It is enough

Hey you!  I don’t know where you are this morning but I find myself here in my kitchen typing unexpected words onto my computer while coffee brews in the background.  Lights twinkle on our Christmas tree and I’m trying to drink a full glass of water before breakfast because of something I heard someone say on a podcast last week about being an “I drink a full glass of water as soon as I wake up” kind of person. I can’t for the life of me remember what podcast it was or who said it but after a quick -and failed- google search, because I know you are all dying to hear where I attained this water information, I decided to not let myself get too distracted because this morning during my devotions I heard the whisper of God.  I know, it sounds weird to me too.  There was no audible voice like little Samuel heard in 1 Samuel 3, or a big booming one like when God talks to Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” movie that plays on TV every Easter, just a still small whisper that spoke truth and peace into my morning.

Three words.  It. Is. Enough. 

This year – well most of my life actually – I’ve been fighting the hardness of my own heart.  Wanting to go my own way.  Thinking that I know best, or maybe a more accurately explained as thinking that what I want is best.  Let me clarify here because usually my own way isn’t bad.  Normally I want to do ministry related things, God things, things that are good, holy, and righteous things like foreign missions, adoption, ‘christian’ artwork, teaching, and discipleship.  For whatever reason God has closed the door on most of those opportunities over the years and kept me here, a stay at home mom who home-schools our kids.  Most of my life is spent corralling four unruly children between the walls of our 1100 sq. ft. home.  If I’m being completely honest, this is a source of contention between me and God.

I’m not one of those women who dreamed their whole childhood of becoming a mother.  It is something I wanted to happen eventually but not something I pined for.  Don’t misunderstand, my kids have shaped me and sanctified me as a person, I love them more than I have words or time to describe here but motherhood itself was not my dream.  Like those crazy Disney movies I obsessed over as a kid I always felt I was meant for something more and like cancer that idea infects every part of my heart if I let it.

It’s not just mothering though.  Last year we left a church that I had been a part of for ten years and my husband has been a part of since his adolescence to help and encourage a small church nearby.  It was where we felt God was calling us but I miss my former church family terribly.   The small group we are a part of now averages 30 people on a good day and while I love those people I can also feel isolated and lonely there.   We have so much peace as a family that this is where God wants us but sometimes I ask why?

Over the last several months I’ve taken a kind of social media hiatus reevaluating what I think the Lord wants of my business.  I’m in the process of closing the art portion of my El Roi Artistry shop to focus entirely on the bible study materials.  It seems like He is pushing me specifically in the direction of children’s study helps at the moment which I am excited about but also a tiny bit disappointed.  I really wanted my art shop to become something.

So, yesterday morning while our family was driving to church I confessed the way I felt to my husband not in specifics like I just explained here but the deep true reality that God feels far off and part of me doesn’t want Him.  I want my own way.

I want Him to bless what I think He should bless and
I find myself like Jacob, wrestling.

This morning as I began to pray for a sweet teenage girl that our family loves who wants to go into missions and as I attempted find words for her I felt resistance.  Just to be clear, I want God to do great things through this friend wherever He leads her, but it was hard for me to say that outloud.  I was supposed to do missions work.  I committed to that when I was young.  I want to have what she might have.  I realized what was happening and like a child who hasn’t got their way I decided to tell God what I thought of His plan for my life, not in a rebellious angry way but more defeated and honest.  I hadn’t been honest with myself or with God for a long time.  James 3:10 says “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.”  It’s easy for us to lie to ourselves about our own pride and arrogance.  Like the Pharisees, who Jesus called white washed tombs, we parade ourselves around as friends of God but inside we are far from Him.  Friends, as I prayed I could feel the Lord uncovering the bitterness, jealousy, and selfish ambition that I had been trying to cover up for so long.

The truth is, I want to do great things for God and this morning once again I was reminded that that is exactly what I’m doing.  I pictured the Widow of Zarephath standing before Elijah with her handful of flour and tiny bit of oil at the bottom of a bottle thinking “I can’t give this to you, this is not enough” (1 Kings 17) and Phillip looking at a little boy with five loaves and a few fish thinking “we need so much more” (John 6).   But David spoke truth in Psalms 16 when he said:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    You hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

As I laid out all my complaints and unmet expectations before God in the middle of my sentence I heard Him whisper “It is enough.”  And even though this isn’t the first time this year I was reminded of this truth I think I may be the first time I actually believed it.  In her book “The broken way” Ann Voskamp calls us “the remembering people”  and I am so quick to forget.  There is so much “not enough” in our culture.  We are reminded everyday through our friends and our Facebook feeds that we need more but quickly we discover that the search for more always ends up with never enough.

