Talking Truth to Yourself

When you feel insecure, turn to the Scriptures and “let God’s Word finish your sentences.” This powerful encouragement from The Best Yes! came just after our pastor encouraged us to start talking to ourselves. Not in the absent-minded-professor sort of way, but like David did in the Psalms.

Over and over again, when David was struggling, he spoke Truth to himself. We should do the same. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, doubt, loneliness, or depression, we need to speak God’s Truth to our hearts by “letting God’s Word finish our sentences.”

When insecurity (or pride or loneliness) threatens, talk Truth to yourself and let God's Word finish your sentences.

Read the Scriptures

We have been given a gift that most Christians in most eras did not have: God’s Word in our homes in our language that we can read for ourselves. One of the best ways we can speak Truth to ourselves is to immerse our minds and hearts in the Scriptures. It’s not always easy to find time for the Bible as a busy Mom, but by reading the Bible with our kids we all get to benefit.

Memorize the Scriptures

Memorizing makes the words part of you in ways that just reading can’t. Plus, no matter where we are or what we are doing, if God’s Word is hidden in our hearts, we can let it “finish our sentences.” Each of us faces different struggles, but there is Truth for each situation. We just need to look for it.

Here are a few of the Truths that I desperately need to finish, and change, my own sentences.

When angry or unkind words want to spill out: “A gracious woman retains honor” and “The law of kindness is on her lips.”

When worry creeps into my heart and clouds my understanding: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”

When I feel overwhelmed, physically or emotionally: “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

Talk to the Fountain of Truth

It’s embarrassing to admit how often I think I can barrel through my problems and attitudes alone, instead of turning to Fountain of Truth. Jesus came to give you and me communion with Him and His Father, so that we can worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

Sing the Scriptures

I heard once that it is impossible to grumble while actively praising God. So far, I’ve found it to be true. Honestly, sometimes I’d rather hang on to my grumbles. But when I choose to obey the command to give thanks “in everything” and “sing joyfully to the Lord” my troubles start to shrink and I can find something to be grateful about.

Spend time with God’s people

God did not create us for isolation. He created us for fellowship. Through the joys and messes of life, fellowship with other Christians helps sharpen and point us to Jesus.

Speak truth to yourself when loneliness or pride or insecurity looms, by letting God's Word finish your sentences.

Talk Truth to yourself

The world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to feed us lies. By letting God’s word finish our sentences and shape our hearts, we can combat the lies with Truth.

[Full disclosure: links to products in the post are my referral links.]

The Generosity of a Child

Fresh strawberries

Bright juicy strawberries peep through luscious green leaves, fulfilling my long-held dream to grow my own strawberries.

Our very first “harvest” day, we picked one ripe strawberry that we cut into tiny sections. The next day we each had half a strawberry. By the fourth day, there were enough berries for each of us to enjoy our own. After a week, we filled a small bowl full each day. Two weeks have passed now, and each morning there are enough ripe strawberries to fill another small bowl. Most of the time, the berries last less than five minutes as the kids divvy them up to enjoy.

Every few days, I’ll gather a few to freeze for shakes. As I was rinsing fresh strawberries, the verse from Jesus’ discussion with the Pharisees came to mind. The Pharisees were so scrupulous about obeying tithing laws that they even brought tithes of their herbs!

Jesus rebuked them saying, ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matt. 23:23)

So, tithing herbs was good, but needed to be accompanied by justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

A bowl of fresh strawberries

Times have changed. Though tithing still seems to be clearly commanded, I’m fairly certain Jesus didn’t mean we should put mint (or fresh strawberries) in the offering plate at church.

As I snipped off the green tops of the strawberries, the thought came that maybe we could share some at Sunday’s potluck. Immediately, I started talking myself out of it. After all, I already had food planned to bring and no one there would care whether I brought my own strawberries or food I’d purchased. They probably wouldn’t even notice. Wasn’t I just being too concerned about the letter of the law? Besides, I really wanted to save enough strawberries to make jelly.

I thought that was the end of the matter.

Picking fresh strawberries

Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, Rose burst inside. “Mama! Look at all the strawberries I found this morning! Can we PLEASE take some to church to share for lunch?”

