The Main Thing

I couldn’t believe it, but I had experienced it. I really did. By the end of the day, laying with my journal wide open, I sat in awe of how distinct the day had been. I read a friend’s post, which challenged my perspective that day. A challenge I needed.

Learning to keep the Main Thing the main thing... after figuring out what the Main Thing is.

I didn’t accomplish the entirety of my to do list. Far from it. I strummed an 8 inch guitar (formerly Mr. Potato Head’s) and sang Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus three times within ten minutes. I conversed with Buddy about Little House on the Prairie and horses. I stared at a full laundry basket, but this time — this time it didn’t intimidate me.

I had talked with Buddy about a couple of songs we would be singing the next Sunday at church. Wasn’t it cool that one of the verses he memorized was what this song was talking about? God’s Word is true! The conversation wouldn’t win awards for eloquence or execution, but I observed Buddy’s enthusiasm. And it excited me.

Several minutes later, I gathered what I needed to pull something together for supper. Buddy really wanted to care for Bear (who has become almost a second baby around our house at times), so I suggested he teach Bear his verses. From the other room, I hear:
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.  Isaiah 45:5-6

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not!
On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.
  Romans 7:7

Why? my heart pondered. Why are my days not filled with this? Why am I distracted by All the Things that need doing when my primary task lays before me, often neglected?

Did I parent perfectly for the rest of the evening? Far from it. But in my imperfection, I possessed a firm realization that when I keep the main thing the main thing, I (and my household) abide in peace.

What is this main thing?

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deut. 6:4-7

In whatever context I previously understood this, my understanding suffered incompletion. I did not wake up and think, “How can I show Buddy and Trooper God’s Ways today?” (And I still don’t on a daily basis.) My complacency satiated the objections I posed, because I was “doing what I could.” But God wanted more.

The call to live radical lives includes the call to radically encourage a love for God in our closest neighbors — those within our own household. For me, that’s a husband and 2 little guys who need to hear God’s Word in conversation, in prayer, in the midst of daily living.

{image by thomaskv}

Gratitude Project Progress

This month I missed a week…or two… and began to wonder who I was going to write and what I would thank them for. It had been a crazy couple of weeks and finding time to write 5 thank you notes each week just didn’t happen.

Progress being made in my 2015 Gratitude Project!Ever feel like that? Like the pace of life portends any reflection, any contemplation of the grace that produces such fullness?  The irony that full days were impeding my ability to locate things and people to be grateful for and to.

But just like last month when I found a few surprises in the list of people I needed to thank, I discovered a few in March as well.

  • The women’s ministry team. They put together an event for ladies on a quarterly basis, and this quarter’s event was a Pinterest party. I was excited to be able to go, because I’ve usually missed previous events due to them being while Pilot works. I went with high hopes of connecting with some of the ladies, hopes that were unrealized, but I still needed to thank them for their planning effort.
  • The teens who provided childcare — on a weeknight, when a few of them probably wished they were attending the party themselves. It dawned on me that if we want to encourage the next generation to be actively serving the Body, then we’d better thank them once in a while.
  • A professor I enjoyed in college. She was passionate about studying linguistics, an area I find intriguing, challenging, and just plain enjoyable. Unfortunately, my classmates didn’t love the class as much as I did. After finishing out the next semester, she moved on. I tracked her to a college in Maryland and wrote her a follow-up, thanking her for how she conducted the class and explaining how I had used the information in the days since.
  • My “Deaf mom.” I haven’t talked to her in over 4 years, and I have a hunch she thinks she wasted her time investing in me. After all, I didn’t become a full-fledged interpreter after college, and I didn’t return to my hometown. I settled into wife and mommy-hood. But I wanted her to know how her influence had shaped me.
  • My parents. I had been learning about what Scripture says about caring for the aging in our midst, and I came to the realization that my perspective is probably significantly different than most. My dad gave up his job as a church planter to move our family back to his old stomping grounds to care for my grandma. It made for a hard 5 years until she went to be with Jesus, but I wouldn’t trade that time with Grandma for the world. My parents didn’t handle every situation perfectly, but they did well.  They lived out the Gospel.

