Friday, August 28, 2009

building holy temples

"So take this seriously.
The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary.
Be strong, and do the work.”
1 Chronicles 28:10

This past week I've been preparing curriculum and lesson plans for my family's upcoming school year. It's a bit overwhelming at times—especially when my kiddos aren't getting along—but I have to say I thoroughly enjoy the work. We are all very excited to start our sixth year of homeschooling.

For myself, the 'Temple' the LORD has chosen me to build in this life is my children. Being responsible for my children's education oftentimes feels incredibly overwhelming. In fact, on most days, it stretches me in ways I never dreamed possible.

We have yet to have a 'perfect' day as far as routine and structure go, but we're learning. Every year gets better. (And no, I'm not the most organized or patient person. I admit that on most days, I make lots of messes and mistakes.)

The one thing that keeps me going is God and His incredible patience, continual guidance and unending love. Seriously. On my own, 'this' would be completely impossible.

It's funny, because I've had several of my friends tell me how impressed they are that I homeschool. I always have to laugh and tell them how truly impressed I am with them. Just because a child leaves the home for school, does not mean that the mom's job requires any less time or effort.

In fact, on any given day, their schedules are far more packed them mine. I stand humbled by the amazing support they give their children in both their education and extracurricular activities. The few years our family experienced within the public school system was exhausting!

God has given each of us work to do and a 'Temple' to build that we might glorify Him.

For me, during this season of my life, it's caring for my husband, teaching our children and caring for our home. It's a job that fits me quite well and brings me great joy (and countless challenges!)

I admit that once-upon-a-time, I fell prey to judgement and comparison. Thankfully, God has since given me the ability to see the beauty and uniqueness that He has gifted each of us with.

I love that although our 'Temples' may have similarities, they are all very different in their own way. It makes for much more original gifts to our Creator, don't you think?

Friend, whatever work the Lord has given you for this season of your life, I pray that you are thoroughly enjoying it.

If not, it may be that God is preparing you for future work He has planned for you. I know it can be difficult to persevere, but trust that God loves you and desires for you to enjoy a full and abundant life!

If you've lost your focus or motivation, I pray that His Spirit would bring back to life the dreams God once put in your heart.

May He give you fresh vision and ideas. When the work seems overwhelming, I pray that He would be your strength and guide you. May He give you creative ideas on how to push through any apparent road blocks or struggles.

I pray that you would experience His favor and know how very pleased He is by your efforts and heart in serving Him. (Remember, however, that it's impossible to earn God's love. His love is a free gift expressed through His Son, Jesus.)

The work God has given us to do is so very important. The jobs of this world, thankfully, will one day fall away. The Temple building, however, that will endure for all of eternity.

In Him, through Him and for Him, we are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

To God be the glory,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

not an occassional need

"(Moses) said to them,
'Take to heart all the words I have
solemnly declared to you this day,
so that you may command your children
to obey carefully all the words of this law.
They are not just idle words for you
they are your life.
By them you will live long in the land
you are crossing the Jordan to possess.'"
Deuteronomy 32:46—47 (NLT)

I need water on a daily basis in order to live. My body quickly knows when it's thirsty and hasn't had water in awhile. Without pure water, my body will get sick. Without enough water, my body will eventually die. Without any water, my body is certain to die.

My flowers need water on a regular basis. Especially when the sky is blue and the temperature is soaring. Without water, the leaves begin to wither, and the plant will stop producing flowers. Before too long, without adequate water, my plants will be dead.

My day started off on a similar note to yesterday. The bickering between my kids started and before 9 am, I felt defeated. (And yes, two of my three beautiful children were told to go "soyb," twice already today.)

As I surrendered my negative attitudes to the Lord, He began to speak to me about yet another key lesson. My spirit needs His Word daily. Not just to thrive, but simply to survive.

An occasional drink won't cut it.

Hearing His Word through a gifted Bible teacher is good—but my spirit needs pure water, straight from the heart of my Creator.

A quick sip here and there will always be enough to get me by.

However, if I truly to desire to thrive in this life, I will need to drink deeply and drink often.

The thing I love about fresh, cold water is how refreshing it is for my entire body.

The thing that I love about spending quality time reading and studying my Bible, is that it energizes my spirit. (Gulping it down is good for my brain, but does nothing for my spirit.)

When I make the time to really dig into the Scriptures, my spirit truly comes to life.

The Bible puts life—according to God's will—into perspective.

It teaches me how to pattern my life after my Savior's. It encourages me, convicts me and inspires me.

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

On that note, my Friend, I think it's time for me to take another long drink of His goodness.

I pray that God will increase our thirst for His Word. And, that as we spend time reading and studying the Bible, we will experience His great love for us in a more real and powerful way.

