Monday, August 6, 2012

Counting One Thousand Gifts ~ July {Death = life. Chaos = Joy.}

I really never really thought of myself as someone self-absorbed, but alas, it seems I have a serious case of Me. Myself. and I. And it's not a pretty sight.

Last week I was reading John 12 and came to these verses, very familiar, but freshly full of impact and conviction. {But isn't that often how it goes with God's Word?}

"...unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.  He who loves his own life {or soul} loses it, and he who hates his life {or soul} in this world will keep it for life eternal." 
John 12: 24-25

The summer has been fast-paced and chaotic as usual with non-stop, back-to-back intense activity. {I sound like a broken record on this point, I know.} I was feeling resentful of having all of my time dictated by other people, other obligations, and the intense craving of my {selfish} soul was like the words of Psalm 55: 6-8...

"I said, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.  Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness.  I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.'"

Rest. Refuge. Flying away from obligation and responsibility.  Peace.  Quiet.  They are the cravings of my heart so often these days, but John 12 helped renew my perspective, and this is what ended up being my prayer...

Lord, I am so tempted to "love my life" ~ myself, my needs, my desires, when I am tired and overwhelmed from activity.  I've been exhausted and cranky and wanting to serve myself since we have returned from all our travels plus... {long list of other contributing factors}.  Anyway, I'm tired and am craving peace and quiet and stillness and alone-ness, but I took comfort and conviction from these verses today ~ that there's real and true and lasting life to be found in "hating" my own and freely laying it down to be used for your sake.  And also, while I was praying and running this morning you reminded me of how you are the high priest who can sympathize with me in every way.  You were also tempted to love your own life and preserve it ~ especially in the midst of stress, frustration, pressure, people's needs, being misunderstood, not related to as you desired, etc., and yet you chose to keep marching toward the Cross and go through with the most difficult work of all ~ for me.  Thank you so much for persevering for me, Lord.  Let me take heart in your laying down your life and let me be strengthened by your same spirit inside of me to continue the hard work of this life for your sake and glory and for the sake of those you've entrusted to me.  Thank you that your Word is a comfort and an exhortation each time I read it.  Help me to remain in it and in you.

{It's not that I think rest is selfish.  Actually, I think that resting is a command and gift from God which I am trying to obey and receive!  It's just that even the six days of "work" are often more than I think I can bear, and my Sabbath has often been "obeyed" on a long airplane flight or in the continuous comforting of a feverish child and a trip to see the doctor.}

And then today I was on to John chapter 15 ~ all about abiding in Him, the true vine...

"These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."
John 15:11

Life and Joy.  This is what is promised in the daily surrendering of my selfish desires. Die in order to live. Counter-intuitive, yes, but isn't that often how it goes with Jesus and His Word?

And that full and chaotic life brings gifts it might not otherwise...

1.My kids (loved)
2. Robert (loved)
3. Visit from Karla (loved)
4. Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge (read)
5. Book of Luke by Luke (read)
6. Book of Titus by Paul (read)
7. Grace and Joy (in faith)
8.  Security (family)
9. Worship and Fellowship (Freedom)
10. Fresh farm beets (red)
11. Popcorn (white)
12. Blueberry picking & giving (blue)
13. God's love (of persistence)
14. Robert's faithfulness (of persistence)
15. Kelly's friendship (of persistence)
16. Karla's temperament (enthusiasm)
17. Klondike Klub kids play (enthusiasm)
18. Olivia regarding Bible study current and future (enthusiasm)
19. Trithlon (challenge)
20. Summer Bible study (conflict)
21. Travels to camp and California (change)
22. Swimming Puffers with Hannah (water)
23.  Pellegrino Sparkling Lemon Water (water)
24. Singing Beach's refreshing waves (water)
25. Morning runs (rhythm)
26. Titus Poem (rhyme)
27. Paige Brown's Temple Talk & other GCWC speakers (reason)
28. Spirit's power (in weakness)
29. Reminders of my need for Christ (in weakness)
30. Gratitude for Gospel (in weakness)
31. Blueberry Currant Jam (in jars)
32.  Gift coins accumulating (in jars)
33. Coconut Oil (in jars)
34. Brett and Jenna's conception story (of life)
35. Kory's passion and maturity (of growth)
36. Kate's setback that is a hopeful bottom (decline)
37. Robert's fingers with mine (curled)
38. Kayla's fingers with mine (curled)
39. Worn pages of the Word (curled)
40. Lemons for sparkling water and juicing (yellow)
41. Sauteed farm squash for dinner (yellow)
42. Mango banana smoothies
43. Old and New Covenants (of stone)
44. My engagement diamond and story (of stone)
45. Body of Christ at Crosswalk (of LIVING stone)
46. Beaded garland from Switzerland (hanging down)
47. God's sovereignty in my kitchen window (hanging down)
48. Branches and vines lining my running route (hanging down)
49. That I can't do it all (learned)
50. That He doesn't want me to (learned)
51. That He is living bread and water (learned)
52. My guitar-playing, 80's music loving husband (musical)
53. Mary Poppins on Broadway x2 (musical)
54. Speakers at the hotel pool (musical)
55. Raspberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip bars (baked)
56. Baked Oatmeal via Michelle (baked)
57. Me by the pool (baked)
58. Morning run along Santa Monica beach & pool time (in light)
59. A knowing, encouraging, loving closeness (in dark)
60. Holy Spirit freedom to initiate and acknowledge (in shadow)
61. Stu and Rachel's on their wedding day (of story)
62. Stu's salvation, CA church, and friends (of story)
63. Practical Theology for Women author's testimony (of story)
64. Professionalism and kindness at UCLA hospital (understated)
65. A couple's deep and vibrant faith (understated)
66. His sacrificial service to me (understated)
67. Mt. San Jacinto view from tram, I think (high)
68. Time in the heat of the desert (low)
69. A grandmother's concern (far away)
70. A unity sand jar (of sand)
71. Beach volleyball (of sand)
72. The entertainment of endless digging and castles (of sand)
73.  Saturday morning of a great youth camp week (of endings)
74. The last pile of laundry ~ for a while (of endings)
75. Gatherings with those who are angry (of endings)
76. Basil (fresh)
77. Tomatoes (fresh)
78. Snap Peas (fresh)
79. Happy kids (on vacation)
80. Accomplished tasks (at home)
81. Freedom to stop (in relaxation)
82. Cindy and Ben's wedding (of beginnings)
83. The second 20 years with Robert (of beginnings)
84. Preparation for school year (of beginnings)
85. Eating at our own table again (together)
86. Hearing Ian's first sermon (together)
87. Birthday Duck Tape purses, FroYo, and campfire meals (together)
88. Thank you (heard)
89.  You are very special to me (heard)
90. I love you (heard)
91. Full of activity life (difficult)
92. Parenthood (difficult)
93. Exercise (difficult)

And so many extras this month...

94. Plane tickets to Cali and safe travel
95. Rehearsal dinner on the roof and sunset over LA
96. Santa Monica sunshine
97. Starbucks IN the grocery store near the beach and hotel
98. Security and joy in my marriage
99. Cute, cool, and cleaned up kids at wedding
100. Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Allsup
101. Less and less need to prove self to others
102. More security in identity in Christ
103. Warm wind of Palm Desert
104. Shopping for gifts
105. 50% off Loft secret sale & a new dress for the wedding
106. Good conversations with my 87 year old grandma
107. Walks with Trax
108. Safe smooth flights
109. Neti pots and fever reductions!

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