Monday, January 25, 2010

Fruits of the Spirit

Pastor Ed talked about the fruits of the spirit at church yesterday. I've been thinking about them anyway...sometimes I find myself being so very ugly (to my husband, to people I love, or even in my heart of hearts - that no one but God sees). Seems like this is the new thing God is teaching me.

You see, I know all about the fruits. I have them written on my heart...I don't remember a time of not knowing them. I know that a person who loves God and lives in the Spirit HAS them...or at least is working on growing them. And yet...14 years into my spiritual walk, and I still have a long way to go on most of them.

Love - Boy, do I like to think I have it. And I do. It's not an's a trait. I'm learning that slowly. But boy, do I need it NOW more than my home, in my classroom, in my marriage, with my family, with my co-workers, with strangers...Can they tell I have love?

Joy - There's another one. I sure would like to think I have it. Maybe sometimes I do. I used to be terribly (as in a good thing) optimistic....not so much anymore. Now I'm more of a realist. But with this new...I don't know...outlook, some of the joy is just sucked right out. But the truth is - I need joy...gotta have it. It should quite literally spill out of me. Maybe it does. But not all the time. He's gonna have to grow it back. Do people who have known me forever wonder where my joy has gone? Do people that know me now see my joy?

Peace - Now, this one...I'm really working on. Well, He's really working on. It's my life theme this year. It's what I am overall trying to learn above all else. And the song "Be Still" by Hillsong is the song of my heart. It's overflowing. And I really, truly, desire to have peace in all areas of my life. I truly want to live with less stress, more seeking, more understanding of what's really important. And to truly "ride" along with Jesus and understand, above all else, that He is God and I am but a broken vessel that needs to share Him with others. To look up in the middle of the storm, be still, and KNOW that He is God.

Patience - I'll be honest with you about patience. I feel as if I have a lot of patience. I deal with twenty 3, 4, & 5 year olds for 7 hours straight every day (and LOVE it, by the way). I can handle that. Sometimes in my personal life, though...I need patience. I need patience as I long to be a mommy. I need patience as we try to get rid of all our debt in order to live life Christ-like. I need patience with my husband, who is nothing but patient with me. I need patience with timing. I need patience when I don't understand. I think all of that goes with the peace thing God is working on in me.

Kindness - I mean...we all hope we're kind. Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm very kind to my enemies. I definately don't go above or beyond the call of duty with them. I'm not hateful...but am I kind? Am I always kind to Aaron? Am I always what he needs me to be? Am I critical in all the wrong times/places?

Goodness - I always wondered what exactly Paul meant by this word. After all, don't we all hope we find ourselves on the right side of "good?" Eugene Peterson (in the Message) uses the phrase "a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people" to describe "goodness." I sure hope I have that. I certainly have a goal to have that (if nothing else).

Faithfulness - Yea, I'm faithful! I go to church weekly (x3ish). I read my Bible every day. I write in my Tjourn (Thankfulness Journal). I call my mom every day. I love my husband and wouldn't even look at another man. In my spiritual life, I committed? Am I over-committed? Do I follow through? Do I do what I say I'm going to do? Do we, as people of God, "guilt" our way into "committing" to things in the heat of the moment (or question or expectation)? Do we mean what we say and say what we mean? Do we give to God know...others or ourselves? I don't know...I want to examine myself intensely in this area. I want to be called "faithful." Won't it be neat one day? "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Self-Control - Now this one...this is a toughie. I clearly do not have self control, though I long for it on a daily, hourly, sometimes momentary basis. I have 100 pounds to lose (10 at a time, over the course of years). But in the process of that is a re-wiring of my brain....of the relationship I have with food...of the unhealthy way I idolize good tastes in my mouth. This is where I need self-control. And this is where I will come out a different and better person in the end of this journey. Because one day, I will proudly say that I do have self-control. And until that day, I am seeking.

And so - I will seek. I will continue in my hunger for the Word. I will keep asking God to speak to me. I will be more conscious of the way I treat people, especially those closest to me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Being Still

So, recently, in my devotions with Patsy Lewis (who is WONDERFUL, by the way), I have been challenged to pick a theme for the upcoming year...this was 2 months ago. I thought about it and prayed about it, and it has been an interesting challenge. By theme, Patsy explained that it was an overall arching theme that God will hopefully use to stretch and teach us throughout the year.

A series of conversations, other devotionals, a Sunday School debate at a church I was visiting, and a Christmas sermon, I have felt the need to learn to "be still." In Psalms (46 to be exact), the writer is calling on God...telling that He is his refuge, strength, and no matter WHAT happens that God is God. He hears the voice of God saying "Be still and know that I am God." and then the voice continues - something I'd never noticed before - and says "I WILL be exalted among the nations. I WILL be exalted in the earth." (emphasis mine) It's a little promise that means EVERYTHING. In the midst of the midst of storms the midst of not understanding what is going on, my God WILL be exalted...

Being still is not natural for many of us, present company included. Why is that? Aaron teases me b/c I like to "do stuff" (laundry, crafts, fixing stuff, reading mags) WHILE we're relaxing...What's up with that? Why am I like that? Why is sitting still almost considered wrong in my mind? I do think we are all wired differently, and I tend to be more high strung, but is that just an excuse?

I'm a part of this amazing Bible Study at my church...God is using it to change my entire life. And I am learning that sometimes you just need to "be still" and listen or write or read in order to fully GET what I need to get. However, I am feeling led to extend this further and add one of the fruits of the Spirit into the mix - Peace.

Again - not a trait that comes by naturally. I realize it's a fruit of the Spirit and it will grow as we walk with the Holy Spirit, but sometimes I wonder how much I don't let that one grow. I'm not a worrier by any means. I don't understand worrying. And I always feel the need to tell people who worry that God is in control and to have peace. However, as my husband and those close to me would tell you, I need peace. I need peace in my thoughts. I need peace in my relationships. I need peace in my storm. I need peace down to my core.

And so, here I am...finally starting the blog I've wanted to start for a year. Taking time to share thoughts just in case someone wants to read them. May you "be still" and have peace that passes understanding.