Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Precious Than Jewels - My Conviction

I am feeling so convicted today but it is a very sweet thing. Generally, my guilt over things leaves me feeling condemned and I will pull away relationally..from people and from God.

Today, I do not feel condemned, I feel loved and invited.

What do I feel convicted of? You name it! I have a godly desire to maintain my household (cleaning, organizing, decorating), I have a desire to be a good employee (follow through, be proactive, be efficient), I have a desire to understand my Jesus in bigger ways (theological studies), I have a desire to know my friends better and to be known by them, and I have a desire to be a better steward of my resources (finances, time, gifting); however, since I do not manage my time well, I do not get to most of these things or I do not do them well.

Conviction #1: Lack of Time Management

Proverbs 31:13-14
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.

I think this conviction has been brewing for awhile. I can almost hear myself saying “God, I can do this” and pushing Him aside. I created a schedule for myself last week. Not an hour by hour detail, but I wrote down the times I would wake up and what I would do the first two hours of every morning. Here is where I usually get tripped up in my day. I take the first 2 hours for me…enjoy my coffee, reading, updating my status on Facebook and seeing what my friends are up to, then I am to plunge into the day. The problem is I never get to the “read” and then I spend the next 2 hours frustrated because I am not ready to do the things I need to do as I am not done doing the things I want to do.

My schedule also included the hours in which I would do my bookkeeping job. All the other open hours should be the time I have to do household chores, errands, and visiting friends. On paper, it looked great. First day, I could not get out of bed at 8am so I slept an extra hour, which leads me to...

Conviction #2: Love of Sleep

Proverbs 31:15
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.

I do not get to see my husband much during the day; often it is 7pm before I even see him. The next two hours are spent preparing for and cleaning up after dinner. Then we usually all sit down and watch TV together. Somewhere between midnight and 1am, we usually head to bed. Now, I know 8 hours is an average but it is not my average. I prefer 9-10 hours. I have a pull to stay up longer to be with my husband versus getting to bed earlier so I can start my morning at a reasonable hour. In the end, I do not think I have even connected well with my husband since we have been in front of the TV for hours.

My husband is the cook; he is quite good at. I think I take advantage of this. I know he loves to serve our family in this way and I let him... fully. I do not feel convicted about not cooking; it is a gift and a blessing I hold dearly. I do believe I can contribute in a more significant way and if I did so would probably see my husband more and have more meaningful time together. I could plan on what we are going to eat, rather than waiting for him to drive home and trying to decide what he should pick up from the store. I could do a lot of the prep work before he even gets home. Chop the veggies, get pans ready, boil water, etc. Which leads to my next conviction...

Conviction #3: Idleness

Proverbs 31:27
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

I love one definition of the word idle: to pass time doing nothing. TV has never really been my idea of a great way to spend time. The first few years of our marriage, I did not even want it on and did not find anything worth watching. I recently, however, got sucked into 24, and then back into American Idol, and now the Biggest Loser. So I have three shows that I have to watch. The rest I could care less about and will generally pull out the laptop and occasionally check out what is happening on TV.

TV is not the only issue...I waste a lot of time doing nothing. Surfing the internet, reading the news (which just saddens me), Facebook, reading Blogs, etc.

Conviction #4: Taking Care of Me

Proverbs 31:17
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.

When I think of taking care of me, I think of lying around enjoying me time…I do not think of my health and well-being. I am supposed to be taking a lot of supplements, but it is a lot of work organizing and swallowing that many pills. I am supposed to be avoiding certain foods (that are predominately in prepared foods), so I should be making most of my meals from scratch. I should be going to the gym, to keep my heart healthy and lungs strong.

Conviction #5: Stewarding My Resources

Proverbs 31:16; 18
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

Proverbs 31:20
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.

I am learning to steward our finances better…there is still work to do. There are some areas where I am really diligent and god-honoring and some areas where I do not even think twice. There are some areas where I am just plain stingy and other areas where I am just plain indulgent. Not a good balance.

Serving, I do this but I do not believe I do it well. It is something I am very passionate about and feel blessed by the privilege of the manner in which I get to serve. I often find myself on holy ground. Yet I often complain and grumble the moments leading into serving..I’m tired, I have so many things to do, I do not feel equipped, I am not in a good place…they go on and on.

Conviction #6: Wisdom

Proverbs 31:26
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

I avoid theology and theologians. My attitude towards certain points of theology has been that it does not impact my faith or my salvation and there are other more important things to concern myself with. It took struggling through the idea of Election and Predestination for me to see how God used my recent understanding of these ideas to speak the truth in love to someone about His love for us. Without the idea of election, my words would have seemed trite and like christianese. I have a desire to dive deeper into just a few right now…Election, Justification, Atonement, Propitiation, Expiation, and Assurance. Hence the overall conviction I am feeling right now…how and when?

I’ve always seen the Proverbs woman as unattainable. I am beginning to see how she is really just a model of what it looks like to live out biblical womanhood, an area I know very little about.

She is there to guide us and encourage us, not condemn and shame us because we do not live up to her standard. I believe she is in the bible as a gift from God to show us what a standard of beauty really is.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Cried Myself To Sleep

Last night. I did. Not just simple tears, nope. Full on sobs like when I was a little girl and my heart had been broken and it felt like my world as I knew it was falling apart. I cried out to God to please help me understand why. I know why is never a good question to ask God…if I could understand the why then I could be God. There is a part of me that really does want to know what He has planned for us and the other part of me that is absolutely terrified to know.

I have no idea where this outburst came from; honestly it came out of nowhere. It played out in a conversation with my husband but my sobs were so intense I could barely speak. I could only get a sentence in every few minutes or so before I finally fell asleep.

I did not say anything overly significant but it was a very significant moment. I was being brutally honest with myself, my husband, and my God. I was sharing my pain that I tend to keep buried so deep it would be impossible to feel. I believe God brought this up and out of me yet I have no idea why…yet.

I do not remember exactly what I said only the overall idea. I was confessing my intense hurt and lack of understanding at the fact that we have not been able to have a child together. How unbearably painful it is to read about mother’s who abandon their newborn babies in dumpsters…why does God let this happen? What can I possibly do to cause God to bless us? What have I done wrong? The lies I still have a tendency to struggle with…if I could do things better, if I was a better homemaker, if I loved Him more, if I weighed less…

I do not know what the moment was all about or what I was supposed to learn from it exactly. All I know is that it was a very sweet moment with my Lord and Savior where I was exposing my heart completely before Him and He was right there with me.

Many of the Psalms begin with a crying out to God or sometimes just a grumbling, the Psalmist will generally then move on to praising God. I missed the praising God as I fell asleep but I think He even blessed me with a really good night sleep. In the morning, I was praising God and continue to do so even though there are moments I cry out.

The truth is I am generally crying out in some way although I do not often recognize it. Even in my questioning God, I think He is pleased simply because I am choosing to turn to Him in my pain and in my need. He prefers my honest cries to Him over my denial and refusal to acknowledge Him in my pain.

Here are some examples of crying out taken directly from the Psalms:

5:1 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,for to you do I pray.

10:1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

69:1 Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dimwith waiting for my God.

13:1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my souland have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

60:1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
you have been angry; oh, restore us.

64:1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.

74:1 O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?

77:1 I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints.

88:1 O Lord, God of my salvation;
I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles,

and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
5 like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

8 You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9 my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.