The Heart of Wisdom — Take 2

Oops. I guess sometimes scheduling blogs posts to go when you’re not finished with them yet doesn’t quite work out. Here we go again!

Take two:

My dear friends in St. Louis have an annual tradition of choosing a “word of the year.” This year they chose one for me. Guess what it was???

Wisdom.

So I began studying the word ‘wisdom’ in the scriptures.  One thing I decided to look up was where the word ‘wisdom’ and the word ‘heart’ appear together which led me to Psalm 90.

So turn with me to Psalm 90.  The subtitle for this psalm is “A prayer of Moses,  the man of God.”

Read along with me.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”

For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

These first four verses show us the everlasting, eternal nature of our God, in stark contrast of the temporary, temporal nature of human life here on earth. This is how this psalm begins – pondering the nature of God as compared with the nature of man.

The next seven verses continue this theme but emphasizing God’s righteous judgment and wrath on sinful humankind.

But then you come to verse 12. A special verse nestled in the middle of reflection on God’s eternality and our brevity.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. “

So, how do we get a heart of wisdom?

By numbering our days. By realizing how brief our lives are. Living them out in a daily appreciation for how short life is in light of the nature of God who is from everlasting to everlasting.

And then this beautiful psalm ends with

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

In God’s perfect timing, I’ve been thinking about this blog post for several days but was never quite able to finish it. Yesterday, two significant events happened.

One, Bill’s 87-year-old grandfather ended up in the hospital again. The third time in a month. Heart problems.

Two, my pastor and his wife who had just announced Sunday that they were expecting their third baby, shared that their newest baby blessing had passed from this life into the presence of the everlasting God.

And there it is. The critical importance of numbering our days, from first to last. From the youngest little babe to the ripe old age.

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Father, teach us to number our days. To live every moment as it might be our last. To thank You and be glad even as many days as we are afflicted, to rejoice and be glad all our days as we are satisfied with your steadfast love.

Amen

TWIG

Whoever is Wise…

photo by Emily Frazier
photo by Emily Frazier

Please, go open your Bible right now, or you can click here and read Psalm 107.

This beautiful Psalm begins like this:

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is GOOD, for His steadfast LOVE endures forever!”

and ends like this:

“Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast LOVE of the Lord.”

But, you see, in the midst, in the middle of God’s goodness and love, is lots of trial and pain and hardship.  Lots of darkness and shadows. Plenty of labor and distress. Even affliction and destruction.

Yet, in the midst, in the middle, there is also the steadfast LOVE of the Lord.  The Lord’s love does not waiver.  It does not end when His people rebel against His words and spurn His counsel.  His love causes Him to discipline His children, yet His love does not end.  His love is steadfast.  And the wise pays attention and remembers this.

Father, help me to be wise.  Fill me, Lord, with your wisdom.  Grow me in patience and help me to pay attention to what You are doing in my midst.

TWIG

The end is better than the beginning

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 (ESV)

For any of you who knew me well, you know that patience is not my strong suit.  It does not come naturally to me. I prefer a quick ending to a thing, to any thing. I like to be on time, and I like others to be on time, too.  I hate to be kept waiting. I like to hear “the point” of a story right from the start, so that I can enjoy a long, detailed tale.

But I’m learning that this is just not the Lord’s way. His way is long. His way requires patience and waiting. He rarely tells you how the story is gonna end right from the start.

And I’m learning that wanting things on my time line is, at its heart, pride. This pride leads me to prefer myself and my ways over His and this pride leads to anger.

And anger lodges in the heart of fools. It rests there.

But, I am no fool.

God has given me wisdom, by His Spirit and His Word, and I pray that wisdom would give me a heart filled with patience, not pride, not a quick spirit, not anger.

Blog progress!

Dear Sisters,

As I continue pressing on as a blogger, I’ve made some changes here at Teach What Is Good.

First off, I’ve found an improved email subscription service. I’d love it if you’d subscribe using this new service. Just enter your email address in the little box in the right sidebar and it’ll take you from there. After you’ve subscribed with the new service, you might have to UNsubscribe with the old one.

Secondly, I’ve turned on the comments feature. For a long time, about the only comments I got were spam, so they were just turned off. But now I’d love to create more community among all you readers by allowing you to add your thoughts here. Please remember Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

I’d also like to pursue having a new header and theme. Could anyone give me suggestions on this???

Love you guys!
TWIG

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel

  Most mornings you will find me enjoying some sweet time with the Lord in His word before my household responsibilities get too busy.
   Last April, I started recording in a journal Bible in preparation for my oldest daughter Emily’s graduation from high school in May. It’s kinda like this.
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   Typically, I read about two pages or so and then write out a prayer based on that scripture passage in the journal section on the side. I journal a prayer of my own adoration, gratitude and supplication, followed by a prayer of gratitude and supplication for Emily.
Right now I’m reading through the Psalms.  Today I fed on Psalm 16. I pray it would bless you.  Enjoy.

