Saturday, June 30, 2012

the good God has in mind

I've been reading another excellent book called Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. Here are a few things that have encouraged me and I hope that they encourage you!

This first passage is expounding on the very familiar passage of Romans 8:28, but in a little different light that I had thought about it before.

"Just as our physical muscles will not grow in strength without exercise, so our spiritual life will not grow apart from circumstances that challenge us...If we easily become anxious (that's me!), there will be ample opportunities to deal with the sin of anxiety.  God does not tempt us to sin, but He does bring or allow circumstances to come into our lives that give us opportunity to put to death the particular subtle sins that are characteristic of our individual lives.  It is obvious that we can deal with the activity of our subtle sins only as the circumstances we encounter expose them."

"...the truth I want us to see now is that God is in control of every circumstance and every even in our lives, and He uses them, often in some mysterious way, to change us more into the likeness of Christ."

"Romans 8:28 is a text many of us go to for encouragement in tough times. 'We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.' However, while that passage is indeed one of all-around encouragement to us, Paul is actually talking about our spiritual transformation. The 'good' of verse 28 is explained in verse 29 to be the conformity to the image of God's son This means, then, that the Holy Spirit is at work in use through our circumstances to make us more like Christ."

I think prior to reading this I had thought of this verse in a much more temporal light. The "good" being  actually the outcome of a situation. Does that make sense? God does redeem difficult situations and will make something beautiful from them, but the good he ultimately has in mind in this verse is my sanctification. He's working all of my life's situations for that good end.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Choosing Gratitude

Over the past week I've been reading Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  I've been reminded that gratitude IS a choice and it's often the hard choice.  My default is whine rather than to worship.  I wanted to share a few quotes that encouraged and convicted me.

This first one is from the forward:

"And so I've been giving thanks for most of my paralyzed life. Not only giving thanks 'in everything, ' as one part of the bible tells us, but 'always giving thanks to God the Father for everything' as another part commands.  Most of us are able to thank God for His grace, comfort and sustaining power in a trial, but we don't thank Him for the problem, just finding Him in it. But many decades in a wheelchair have taught me to not segregate my Savior from the suffering he allows, as though a broken neck- or in your case, a broken ankle, heart or home- merely 'happens' and then God shows up after the fact to wrestle something good out of it. No, the God of the bible is bigger than that. Much bigger." -Joni Eareckson Tada

Instigators of Ingratitude
1. Unrealistic expectations
2. Forgetfulness
3. Entitlement
4. Comparison
5. Blindness to God's grace

Gratitude unleashes the freedom to live content in the moment, rather than being anxious about the future or regretting the past. - Ellen Vaughn

"Arguable the most affluent, materially blessed people in the history of the world, we have become angry, bitter, proud, and ungrateful. We have gotten this false sense of entitlement and the entirely unbiblical idea that God owes us ease and luxury...God loves you, His promises are sure, and your heavenly destiny is settled forever if you've trusted Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  But some of the holy work we need to have done in us and through us can only come through the valley of shadow and suffereing. Are you going to be resistant to that? Or are you going to be clay in His hands, knowing that He is intent on shaping you into the image of Christ and wants to use your life for something far bigger than your own comfort, convenience, and pleasure? He wants your life to be part of a grand, eternal redemptive picture that portrays the wonder of His saving grace." Nancy Leigh DeMoss

It is so, so easy for me to slip into ingratitude and complaining.  My want to be content in the day.  I want to be thankful for God's provision today, instead of worrying about what's going to happen two weeks from now.  I want to thank Him for this time that is stretching me.  I want to think Him for the opportunity He is giving me to trust Him.  I want to trust that He is accomplishing something far bigger in our situation right now than I can imagine.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55: 8-9

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Smoky Mountains

Went swimming at the Smoky Mountain National Park this afternoon.  Think we'll head back over again tomorrow and do some tubing.

Zack helping Shep get over to the big rocks.

Conner and Shep with Uncle Eli (age 10)

As you can see, Conner is just itching to get into the water.  Once again, he was inspired by Swiss Family Robinson and was determined to slide down the "water fall"

None of us had swimming shoes, so it was tricky to get around.  The rocks under the water were covered in moss and incredibly slippery.  He jumped right in.

