never in this life be a perfect Christian lady, but, thank the good Lord, perfection isn’t required for salvation! Thankfully, we live under grace and not law.

As a sinner who deserves death, but has been clothed in the blood of the Son, accepted, and adopted, do you not now wish to live for the one who saved you? Are you not motivated by His love to do whatever he asks? He died for you, giving all, and enduring the wrath of God in your place. Will you not die to yourself for Him?

Now, a misunderstanding of what gentle and quiet means may inspire part of this question. Gentle is defined as kind, amiable, not severe, rough, or violent. Are you severe, rough, or violent? Do you use your strength to lift up or destroy? Would you like to live with a man who is gentle or rough? Would you rather be a violent woman or a gentle one? Does this definition mention guns, trucks, tomboys or any other “unfeminine” thing? No. A gentle spirit is a woman in control of herself who doesn’t use her tongue to destroy her husband or anyone else. She is gentle.

Quiet means . . . well quiet. Not loud. Does this mean women have to talk in subdued voices all the time? Let’s look at the context of the verse. The context is instructing Christian women who are free in the Lord but married to an unbeliever who is possibly abusive. Does Christ say dig in your heels and fight? No. He says a gentle and quiet spirit. (I’m not trying to say don’t get help. If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, get help. If your husband breaks the law, call the police. But, don’t respond in harsh yelling.) This means be kind to the ones who are unkind and quiet to those who are loud. Don’t nag.

You know what nagging is? It’s worry. When you’re worried, when I’m worried, I get loud. I nag. And I can be verbally ungentle, especially to my husband. How do we know it stems from worry? Cause we’re told not to fear anything fearful and to be like Sarah who had plenty of reasons to fear.

Unattractive.

Unattractive.

Can you see how this pours forth from a heart that the Lord has changed? If you’re afraid because your husband is talking harshly to you, your gut response is going to be to fight back. Yell back. Push back. Instead, trusting in Christ who has already secured your soul, you respond with a kind word. You take your fear in prayer to Him and rest in Him instead of nagging your husband. Maybe your husband isn’t diligent and you fear him losing his job, or paying the taxes, or taking care of you. Don’t nag. Do him good, be gentle, and be quiet. This is a work of the Lord and completely counter to your gut reactions. This takes incredible strength, courage, and trust.

Do you have to have a gentle and quiet spirit to be a Christian? No. God has saved many loud, obnoxious, and mean women. But, all true Christian women should prayerfully strive to be gentle (self-control laced with kindness) and quiet (non-nagging, quit worrying, stop trying to be in control).

Pray that God will help us understand this and see the ways we fail. Pray that when we fail, He will remind us of his grace and the work of Christ. It’s not pleasant to see our failures, but it is very sanctifying. We all need to seek out wise older women in our church and talk with our elders and pastors.

God has richly supplied all our needs through His Word and His Church, use them. Don’t spurn His gifts by ‘going it alone’.

Trust Christ—who died for you, endured torture, lived in perfection when you couldn’t—when you’re afraid, worried, or just concerned. Remember Sarah.

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Sunday Thoughts: Happiness and the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Movement

Yes, cause you are the center of the universe and get to decide who is worthy and unworthy.

Yes, cause you are the center of the universe and get to decide who is worthy and unworthy.

I know I promised to start the series on things I learned from managing our boutiques that have helped me as a housewife, but two things have been irritating me so I’m going to write about them first.

Sometimes a rage builds inside me, wanting out.  Maybe it’s my Irish roots turning me into a flaming redhead with anger management issues, but whatever the reasons, it happens.  In my line of sight today are two things: one, our modern-day concepts of personal happiness, and two the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity movement.

So, first things first.  You’ve all seen the quotes on Pinterest, on cards, plaques and on your Facebook feed proclaiming your happiness to be of chief importance, right?  They say that true love accepts you for who you are, no one should ever try to change you, and that if the world doesn’t accept you as you are, you have the right to reject and ignore them.

How narcissistic and self-focused could we possibly be?  If I followed any of this advice, I would be divorced, fat, lazy, lonely, alone, and angry at the world. (I’m not saying being fat is a sin, I’m saying I would be a glutton cause I like food.)  I would push most, if not all, of you out of my life starting with my husband and going on from there.  When did we decide being happy was the chief end of man?  And why don’t we see the inherit dangers that belief brings.  With that line of thinking, we would see the murdering of innocents because they get in the way, a high divorce rate, and suicide….oh wait.  We see all that.  This belief system would also incapacitate a society from convicting murderers of all stripes from bullies, to serial killers and terrorist….oh wait, we see that too.