And once again, God used my little girl to teach me a lesson. Whether or not modern Christians are bound by ancient Jewish tithing law is beside the point. Jesus wants to work in us a heart of generosity. Sometimes that even means sharing our little bowl of fresh strawberries.

(Much to my surprise, two friends asked if the strawberries were from our garden and commented on my generosity. I had to laugh, tell them my story, and pray that God works in me the open-handed generosity of a child.)

Giving from abundance is easy. It's when Jesus calls us to give Him our first fruits, our "love overtures," that giving spills over from grateful hearts.

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The strawberries are in full-production mode now. We’re filling large bowls each morning and I’ve already made homemade jam. Sharing the berries suddenly got much easier, because they’re plentiful. Which had me thinking again of how God asked for the first ripe fruits. The produce that isn’t yet overwhelming. The produce where each bite is still treasured, and it’s a bit harder to let go because you don’t know whether more will actually grow. As Ann Voskamp so beautifully put it:

We’re not giving what we’re called to give, unless that giving affects how we live — affects what we put on our plate and where we make our home and hang our hat and what kind of threads we’ve got to have on our back. Surplus Giving is the leftover you can afford to give; Sacrificial Giving is the love gift that changes how you live — because the love of Christ has changed you. God doesn’t want your leftovers. God wants your love overtures, your first-overs, because He is your first love.” (from this post)

Eh, It’s Good Enough!

“What makes food ‘gourmet?’ ” Sparked by a lovely (gourmet) dinner party hosted by a culinary artist at church, this question ran through my mind all last week.

Like a sensible modern, I turned to the internet to satisfy my curiosity. Judging from the forums, there’s quite a debate raging over the answer. Humorous answers included, “Any food that costs a king’s ransom and leaves you still starving,” and “Gourmet is like the Emperor’s new clothes of food.”Don't settle for an "Eh! It's good enough!" attitude about the things that are really important.

Now that the term “gourmet” has become so widespread that we have gourmet boxed mac & cheese and gourmet frozen pizza, it has lost a lot of its meaning. Despite the overuse of the word, I wanted to find a definition that was more than fancy ingredients and titles.

Eh! It’s good enough

Then I read a definition that I thought beautifully and brilliantly encompassed its meaning, “Gourmet means that at no point, from farm to table, does the cook say, ‘Eh! That’s good enough.'”

And now I can’t shake this definition from my mind. Life with four little ones and homeschooling and homemaking and blogging is busy. And everybody wants food three times a day. (Actually, more like ten times a day!) Honestly, I find myself thinking “Eh! That’s good enough!” all the time about food and cleaning and writing and even relationships. Not necessarily in those words, but definitely with that spirit.

Some of that is just part of good time management. There’s simply not time to pursue perfection in every single thing. If I even attempted to make every meal Pinterest-perfect, I can almost guarantee you that the kids wouldn’t have clean underwear or I would skimp on homeschool or the bathrooms would get scary really fast.

"Eh, it's good enough!" might work for some things, but it's  a dangerous attitude to pursue life with.

Still, I don’t want to approach life with a shrug and “Eh! That’s good enough!” mentality. I want to pursue excellence as a wife, mother, homemaker, and blogger.

Sometimes that excellence might mean cuddling on the couch and ignoring the mountain of laundry. Sometimes it might mean putting in extra effort to make a meal beautiful. Sometimes it might simply mean trying to improve on the things I do regularly, like braiding my girls hair, and doing a bit better each time.

Whatever my day holds, I want to live life in light of the command “whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God” and “do your work heartily, as to the Lord” … even when called to days of mundane faithfulness.

Beauty in Weakness

After months of slacking off on exercise, I was determined to start this week out right. To get up early and exercise, shower, and read before the kids got up. At six o’clock Monday morning I was up, but was glued to the bathroom, sick with a stomach bug.

I was going to homeschool with enthusiasm, because I want to finish the school year strong. We didn’t crack open a single book. Instead the kids played with each other and entertained Edmund while I laid and watched.

