Does that first page on a new calendar stir up feelings of a new beginning, clean slate, fresh start etc...? I know for me it does. There are always so many areas in my life on which the Lord is continually, patiently, and lovingly working. Now January 1 is no better a day to follow the Lord and repent of those things He's convicted you of than is May 7 or October 21, but I think the approach of a new year causes many to do some heart felt assesments.
2009 was a year of great trial and difficulty for us in so many ways. Yet the spiritual groweth and blessings they wrought are more precious than gold. I have been under conviction for many things and oh how long I resisted before I surrendered...beautiful, sweet surrender. You know, when the Holy Spirit convicts your heart of something and you try to jusitify it, you lose your joy. It's ironic (in my human view) how that the very thing I may need to surrender to my Lord seems so hard and difficult, yet when I resist, there is nothing no peace or joy and everything seems to go wrong. But when I by faith, yield to the Lord whatever He asks of me, no matter how hard it may seem, how soon and sweetly I find that His yoke truly is easy and His burden light!
Most of you know that I write up a schedule each year as a tool to direct our days and guide us in accomplishing what the Lord has called us to do. I am constantly working on being faithful as I have found day to day faithful in the small things soon yields blessed fruit. So as I have been evaluating the last year thinking of what needs to change in my life, it wasn't things that I need to "do" or not to do.
But one area in particular stood out as something the Lord has long been impressing upon my heart...my motives.
Why do I do what I do? Is it for the love of my Lord or for another reason? The Bible is so clear when it tells us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul mind, and strength. It says this is the first and greatest commandment. How much do I love my Lord? He tells me to do all I do unto Him and for His glory. But how often do I work for another purpose.
Take caring for my home for example. Let's say Daniel is away all day working. I am home with our 12 children teaching, training, disciplining, loving, cleaning, washing, cooking, playing etc... I know that Daniel will be home soon, so I work hard to have the house picked up, the children clean and quiet, and have a hot meal waiting for him. Let's say he walks in the door and has had a hard day. Say he doesn't notice how hard I've worked or doesn't seem to appreciate the food. I know how hurt I can be over something so silly.
Why? Because I did all I did so Daniel would appreciate me. I expected him to thank me or praise me. And so when he didn't, I felt cheated.
But take the same situation, but different motive. If I had done all I had done unto the Lord wanting only to please Him, how different I might feel. Of course, I love pleasing my husband and really, pleasing, loving, honoring, submitting to, and obeying him is pleasing, loving, honoring, and obeying the Lord. But when I do what I do for my God who never fails and works all things for our good, how much more peace and joy I have. Oh, His ways are so perfect!
God also tells me to love my husband and my children (Titus 2:4). How many times my crabby attitude, frustrations, or anger is a result of not loving the Lord or my family but rather loving myself. I Corinthians 13 is a chapter I have memorized but how I need to meditate on it more. It tells us what love is...longsuffering, kind, not easily provoked, bears all things etc... That love only comes for God Himself for He is love.
I have been praying the last few days for the Lord to help me to love as I should. As much as I want to, it is something only He can work in me. How I desire His work in my heart! How much I need it!
Love covers a multitude of sins. How often I can be as the unforgiving servant in holding on to a tiny little offense someone has done to me when I've been forgiven an enormous debt I could never pay. Love easily and quickly forgives. The Lord, this past year, has shown me so more and more how He sees my sins. Oh, how sad and horriblee a realization, yet how marvelous and blessed His saving grace has become to me!
God also tells me to love my neighbor as myself. Yesterday was our official last day of Christmas vacation (meaning no school, modified schedule giving time to special activities and projects). Daniel and I had big plans...many things we both wanted to accomplish before we needed to get back to the normal routine of things. Daniel was going to put up a fence in the back yard. We haven't had one since the hurricane blew it down and how I have missed it...keeping little ones in and keeping out, well, mainly drunks and theives both who like to cause trouble :) I needed to get the shopping done, had some organization projects around the house I was looking forward to doing, and anticipating a date night with my hubby to a taco stand later that evening.
Well, Timothy, Elijah, and Abigail woke up sick. The older boys are Daniel's biggest helps and how he needed them to help with the fence. Still, we carried on. After breakfast, we had just begun our day and seven visitors from church came over. So we stopped our work, made them some coffee, and sat down to visit. Four hours later, they left. It was now time to make lunch and I was beginning to despair that we'd get anything done. Before lunch was finished, we received 4 phone calls and Elijah said he was going to throw up. I finally finished the quesadillas around 2 pm, we all ate, and the same people who had come to visit earlier called asking for a ride to the beach. Daniel said he'd go over in a little bit when our neighbors showed up. Another phone call and an hour later, Daniel left to go give a ride to those who'd asked. When he got there, they decided it was too late and asked if they could get a ride the next day instead. I spent the rest of the afternoon just cleaning up the house and doing the daily laundry as I hadn't been able to do either yet. Night soon came, baths, supper, devotions, tucking children into bed and Daniel went out to do a little bit of work on the fence.
This type of day would normally frustrate me to no end! Or should I say that differently...Daniel always says that no person, no circumstance, nothing can make us angry or say/do things we shouldn't; it is what is already inside us. How easily it can be to let our sinful flesh fufill it's desires...all of which are contrary to God and His holiness. I have found that praying without ceasing is a life line. How often do I need to cry to the Lord for His help in keeping my heart right. Time each day in His Word gives me the strength as I meditate on and follow by faith what I read. How precious it is!
Yesterday, I kept thinking to myself, "Love thy neighbor as thyself". How would I want to be treated. Daniel asks the Lord each morning as we pray together as a family to direct our day. And yesterday, it wasn't how we had planned, but I know it was directed by the Lord. While my cupboards I wanted to organize stayed closed, my home stayed open to those who came and I'm so glad it did.
Well, that's just a few thoughts that have been going around in my mind the past few days. We had a wonderful Christmas together.
Here in Mexico, Christmas Eve is the "big" day. We went to some of our church people's homes that evening to enjoy some food and fellowship. The next morning, we read the Christmas story from the Bible together, watched the children open their gifts, cleaned up, had a late cinnamon roll breakfast, and played together all day. How I love to play! I'm so glad the Lord gave me so many children who naturally love to play too!
Last night, our neighbors (the mother and teen-age daughter just got saved and want to get baptized) had us over for lamb tacos. They were so thoughtful and had a little bon fire for the children with marshmallows and hot dogs for them to roast on sticks. Daniel was able to witness again to the husband and brothers. I'm so excited knowing that some of you will soon be praying specifically for this family.
May the Lord's peace, love, and joy fill your hearts this new year.
New aprons made by mommy :)
Last year, my parents gave the older boys compound bows. They've always needed a good place to store them, so Daniel surprised them and built them a rack for their bows and bb guns.