God’s glory in my backyard

God, Photography

 

This morning I had a worship service in my car, which moved to my backyard. I was suppressing a huge grin as I drove home from early morning school carpool. I couldn’t wait to get home and photograph the beautiful sunrise! I decided to take the long way home where most of the drive was in a school zone so that I was forced to drive really slow and would have the best view of the sunrise.

I don’t know if you believe this or not, but I think everything we do can be worship if our heart is pointing to God. Think about it for a second.

Olympian Eric Liddell said that when he ran, he felt the pleasure of God. We too, can feel the pleasure and presence of God in our daily activities.

Obviously our activities that are sin will not be worship of God, but worship of ourselves and our pleasures.

This morning in the brisk fifty degree air, I snapped multiple pictures and smiled at God’s glory in the sky. These photographs represent worship of God as Creative Artist.

Not who I wanna be yet

Cancer, Christianity

Sometimes I want to be further along than I am. Let me explain. My friend Connie recently had surgery for cancer. She’s one of these super-gentle, soft, rare people who just ooze loving-kindness. (Totally opposite of me: loud, sometimes crass) I absolutely love her! A couple of days before the surgery, I asked her how I could pray for her. Wanna hear how she answered? That God would be glorified. I was speechless. I mean, I love God. Immensely. And I want Him to be made famous through my life. But I can honestly tell you that if I wasn’t trying to act all spiritually mature, I wouldn’t answer the way Connie answered if asked the same question. I would probably have said something like “Pray that it won’t hurt, that they’ll get all of the cancer” or “Please pray for my doctor.” I want to be able to answer the way she did, with God’s glory as my number one concern if I was in her situation.

Sometimes I just want to be more spiritually mature than I am. I am also finding that I can’t “fake it till I make it” with this stuff. I can only be super-honest with myself and God. It’s okay if that’s not where I am yet. I can ask God to grow me so that His glory and fame is more important than my comfort. I’m not who I want to be. Yet.

His strength is perfect

Christianity

Our homeschool desk, aka our kitchen table. Note the hair products among the academics. That’s how we roll!

One of the things that I love about God is how He does incredible things through ordinary people. I am one of those ordinary people. This has been my very favorite year of homeschooling. We have homeschooled on and off for about 5 or 6 years. Our youngest is an 8th grader, and to be brutally honest, I had become more unattached as I allowed her to be more independent with her schoolwork. (Can any of you homeschool moms relate?) Last year we started a more vigorous curriculum with more accountability, and we continued on with it this year. The reason this year was so amazing is that God made it our most spectacular!

Last summer, I got a phone call. Crazy adventures with God often start with a casual conversation. The call was from our daughter’s teacher from her one-day-a-week class with a homeschool group called Classical Conversations. Every Monday, we’d go to a classroom and this dynamic lady, Wendy Lawhon, would present all of the coming week’s material in each subject to our students. However, she was pregnant and asked if I would consider taking over in the late fall when she left to have her baby. I ended up saying yes, and it turned out to be a great yes.

It was pretty intimidating for a woman like me to think about tackling Latin, Logic, Math, & Debate. Those were the big bad subjects that I was pretty sure would do me in. I knew that I was completely inadequate for the task. You are talking about a woman who barely made it through high school because of drug and alcohol addiction. I was able to graduate because I ended up living in a residential rehab program the second semester of my senior year, and I was required to complete my work in a homeschool setting. Ironic, huh? I am pretty smart, but beyond going to real estate school in my early twenties, that’s the extent of my formal education.