We all want to know that we aren’t wasting our time. When others disagree with us or we endure a difficult circumstance, assurance that this is time well spent is often lacking. And sometimes we even wonder if we made the right choice. Imagine how you might feel if out-of-the-blue someone sent you a thank you note for a choice you made or how you spent your time on a day (or series of days). Your confidence about being where your feet are would skyrocket.

Apparently, that was this month’s (unplanned) aim… to encourage others to keep being where their feet are and living life well. Thanks for listening and keeping me accountable!

How will you encourage someone in your life to be where his/her feet are?

Take My Self

Each Monday, we look at a line from the old hymn  Take My Life and Let it Be. Let’s see how we can apply the final line.

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.

The last line of the classic hymn Take My Life and Let it Be. Perhaps the hardest of all to apply.Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Lord, I’m not really sure I can do this. It’s one thing to ask You to set apart my life as holy into Yourself. I “get” that my hands and feet need to be declaring Your praises. My lips and voice should be singing of Your triumphs. My intellect must be surrendered to Your service. While they present some difficulty when it comes to relinquishing them to You, the challenge seems somewhat simplistic.

But my self?  My thoughts, dreams, goals. The future I anticipate and the plans I hope come to fruition. My ideal family. The path we should take. The deep things of my heart. You want all of this mess? If I am solely devoted to You above all else, You can make something beautiful?

Yes, Child. For you to fully experience the breadth and height and depth of My love for you, the fullness of My grace towards you, and My desire to be glorified in and through you, you must acquiesce even your self. Allow Me to prune your selfish tendencies, lance the wounds you so carefully hide, and sing over you. Come away with Me, and you will experience life of greater value than anything you leave behind… pleasures forevermore. (Eph. 3:17-19, 2 Cor. 12:9, 1 Cor. 10:31, Phil. 2:3, Mark 3:3-5, Zeph. 3:17, Song of Solomon 2:10, John 10:10, Psalm 16:11)

Books I’ve Been Reading {March}

And I press on. I’ve come to realize that the more time I spend reading, the less time I have for other tasks — like writing — so I’m learning to balance the two. That being said, I still have a lot of time to read while nursing, so I try to take advantage of that. I know this season won’t last forever. I’m also learning to keep the headphones close by, especially in the evenings, so I can listen to audiobooks while accomplishing other tasks.

Buying a House Debt-Free: Equipping Your Son
Pilot and I are reading this one together, and we’ve had some great conversations following the chapters. Of course, we already assume that not all of our children will pursue higher education in a traditional college setting, so that gave us a jumpstart with understanding where the authors are coming from. Our biggest takeaway: Build and Develop Marketable Skills. Never become complacent about your current work, but always be learning.

Have a New You by Friday
I didn’t love it. It got a 3 star rating. I listened to it while doing other tasks, but much of what I heard seemed to be a repackaging of The Birth Order Book, so I did get to hear a few stories for the second time. If you had to choose between the two, read The Birth Order Book instead.

Strong Mothers, Strong Sons
Honestly, this was a tough book for me to get into. I struggled through the first chapter. But by the end of it… by the time I started reading chapter two, the book flowed more and I was able to breeze through the pages. It’s an intimidatingly thick book (316 pages) and large, too. But it is well written and worth looking into if you’re interested in learning how to better parent The Other Gender.

Profiles of Audacity
True leaders are people who make decisions. For good or bad, they actually choose and move forward. An indecisive person disqualifies him/herself from being a leader. This book outlines some “tipping point” or “turn the tide” decisions leaders throughout history have made. I learned more about Cleopatra’s story and found some inspiration in Charlie Goodnight. I’m not done listening to it yet, but it’s been a great history book so far.

