Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thank God for Miss U.S.A.

Nate came home on Sunday night to "Miss U.S.A. 2016" on the television.

So, I usually wouldn't watch this when he was home, but I haven't watched a beauty pageant in years and really did want to.

He picked up the remote and joked, "You enjoy Miss U.S.A.?" I'm sure he figured I would say, "It was just on, go ahead and change it." Because I normally would have. But this night, I said, "Yes, I am. I haven't watched one in years and really want to see this."

He looked at me with a "Really?" look on his face but didn't say anything else, and while dinner finished cooking we watched the beginning of "Miss U.S.A." together.

The part that most surprised me was when we brought our dinner into the living room and I muted the TV, Nate said our usual pre-dinner prayer. At the end, he thanked God that we could watch "Miss U.S.A." and thanked God that it made his wife happy.

Melts your heart doesn't it? Gosh, I am so thankful for this man and the fact that he treasures things that make me happy, even if they don't him.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sermon notes --- Jacob leaves Laban behind

It was 14 years after Jacob left home, when he was supposed to be gone just months while Esau's anger calmed, that Jacob finally decided to bring his family to his hometown.

However, his father-in-law, Laban, realizes that his successful flocks were due to Jacob, and he didn't want Jacob to leave. Laban had profited from Jacob's work, but he hadn't shared his wealth with anyone. Jacob's family was still poor, and he didn't like that he wasn't providing for his family the way he wants to.

So Laban decided to share with Jacob, and Jacob just asked for the spotted, speckled and dark sheep and goats. Laban agreed, but he went back on his word and took all the speckled and spotted animals out of the flocks himself and gave them to his sons instead of to Jacob.

Can you imagine how mad Jacob was when he went out to get his animals and they were gone?

"Seriously Laban? I'm trying to take care of your daughters and grandchildren. You won't let me?" Aaaah! I'm sure Jacob yelled in frustration.

Jacob tried to get more speckled and spotted lambs and kids by putting speckled and spotted sticks by the sheep and goats that were procreating. They thought it worked like that in those days --- we know that doesn't work today, but they didn't know how genes worked then.

In difficult situations, we have to figure out how to respond. That response should be trust God and work hard. One doesn't work without the other.

God saw how Laban was trying to take advantage of Jacob, and he decided to bless Jacob by providing him with more speckled and spotted lambs and kids than the perfect ones that went to Laban.

Laban's sons were jealous of Jacob's success. Laban was jealous. Jacob was uncomfortable and decided once again to leave. His wives had seen all their father had done to Jacob and how their father treated them badly and stole their inheritance, and they were fine with following their husband back to his hometown.

Just think, Rachel and Leah agreed on something. They bonded over the fact that their father treated them like dirt.

When they left, Rachel stole her dad's household gods, little gods of Laban's making. These gods were so powerless that Laban had to go after them and save them, while Jacob's God saved him. Jacob's God appeared to Laban and told him to leave Jacob alone.


1. Work for an audience of one. Work hard and trust God. Even if your situation is difficult, God is in charge and will treat us right even if it takes 20 years for us to see the rewards of our hard work.
2. Seek the God who can actually change your life. We may not have hand-crafted gods at home but we certainly have household gods that we pursue, places we pour out time that are not worth it. Seek the God that can make a difference.
3. God wants to set me free from slavery. Whether it's slavery at work, slavery to a certain sin, slavery to illness --- God can set free those who trust him.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A right heart versus right actions

You know what I wish, I wish it was easy to do the right thing.

I guess it says where I am in life that it's not always easy to do the right thing. If my heart was at the place it should be with God, it probably wouldn't take so much effort to do the right thing all the time. It should just be second nature, and I really shouldn't think anything about it.

When it comes to a choice between doing the easy thing and the right thing, I often think, "How do I want to be remembered?" Do I want to be remembered for me as a regular human, or do I want to be remembered for a woman who served, loved and gave without pause. Definitely the second.

But it's not always easy to make that decision. There have already been a couple of times this week that I've been faced with some situations that I didn't want to deal with. I've been so tempted to do what I wanted to do, what felt more comfortable, what didn't frustrate or disappoint me. But I knew what the right thing was, and I did it.

However, I haven't been super pleased with my reactions to doing it. I've thrown up my hands and growled in frustration, and I've cried in disappointment. What I really wish is that I got joy from doing what pleases God instead of getting upset about it inside while doing what's right on the outside.

I feel fake when I act right but my heart isn't in it. I guess it's not fake, it's obedient, but I want my heart to desire to do the right thing and for it to feel good instead of just acting in the right way.

I have to say, I think this is something I've dealt with my whole life. I remember when I went to college and made a few poor decisions that my mom told me she wished that her and my dad had instilled in my brother a heart that desired to do the right things and not just made us act right on the outside. I am in no way blaming my parents. I actually think they blame themselves way too much for this attitude. I think this is the attitude of sinful humankind, and I think it's my fault for not being in love enough with God to have a heart that just desires to do what he wants and finds joy in giving in difficult situations.

I'm not sure this is the most coherent blog. Sometimes when I write amidst emotion it doesn't always come out right, but I guess it does come out honestly. I honestly pray that God will give me a heart that desires to selflessly give and that it is not just me acting in the right way but it is me not even noticing that I'm doing the right thing because I'm so used to do it and so passionate about what God wants that it is just second nature.

Until then, here's to doing the right thing and not always enjoying it.