Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ephesians 4

I wrote this last summer, and just now found it sitting in my drafts folder . If it interests you, great. If not, that's fine, too. I wrote it just for me, but today found so much to treasure all over again in the verses I referenced.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. My neighbor would say that's why she's seen smoke coming from this direction, which is probably true.

I've been thinking about who people allow into (and out of) their lives, and who they allow to give them counsel, and why.

If my marriage were in trouble (which it is not) I certainly wouldn't ask advice from someone who has been through a few.

If my relationship with my daughter were in crisis (which it is not) I wouldn't follow the direction of a childless person, much less a woman who doesn't have a good relationship with her own daughter.

If I were in financial trouble (which I am not) I wouldn't ask for help from someone who has money problems. As Dave Ramsey says, I don't take financial advice from broke people. It's just not wise.

I was reading in Ephesians earlier today. The chapter talks about maturing in Christ. I'm going to try not to sound righteous and sanctimonius here, because that's not my intent. I'm just working through some stuff, and kind of need to get it out.

In the first few verses, it basically says that we should be tolerant, understanding and forgiving of one another's mistakes and sins. I think it's especially important, and yet especially difficult, to be forgiving. But it's what we as Christians are commanded to do. If we don't forgive, we won't be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). Even if the person who wronged you never acknowledges the hurt they've caused you (or that you allowed yourself to feel; think about that for a moment. whoa.), we're to let it go. Just like Christ lets ours go when we ask and turn away from sin.

Since His mercies are new every morning, we have to extend that to those who have hurt us. Trust me when I say it's not easy, and I'm not completely there yet. It's more like a daily choice. I wake up and think, "I'm not going to hold onto that any more."

And the next day, I wake up again and think, "I'm not going to hold onto that any more."

And the next day I wake up and think, "I hope that person has the worst day ever!" Or, more accurately, "I hope that person gets what's coming to them!" And then I pray and ask forgiveness for the bitterness, and for His help to let it all go.

And the next day I wake up and think, "I'm not going to hold onto that any more." So it's a work in progress for me, really.

Since I really and truly don't want to get what I deserve (what's coming to me), I have to repent for those thoughts, and pray God's peace, and blessing, and prosperity on those who have hurt me.

Back to the Scriptures: "And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore," (Ephesians 4:17-19a, The Message). Wow. Some people are so easily swayed that they're always under the influence of the last person with whom they spoke. But we have to break away from all that.

"Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work. Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you," (Ephesians 4: 26-32, The Message).

It's a really powerful passage. Or maybe it's just speaking to me.

Recently my mom and I had a long conversation about this kind of stuff. I did some apologizing and asking of forgiveness, and so did she. She told me that she carries guilt for past mistakes. Just like I told her, I have to tell myself:




God's forgiveness extends to anyone who asks for it. Who am I to hold onto something that Jesus Christ Himself paid for? Who am I to say, "Well. He may have forgiven you, but I'm certainly not going to." And I'm speaking to myself here. I can't hold onto my own past sins. You can't hold onto your own past sins. And, I can't hold onto your past sins. They're not mine anymore, and they're not yours anymore. I don't "own" them, and neither do you. Christ's sacrifice on the cross paid the price, once and for all, for all sins: past, present and future. His blood doesn't just cover a few sins, or just the little ones. It covers them all. By holding onto them: yours, mine or anyone elses, you're saying that His death meant nothing.

I've been guilty for too long of that... and I'm not willing to be any longer.

Love generously. Forgive freely.

Blessings to you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Big News!

Well... to some of you. I'm going to be an aunt!!! AGAIN!!! My sweet sister-in-law is pregnant with her second; a girl! Harper will be my third niece, and I'm sure every bit as beautiful as her mommy. This makes SIX nieces and nephews for Hubs and me, and we can't wait to meet her! Kelsey had a tea-party baby shower this past weekend at an adorable tea room in Houston. Christian and I got all dressed up and fancy and went with Aunt Laura. We met my mother-in-love (when the subject of eating habits inevitably came around, one of Kelsey's friends asked me if Hubs had always hated casseroles. I snarkily turned the attention to my mil, to let her respond! Kelsey's friend said, "OH! This is your mother-in-love, too!" I loved that!) at the shower. Christian got the honor of sitting next to her aunt and bugging her to open our presents next! Our cousin owns a very shee-shee-la-la baby boutique in town, and her shop was well-represented at the shower! She has adorable stuff. And lots of stuff you've never heard of but absolutely need!
Christian was very excited to give Kelsey the hair bows she picked out for Harper, and the little animals she made (with a birthday gift from my dad and stepmom) from her newest crafting stuff.

