Sunday, July 31, 2011

Communion with God

I hope when you read my blog you are encouraged, but I hope too that this can become a place of conversation, a place for communion with God, so please leave a comment, so we can grow and fellowship together.


Lately, I have been drawn to reading a lot of books.  Spiritually speaking, God is very active in my life right now.  Do not imagine that this looks like perfection on my part or that I never get down or discouraged.  I waver and waffle more than should be necessary given His work, but I am aware and in awe of God's current activity and presence.  Many of the books I've been reading have mentioned this phrase "communion with God."  This phrase is new to me.  Different to me.  I do not think that it is a "Southern Baptist" phrase which is where my roots of faith lie.  {lay, lie - I never understood the difference, please correct me}

I have come to love this phraseology.  Communion with God.  Communion as a Southern Baptist knows it is the Lord's Supper.  It is partaking in the juice representing the blood of Christ and the yeastless crackers representing the body of Christ.  As a symbol, it is feasting on Christ Himself.  Although I've understood the seriousness of the Lord's Supper throughout my life, rarely, have I understood its holiness.  All throughout the bible, we see the importance of feasts and dining, and for a while, as I thought about communion with God, I thought of holiness in the act of eating together, fellowshipping together.  That in it's own way, eating with others, is meant to be holy.  It is no surprise that when my friend Tara describes the perfect small group she mentions feasting and relating together over a meal.  When I talked to her about it, I imagined what most of us believe about Italians and their meals together:  large, boisterous, delicious food, and delightful conversation.  Maybe that's why traditionally eating dinner together as a family can be so important.  Eating together allows one to share life in a safe environment, building one another up, and truly connecting with one another in a meaningful way.  There is something special about that element of life because God intends it to be special with Him.

Communion with God is sitting across the table with Him.  Enjoying His presence.  Talking with Him, laughing with Him, crying with Him, and listening to Him, as together we feast off of His bountiful provision of Himself.  There is nothing better than feasting on Him.  He is living water.  He is the bread of life.  It is no mistake that He places Himself in these elements.  Water and bread are life essentials.  I thought to myself, this is exactly why and how God responded to Nikol when she decided to have coffee with Christ.  She had decided to commune with Him.

An aside about water:  Last weekend I went to Chattanooga, and it is a city full of water features.  I thought to myself God is like water.  Even people who don't like to drink water, like to play in the water, bathe in the water, and be near the water (ocean, lake, etc.)  It is essential to life, to health.  It has a trinity in the way it is solid, liquid, and gas all at once, just as God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Our bodies are made up of mostly water.  Water satisfies the body's thirst like no other beverage.  It is refreshing and life giving.

There is no meal that could be better prepared for us than Himself.  He alone is good.  He alone is Holy.  He alone is loving.  He alone is vital to living.  He alone provides abundance to life.  He is everything we need and everything we are longing for.  And yet, we get to feast of of Him while we sit across the table from Him and enjoy Him.  What a beautiful picture of the relationship we are to have with Him. Because of this phrase, "Communion with God," I've come to appreciate life's moments as much holier than I did before, much more sacred than ordinary.

Have you come across this term before?  
How has it impacted you?  
What do you most enjoy about communing with God?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Two Songs / Two Questions

Hey friends,
I hope to get a post up soon. I've been taking a writing hiatus for the past week. But I heard this song earlier today, and it struck me as I was pondering a friend who is hurting, considering God's work in my own life, and thinking about the old way versus the new way of living of which I am currently reading a good book about. Also, there in the middle of the song - amazing grace, the only word I find adequate to describe all of these things at once.

So this totally reminded of me of a praise song we used to sing when I was at the Auburn BCM (Baptist Campus Ministries). It is from Isaiah 43.

I am pondering these two questions:
1. Is it possible to understand grace without failure?
2. Is love that requires no sacrifice really love?

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, July 8, 2011


"You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one."  John 8:15

Part of the grace I have received recently has to do with judgment.  For a long time I had received grace and God continued to give me grace, but I didn't know how to apply grace.  Recently He opened my eyes to understand the application.  In the above Scripture, Jesus says he passes judgment on no one.  Only Jesus as man could have said he passes judgment on no one.  Jesus as God we know passes judgment.  As a God-man though, he was keenly aware of both the way He's created us and how we judge others.  We judge before we have all the facts.  We assess and assume.  And then we make comment on what we assume is correct.  We like to believe we are right, and others are wrong.  This is not grace.  For example, I used to feel that kids should take naps up until a certain age.  Friends had made judgmental comments about other people whose kids did not nap.  Then God gave me a kid who did not nap.  And I knew I would be judged.  And I was keenly aware that I had participated in judgement in my conversation.  I had condemned myself before I even had a child.  

So grace has given me the opportunity to say with Christ, "I pass judgment on no one."

