I'm trying to look at the bright side of things. Maybe I'll actually read books that have been on my reading list for a long time. Maybe I'll decide to work out more. We'll save about $50 a month. Maybe my house will stay clean. Maybe my garden will be perfectly weed-free. Maybe I'll salvage some brain cells.
I will truly miss it, though. Farewell, every channel worth watching. Hello, local programming.
In the last 6 months, we've had bunches of friends and family members having babies. It's wonderful to have them around, but it makes me feel a bit anxious to make babies with my man. We don't think that this is the right time, but we are ready when God is ready. So what happens if I'm ready, willing, but unable? I know that God is able, even if my body is not. If He wants a baby in my womb, I know that He'll put one there.
Still, I have this nagging feeling that I can't, that I won't be able to. I won't go into the details of my lady business, but let's just say I have issues. This is something that I have not wanted to face. No doctor has ever told me that I will not be able to have children, or even given me a diagnosis. One doctor told me that she suspected I had PCOS, but later testings were not indicative of that. I'm going to the doctor on May 12. Hopefully this will begin a process of getting some answers.
We appreciate your prayers as we walk through this time of uncertainty.
The chorus cries out, "Burn us up... Burn us in the furnace of your desire... We give up!" I want to live a life like these three men, a life that is consumed by Jesus. They laid their lives down for the glory of their King in Heaven.
*Being the hypocrite that I am, I have to admit that my MySpace is currently a little more rather than a little less.
while the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses..."
-In the Garden, Charles Austin Miles, 1913
As the weather makes the exciting turn towards summer, I begin working in my garden. God uses so many metaphors from nature to teach us about himself. A simple keyword search of "garden" in the ESV produces many results which cover everything from original sin to intoxicating romance to spiritual growth.
I love to be in my garden, in the presence of my Savior. It is such a lovely little retreat and a place of rest. The pleasures Adam and Eve must have experienced in that perfect garden with our perfect God It makes me long for a time when there will be total peace between man and nature.
My wonderful husband and I are closing in on two years of marriage, and I am still a blushing bride. My heart leaps when he walks through the door, when I see his name on the caller ID, or when he leaves a comment on my blog. I want to talk with him all the time. Hearing his voice can make me feel so much better. I long to spend my days with him. He is a delightful, wonderful companion, and my very best friend. He teaches me so much about everything. Mostly, he shows me what it's like to really love God and live a life that honors the Lord. He is such and amazing husband!
I am head over heels, crazy-cakes in love with my husband. Am I the only one? Sometimes I think it impossible that any woman could love any man the way I love my man. Wives (and husbands) please gush with me. Surely, I am not alone in my giddy-ness.
"Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely."
Song of Solomon 2:13-14
Apparently, I now have Eustachian Tube Dysfunction in my left ear. It has been causing a great deal of pain in my ear, the left side of my head, the left side of my neck, and the left side of my throat. I read a little bit about it, and the symptoms described by several online medical resources don't seem to match up with mine, but I will trust my physician. He couldn't see any fluid or infection. If it doesn't get better by Tuesday, I'm supposed to go back.
Anyway, my theory is that there is something malfunctioning in the right side of my brain that has thrown my left side out of whack. Of course, I know nothing about it. But isn't that all kind of weird?
"The Lord reigns,
let the nations tremble;
He sits enthroned between the cherubim;
let the earth shake."
Let's prepare our hearts. God who made the earth is glorious. Some day soon we will meet him.
"She seeks wool and flax
and works with willing hands."
-English Standard Version
Work she does. As previously mentioned, this women is worked to the bone. We can all relate to this. Each of us at some point in our lives have experienced hard work. Most of the time, though, we do it while complaining. We tell our friends and families how hard it is so we can get a little sympathy. We need that pep talk from Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Friend.
Usually, my work is not done "eagerly" or "with delight." I do it because I have to do it. If I want to get a job, I need a degree. If I want a degree, I need to do homework. If I want to pay bills, I need a job. We work to help "support" our families. Working out of what we view as necessity can quickly become drudgery.
How silly of us to think that we provide for ourselves. God gives us the opportunity for education. God provides the means. God gives us the mind to comprehend the material. God ordains the interview. God allows us to have favor and get a job. God does these things, not because we deserve it, but because He's merciful and shows us grace.