Next on the List:

The Set-Apart Woman
I am SO looking forward to this read. Leslie Ludy tops my favorite author list, and The Set-Apart Woman is her newest release. I sneaked and read the first chapter, which makes me want to rush through Strong Mothers, Strong Sons that much faster. I will intentionally take this book slowly; it’ll be one that a journal through. You’ll see a review about it on the blog sometime in the next month.

Love Has a Price Tag
I didn’t get to this one… Oops. I’m not sure I’ll get 12 Elisabeth Elliot books read this year.

 

Reading Aloud with Buddy:

Little House on the Prairie
We finally finished this one. Buddy loves the series and is eager to read Farmer Boy next.

 

What Pilot’s been listening to:

The Hobbit
A 1968 unabridged BBC radio dramatization. Since it was from that era, it was a bit comical to listen to. It sounded like most of the characters were played by the same person. But, hey, it was free!

What If?
Pilot has followed xkcd since his early years of college. The subtitle of the book explains its contents accurately: Serious answers to absurd hypothetical questions.  The author is a former NASA roboticist, and he uses all kinds of physics to explain his answers. This book is right up Pilot’s alley, and he read all 300 pages in less than a week.

C.S. Lewis At War
A production of Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre, Pilot finished the story behind the book and is looking forward to hearing the entire reading of Mere Christianity. Radio Theatre has excellent productions, and this is no exception!

Hop over to Facebook, drop me a line on Twitter, or comment with what you’ve been reading of late. I’m always looking for a good book to add to my ever-increasing to-read list!

This post includes affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

Everything We Have

image by spekulator via freeimages.com

You never know when someone needs what you have.

Recently, I considered nixing my personal Facebook page. Quite a bit of hype ensued among other bloggers about the privacy changes along with algorithm changes that affect how many people see what is posted. I talked with Pilot about it, not sure what to do. So we opted to wait, at least a little while longer.

Then, last Saturday evening, I found an unexpected message in my Facebook inbox. A lady from church I had briefly interacted with (in person) on a couple of occasions had noticed me commenting in conversations about cloth diapers and wondered if I’d share my thoughts with her as she looks to start her stash for her sweet one month old.

My heart leapt! Someone I barely knew was contacting me, inquiring about my experience. She probably didn’t realize she was asking me to share part of my story.

Because of where God has brought me in the last year, particularly in seeking community, I invited her to our house to see my stash and touch and feel what she had researched. I hoped she would say yes. And she did! She drove from the big city to our house…and brought us cookies. But the conversation was sweeter.

I will admit — I talked way too much. At one point, I offered her an all-in-one diaper Trooper had outgrown so she could at least try it. She looked at me with tears welling. For a moment we sat in silence. I finally said, “Those eyes have a story behind them.” And I invited her to share.

She probably has no idea how her story challenged me. As she described what her home was like, she said, “Almost everything we have has been given to us.” That stuck with me.

Almost everything we have has been given to us.

It was such a sweet time of fellowship. Yet long after she left, I kept thinking about those words. I looked around our apartment and realized we could basically say the same thing. Actually, we should  be saying the same thing.

Everything we have has been given to us.

Whether it’s a coffee table Pilot found by the side of the road or a cloth diaper stash built mostly through the generosity of friends and family, it has been given to us. Whether it is the food in the fridge we just purchased from the store or the couch a neighbor have us as he moved out, it has been given to us.

“It has been given to us,” I thought, but have we gratefully received?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

Eucharisteo [giving thanks] always precedes the miracle. -Ann Voskamp

I sent her home with a starter “kit” for her cloth diapers, hoping I had been an encouragement as she begins her motherhood journey. Yet again, I was reminded… You never know when someone needs {to hear} what you have {to say}. Words always have power.

image

Wanna join us? It’s simple. Grab a journal and start writing. What are you thankful for in this moment? What have you overlooked that He has graciously given you? Then once a month in 2015, join me as we revel –together– in His mercies! If you have a blog, I’d love for you to leave your link. If you don’t, feel free to leave your list in the comments!