Beauty-in-weakness

I was actually looking forward to cleaning after the weekend, because the twenty minute cleaning challenge has been so invigorating. Instead we munched on crackers and the carpet gathered a thick layer of crumbs. But not just crumbs, oh no! In their sweet efforts to entertain Ned, the kids turned the house upside down. Toys and cars and books and Tupperware littered every square inch of the living room and spilled over into the kitchen and school room.

I was going to catch up on the ironing for Joshua, but instead he stayed home late to care for me, brought home dinner after work, and conquered the messes the day created with a tenderness that must have rubbed off on the kids.

There was so much I had planned for my Monday, and not a single bit of it got done. But I have rarely felt as blessed as I did laying there on the couch. I want to teach my children to serve others cheerfully, I just don’t want to be the one they are serving. I’m Mom, after all. I’m the one who is supposed to care for them. But the tender enthusiasm they poured into serving me made my heart melt.

They brought me crackers and water and blankets, entertained Ned, and played quietly together. At lunchtime, Rose set up a picnic on the kitchen floor, spread butter on bread, and read a Fancy Nancy story aloud while the kids ate.

Once I’d laid Ned down for a nap, Rose said with a smile, “You go take a nap too. I’ll read a story to Meg and tuck her in.” I gratefully crept up the stairs, and sank under the covers. When I finally woke up, the three oldest exclaimed, “Don’t come downstairs until we say you can. We have a surprise for you.”

Part of me really hoped the surprise was that they cleaned up all of their own accord and the floor was visible again. But even though I love a tidy home, I pushed the thought aside because I knew that whatever the surprise was, it was a heartfelt token of their love for me.

Minutes ticked by as snippets of their frantic preparation drifted up the stairs. Finally, the surprise was ready. They led me down the stairs with my eyes closed. When I opened my eyes, three glowing faces stared up at me.

A superman cape was taped across the kitchen entry. Inside, they’d set up an assembly. Rose read a short speech (the main point of which was “we love you and hope you feel better soon!”) and then they pulled out presents: Will had made a paper picture puzzle. Meg drew a rainbow. Rose had a sweet note. And they all had hugs and kisses.

By the time I inched up the stairs to bed at night, my heart was overcome with blessing and my mind was mulling over the day. So often I think that in order to have a happy home, I need to be strong and busy all day. Monday I was neither strong nor busy. But when sickness laid me out, the children responded to my weakness with a tenderness and love that astounded and challenged me.

I tend to think that the house needs to be (mostly) tidy in order for there to be any hope of a peaceful home. I’m not sure such a messy home has ever greeted Josh after work, but despite the mess, we were at peace. Sometimes love (especially the love of four little kids) is messy. But love creates peace in the midst of a mess.

Thankfully, the stomach bug was short-lived and by Tuesday I was able to take the stairs two at a time again instead of creeping up them like a snail. (Which was a good thing since I wasn’t the last to get sick!) But I don’t want to forget to imitate the tenderness of my children, learn to see the love beyond the mess, and remember that even though we should aspire to diligence, sometimes the love of Jesus shines most clearly through our weakness.

“Mary Treasured These Things”

Mary “treasured these things in her heart”. Twice in Luke, he writes these words (2:19 & 50.) They have played through my mind multiple times and challenged me to take stock of myself. What things do I treasure in my heart?

Am I harboring envy or anger or selfishness? Am I making idols of the good things that God has blessed me with?

“The heart is an idol factory,” wrote John Calvin centuries ago. It’s still just as true today. We might smirk at the ancients for falling down before golden images, while in the middle of worshipping our own shiny idols of money, or power, or fame, or sex.

It's SO easy to let the bustle of the day distract us. Mary gives us a beautiful example of what to treasure and focus on.

(photo credit)

Mary treasured these things

Treasure the life of Jesus

These simple words about Mary gently show us what to do. “Mary treasured these things.” She treasured and pondered the birth and words of Jesus. Luke doesn’t explicitly say so, but I’m confident Mary also treasured and pondered His death and resurrection.

Like Mary, the life, death, and resurrection should be what we treasure and ponder.

Treasure Jesus’ working in our own life

But the verses seems to imply more than just treasuring the life of Jesus as Savior of all the world. They seem so incredibly, beautifully personal. Mary treasured and pondered Jesus’ interactions with her own life.