What if the necessity for work was the urgency for Jesus to be proclaimed? What if we saw work as a ministry opportunity? What if we shared the Gospel instead of our complaints with our coworkers? What if we recognized it as a blessing from God? What if we worked to honor Him? What if we stopped caring about impressing our bosses and getting raises or good grades? What if we simply worked for the joy of the Lord and trusted Him as our provider?
Oh, the difference perspective can make.
"She dresses herself in strength
and makes her arms strong."
I begin with this verse for strictly personal reasons. I interpret it literally. Perhaps you disagree. I, and a few commentaries, take it to mean that she is literally physically strong. I have struggled most of my life to stay fit and keep my arms strong and my body healthy. It is a battle I will most likely continue for the rest of my life. I've realized that it is probably never going to be easy. Even if it gets easier to make healthy choices, it will still require a lot of hard work. As I began writing this, I realized that I know little of it.
I like the way the NIV says it. "Her arms are strong for her tasks." I say this to myself whenever I am in the midst of some physical challenge. Her arms better be strong for all the good she does. It's no wonder she's fit when she's constantly running. She must be exhausted. I like the way Stasi Eldridge talks about her in Captivating.
We're living in the shadow of the infamous icon, 'The Proverbs 31 Woman,'
whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for friendships, for
taking walks, or reading good books? Her light never goes out at night? When
does she have sex?"
We can only speculate.
If she takes care of herself so that she can take care of others and we don't take the best care of ourselves, does this mean we cannot effectively care for our spouses, our families, our communities as she does? It probably doesn't mean we're incapable, but hindered in some way. In the long run, ignoring our bodies could have serious consequences for our families. If we get heart disease or diabetes, they will feel the consequences. There will be limitations. If we don't get it under control now, it could be very bad later. Perhaps for you, the "later" is here and today is the day to be transformed by our gracious Father in Heaven.
We do not merely hope that God will help us in this matter. He is our hope. Not in the way you hope something will happen. He is our only hope. The only chance we have.
The Woman Who Fears the LORD
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
he brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
When looking at the "woman who fears the Lord" in Proverbs 31, there's a lot to consider. It can be overwhelming to look at your own heart in comparison to this super woman. Isn't she something? When I read the whole passage, I get two impressions. The first is that I need to repent! Every day I fail to live up to this standard. I also feel greatly encouraged. It reminds me that God designed women to do great and important things.
Over the next few days, I am going to attempt to break this passage down. I'd like to begin with the various titles translators have given this passage.
The section headers, though no divinely inspired, influence the reader. The NASB calls it, "Description of a Worthy Woman." The ESV, "The Woman Who Fears the Lord." The HCSB, "In Praise of a Capable Wife." The NIV, "The Wife of Noble Character."
Worthy, capable, noble, God-fearing- man or woman, married or single, we should all hope to deserve such labels. I could write a whole series on why fear of the Lord is good and essential, but I will refrain at this time.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow, "She makes her arms strong."
The Davis family library seems to reflect a family that is in passionate pursuit of knowing Christ, their Savior. Ours probably says that we're a little schizophrenic. What does your library (or lack thereof) say about you?
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." ~Mark Twain
"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." ~Oscar Wilde
"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book." ~Henry David Thoreau
"Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one." ~Augustine Birrell
"A house without books is like a room without windows."~Heinrich Mann
Are you on board with a woman:
- Being the president of a denomination?
- Being a member of the governing board of a denomination?
- Teaching/preaching/speaking at a national denominational meeting?
- Praying at a national denominational meeting?
- Presiding over the Lord's Supper?
- Distributing the elements of the Lord's Supper?
- Administering baptism to a woman in the church service
- Administering baptism to a man in the church service?
- Administering baptism to her daughter in the church service?
- Administering baptism to her eight-year-old son in the church service?
- Administering baptism to her seventeen-year-old son in the church service?
- Being the minister of music who chooses and leads the congregational singing?
- Singing a duet with a man not her husband during the worship service?
- Member of a governing board that operates as an elder board for a congregation?
- Speaking/preaching/teaching during the "sermon time" on occasion under supervision of elders and senior pastor?
- Performing a baby dedication during service (assuming on staff)?
- Moderating a congregational business meeting?
- Being the department head over male professors at a seminary or Bible college?