Psalm 16 (ESV)
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;  you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

   Father, thank you for your goodness and mercy. There is indeed no good apart from you.  You are my Lord. I worship you who gives me wisdom and guides me in truth. I humble myself, saying You are my chosen portion and my cup. You hold my lot.  It is in You I find my strength. Thank you for giving me counsel. Your ways are not my ways and I thank you for showing me the way that is right, for being a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. You have indeed shown me the path of life. In Your presence is the fullness of joy and eternal pleasures.
  
I lift up my beloved daughter, Emily, to you.  Bless her, Lord, with your wisdom and guidance and fullness of joy. May she seek Your face earnestly today and every day. I pray her heart would be glad in You. May she walk humbly in your presence, at your right hand.
Amen.

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who sent me emails and called and prayed for me. I really do appreciate it. I did have a lovely birthday.  Not because everything was perfect, but because I serve a God who is perfect. 

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe.” 1 Timothy 1:12-16 (ESV)

The two worst days of the year

If you were going to name your two least favorite, most likely to be disastrous, days of the year, what would they be?

Guess what mine are.

The first day of school? No.

Black Friday? Nope.

9-11? No again.

Pearl Harbor Day? Keep guessing.

Bear with my honesty, please. Sadly, for many years running, the two worst days on my annual calendar might shock you.

My two least favorite days are …. Drum roll, please… My birthday and Mother’s Day.

I can hear you now. “What???” “That’s gotta be some kind of typo.” “That girl is crazy.”

I have a feeling, though, that I’m not alone in this. I have a feeling that I’m not the only selfish, discontent, hard to please, woman out there.

And before you all join in feeling sorry for me, imagining that my family forgets my birthday or skips the handmade Mother’s Day cards, STOP for you’d all be dreadfully wrong. It’s not anything like that.

Actually, my family tries to do things to please me – breakfast in bed, gifts, cards, dinner out, but you know what? It’s just never enough. I am so deeply entrenched in thinking that every moment of my “special day” should be all about me, that I am destined for disillusionment. I’m certain to be met at some point in the day with a dirty dish, a crying child, or a gift that won’t zip up. The breakfast isn’t cleaned up after, the cards and gifts aren’t quite right, the restaurant isn’t my top choice. Do you feel me, sisters??? The day is never perfect enough and I’m left disappointed rather than delighted.

Now I have a feeling that you are wondering, why I’m telling you this? Why am I sharing this in such a public forum? And why on earth am I telling you this now?

Well, you see, tomorrow marks my 41st birthday and I am determined that my day is going to be different.

Not different because I’ll be swarmed with comments from hundreds of adoring blog followers, but different because I’m determined to wake up with an attitude of gratitude. Different because I’m going to put on joy like a coat. Different because God has put a new song in my heart and I am not the same woman that I used to be, so I don’t have to live like I used to. Different because I don’t have to let my past dictate the future.

Today, I am committing myself to be thankful even for dirty dishes and crying children and pants that are two sizes too small.

Today I’m choosing to be thankful for a family who loves me and a God who made me in His image and who has good plans for me.

Lord, teach me to be content. Teach me to be thankful. Teach me to love others as they show their love for me.

Thank You, Jesus, for making me right where I am and thank You for always growing me to be more like You.

TWIG

Is Jesus the milk, the carrots, the crust or the jelly??

Bear with me. I know that title was bizarre, but as I lay quietly in bed last night meditating on God’s goodness, I had this amazing visual illustration. It went something like this.

Imagine you’re sitting down for a quiet lunch. It’s just you. You’re sitting at a large, round, oak dining room table. In front of you sits a tall glass of skim milk and a small white plate holding a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread and a half dozen of those little, bite-sized raw carrots.

Maybe you’ve heard the analogies about Jesus in your life like He’s in a house — like do you keep Him on the porch, or in a closet or maybe He’s allowed into the formal living room … Or do you invite him in to the kitchen where you really live?

Well, I’m kinda a foodie — No, I’m seriously a foodie and God spoke to me through this FOOD-related spiritual picture. Let’s see if any of you can track with me.

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So, is God my nice, healthy, good-looking tall glass of clean, white skim milk? Kept at arm’s length, and good for washing down anything distasteful in my life?

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Or is He my side of carrots? Good for me, full of vitamins and crunchy to the teeth? He’s made it on the plate, but not because I want Him there — more because He’s supposed to be there. You know, like a necessary but not desirable part of my life. I don’t hunger for Him, but I know that I need Him.

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Or is He the crust on that PB&J sandwich? All around the outside. Visible to the onlooking world. But in my real, every day activities when no one’s watching, I peel Him off and cast Him off on the plate. Maybe when I’m really hungry and I’ve finished off everything else, I pick Him up as a last resort.