My mothering, homeschooling, nursery working, bible study with a friend life may seem little but just because something is little doesn’t mean it isn’t good.  There is an old song I used to sing in church as a child “Little is much when God is in it” that I had forgotten until today but the truth rings clear.  Little things and small obedience can be big before the God we serve.  He works big in the little things.  This season we celebrate the small, humble, and quiet coming of our savior.  God elevates and exalts the humble.

So this morning as I listen to my kids play in the living room and finish this last cup of coffee the words from 1 Peter I read in the dark and quiet earlier today reverberate in my heart “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”  I don’t claim to be suffering but I know there are those within the reach of these words that are.  In any situation friends whether that means we are really hurting or simply wrestling with God about His plan for our life.  He is trustworthy.  We can entrust our souls and our days to him.  His faithfulness doesn’t end.  He isn’t finished with you yet and He is blessing your obedience whether you see it or not.

In this season of much let us never forget that what we have is enough.

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Abiding Day 16

1Peter4:22

I was struck by the truth yesterday that abiding in love is abiding in God because God is love.  So I wish I would have thought of this earlier in the month but there will be days (like today) that I simply have a verse.  Something to meditate on because meditating on God’s truth is part of daily abiding.

Today’s verse is from 1 Peter.

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren,
fervently love one another from the heart.”
1 Peter 1:22

So spend some time with your Savior today.  Dig deep into scripture and find out what it means to purify your soul and be obedient to the truth.

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Love and Fear

Last week I wrote that this 31 day challenge was harder than I thought.  I never imagined just writing once a day for 31 days could be so difficult.  It has stretched me in a lot of ways and the last four days have been especially difficult. I spent a wonderful weekend out of state with my family and unfortunately got sick.  I’m just beginning to get over it and with quite a few orders and homeschooling I’ve been swamped to say the least.  I made the decision when starting this small business that my family would always be my first priority.  This week has tested that and I’ve tried to focus on getting well and taking care of things on the home front.  But that has meant the blog was pushed aside for a few days.  So, here I am again attempting to finish well.

For the last few weeks Ebola has been in the headlines.  The news today of the latest patient, a nurse, has really hit home because where she traveled in Ohio was not to far from my family.  A virus can be a terrifying thing.  It isn’t something we can cure or control.  It’s easy to let the fear immobilize us.  So today I chose to focus on truth.  The truth that we serve a Heavenly Father who cares for us.  That He is in control of all things and this did not take Him by surprise.  He loves my family more than I do and I can trust Him with not only my life but also my husband’s and the lives of our children.  He is good in every circumstance and He has a plan.

When I meditate on what is true it helps put that fear into perspective.  This month my focus is on abiding in love.  1 John 4 talks about abiding, love, and fear.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another,
God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us,
because He has given us of His Spirit.

14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,
God abides in him, and he in God.

16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.
God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment;
because as He is, so also are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

1 John 4:11-18

We have nothing to fear.  We are His and He “abides” in us.  The very thought of this gives me chills.  The God of the universe abides in me.  And I do not have to be afraid.  Instead of focusing on the fear of this so called “oubreak” maybe we should focus on what this means for us as believers who abide with the Heavenly Father, because abiding in love means abiding with Him.

As believers this virus should be a wake up call for us.  No one lives forever and all being diagnosed with a terminal illness does is take away the illusion that we control our lives, we don’t, no one does.  Eventually everyone will die and face judgement.  Thankfully as believers we can have “confidence in the day of judgement.”  There are many others however who don’t have that confidence.  In light of this epidemic I pray that we would not cower in fear but instead stand up as witnesses of real love and hope because we were sent to “testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”  Through Him they can have confidence.  There is no more noble or loving thing to do for someone than to show them a means to salvation.

So don’t be afraid any longer.  I believe fear is a tool of our enemy.  Instead be reminded of what the Lord told Joshua, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9

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Grace in Love

So yesterday I did not post. I failed the challenge. I didn’t forget. I had one of those “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” kind of day. You know the kind of day that nothing seems to go the way you plan. Pretty much everything went wrong most of the day and when I finally had a chance to sit and write a post which was at about 11:15 last night I decided to sleep instead. It’s amazing though, because while on the surface the day appeared bad God broke through, as He usually does, and revealed His boundless grace.

