Wednesday, December 31, 2008

ending the year and beginning another

I've struggled recently to balance in my mind the tasks and things to be done with resting and enjoying our home with my husband. I can become very task oriented as I desire to get things done, without ever realizing that I'm ruining my day in the hustle of it all. Beyond that I'm keeping myself busy with things I've decided to do, not really things that affect our lives in big ways at all, and definitely not things that Matt would prioritize either. Its been exhausting, and its not been good for me or good for us. It has come from a hard that is not trusting in the Lord either. Rather than trust Him to mold me into the wife and woman He desires me to be, I've been busying myself doing things that I think will make me a good wife and woman. Its been quite backwards. I can't do it myself, only the Lord can work in me by His Holy Spirit to create in me the character that is pleasing to Him. While keeping my home is part of His desire for me, there are many other lifetime traits that matter in a different sense... am I patient? gentle? Am I trusting Him more than I am myself? As I read Proverbs 31 today I saw great character traits that this "excellent wife" possessed. In the past, I've often read that chapter and considered the things I should DO as a result of her example, today I realized that while this woman seems like she must have been quite busy... she possessed Godly character.
vs. 11: she was trustworthy
vs. 12: she did good to her husband
vs. 13: she served "with willing hands" joyfully not out of a heart of duty
vs. 15: she was diligent
vs. 16: she was thoughtful
vs. 17: she was strong, probably physically a little bit, but I was thinking strong in spirit
vs. 20: she was generous
vs. 25: she was again strong, but also exhibited dignity
vs. 26: she was wise and kind
vs. 30: she feared the Lord

Finally I was reading a Puritan prayer for the end of the year... I found it especially true:

O Love beyond compare,
Thou art good when thou givest, when thou takest away, when the sun shines upon me, when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world, and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still, in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me during another year, leading me through a twisting wilderness, in retreat helping me to advance, when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation, though wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation, I shall not drown;
If I am to die, I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot, grant me the grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love, I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial, as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

God's provision

As I went to a Christmas Tea yesterday at our church I was encouraged by a testimony which was shared about the Lord's providence and provision. After having a Friday night of some small frustrations, I was reminded that the Lord is always gracious in His provision for us. Then I was able to see so many blessings that He's given us first-hand.

Friday night I was feeling anxious and worried about finances. This month things have been closer than usual budget wise, after extra expenses when family visited, new electronics purchases, etc. I was upset about expenses the weekend would bring, and thought things just might come up short. What little faith I had! Matt was kind and gentle in his reminders that the Lord has been good to provide for us. He helped me think through our expenses and plan for them which put my mind at ease a bit. Its so hard to understand why I can become so "derailed" in faith just because I selfishly wish I had a little bit more (on Friday night, I wanted extra money for us to get Starbucks while we looked at Christmas lights... very trivial).

So the Lord is amazingly good. Rather than leaving me alone in my unfaithfulness He instead showed me more greatly His good provisions. In fact, I'd say He lavished provision upon us in the following ways:
~ we didn't have the extra money to do our "stockpiling" with coupons and the Grocery Game this week, but we had just enough to buy all we needed for a full week's menu (baked potatoes, chicken fried steak, pumpkin pancakes, biscuits and gravy, tuna salad sandwiches, and homemade pizza)
~ we even had the pantry items to make great breakfasts like waffles to eat today and then freeze, omelets which were yesterday's breakfast, and granola
~ another seminary student in our apartments received a trunk full of breads! so he knocked on our door and offered us some great bagels which added good variety to our breakfast options
~ our neighbor below us knocked on our door with a bag of chicken fried rice she and her husband wouldn't be eating since they were going out of town
~ my coupons at CVS allowed me to buy my perscription, a bar of soap, a bottle of shampoo, and two first aid kits for only $5... even the cashier was amazed
~ I then had money left-over to pay for our Christmas Tea tickets
~ we had a free Red Box code for a movie date last night which we enjoyed greatly (we watched "The Visitor")
~ we emptied our change collection and cashed it in to make quarters and had just enough for this week's laundry
~ the $2 left went to buying 2 newspapers for coupon clipping
In all these small ways, that I often might over-look, the Lord showed me His abundant goodness in a personal way. I am thankful to Him for His goodness and grace.

PSALM 31:19
Oh, how abundant is your goodness,which you have stored up for those who fear you, and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

PSALM 69:16
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.

PSALM 145:7
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness,
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.