It was cold!

He quickly drifted away and went down some small rapids.  He loved it and would have done it again, if we had let him.

Shep quite accidentally went down the rapids himself.

He didn't cry, but you can see he was quite surprised.  The water was very shallow, so it didn't get in his face.  I tried to cheer him on and make a big deal about how fun it was, so he ended up being quite proud of himself.

Looking for rock prizes.

Nothing beats throwing rocks into the water.

When we got back to the cabin, they swam some more in the pool.  I bet they'll sleep good tonight! I know I will:)

Monday, June 18, 2012


Good morning from the Smoky Mountains or as Conner says, "We're in the backwoods of Tennessee." My little Davy Crocketts have enjoyed cabin life.  Hoping to do some hiking and creek playing the next couple days.

Experiencing several "firsts" this trip.  The boys are sleeping in bunk beds for the first time, taking turns who gets to sleep on top each night.  Here are a few pictures from their first night in bunk beds.  They were just a little bit excited.  Why, there is Charlie the snake sleeping with Shep. 

Conner was pretending to be Fritz in his tree house bed.

When I went in to check on them Shep had his pistol under his pillow and Charlie was wrapped around his arm.  Never knew rubber snakes were nice to snuggle in bed with at night.  The boys are sharing a room with Uncle Si and Uncle Eli.  It's been a first for me this trip, not to have all my kiddos sleeping with me.  It's nice (and also strange!) that they are big enough to sleep on their own with the big boys.

Yesterday was sister's first time to swim. She loved it and sure looked cute in her little swim suit.

Sister all tired out from swimming.

How bout some Super Why! on the big screen.  This is definitely a first.

Do you see the letter j??

Wonder if they will mind going back to our tiny old tv back home?

Friday, June 15, 2012


Enjoying a stop in Nashville for a couple days at Uncle Spencer's house.  Boys had pancakes on the back porch this morning.

Took the boys to the Underwater Aquarium Restaurant in the Opry Land Mall.  They absolutely loved it.  How cool is to watch fish, sharks, eels and rays as you eat.

Julia loved how dark it was in the restaurant.  She hates bright lights.  She happily looked around at all the colors and then fell asleep.

The boys with with their "shark friend", as they called him.

Shep didn't know what to think about the shark at first.  He was surprised and excited.

Sweet girl dozing off after her big outing.

The boys wanted pose with the big guitars in front of the Grand Ole Opry.

Conner came up to me in the restaurant and said, "There is a gift store in this restaurant and they have stuffed animals."  Nana Wees said they could each pick one out.  Conner picked out a dolphin and Shep picked out a Shamu. Then as we were on our way to the check-out he spotted a big yellow rubber snake.  Well, so long Shamu.  We tried to talk him out of it, but to no avail.  He had already named it "Snaky"  He is quite pleased with his choice.

Sprinkler fun this afternoon!

Tomorrow we're on to the cabin near Gatlinburg! Yay for fun family time!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Moving is never simple.  Moving with kids is definitely not simple.  It seemed like we were packing for weeks, because we were.  I couldn't pack during the day because I had way to much "help" and I couldn't pack at night because I had a colicky newborn.  So, it went on for weeks.

The boys love adventure and new things.  They have been so excited to pack up and start the moving process.  Here they are helping Zack load up the van with boxes.

Oops...a little mishap.

Trying again.

So, where are we now?  We turned in the keys to our apartment of 3 yrs last Wednesday.  We are now all in AR and then going on vacation with Zack's family.  We are waiting.  Waiting for a job.  Waiting to see where we will be next.  All our belongings are in storage.  We'll be house sitting for a few weeks when we get back to Austin.  It's been strange not having an address.  Last week was hard.  Just trying to take it one day at a time.  Learning to be grateful.  Learning to live by faith and not by sight, which is easier said that done.  Learning what it means to truly persevere in prayer.  Trying to embrace the adventure of the next couple months, instead of falling into self-pity.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Eph 3:20