Before this new-found grace, my life looked like this:  I would listen to someone talk.  I would not understand a choice, and judgement would either be passed by me, or I would feel as if they would judge me for my difference.  Case in point, I breastfed all of my children.  Up front, I would like to say I have never judged someone for nursing or not nursing.  I know too much about nursing to judge someone for not doing it.  BUT, a friend had a baby.  She nursed her first baby and chose not to nurse her second.  I felt a tremendous amount of judgment in her choice not to nurse.  I do not know, but she may have felt the same pressure from me because she didn't nurse (although if she did, it would have been self-imposed because I did not intend to do something to make her feel that way; the judgement I felt was certainly self imposed).  

Jesus says, "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly."  John 7:25

When we judge either ourselves or others every time we are found to be different, we become Pharisees.  We set up legalistic systems to snare.  We create standards that God did not intend for us to create.  He is the standard; we are not.  God did not create each of us to be the same, and we need not pressurize our lives every time we are found to be different.  In most cases, when I interact with someone, I am going to be different than them in some way.  That can leave one in a whole lot of judgment and condemnation, either self imposed or given to others.  God has not given us the right to impose this condemnation on others.  Only He can convict and condemn.  We are ALL sinners.

"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, 
for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me."  John 5:30

What I am saying may not be profound to you, but for me, this is profound, so listen up.

This one thing, this grace I've been given, has given me freedom.  It sets me free from the striving to be this for one person and something else for another person.  It allows me to be free from negative thoughts about others.  It allows me to be free from gossiping about others. It allows me not to worry about my differences or others differences.  It allows me to be free from negative thoughts about myself.  It allows me to be free from talking poorly about myself.  It allows me to be free to be confidently me.  I was the person who had the kind of pride that left me in self condemnation more so than condemnation over others.  You may think more highly of yourself than you ought.  This grace, it shows you a proper view of yourself.  I am more aware of my sin, but I am also more aware of these things from 1 John:

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. 
No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.  
1 John 3:6
{As a child of grace, I no longer am held captive to sin.}

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, 
that we should be called children of God!
1 John 3:1
{He lavished his undeserved love on me.}

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, 
because fear has to do with punishment. 
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18
{I am being made perfect in all things including loving.}

Yes, I am a sinner, but he has given me freedom from my sin.  Man can no longer enslave me to it.  For perhaps the first time in my life, I can agree with Paul in Galatians:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? 
Or am I trying to please people? 
If I were still trying to please people, 
I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10
 {I am no longer a people pleaser, I am a God pleaser.}

But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, 
was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, 
my immediate response was not to consult any human being.  Galatians 1:15-16
{I consult Him alone.}

Have you seen how grace applied brings freedom 
to your own continual sin struggles?  

Have you ever experienced grace in this way?  
What does it look like?

How has grace affected you recently?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Valley

Speaking of the valley last week, the next day or so, I heard this song on the radio. I thought I would share it with you, because it got me through some of my darkest days with God, when I felt the world had turned against me and I could not hear Him answer my cries for help.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Have you ever noticed how worldly love always seems to require a measure of "if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours?"  If you have me over for dinner this week, I'll have you over for dinner next week kinda thing.  Like we all owe one another favors.  You do this for me, I will do this for you.  If someone brings you a nice piece of cake, then always return the plate with another goodie on it.  And on and  on.  And while this is the definition of Southern hospitality and is even a great principle to live by, is this really love?  godly love? 

If you notice the Bible talks about people finding favor with God.  For some time, I got confused and thought this kind of favor meant favors.  As in I needed to earn God's favor.  I needed to cover my own sin and be good, and then somehow what I had done for Him would make me find favor with God.  As a people pleaser, this had worked for me in the human realm.  People like being around people who always do as they please, and that was me.  Many biblical men who were found with favor were being "good," so it could be easy to confuse this.  But ultimately, God's favor is for unmerited sinners who did not necessarily deserve His favor.  He measured their heart and their motives and saw that they were humble, contrite, God-fearing, willing to obey, willing to turn, repentant, and with these, they found favor.  But it was with His own desire that He found each one favorable. 

For some time, God searched me and found me unfavorable, and I was full of proud, thinking myself good enough to find favor.  Why must God's favor pass over me?  But I was lacking humility and genuine respect for the Lord, ungrateful for His gifts and graces, and I found the lack of favor humbled me and killed my pride.  I needed my Lord.  I needed My King to lift me out of the miry pit of self.

God's love is not met with conditions.  He loves because He is love.  He loves me despite my sin.  And perhaps, because of my sin.  Because of my need.  I need Him, and I can never return the love that He can give.