We humans are so incredibly good at forgetting God. Every time I read about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, I’m amazed at just how forgetful they are. Until I think what a terribly accurate mirror of my own soul they are.

I get busy with my day and fret and forget. But Mary is a beautiful example to me, encouraging me to treasure, ponder, and stand amazed at what the Lord of the universe has done for my soul. Of how He has answered the whispered desires of my heartcared for us on crazy adventures, and turned a dreaded “No!” into a blessing.

Learning from Mary

Mary wasn’t perfect. She was a sinner, in need of the grace of her Son Jesus, just like you and me. But her life is a beautiful witness to us of what we should treasure: the redeeming life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and His working in our own lives.

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Rizpah: Heroine from History

A concubine of a moody King. A widowed pawn in the middle of a bloody power struggle. A sacrifice to appease the anger of affronted allies.

The brief glimpses the Bible records of the life of Rizpah could make a horror movie, but Rizpah’s story never stood out to me until listening to this hauntingly sad song from Jamie Soles.

Looking back at the two brief passages (2 Samuel 3 & 21) that tell about her, my heart aches. But her life was more than just a series of tragedies. Rizpah was a fiercely devoted mother who obeyed God’s law when no one else had the guts to. Through her example, justice was finally served and a three-year-long famine finally ended.

Rizpah, a faithful mother in the face of horrific fate, batters complacent modern Christianity. Over 3,000 years later, her haunting vigil encourages each of us to take up our cross daily.

Rizpah’s Life

Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, was the concubine of Saul, the first king of Israel. At first King Saul’s reign was peaceful but it grew more and more rocky until he committed suicide in a disastrous defeat by the Philistines. Three of his heirs died in the battle with him. (Because Rizpah was a concubine, not a wife, her sons were not heirs to the throne.)

After the death of Saul and his three oldest heirs, civil war raged between followers of Saul’s remaining heir, Ish-bosheth, and David, God’s annointed.

Years passed. Then Ish-bosheth caught wind of a scandal: rumor had it that his commander Abner had slept with Rizpah. This was a huge deal because if you were the wife or concubine of a dead king, sleeping with you was tantamount to declaring your intent to usurp the throne.

It’s not clear whether Abner raped Rizpah or if she hoped an alliance with Abner might help her and her sons survive the treacherous political waters. Whether she had any choice in it or not, Ish-bosheth confronted Abner about Rizpah, Abner stormed out, defaulted to David’s side, and was promptly murdered (behind David’s back) by David’s commander Joab.

After Abner’s death, Ish-bosheth’s kingdom crumbled, the civil war ended, and David was pronounced King.

Then famine struck. For three long years the land lay barren. When King David sought the Lord for the reason, the Lord said it was because King Saul had killed the Gibeonites, whom the Israelites had sworn not to kill (Joshua 9).

The Gibeonites demanded revenge in the form of seven of Saul’s surviving sons or grandsons. Both of Rizpah’s sons were taken from her and given to the Gibeonites, who hung them on the mountain of Gibeah and left their dead bodies for the birds.

Rizpah was powerless to stop the murder of her sons. She was powerless to enforce the Law (Deut. 21:22-23) which said their bodies had to be taken down before nightfall. All she could do was mourn and keep the wild animals from desecrating their bodies.

So Rizpah began what may be the most horrific vigil in history. Day and night Rizpah stood watch over the decaying bodies of her sons and beat off birds by day and beasts by night.

Her sons were hanged at the beginning of barley harvest. Rizpah continued her vigil for five long months till the first rains fell and washed the stench from her gaunt, sleep-deprived frame and mingled with the tears of her grieving mother’s heart.

When news of what Rizpah had done reached David, her story seems to have pricked his conscience to action. He gathered the unburied bones of King Saul, his sons who died with him, and the sons whom Rizpah guarded, and finally buried them. Only then did the Lord answer the pleas of the people for the famine to end.

(Nothing else is mentioned about Rizpah in the Bible. I can only hope her life didn’t end completely bleak.)