Mercies since January 2014: 1888. Take a look at this week’s list:
1700. From the pulpit: Treasures are not bad; They are necessary (food, clothing, etc). They are necessary for us to display how to rightly interact with them.
1701. Buddy fell asleep so we didn’t have to go to the library {Momma was tired!}
1702. getting most of what we need for a month in one grocery trip with $$ to spare
1703. not panicking about the impending storm
1704. sleeping in til almost 8 (after sending Buddy back to bed at 4:30am…)
1705. 11+ inches of snow!
1706. Pilot improvising our lack of owning a snow shovel and digging the parking lot out with an old trashcan
1707. Buddy playing outside for an hour and a half
1708. Pilot doing naptime with Buddy before leaving for work
1709. safety for Pilot to/from work
1710. Buddy taking a 6 hour nap!
1711. quiet time to finish reading
Growing Up Duggar
1712. the warm setting on the crock pot so the chicken was a suitable temperature when Pilot arrived home
1713. Buddy utilizing his new “task list”
1714. Pilot and Buddy ministering to neighbors in the next building, helping her get her SUV maneuvered in the snow
1715. Buddy announcing, “I’ll go check on Trooper!”
1716. a free teleseminar about the year of jubilee
1717. a massive amount of deliveries and a massive amount of tips
1718. learning how to empathize with at-home moms whose husbands work all day
1719. a text from my sis-in-law asking for prayer
1720. Buddy’s nearly insatiable desire to “honor God with Buddy’s work!”
1721. Buddy understanding not to get up until his clock turns green
1722. conviction to not complain about Pilot’s extra hours working since I prayed for “exceedingly abundant” provision
1725. the neighbor gifting Pilot $$ for his help in the snow
1726. that a friend’s foster son’s name means “the LORD is exalted” and Trooper’s name means “the Lord is exalted”
1727. homemade bread for on&;
1728. finding the misplaced computer mouse
1729. a day off less spit up from Trooper
1730. reading
Little House on the Prairie aloud with Buddy
1731. Buddy asking me to sing We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder
1732. the Moby Wrap
1733. an extra portion of patience with Buddy even though I wasn’t fully rested
1734. perfect texture smoothies
1735. using little minutes and “redeeming” them with the gratitude project
1736. a bright eyed, blonde haired boy who enthusiastically delivers a sucker to me upon his return from the bank
1737. leftover chicken Pilot brought home from a store trade — perfect for lunch
1738. an unintentional hour nap with Trooper
1739. Buddy’s zeal to “do some work” and clean up his room a bit before bed
1740. applying sermons in daily living
1741. Baby laughter!
1742. a little brother who cranes his neck to watch Big Brother
1743. a 2 hour trip to Golden Corral — intentionally pacing for rest
1744. family naptime
1745. “Finding Your Roots” on PBS — learning the importance of generational stories
1746. seeing God’s heart for families (and generations of them!)
1747. a 2 year old who diligently made two pizzas from the corner of the kitchen
1748. that Buddy is working on his 10th catechism verse (Rom. 6:21)
1749. Pilot took time to tinker with a toy’s vibration mechanism — and include Buddy in the process
1750. a full day of rest at home
1751. Skype on Mom’s Kindle
1752. Pilot leading family worship
1753. the opportunity to “be where my feet are” and visit a friend in the hospital
1755. no time limit on our visit
1756. walking away refreshed
1757. Pilot getting up with Buddy
1758. making pretzel rolls together
1760. reading… together
1761. playing Mexican Train for a few rounds
1762. Buddy playing in his room for an hour and a half (after waking up) before coming to get me
1763. working… together… in the kitchen
1764. building the USA puzzle with Buddy before bed
1765. Trooper laughing in response to me blessing him before bed
1766. that we look like we’re struggling financially but we have peace that comes from living below our means and trusting God as Ultimate Provider
1767. a Kindle to read God’s Word at 6am
1768. the simplicity of toast and an Apple for breakfast
1769. Buddy playing solo with his blocks while Pilot studied and I made lunch
1770. Buddy playing quietly in his room for 3 hours {albeit rather than sleeping…}
1771. Trooper sleeping 3 hours
1772. a power nap
1773. little fingers grabbing at my gratitude journal and adding personality to my penmanship
1774. no bumps or bruises when Buddy {asleep} fell out of his bed
1775. that Buddy went back to sleep easily
1776. donating my store of mama’s milk from Trooper’s hospital stay to help a 2 week old
1777. an easy-going Trooper
1778. Buddy requesting to sit on my lap as we read
1779. library time all 4 of us
1780. finding a hardcover copy of a book Pilot has been anxious to read at the library
1781. a little boy’s prayer of thanksgiving for “water. And oatmeal and peanut butter, bowls and spoons.”
1782. a laid back morning
1783. salmon and fried okra
1785. Pilot took Buddy with him to get the car towed and fixed