Fortunately for this group of ten 8th graders that I’d be teaching, God is a God who uses foolish things and people of this world to show His power. I was certain that God wanted me to do it, so with the encouragement of my family, I resolved to study hard and give it everything I had. And what I didn’t have, I was continually asking God to do for me and through me. He has done it! I am certainly far from perfect and I won’t get an award for presenting academics, but it has been an amazing year. It makes me think of something God said to the apostle Paul said about his insufficiency:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Do you ever wonder, why don’t we get to see God at work doing miraculous things as He did through the apostles? What about the parting of the Red Sea? Then maybe it would help to broaden your understanding of what a miracle is, and what the working of God’s power looks like. We often overlook extraordinary displays of God’s power in our daily modern lives, but I can confidently tell you that I’ve seen it in my life every week this school year. That’s why I’m so giddy and excited to tell you something that should be embarrassing. However, it’s so wonderful that I’m telling you about it on the world-wide web! I see what Paul meant when he said:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,  in persecutions,  in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Here I am, boasting to you about my foolishness, inadequacies, and weaknesses. Joyfully! Because when you understand how unqualified I am, you see the mighty working of God’s hand to impact lives. It’s important to emphasize that I clearly haven’t been persecuted and gone through the type of hardships Paul is speaking about  here as he suffered for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a hostile environment. However, I can agree with what Paul says, that for Christ’s sake, I am delighting in my weaknesses and difficulties because it’s a joy to look back on this year and say that He has done it!!

In the fall, I began asking God to show me each student through His eyes. That way, I could see their gifts, strengths, and needs so that I could encourage and teach them. What He gave me was a joy for teaching and a love for each of these ten kiddos. He’s made me practically giddy every week to present new topics in these subjects that I feared before. How annoying for my students; as we begin almost every subject I tell excitedly tell them how fun this week’s material is! I can barely contain myself and I know that it’s the power and joy of God oozing out. When we are weakest, His power is displayed in a beautiful way.

If you are a parent of one of these students, rest in this truth from 1 Peter 4:8:   Love covers over a multitude of sins. I haven’t been a perfect teacher this year. One thing I have done is to love these students deeply. I’m better for it, and I pray that they are too!

The culmination of our school year was a mock trial to wrap up our debate/rhetoric class. We went to a downtown Harris County courthouse and had a real judge!

Here are some of the students. They had two teams, consisting of a prosecution side, defense attorneys, witnesses, and the bailiff. He’s the one in front. 🙂

Dynamic duo, Danielle and John Phillip look over their prosecution strategy.

The defense team works hard to protect their client. She was a battered woman accused of murder. (in the middle)

Our bailiff swears in witness for testimony.


My comfort or God’s glory

Uncategorized

It turns out that a lot of the time that I’m praying, it’s because I desperately want my comfortable, safe, little life. I had been dealing with some severe back pain and went to a prayer and healing meeting at our church. These are pretty rare, but I went. I was desperate and wanted relief and to have the back pain gone. At times it was incapacitating and I believe that Jesus is still a Healer. However, I wasn’t prepared for what happened. The small group that prayed with me was our youth pastor, Patrick, me, and my husband. It was unique because Patrick has the same exact injury that I was dealing with, so I thought: Yeah! He will really know how to pray for me!

I was shocked and disappointed when he prayed out loud, “God, we are asking for Your glory, for you to make Yourself famous, more than Christine’s comfort.”  I was indignant. In my heart, not out loud. I was appalled that he didn’t just outright ask God to heal me.  After all, that’s why I came! Then I had to ask myself, which one do I want more, my comfort, or God’s glory.  Thankfully, the two can coexist. But at that moment, I had to really look at my heart and make a choice. Through clenched teeth (not really, but I did have to say it slowly and deliberately) I was able to give up my agenda of telling God what I wanted Him to do and how I wanted Him to perform, and seek whatever good He might want to bring if I was not healed.  By the way, I didn’t experience immediate healing, but the back pain has gotten progressively better over the past several months.

Is God still a miracle worker? Yes. I’ve been dealing with this question all week because one of our kids has been in severe pain with an injury.  Wow, that’s a hard prayer, to ask God for His glory more than our comfort.  I’m not trying to be a martyr, but I do recognize that while I may think the best thing is for God to give the pain a holy zap, He knows what is really best.  I don’t.

My friend emailed this verse as an encouragement.  It’s written by the apostle Paul as he’s talking about a physical ailment that he’s suffering with:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10