- Teaching Bible or theology in a theological seminary to a mixed class?
- Teaching Greek or Hebrew in a theological seminary to a mixed class?
- Teaching Greek or Hebrew in a Bible college?
- Teaching counseling to a mixed group in a theological seminary?
- Being the teacher of a mixed class in a Christian high school teaching Bible?
- Being the teacher of a mixed adult Sunday school class?
- Being the teacher of a mixed Senior High (ages 15-18ish) SS class?
- Being the teacher of a mixed Junior High (ages 13-14ish) SS class?
- Being the teacher of a mixed Elementary (ages 5-12) SS class?
- Being the leader of a kids program (e.g., AWANA) that has male leaders?
- Organizing VBS (assuming mixed teachers)?
- Teaching on occasion in a mixed adult SS class, under supervision of male teacher?
- Giving her testimony in the congregational worship service?
- Giving her testimony in the mixed adult Sunday school class?
- Writing a book on theology (not specifically designated for women)?
- Writing a commentary on a Bible book as part of a series with a male editor?
- Writing or editing a study Bible?
- Contributing notes for study Bible with a male general editor?
- Leading a translation team for a Bible version?
- Editing or writing a Bible or theological dictionary?
- Speaking/preaching evangelistically to an intended mixed group of non-Christians?
- Evangelizing a man in a random personal encounter encompassing the two of them?
- Reading Scripture aloud to the congregation on a Sunday morning?
- Reading Scripture to the Sunday school class or Bible study?
- Praying among a mixed group at a congregational prayer meeting?
- Reading Scripture among a mixed group at a congregational prayer meeting?
- Participating in the congregational Scripture reading during the worship service?
- Giving the announcements (regularly) to start the worship service?
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee."
-Augustus Toplady, 1776
I like to think of many modern worship songs like new Christians. They are somewhat different than secular songs, but not very. They talk about God and Jesus in very general terms. They might not be full of deep truths, but they teach a new believer what it means to worship through song. It makes the transition a little easier.
Hymns are more mature in sound and content. Sometimes one has to be reasonably intelligent just to sort through the syntax and vocabulary. What does it mean to be cleft? How could my zeal know respite? Even now, I have to break it down to really see how "Rock of Ages" is full of deep truth. This meaning is probably veiled to an unbeliever, and possibly very difficult for a new or young believer, or even a mature believer who doesn't have the greatest receptive language abilities.
I submit that the desire for people to sing more "modern" songs comes from a lack of understanding, not just stylistic preferences.
- When she cries or yells, let her. Speak tenderly to her with patience. She may try to attack you, but don't take it personally. It's more than the hormones talking. It's her sinful nature.
- When she tells you that she doesn't want to talk about it, just give her a minute. She desperately wants to talk about it.
- Don't laugh at her. Though the rapid changing of moods and the irrational thought that she is demonstrating may seem funny (and may be funny) it is not funny to her at that moment. Laughing will only make her more crazy. Later on, she may laugh at herself. When everything is back to normal, she may even laugh at something like this.
- Don't mock her. What she says or feels is legitimate to her, no matter how silly it seems to you at the time.
- Don't say, "Do you have PMS?" or "It must be your hormones." This will seem very sexist and insulting to her. It says that you're not taking her seriously.
- Never, I mean EVER, compare her to any other woman. Particularly, never to your mother or hers. If you say, "____ doesn't act this way," or "You're acting just like ____" she will never forget this. It will cause her great pain for a long time.
- If her emotional outburst comes over the phone, try to talk to her somewhere away from others. She is painfully aware that you may be among friends or coworkers. She doesn't want them to overhear how crazy she's acting. She will have a hard time talking to you when others are around.
- Affirm your love for her. She needs to know in an endless amount of words how wonderful you think she is.
- Don't walk away. Don't hang up the phone. If she does, follow her. Call her again.
- Offer to pray for her. This is the best way to turn rage into peace. When you offer to pray for her, do it. When she hears you speak to the Lord on her behalf, it will melt her heart.
Disclaimer: My husband is very good at melting my heart. He always has been.
In the summer of 2006 while serving as a student missionary with Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries, I hiked Mount LeConte. At 6,593 feet, it's the third highest peak in the Great Smoky mountains, and one of the highest east of the Rockies.