When I think my goal in life is to be happy and that all stress should be eliminated, then I am my own god, my own authority, and you have no right to say otherwise.  Could we embrace a more unchristian attitude?  Now, it is true that I can’t change my husband….in the grand scheme of things, and he can’t change me.  But, we should be helping each other in the process of sanctification.  If my happiness and lack of stress are the most important thing, then I need him out of my life.  I mean the guy wants me to decide what’s for dinner.  He works all day and expects me to keep the house clean, our finances done, and food on the table.  I don’t like doing finances, cleaning the house, or deciding what to cook.  I’d rather sit on the couch and write fantasy stories.  Who does he think he is?  Well, I think he thinks he’s responsible for leading our home, and the man earning the paycheck while I work from home, which is exactly what I’ve been telling him for years that I wanted to do.  If he wanted to do what made him happy, he would sit at home playing video games all day and eating junk food.  If we both did what made us happy, we would both be slobs living on welfare doing nothing.

See the problem is that our society has lost a critical component of truth – total depravity.  Human beings are not naturally good, kind, hard-working, honestly, loyal things.  Occasionally, God shows us some common grace and we are all those things.  But, left to ourselves, left to pursue our own happiness, we would all stop working, engaging, and growing.  We would, instead, sit around selfishly ignoring others, while the world crumbled around us.

Because Stress is the worst Sin you can have in your life.

Because Stress is the worst Sin you can have in your life.

The idea that you should love me for who I am is another lie.  Have you looked in the mirror recently?  I’m so glad my husband loves me despite who I am.  I’m glad God loves me because of Christ.  I’m not a nice person, nor a pretty one.  I can only be those things by the grace of God.  I’m thankful He puts people in my life to help me who aren’t worried about me being happy, but instead being holy.  Pursuing holiness is hard work and stressful.  It requires you to put yourself in a state of iron sharpening iron.  You have to hang out with people who just don’t think highly enough about you.  You have to hang out with people who aren’t as cool as you.  The horror.  (You should read this with your sarcasm voice.)

We, as Christians, need to stop pinning, reposting, and decorating with lies.  We need to see them for what they are – the Devil’s whispers.  We need to remember that nowhere in the Bible does God say our happiness is our chief end, that you need to get rid of stress, and you should be accepted for all you are.  What the Bible does say is that we should be poor in spirit, mourn over our sin, be meek of heart, and put on the fruit of the Spirit.  We are to go to war against sin.  War.  If you’ve forgotten how bloody war is, go watch Lone Survivor.

And, the Health, Wealth and Prosperity movement only adds to this.  Could there possibly be more of a First World Problem than not being healthy, wealthy, and prosperous enough?  Only in a wealthy country like America could such a religion spring out of the Bible.
“God is not afraid of pain.  He does not try to keep us from it.  He does not avoid it for Himself.”  – The Language of Sparrows

So...who is defining blessings and what gave you the right to just hand them out without any qualification?

So…who is defining blessings and what gave you the right to just hand them out without any qualification?

If you can read the Bible and deduce that you are supposed to be wealthy here on earth, you have skipped some critical passages.  If that was true, why did Christ die?  But not just die, why wasn’t he wealthy, healthy, and prosperous while he was here?  Did he not have enough faith?  What part of laying your treasure in heaven do you not understand?  What part of the world hating you do you not get?  The Bible is not speaking of physical riches but Spiritual ones.  We aren’t called to live healthy wealthy lives, but quiet ones in the pursuit of holiness.  God is not in the business of making you happy.  He is in the business of making you holy.

“Life is pain, Highness.  And anyone who says otherwise is selling something.”  – The Princess Bride

Do you think Pastor Saeed Abedini is clinging to promises of happiness here on earth while he suffers, and is tortured in an Iranian Prison?  No.  Those concepts won’t sustain you when you are suffering, being tortured, hurting, angry, or enduring trials.  You must cling to the hope that just as Christ suffered, you will suffer, and just as He is glorified, you will be glorified too.  You must know and understand that the sufferings of this life are nothing compared to heaven, to seeing Christ.  You must know that God is in control and is not the cosmic Santa Claus, but the one who is redeeming, cleansing, and making holy a people unto Himself.

Don’t let yourself get sucked into the idea that all suffering is to be avoided.  Keep your eyes on your treasures in heaven, on Christ.  Don’t look for a better church, better friends, and a better life.  Look for the fruit of the Spirit, a way to serve, and battle your own sin.  This is the life of a believer.  Not happiness.  Not peace.  Not distressing.  Fighting.  Failing.  Looking to grace and the hope of eternal life motivated by the unfathomable richness of the love of God seen in Christ….and Christ died.  Don’t lose that.  Christ died.  Do you want to be like Christ?  Remember he died in a point of submission.  How much does that fly in the face of our culture?

You are never out of the fight.  Don’t let the world around you define who you are!  Look to the Scripture.  Look to Christ.  Submit your heart and mind to the teachings of the Scripture and get busy serving your local church.

Okay….I’m getting off my soapbox and getting busy managing my home.