Rizpah, a faithful mother in the face of horrific fate, batters complacent modern Christianity. Over 3,000 years later, her haunting vigil encourages each of us to take up our cross daily.

Rizpah’s Legacy

Over three thousand years later, Rizpah’s tragic story keeps running through my mind. Her heroic, heart-wrenching vigil keeps battering my complacent modern Christianity.6

Why couldn’t she just pray the “prayer of Jabez” or something? I ask myself in sarcastic anger. You know, couldn’t she just ask for peace, prosperity, and happiness and avoid all this terrible tragedy?

But like Ruth, Esther, Mary, and the rest of the Biblical heroines, the brief painting of Rizpah’s life leaves a much bigger legacy than just the pursuit of happiness. Rizpah was a faithful mother even in the face of horrific unhappiness. She was humbly committed to doing the right thing in the face of ginormous odds and great personal sacrifice.

So even over the long passage of years, her life shines forth as a witness to us, to “take up our cross” and follow Jesus faithfully, even in the shadow of death.

And though the shadow of death hung over her life, her faithfulness in the face of death blessed the whole land. Through her witness, Saul and his sons were finally buried and then the famine ended.

Embracing the Sacrifices Motherhood Demands

I stood at the gas pump, stressed and overwhelmed. It had been a crazily busy day. It was way past the kids’ bedtime, but they hadn’t had a proper dinner yet, the pile of laundry waiting to be folded was beginning to look like Mt. Everest, and I had hours and hours of other things I wanted to get done while Joshua was out of town.

Suppressing a sigh, I opened the van door. As I sank into my seat, a sweet chorus of little voices called out, “We love you Mother dear!”

Tears sprang to my eyes and the stress of the day faded into joy. The kids thought their “surprise” was hilarious, so the rest of the way home alternated between saying “We love you, Mother dear!” and “Happy Birthday” and then bursting into fits of giggles. [It’s nowhere near my birthday.]

An hour and a half later, tummies were filled, the kids were tucked in bed, a few urgent things done, and the laundry mountain was tamed. And it was time for bed. The hours of other things I really wanted to do would have to wait.

Again.

Motherhood demands a lot: our sleep, our time, and our figures all get sacrificed. Learning to embrace the sacrifices motherhood demands is part of our calling as Christian moms.

photo credit

Embracing the Sacrifices Motherhood Demands

Each day seemed to end with the list of things I wanted to do growing, not shrinking. Even with the sweet echo of my children’s voices ringing in my ear, I struggled with feeling sorry for myself.

Motherhood is delightful, but it also demands sacrifice. As a mom, your time, your figure, your sleep, and your money get sacrificed for your children’s sake. Often your hobbies drop down the list of priorities to about the same level as scrubbing the shower.

It’s easy to resent the need for sacrifice.

But sacrifice is at the heart of life as Christians. Whether we’re single or married, mothers or not, our time and figure and sleep aren’t really our own anyway.

Paul couldn’t have made it any clearer when he wrote, “You are not your own. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” and “present your body as a living sacrifice”.  (1 Cor. 6: 19-20 & Rom. 12:1)

If mothering little ones is how God has called us to serve Him in at the moment, then that’s where we will be called to sacrifice ourselves. And even when it feels like we’re sacrificing a lot, just a glance at what Jesus sacrificed to redeem us, makes any sacrifice seem hardly worthy of the name “sacrifice”.I wouldn't choose any career over the joy of getting to be a stay at home mom. That doesn't mean being a mom is a walk in the park. Motherhood demands sacrificing our time, our figures, and our sleep as we shape little lives....

 

Sacrifice and Joyful Motherhood

I’d be the biggest hypocrite ever if I claimed to have this sacrifice thing down. I don’t. I like my sleep (and when I don’t get enough sleep, turn into a grouchy monster — or spend every moment praying for grace not to.)

The point of sacrifice isn’t that it’s easy, but that it’s what we’re called to as we follow our Lord Jesus who sacrificed everything for us. Looking to Him and embracing the sacrifices He’s asked us to make frees us to be joyful mothers, even when we never seem to have time for “our” to-do lists.