1786. the fix wasn’t too expensive
1787. reading
Visionary Parenting with Pilot and recounting how far God has brought us
1788. Buddy eagerly helping clean the living room to prepare for worship
1789. Trooper staying asleep with the light on so I can write
1792. 20% off at Big Lots
1793. remembering I hadn’t scheduled the day’s post {at 4:30am}
1794. that said post was already written and just needed polishing
1795. hands that trust, explore, rest
1797. simple planning
1798. free pancakes at I HOP
1799. boneless pork loin for $1.69/lb!
1800. running into Mrs. Betty at the grocery store
1801. Pilot cut my hair…with layers
1802. reading
Little House with Buddy while sitting on his bed — for an hour and a half!
1804. Pilot’s sensitivity when Buddy is hurt
1806. prompting to “be where my feet are” and make sourdough rolls for the neighbors
1807. that the dough turned out well, even after a flopped dough cycle
1808. the opportunity to discuss giving boundaries with Pilot
1809. finding out our Operation Christmas Child boxes went to Rwanda this year!
1810. nailing down our budget for traveling this summer
1811. old writing assignments and progress in tenderness over time
1812. Pilot’s gentleness with my lack of energy
1813. a husband who is loyal
1816. Mom and Dad arriving safely
1817. Papa getting up with Buddy, which enabled me to read Scripture before getting up
1818. Grandma and Papa diverting Buddy so Pilot could sleep in
1819. Grandma doing puzzles with Buddy
1820. Papa and Grandma building a snowman with Buddy — his first!
1821. a restful day at home
1824. an efficient Sunday morning (after I overslept with the time change)
1825. time in the car with Mom to and from worship
1826. the opportunity to provide a meal for our BFG family
1827. a project for Pilot and Dad to work on together
1828. Mom and Dad taking a slow morning before departing
1829. collecting stories from Mom and Dad to archive and transcribe
1830. time to read Real books during naptime since Trooper struggled with sleep
1831. Pilot got to come home for 30 minutes between flight and work
1832. Pilot played outside with Buddy during that time
1833. a taste of Spring
1834. an excellent new pediatrician for Trooper
1836. a nurse that preferred I hold Trooper while she administered his shots
1837. Pilot taking Buddy outside to play in the rain
1838. the apartment staying above 67
1839. Buddy playing quietly as I wake up slowly
1840. a Wednesday with Pilot at home
1841. a 2 year old whose conversation skills are rapidly increasing
1842. getting the list of songs for Sunday worship in advance so Buddy can learn the words
1843. Buddy signing Hallelujah!
1844. Buddy saying Isaiah 45:5-6 and Romans 7:7 when I suggested he teach his verses to Bear
1845. a surprise in the mail from Sarah Jo
1846. a big brother eager to teach a 4 month old brother how to strum a guitar… and neither getting frustrated by the experience
1847. the Spirit prompting and my heart readying to let go of my plans
1848. Pilot’s patience
1849. a day at the park without jackets
1850. arriving at the church Pinterest party on time
1851. Buddy’s excitement about the vehicles to play with {this being my first time to leave him in the care of a nonfamily member}
1852. being stretched to “be where my feet are” when I didn’t want to be at the table I was
1853. knowing Trooper’s cries on the way home were exhaustion and nothing else
1854. an impromptu day with Pilot {flight cancelled}
1855. something to go toward debt repayment {even if less than hoped}
1856. Pilot’s self motivation to study for flight
1857. a boy who loves his daddy
1858. a husband who stops by Wal-Mart on a run to grab a box of diapers
1859. that the hardest part of the Two Year Old stage has passed rather quickly
1860. the ladies who spent time and effort on planning the Pinterest party
1861. the teenagers who supplied childcare
1862. a sister to learn alongside of
1864. fresh sourdough rolls for fellowship
1865. running down the sidewalk to the grocery store with a little boy clashing my hand and laughing the whole way
1866. watching the lobsters
1867. a helper eager to do all he can
1868. pumpkin pie for Pi Day
1869. worshipping in the sanctuary
1870. a cry room
1871. meeting a fellow NICU veteran mom and sharing stories
1872. great fellowship over a meal with our BFG
1873. Pilot’s healing
1874. groceries
1875. finding a Facebook message about cloth diapers
1876. inviting her to our house and her saying Yes!
1877. a morning of restoring order to the living room
1878. Trooper sleeping a lot
1879. cookies from a new friend
1880. the opportunity to listen
1881. the opportunity to bless and be blessed
1882. free ice cream cones from Dairy Queen
1883. Trooper falling asleep in my arms so Buddy could play outside longer
1884. watching Pilot disciple Buddy. Such a picture of God’s patience!
1885. Mom and Buddy time, him coloring and me reading, snuggled on the couch
1886. finding out what’s wrong with the car…and that it doesn’t have to be fixed
1887. Pilot allowing me to nap for an hour
1888. a free book in the mail to review