His Word is powerful and enables me to keep LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Sending sweet blessings your way,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

a soyb kind of day

"You will be accepted if you do what is right.
But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out!
Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you.
But you must subdue it and be its master.”
Genesis 4:7 (NLT)

Yet another one of those days in the Ivey household. Too much too do. Too little time. Or so it seems.

Before the day got started, a shower seemed like a good idea. I even turned on a new teaching message on CD that came in the mail yesterday. I half listened and half prayed for the day before me.

And then came the loud, incessant knocking. Not a good sign. You see, in our home, I have a firm rule, unless someone is bleeding or can't breath, there should be NO knocking on the bathroom door.

The knocks repeated, this time louder. Something must be seriously wrong. Right?

Off went the shower, open when the door. "What happened?!?"

Blood? Nope. Breathing? Not for long. (Kidding.)

Seriously, the cause behind the knocks started with an older sibling teasing and the younger one feeling hurt—and knocking on my 'door of sanity.' Sigh.

Up went the blood pressure, close went the door, on went the shower. Gone was the focus. My sweet peace disappeared like the water down the drain.

Prayer? Yes. Now's a good time to pray. Don't react. Stop, pray and then respond.

"Oh, Lord, please give me direction here. I'm feeling completely overwhelmed with all I have to do today. Now is not the time to lose it. I need You. Please give me direction."

And then it hit me. "SOYB." Off went the, open when the door.

"Go sit on your beds." In that moment, and for the next thirty minutes or so, peace reigned again within the Ivey Household. It was truly a beautiful thing.

We're all sinners. We all have bad days. We say things we regret. We do things we regret.

Sin was literally crouching at my door today, and at my children's doors.

Our day has been far from perfect. I wish I could say that we spent the day in complete bliss. Not so. But, I did learn a critical lesson from the Lord.

Sin must be mastered. All it takes is one door being opened and we are all consumed by it.

One person gets offended, they in turn mistreat a sibling, I overhear and get upset. On and on we go until not an ounce of peace remains.

And then God whispered "SOYB" and I found a way to master sin. Or at least begin to subdue it.

This afternoon, in fact, I spoke those same words to myself. "Go sit on your bed. The work will wait, but if you don't go now, you will have more to deal with then preparing lesson plans and schedules. "

What kind of day have you had, my Friend? Oh, how I hope that if you spent any time on your bed it was reading a good book or taking a much needed rest! If not, no worries, tomorrow is a new day. Thankfully. :-)

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE—because Love never fails.

Thankful for His grace,

Monday, August 24, 2009

look for Him

"Search for wisdom
as you would search for silver
or hidden treasure.
Then you will understand
what it means to respect
and to know the LORD God."
Proverbs 2:4,5 (CEV)

This afternoon, I felt God teaching me about my limited perspective.

Is it possible that every single moment in my life is an opportunity for blessing?

While I'm waiting for my child to finish something, will I spend the time agitated—or—take the opportunity to take a deep breath and and enjoy an expected break?

When I'm struggling with a relationship, will I focus on the other person's faults—or—will I ask the Lord to refine my own character?

When a door closes, will I get stuck in feeling discouraged—or—thank God that He is helping to make my path clear?

When I say the wrong thing, will I wallow in regret—or—seek forgiveness and ask God to help me stop and think before I speak?

When someone speaks a kind word, will I receive it with joy—or—will I give them a list of reasons why they are wrong?

When a friend offers to help, will I accept with thanks—or—refuse and struggle on my own?

I can choose to view the struggles as blessings. I can also view the blessings as struggles.

It goes both ways, doesn't it?

It seems my flesh always goes on auto-pilot whenever an "issue" arises. Instead of seeking out the positive in a situation, it tends to sit idle in the negative. Sometimes I forget that in any given situation, I actually have a choice.

I can actively seek God's wisdom, power and peace—or—I can allow myself to believe that I've hit a dead-end and am out of options.

Regardless of what is going on in my life, I always have an option. Sure, it might not be the one I want, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad thing.

A truly bad thing is when I allow the enemy to succeed at stealing my peace and joy.

He comes with three purposes. Steal. Kill. Destroy. And yet, my Saviour assured me that He came to give me life and that I might have it in the full. (John 10:10)

While my flesh errs on the side of 'the glass is half empty,' God is challenging me to see that in Him, my glass is not half-full, nor is it simply full.

He is good, all the time. The question is whether or not I choose to see Him.

My prayer for you, Friend, is that you will look for God in every situation. That you will enjoy living a full and abundant life in Him, even during the most difficult seasons.

God is with you. He is good. And, He loves YOU.

Good times or bad, in Christ, we are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!
Seeking Him,