Keeping Sight of the Big Picture

Brown shoes. I couldn’t get my mind off the brown shoes and pink-trimmed socks that clashed terribly with the adorable red, green, and black Christmas dress Meg was wearing.

An annoyed shudder passed down my spine as I tried to shake the thought of her shoes from my mind and focus on the words of the Christmas hymn we were singing. “O come let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him…” 

After a whirlwind last few days, I had frantically rummaged through travel bags and under piles trying to find her cute black shoes before heading out the door for church. All to no avail. I remembered on the way to our Christmas service that I had taken the shoes to grandparents’ house and forgotten them there. Grrrr.

It's so ridiculously easy to lose sight of the big picture in the many details that crowd our minds. Keep the big picture in view! Again, I tried shaking the thought of her clashing shoes from my mind. Did she really have to get up on stage in such an outfit? And stand in front? Maybe I could sneak away and buy her some shoes that actually matched her outfit before the kids’ performance. “O come let us adore Him, Christ the LORD!” the chorus repeated.  

My mind struggled between annoyed thoughts of Meg’s brown shoes and actually paying attention to the words of the hymns and sermon. Then the complete silliness of my obsession hit me in the face.

Here I was fretting because my three-year-old’s cute brown shoes didn’t match her outfit while hearing the incredible story of God becoming man. Not in a beautiful palace, but in a dirty, noisy manger. His tiny feet were wrapped in swaddling rags, and I was annoyed that I couldn’t find the right pair of Meg’s dress shoes.

So often and so quickly I lose sight of the big picture of God’s grand story as I wallow in annoyance over something as silly as brown shoes.

“…. but Mary treasured these things in her heart…” I want to be like Mary and treasure the life of Jesus. I want to keep my eyes on things above, even when my 3-year-old can’t find shoes to match her outfit.

Humility, Faith, and Folic Acid

Life is perplexing. We don't know all the answers. That's why we need to approach life with humility and faith.

What does folic acid have to do with humility and faith? Humor me for just a minute, and I think you’ll see…

What’s the absolute most important supplement to take when you’re pregnant? Most literature I’ve read agrees that it is folic acid.

Folic acid helps fight miscarriage and protect the developing baby from serious neural tube defects. It’s a pretty powerful supplement.

When I was pregnant, I might skimp on other supplements because they made me feel sick, but I took folic acid faithfully.

After baby Edmund was born, I had some blood work done. Guess what I discovered. My body doesn’t process folic acid. At all. The hundreds of little white pills I took so faithfully during four pregnancies? They didn’t do an ounce of good. **

Humility because we don’t know it all

When I first found out, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Thankfully all our kids survived just fine, but I thought back to the many nights when I had pulled my pregnant self out of bed just as I was about to fall asleep and fumbled around in the bathroom to find the folic acid I’d forgotten to take earlier. My mommy instincts just wouldn’t let me go to sleep without it.

And then to find out that all that trouble was for nothing! It was disheartening and frustrating.

As I tried to see the humor in it, I realized this folic acid “discovery” was relevant to a lot of my life.

We don’t know it all. Scientists are still searching for the cure to cancer, patients still die from properly prescribed drugs (source/source), and today’s hot new cure-all home remedy might end up having serious side effects.

This lack of omnipotence isn’t limited to the realm of health, of course. There is so much left to uncover in every arena. It should inspire us to dig deeper and search more diligently.

But at the end of the day, we are human. Part of being human is not knowing everything. And that should provoke us to humility in our health choices, and food choices, and educational choices. In short, in every aspect of our lives.

Faith in the One who does know all

Our limitations should also point us to our Creator.

Sometimes I wonder if God sits in heaven and laughs. I wonder if He laughs when we go about our days absolutely confident that the latest idea we’ve read is going to work, only to see it fizzle or backfire.

I wonder if He patiently proves to us over and over that we don’t know it all so that we learn to put our trust in Him.

Because, unlike us, God is omnipotent. He does know all. Our lack of knowledge is just one more reason to put our faith in His mighty hands. Not in a I-might-as-well-give-up sort of way, but in joyful faith that He loves and cares about us even more than we do ourselves.