 
Do you tweet? Keep up with what’s going on and join in the fun with the hashtag #neweverymorning!
 
Sarah Jo at Paper-Bark Burch publishes her mercy recounting each Thursday, so be sure to check her posts. Oh, and please leave your link in the comments!

Take My Love

Each Monday, we look at a line from the old hymn  Take My Life and Let it Be. Let’s see how we can apply the next line.

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.

image

Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.

Love. In modern use, we love sweaters and ice cream, moms and dogs, baseball teams and cars.

At this point, does offering our love to God even mean anything?

We love because He first loved us.

A “treasure store” implies that there is a bountiful reserve of love, set aside for one purpose. For me to pour out my treasure store at His feet, I cannot divvy it out to other things or people. I must not pursue other tasks or goals. Sole focus. One Love.

When He is the priority of our love, all other loves flow rightly from that. Love for husband, love for children, enjoyment of crafting or sports or baking. We can direct others to His love best when He has our love first.

This week, I am going to be more cautious in using the word “love.” Instead, I may “appreciate” or “thoroughly enjoy” something. I am also working on being intentionally focused on loving Him first by prioritizing time in the Word. Not massive amounts of time, but time where I deepen my love for Him. Where I pour out the entire treasure store.

How will you love Him first this week?

A Day at the Park

The weather yesterday was gorgeous. Perfect for a day at the park.