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I try to keep my feed positive and mostly work related but today has been a battle. Homeschooling was ridiculous this morning and I experienced possibly one of the worst grocery shopping trips of my life this afternoon… After changing back into sweatpants when I got home (I had basically given up at this point) I went to pour myself coffee and noticed my mug from the lovely @pnzdesigns . Grace, that was exactly what I needed. "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭9‬ ESV) #grace #HisGraceIsSufficient #bestmugever

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I was reminded yesterday, in the midst of everything, on my fifth cup of coffee, of grace. The definition of grace is “the free and unmerited favor of God.” (Oxford Dictionaries, Bing) I remembered how short I had been with my daughter when we were doing her school that morning. I thought about how I had pushed and pushed when I was trying to get things done that afternoon and how defeated and angry I had been at the grocery store. My poor kids. I had been complaining and storing up these self-centered emotions completely absorbed with what was happening to me.

In those moments God reminded me of my weakness. This month I am writing on love and yesterday I neglected to show love to the little people that mean the most to me. I wasn’t hateful but I definitely wasn’t loving. I forgot about grace. I forgot that as a parent my kids see Christ in me. I’m shaping their view of love! One of the most beautiful aspects of God’s love is that it is undeserved. It doesn’t matter what my kids did yesterday. Showing God’s love in the midst of disobedience is so important. I wasn’t calm by any stretch of the imagination. I didn’t think through my words and my actions. I was controlled by my circumstances and not by the Spirit. In my brokenness God always shows me grace and I was unwilling to do that with my children.

I love 2 Corinthians 2:9:

“But He said to me,
‘My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

I’m incredibly thankful that God can use my weakness for His glory. Today if I can encourage you in anything show grace. People need to know that our love is not contingent on the things they do. We are Christ followers and that means by His grace we can love like no one else and through that love we can lead others into a relationship that will literally change their lives forever.

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Learning How to Love

Love is something we so often take for granted. Something most of us assume comes naturally, and sometimes it does, but more often than not love is not our natural reaction. Is it natural to wake up in the morning and immediately think of someone else? Is it natural to show kindness to someone who insults you, or worse, your family? No, love is not natural. In fact it is contrary to our nature.

My natural reaction when someone hurts me is to make him or her feel the way he or she made me feel. To hurt him or her as deeply as they have hurt me and to let as many people know as possible what a jerk that person is. But God doesn’t command us to do what is natural. He commands us to Love.

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So the question is, how has He loved us? Well, according to John 3:16 He loved the world so much He gave the life of his only son. He came into a world that hates Him and willingly gave Himself up. Died for a people that weren’t only indifferent toward Him, it wasn’t just like they didn’t care or didn’t notice Him, they mocked Him and spit on Him, they beat Him, and ultimately murdered Him. After all this as He hung on the cross dying He said “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Say what? Forgive them? Really, why? Because God IS love. Love isn’t just something He does it’s who He is.

As a believer I am supposed to be an imitator of Christ and when it comes to love that is a tall order. I have a hard enough time loving my kids and my husband like I’m supposed to and when I think of showing love to other people it seems like too much sometimes. Intentionally showing love means going out of our way for the good of someone else. It means doing something for someone or being there for someone even if the kids are screaming and you just want to take them home and have naps. It means being generous even when you can barely pay the bills. It means reserving precious time that could be spent doing something “productive” to just sit and listen with someone who needs to talk.

Love is something that has to be learned. One of my favorite new bands is Colony House. A couple years ago I got one of their first ep’s. On it (and on their new album “When I was younger”) is a song called “Learning how to love.” I resonated so much with it because it talks about how unnatural love is. We spend the majority of our childhood learning. We are forced to learn reading, writing, math, science, history, and geography. But how many of us are taught how to love. Some of us have never even seen real love acted out. We expect people to love us when we don’t fully understand how to love them.

The best way to learn something is to practice. Normally no one is good at something immediately. Practicing love habitually is the best way to become loving. If you do something enough it can become second nature. Love is no exception.

We also have to realize that in our own power loving someone like Christ loved us is impossible.   We will never be able to do it on our own. We need Him, because He is love.

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