And I am tired of living the I owe you, you owe me life.  I want to love like Jesus.  Completely unabashedly love despite the fact that I may not get anything in return.  So I am going where God leads me knowing that this love He wants to give may not get me anything in return.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Highlights of Summer so far

losing a tooth
trips to McWane Center
flower girl and karate bot fire boy
sweet baby sweetness
sand and sun
aunts and uncles

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I've been blogged

I like to refer you to the wonderful things I see on the internet and blogosphere, but I suppose I do most of that on facebook these days.  And while occasionally I will write a post that my friends recommend on facebook, rarely do I find my blog referred to from another blog post.  One such person who does so is David Dollar, the other Valleydale blogger.  Although to be fair, many a Valleydalian has attempted blogging:  Nikol Whitten, Robin Kelley, Philip Waters, Suzanne Tullis, Meredith Dunn, Katie Green, Kelly Fisher, Kris Dekker, and Amarilys Barnett just to name a few.  The ones currently still blogging are Nikol, Kelly, and Suzanne, and I bet Robin and Katie will add one soon.  That aside, Mr. Dollar and I are the ones who have gained the most recognition thus far.  He recently included me in one of his posts.  We really do not know one another apart from the blogosphere, but I remember that he helped with the college kids (or was a college kid, but I don't think so) while I was in the singles class with his wife who was single at the time and lived in Georgia most of the time (so I didn't know her very well at all).  Now she works with my husband, albeit in the same company, but not department.  And his father in law used to be my boss once.  And he knew my dad.  Because they worked together too.  So I knew of his family and of him, the blogger back then for a while now, but I did not know I too would be become a blogger, of Valleydale fame, which according to Dave, I am.  That is both cool and embarrassing.  It really is.

This being said, I owe David Dollar a great deal of thanks for bringing traffic to my site.  I get more referrals from him than from anyone else, and next in line, the referrals come from A New Song to Sing, and my bff, Levi's Mom, who I never talk about on here.  But I love her, and she runs a little blog about her son, Levi, and now her daughter, Kara!  Networked blogs and google also send a lot of traffic my way.  The top things people search for that send them to me are mother hen story, scripture memory, and happy harpers.  Write a post about a fairly famous story and you will get traffic.  Comment on big blogs and you will get traffic, though I must say I don't have as much time to network and read other blogs as a good blogger probably should if they are worried about that kind of thing, which I used to, but don't much anymore.

Speaking of kids, you may have noticed that I talk about my kids on here less often.  Originally I started this blog as a way to document family life, but it also quickly became a way for me to release steam and vent about things I had come to internalize.  Some times I wrote about my kids and the crazy things they did that I wasn't sure I could handle any more.  Though I do just run a very small blog, I recognize that it has some notoriety, especially among my Valleydale family.  That being said, I had found I needed to pull back some of the things I said on here for integrity's sake and for the privacy of my children.  Although, I do need to step it up more in the way of some family updates and fun stories.  In the early days of blogging, I made many mistakes, including talking about friends and things I should have never made public, but did so out of earnest cluelessness in the matter at the time.  Now I know there is a certain code of ethics when blogging.  And here in is the rub, who wants to be friends with a blogger, if they are afraid they will be blogged about.  David Dollar does this kind of thing very well, but I'm not sure I know how to do it.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I had another post written for yesterday, but got shy and decided not to share it quite yet.  So I just thought I would say hey and chat about, well, whatever comes to mind.

DoodleBug has started walking.  She walks across the room and likes to be upright, but she can still crawl faster than either the tortoise or the hare, and will choose to do that sometimes instead.  Today she has a fever.

Daniel has been working overtime the entire month.  It is weird and strange and normal at the same time, and it seemed easy for him to get up an extra hour earlier.  But his time with us is less and the evenings are rushed and hurry, even more so than before.  It is my duty, which I only sometimes achieve, and sometimes my delight to make sure I have dinner prepared before he comes home to ease this rush of the evening.  The kids and I had gone out of town, and D had done the grocery shopping to grill hamburgers.  He felt the pressure of the evening rush since he was now the cook last night.

Princess is happy and anxious.  Her anxiety about starting school comes in the form of an occasional attitude.  But she and Speed Racer have become best friends.  Their imaginations run wild and though she, not he, rarely uses toys; their play is full force, head strong all day long.  I miss the days when I got to play too.  He will miss her so much in the fall when school starts.  Now it seems I simply watch them as I fold the laundry or put the dishes away and wonder where and how they will let me into the playing.  She only 5, and he soon to be 4, how did this happen already, I wonder?  At least, I have decided to bring them into the folding of laundry and the putting away of dishes, and maybe, just maybe, time slows for those moments.

And I, I am lazy when it comes to beauty.  Hardly ever wearing makeup, not wanting to shave my legs.  I am anxious about the end of summer.  I am working on a project, a writing project, which excites and thrills me and scares me.  Just like Daniel's, my writing could be time away from my sweeties.  I feel it is a call from God to do this project and I find it a delight.  I am excited, but I wax and wane excitement when it tugs from my family.  But part of the growing up is the letting go.  I held on too tightly in the past sometimes, so there is freedom in this too.  Funny how life is so full of the bitter and the sweet, as if, every moment, every thing in all of life was both bitter and sweet.  Like Christ's death for example.

I have received grace, a grace more graceful than any other past grace.  A grace less of works and full of freedom.  True grace.  And in the grace, some of my struggles are waning.  I accept that some things that I do not yet understand just are, and though the struggle and ache are still there, I hope.  I have more constant friends now.  My idea of friendship has evolved hopefully for the better.  And I think, and I hope, that at least in some sense, I am calmer, peaceful, more at ease in who I am, what I've been given, and what God is doing.  I am on a bit of a mountain top high and dread the valley low again.  But I am thankful for this breath.  This moment.  This now.


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