Me? I really wanted to join Pilot and Buddy, but I hesitated. I had a post to write and a special evening event with the women’s ministry at our church, the latter of which I rarely get to join due to Pilot working evening shift. After some discussion, I opted to go with them…because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. So instead of some super eloquent post today, you get pictures. Enjoy. :D

park1 park2 park3 park4 park5 park6 park7

Planning, Providence, and Beginning

Hello, my name is Kayla, and I am a chronic planner. I love lists and thrive on deadlines. The word budget  doesn’t scare me; it challenges my creativity. Before I got to college, I spent some time looking through the course catalog and laid out my entire college career. Yes. I knew every class I would take each semester for 4 years… before my first day.

It's all His anyway.Without counsel, plans go awry,
But in the multitude of counselors they are established.  (Prov. 15:22)

During the courtship season of our relationship, Pilot and I read books to help us talk about some of the conflicts that can arise in marriage, such as roles each of us thought the other would assume. We also met with our pastor for what we tongue-in-cheek dubbed “pre-engagement counseling.” It was a one time meeting to see if there was anything we were overlooking in our preparation for marriage. Our relationship could not move into the season of engagement until our parents gave their blessings, so we wanted to be using the time before that wisely and proactively.

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.
  (Prov. 16:9)

For all this planning that I love to do, the LORD is teaching me infinite adaptability. A lesson I get to learn and relearn, apparently. I would like to be able to tell you where we’ll be a year from now, 3 years from now, 10 years from now… but in a weather-dependent industry like aviation, time just isn’t rigid. A week of snow can shut down airport operations and thus delay progress.

It's all His anyway.Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left. (Is. 30:21)

Here’s what we know:

  • Pilot should complete his multi-engine class by early summer.
  • After that has been accomplished, we will get gazelle intense on knocking out the remaining student loans. We are aiming to pay them off by mid-2016 at our current pace.
  • When all debt has been cleared, the next step will be to save up for Pilot to get his Certified Flight Instructor license. In the aviation world, you build time by teaching students.
  • After he has amassed enough hours via instructing, which could take a couple years, he will most likely step into the commercial airline industry, at least for a time.
  • Missions. Because of how distant this step is, we don’t know what it will look like. We are interested in joining Mission Aviation Fellowship, but Wycliffe and New Tribes Mission also utilize pilots. If we pursue MAF, that will require us to take some college level Bible courses as well as for Pilot to get his Airframe & Powerframe (A&P, aircraft mechanic) certification. The A&P certification usually takes 18 months to obtain.

Aviation, professional flight, is not your typical college degree. It’s not a “finish it and start flying for the national companies” degree. It’s a work-your-way-up field. And considering that flight instructors make {way} less than Pilot currently does as a pizza delivery guy, stepping into the industry with no burden of debt will allow us to give generously on a teeny tiny income.

It's all His anyway.Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin  (Zech. 4:10a, NLT)

In our house, we have come to realize that this season of cash flowing college has lasted much longer than we anticipated. That fact did not catch God by surprise. So, we have begun looking for the “work” that is beginning. What does He want to teach us during this time that our hearts would not heed in the next season? How is He reshaping our vision of the future to align more fully with His, ultimately for His glory?

While I have not given up planning in its entirety — I still have a to do list posted on the kitchen cabinet  — I am learning that there is only so much planning I can do. Since we are dynamic creatures in a dynamic relationship with an unchanging God, we will continue to learn and seek Him as He sanctifies us. So, yes, our plans will probably be changed. He could speed up the process in a way we can’t foresee. Or He may delay another stage.

And I’m reminded that regardless of how long each stage takes, it’s all His anyway.

Take My Heart

Each Monday, we look at a line from the old hymn  Take My Life and Let it Be. Let’s see how we can apply the next line.

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.

A look at the line from the classic hymn Take My Life. How can we apply it today?Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.

Ah, the heart. In Scripture, it is considered the “seat of emotions.” The resting place, the origin. Our heart plays a key role in our daily living — but, at least in my case, that’s often taken for granted.