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Or is He the peanut butter and jelly of my life? Sweet? Appetizing? Spread thick from edge to edge, filling every empty space and oozing out with every bite I take? Is He my “go-to” favorite? What I run to at every point of need, knowing that He will satisfy both my needs and my desires?

I pray that Jesus would fill my life with all that is good and beautiful to overflowing, that He would ooze out of me with joy and gratitude and that He would be my go-to-first response to whatever my day brings.

TWIG

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15 years ago, halfway around the world…

… a beautiful baby boy was born.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)

That very same week, we began to pray for the baby boy that God would give to us to adopt.Nick with his MOMMYI prayed for him before I knew him, before I’d laid eyes on those big brown eyes, before I’d held those big round thighs, before I’d rubbed that tense, strong back, before I’d heard that laugh that could bring a smile to the weariest mother’s face.

That child who was borne halfway around the world in a nation and culture so different than my own was chosen by a great, big, good God to be my very own “little man.”Nick Emily at Chris and Summer's wedding

Now as I look into those same big brown eyes and hear that same big infectious laugh, those chubby thighs and rigid back may be gone, but I continue to pray for that precious child who has grown into manhood before my very eyes.

Papa Emil with Nick April 2001And I will continue to pray faithfully for this beloved son until my dying day … because he is worth it.

I pray with thanksgiving to a God who places orphans into families and who placed this one in mine.

I pray with thanksgiving for his first mother who carried him in her womb and who gave us a gift in this beautiful boy.100_4169I pray with thanksgiving for the workers in the Russian hospital and baby home who cared for this baby boy for his first six months of life.

I pray with thanksgiving for the Future adoption agency who worked tirelessly to bring him home and all those fellow “Future” families who cheered us on.

Yet, I also pray with humble tears for the millions of other orphans still in need of families.

Nick's Camera 073I pray for the Lord’s blessing upon that first mother we hope to meet in Heaven and on all of the many people who cared for this baby boy and helped make his adoption possible.

I smile and say, “Thank you, Father, for the gift of this special child.”

IMG_1731He brings excitement into life’s daily drudgery that would otherwise drowned me in the mundane.

He memorizes movie lines and song lyrics so effortlessly, reciting actors’ names from movies I’ve long ago forgotten.

He rattles off sports statistics and Cardinals players biographies with fascination and ease.

DSC_8263He draws a crowd with his engaging wit, quick smile and expressive story telling.

What does God have in store for this young man’s future?

Only He knows, but whatever it is, I’m thankful to be a part of it.DSC_8138Happy Birthday, son. I’m glad you’re mine. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Love
TWIG

By the way, if you’d like to give my little big man a birthday gift, how about checking out his YouTube channel? Maybe watch a few zany skits? Maybe become a subscriber even? It really would make his day!

https://www.youtube.com/user/foreignbrothersfilmsNick's Camera 095

A New Year — Looking Forward with Thanksgiving

Every year this time of year people think about their New Year resolutions.

I’m not real sure about that myself because I seem to have a hard time following through on the promises I want to make, but I do start every year with some reflection on the past year and prayer for the coming year.

With that in mind, these are my prayers for this year.

Father, teach me to number my days.  May I make the most of every moment.

Every moment with my rapidly growing children.  Every moment with my husband.  Every moment out in the world where my life is on display.  Every moment You give me to proclaim Your truths in word and in deed.

Father, please guide me in how to spend my free time.  Show me by Your wisdom and grace in how to spend those extra little moments and minutes and hours when nothing is pressing for my attention.

Father, I pray that I would remember that I have been chosen, been made a royal priest, been made holy, made your very own possession, that I would PROCLAIM the excellencies of Him (that’s YOU) who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once I was not part of God’s family, God’s people, Your people, but now I am.  Once I had not received mercy but now I have received mercy.  Now, as a sojourner and exile, I pray that I would abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against my soul.  I pray that I would keep my conduct among the world honorable so that when they seek to speak evil against me, they would see my GOOD deeds and glorify GOD. (1 Peter 2:9-12)

May I live my life as Yours.  Your servant.  Your slave.  Your chosen, adopted child.  Your daughter.

May I remember that my life is not my own, that I have been BOUGHT with a price.  The blood of Jesus has ransomed me from my slavery to sin.  I have become Your bond servant.  I have sold myself willingly into Your service.

But, no, it’s more than that.  I am MORE than a mere bond servant.  I have been made a daughter of the King of kings, Lord of lords, ruler supreme of the universe.

Father, please give me the strength, passion and wisdom to live boldly in the grace and power which that gives me.  May I be about my Your business, my Father’s business, today and every day.

Not by my might, nor by my power, but by Your Spirit,

TWIG