Five trails lead to the peak, which houses the historic LeConte Lodge. The lodge has no electricity, no running water, and plenty of charm. The only way to the top is to hike. Three times a week, camels hike supplies to the top for the lodge and the employees.
On our way to the top of the mountain, we took the Alum Cave Trail, the shortest and the steepest at 5 miles. It started out alright, nothing too intense. I witnessed endless rhododendron, beautiful streams, wondrous caves, dozens of ecosystems, one on top of another. A couple hours into the hike, we hit a spot which the more experienced hikers called "Monotonous Ridge." It was every bit as awful as it sounds, but it was only the beginning of what would become one of my biggest life challenges.
The hiking was difficult, and I was in no shape for it. The physical strain was harrowing, even agonizing, but that was not my biggest problem. The truth was, I hated that mountain and everything it represented in my heart. I was spending the final weeks before my wedding 9 hours away from the one I most loved. I also desperately wanted to focus on my time as a minister of the Gospel that summer. Inevitably, I was emotionally frayed. LeConte held all of the confusion, anxiety, frustration and torment that was inside of me. About two-thirds of the way up, I had an emotional break down. The tears flowed uncontrollably and I wanted to turn around. My dear friends comforted me, but I'm not sure they understood my tears.
With each step, my heart and my feet felt heavier than before. I tried to remember why I was there, to bring good news to all people. I kept hearing God's voice in Isaiah 52:7, 7 -
"How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
'Your God reigns!'"
After several hours of hiking, we finally reached the lodge. It was very cloudy, and I never got a really great view from the top. I felt more frustration and pure exhaustion. This was a great analogy for my life at that time. I was climbing the huge mountain, preparing to be married and begin a life with Kyle. Neither of us had any view into the future. We had not yet found a place to live, found jobs, found anything but love for each other. God had us in this place where He was leading and giving us no view of what He had in store. We had the chance to trust Him. We had to believe that, not only was he going to get us over the mountain, but He was going to have something wonderful on the other side.
We stayed at the top for lunch. After a couple hours, we set out on the Rainbow Falls Trail. The idea of taking two trails came so that we would, ideally, get to see as many different places as possible. This seven mile trail is supposed to have some pretty great scenery, including a waterfall. That is, when it doesn't rain for the entire seven miles down, and it did. It poured. We charged on, and with the rain came more tears.
"The way down was supposed to be easy," I thought. I was (literally) sorely mistaken. It was just as painful and difficult as the journey to the top. Because it was slippery, I fell about three times going down. Each time I wanted to scream. I wanted some helicopter to come and lift me off of this mountain. I wanted down right then. That was not even and option, though. The only way down was to keep walking, or to be carried by my teammates. By the grace of God, I was able to keep walking. God pushed me further than I ever thought I would or could go. He showed me his strength and his ability to get me through that day alive.
He did this in our lives too. When I came out of the Great Smoky Mountains and returned to Illinois at the end of the summer, He once again showed us how mighty He is. Up to our wedding day, we still had no assurance of employment or a home. We trusted, and kept charging on. While on our honeymoon, we got the call. We had a job. A few days later we had a place to live.
Some days I still feel like we're coming down off the mountain. It isn't easy. We still struggle to see where God is taking us. We know that he is glorious. He has carried us this far, and he will not forsake us. We fall down, but we are not broken. We feel burdened and heavy-laden, and He takes it away in time. O, what a glorious God is He!
Psalm 121: 1-2
"I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
I say, "I have a great RSS Feeder that shows me new posts within ten minutes of the poster posting them."
Then they say, "But Chelsea, I'm not a Mac user, I can't get that one."
I say, "That's too bad for you. You should be a Mac user. You can still use an RSS feed, though, to keep up with all your blogs. Maybe my husband could recommend one for Windows users. He's very knowledgeable like that, you know. You can even use Google Reader."
If you're like me, all of your friends (real ones and online ones) have blogs. You might also enjoy the frequent postings on a teaching blog. It's such a pain to visit every page and see if the person has updated. Blogging made easier- it's great for everyone!
In contrast, I've recently stumbled upon the blogs of Abraham and Molly Piper (John Piper's son and daughter in law). The day before she was due, they lost their baby girl. They've openly shared their grief through their loss. How it must feel to parents who have unexpectedly lost a child to know of such horrors, I may never know. I can only imagine.
I weep for them.