I got the honor of making the cake for the shower. It was strawberry cream, so that the inside would be as pink as the outside! Unfortunately my camera never captures the sparkles I put on the cakes. Oh well. It had some sparkle.

Christian and Kelsey and the baby in her bellah!

We had lots and lots of yummy girl food, and of course, all the tea we could drink.

Katie was so creative! She made little tu-tus and folded them into poufs for the centerpieces, and then made matching flower hair clips that ran the length of the table. So Harper will come out a shiny little tu-tu/sparkly flowery hair clip-wearing beh-beh!

Seriously, it should not be allowed that she is this beautiful. Makes the rest of us feel like frumpy schlubs. Oh. Wait. Maybe that's because we are! ;) Just kidding! But thankfully, she's even more beautiful on the inside. If you can imagine all that prettiness in one place!

Anyway, we're all eagerly anticipating Miss Harper's arrival. And we had the most fun we've ever had at a shower!

I just have to add this: Aunt Laura was hands-down my soul-mate-travelling partner. We had such a blast coming and going. Or going and coming. Whatever. It was a really awesome day, and I will treasure it always.

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Actual Post! With Pictures and Everything!

As long as "everything" means just pictures and writing.

First things first.

We're all moved in and settled. All the boxes are unpacked, but I haven't put everything where I think I want it just yet. This house is about twice the size of the one we sold, and it's taking me some time to figure out where it all needs to go. I am quite proud of the fact that I've let go of so much stuff recently. A friend said that every time you move, it's like experiencing a loss through fire, since you get rid of so much stuff. I can definitely agree with that.

Here are the only two pictures we've taken in this house so far. They're of the kitchen. The beautiful, beautiful kitchen. My sweet friend arranged all my stuff for me. I had no idea my dishes could look so cool! I kept telling her, "I don't know what you're going to do. Nothing I have is worthy of displaying." She's gold, baby! Solid gold! This is pre-pots-in-the-potrack. Thankfully, the ceiling is so high that when all the pots are hanging, you can still see the person you're talking to across the island. The little desk is where Christian does her homework and I look up recipes and pay bills.

The dishes in the cabinet are the dishes my grandmother gave me. My grandfather brought them back from the war to her. Don't ask me which war. I don't remember. I should write that in Sharpie marker on the bottom of the dishes. So I'll remember. Because I think I've asked my mother 3,962 times. Oh well. I guess this will be 3,963. The wineglasses were given to me by a sweet friend this past Christmas. They hold about half a bottle of wine in each glass. Which I'm not sure is a bad thing.

The kids are happy here, if the amount of running up and down the (over 50 foot-long) hall is any indication. For the record, pier-and-beam foundations, wood floors, and 3 little children with excessive amounts of energy is enough to drive a person batty when they're trying to watch a cake show. Just sayin.

Anyway. Hubs and I have spent the last year searching for the perfect house plan, with no luck. Our last house we picked out of a book of plans, but we haven't found just what we want this time around. So we tried (for a few months) drawing up our own. But there was always something we didn't like. An architect drew up some plans (from the list of wants and don't-wants we gave a builder), but we weren't crazy about them, either. So a couple weeks ago I got out graph paper and a pencil and drew up house plans while the boys were napping. I thought they were pretty good (the plans; not the boys), but I was expecting Hubs to have something negative to say about them when he got home from work.

Well. He thought they were the best plans he had ever seen! I was ecstatic! We are finally moving forward. I re-drew the plans using Excel, and we have submitted them to four builders for bids. Our land is cleared around the area where the house will be, and now we just have to put a road in for the heavy trucks and equipment to be able to make it through. And, of course, choose a builder! I'm praying for really awesome bids, within our budget.

And that's where we are now. Waiting for bids; waiting to see if the plans we drew up are feasible; waiting for news in another area of our lives; waiting, waiting, waiting.

While we're waiting, we're praying.

And while I'm mentioning it, I would love it if you would keep my sweet sister-in-law in your prayers.

Thanks, friends.

And btw, I'm about to start writing another post. GASP! I might actually get around to TWO this month!