After four long pregnancies, I discovered that the folic acid I'd been taking faithfully didn't do me an ounce of good (thanks to a fairly common genetic alteration I needed a different form of this vital nutrient.) At first I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Then I realized that so much of life is unknown. We do our best with the limited information we have, but in the end have to learn humility and faith in the face of life's perplexing questions.

Humility and Faith in the Face of Life’s Questions

Life can be so annoyingly perplexing.  We are going to face many difficult questions on this journey of life. Rather than responding to them with pride or fear, our limitations should inspire humility and faith. (And maybe a few good laughs too.)

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**I still think folate is very important, just that folic acid is a synthetically-produced version of the necessary nutrient folate and my body can’t process the synthetic form (due to a fairly common genetic trait). Leafy green vegetables, lentils & beans, and citrus fruits are naturally high in folate, and methylated folate is a more natural form of the supplement my body can process.  Hopefully!

(photo credit)

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Silencing the Kingdom of Noise

Noise. Our lives are full of noise.

Not just the beautiful noise that comes with a home full of children, but our modern noise: the bombardment of advertisement when we drive down the road, shop, or watch football; the noise of constant, instant social media; the subtle urge to always be busy with something.

The world is a noisy place. We have to learn to take time in a busy world to be still.

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“Be still and know that I am God,” the psalmist said.

Like most modern Americans, I don’t like being still. Thanks to modern technology we are rarely ever forced to be still. We don’t have to stop our work as the sun goes down and gaze at the starts (or go to sleep.) Instead we can fill the hours of our days full-to-overflowing.

Constant entertainment, constant interaction (but not necessarily with the people in the room with us), and the constant need to be productive make the beauty of stillness hard to appreciate. We are conditioned to stay “plugged in” from the moment we get up till the moment we go back to bed.

This constant noise is one of the ways we deaden imagination and keep ourselves trapped in the moment. When our minds are filled with a steady stream of modern noise…

  • We aren’t forced to contemplate the past or future.
  • We hardly have time to pause and be grateful for the blessings we’ve been given.
  • We are too busy plunging from one activity to the next, to praise God for orchestrating each detail of our little lives.
  • We are too caught up with shallow things to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over the vastness of eternity.

Practical ways to silence the kingdom of noise

Silencing the kingdom of noise isn’t easy, but it’s worth every effort. There are many ways to silence the kingdom of noise, these are a few of my favorite.

Go outside

Soaking in the beauty of nature is one of the best ways to silence the kingdom of noise. I’d venture a bet that our generation spends less time enjoying nature than any previous generation. We simply aren’t forced to. We have bigger houses and more indoor entertainment than ever before. We have to make enjoying nature a conscious choice.

We have to choose to plant a garden, take leisurely nature walks, play outside, or simply sit still and enjoy God’s creation.

Plan times to unplug

Unplugging is harder today than ever before. You don’t have to pull out a laptop anymore to stay updated with the latest noise. This makes being intentional about unplugging even more important.

Whether you unplug for a whole day each week or have set times throughout the day, regularly choosing to unplug is essential if we want to silence the kingdom of noise.

Learn to say “No!”

Saying “No!” isn’t fun or easy, but if we want to have time to enjoy the things that are most important in our lives, we have to learn when to say “No!” There simply isn’t enough time in a day to do everything.

Soak in what’s happening around you

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been guilty of staring into a screen instead of really listening to my daughter’s story or watching my son’s new trick. Take time to be still and soak in what’s happening around you, whether it’s watching a squirrel dance up a tree or cuddling on the couch to read a story to the kids.

Prioritize time with God

There are a million urgent things that try to squeeze out the eternal, but make time to “be still and know” that He is God: worship with the saints, read the Word, sing, commune with the living God, and take advantage of the day He gave us to rest and celebrate .

Life in the modern world comes with a constant bombardment of noise. This steady stream of noise deadens imagination and traps us in the present. We have to learn to silence it.

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Silencing the Kingdom of Noise

Don’t let our modern noise crowd out the eternal. Instead of reaching for the noise of a smartphone or laptop anytime there is a down moment, pause to “be still and know” that our Lord Jesus is King.

 Originally published December 2013