God’s Word has more than a few things to say about the heart. The unconverted heart, for example, is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked  (Jer. 17:9). Those who trust Christ as Savior and follow hard after Him have experienced a heart reunification transplant:

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh… (Ez. 11:19)

God doesn’t do this without reason though. He doesn’t give new hearts of flesh just because He wants to or “feels like it.” He does it as a mark of ownership:

…that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (11:20)

He knows that our deceitful hearts seek our own gain. He knows that this condition is not ideal, nor is it His ultimate plan. He knows that to follow Him loyally and with abandon, we all need a heart that feels (flesh) in place of our hardened heart (stone).

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matt. 12:34b)

A heart of flesh should “speak” distinctly. It shouldn’t sound like the unconverted hearts of stone around us. Grumbling and complaining comes from a heart of stone, our default mechanism. Jealousy and discontent dwells in stone hearts. Bitterness and malice abide well there.

Gratitude inhabits the heart of flesh, the mode of operation for our hearts in the process of sanctification. Contentment and appreciation overflows from flesh hearts. Tenderness and kindness flourish in that place.

Our hearts must be led. If we give in to every whim, we will be what James calls a “double-minded man.”

How are you leading your heart?

Ministry Spotlight: 40 Days for Life

For as long as I can remember, my family has been connected to pregnancy help centers (formerly known as “crisis pregnancy centers”) in some way, shape, or form. I have vivid memories of volunteering at the Right to Life booth at a county fair in high school. We attended a concert with Nikki Leonti to benefit local help centers. My mom volunteered in the thrift store that supported, at least in part, the one in our community. When I applied for the Honors program at one college, I wrote my “hot button issue” essay on abortion and then defended it in my interview. {I ultimately chose a different college, but this experience shaped me.} Bosses at my summer job reached out to a coworker considering –and ultimately choosing– abortion. Life  is near and dear to my heart.

March's ministry spotlight features an organization that bolsters others to action. Click to learn more!When I was in college, I listened to Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, and a host of other podcasts as I typed labels, filed transcripts, and completed other data entry tasks. During one of these podcasts, I learned about the vision and practice of 40 Days for Life. And it changed my life.

Because I didn’t have a car at the time, I was unable to drive to the big city and physically participate in the 40 Days for Life campaign, but I could pray. I prayed. I read the updates. I praised God. I saw that my small voice in my cinderblock dorm room really could have an impact.

40 Days for Life is “a focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God’s power… to end abortion.” Their mission is to “bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion. Unity. It’s a Gospel issue.

Someone, somewhere praying every hour of the day for 40 days to end abortion.

Today is Day 17 of the 40 Days campaign. (When I signed up in college, they were hosting one each spring and fall. I could not locate anything to confirm a fall 40 Days campaign.) There is an accompanying devotional written for each day to draw your attention to specific Scripture and specific prayer needs. You can also sign up for email updates or follow the 40 Days blog. The ways God answers specific prayers through this gathering of believers across denominational lines will absolutely floor you.

40 Days of Life isn’t your typical ministry. As such, you might wonder what monetary donations would accomplish. The goal of the organization is to provide resources and training for each group that begins a campaign in their area. The groups pay a small fee to help cover the cost of supplies, and the rest of the cost is covered by donations.

Women who consider abortion have internal and external pressures many of us cannot comprehend. This prayer and peaceful vigil is not aimed to intimidate the women in those situations but to offer hope. Prayer binds God’s people together with a common goal and ministers to those in need. It directs attention to the Power Above All Powers, the Sovereign Lord Almighty. It glorifies Him.

Feeling a bit insignificant in God’s Grand Plan? Pray. Join the 40 Days for Life and pray for:

  • Women who are at risk of having an abortion
  • Innocent children who are at risk of perishing
  • Men and women who carry the pain of a past abortion experience
  • Workers at Planned Parenthood facilities and abortion centers
  • Local, regional, and national leaders
  • Revival and renewal in our churches
  • Repentance and healing throughout our nation

You can like 40 Days for Life on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

How can you support Life?