Living in town gives a person a lot of time for reading, studying and thinking. :-) Of course, there is always action going on somewhere with eleven children roaming the place. But if you're like me and used to it, you can ignore the noise to a certain extent. :-)
The past two years have been life changing for me. It has been a realization of what is important in life: My walk with God, ultimately. I used to think that a relationship with God was made up of religious, pious things.
I have been writing for small magazines for a few years now and when I reread my old articles, I can see the shallowness of my life. I saw myself as a good person with many standards, good family relationships, and a hard worker who accepted her responsibilities without complaint. I didn't realize how God saw me. But I can look back and say with certainty that as much as I didn't know then and as proud as I was, God still loved me.
And He, in His great love, wrested from me everything I trusted in other than Him. I found that all those verses I had put to memory about God always being there, loving His children and never giving us too much to bear, were true to a greater depth than I had ever imagined or dreamed of.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: (1 John 4:18)
Trust in the Lord with all of thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3: 5 – 6)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Cor. 10: 13)
Gloria Gaither wrote a song called “More Than Ever”. It's about her walk with the Lord but as I listen to the words, I cannot believe how it echoes what I see from God's work in me. She writes that at first, in childlike faith, she valued Jesus and what He had done for her... but as the journey went on, and she experienced difficult things in life and Jesus was proven true, she now prizes Him more than ever.
As I mentioned before, I have been doing a lot of studying lately and asking many questions. What do I believe this? Should I change? Why does the Bible seem to contradict itself? What does it mean to love? What does it mean to honor? What does it mean to have faith? Baptism, different personalities, walking in obedience, dress standards... it's all getting a good looking over. I'm trying to rip up everything I have ever believed or do believe in and compare it to the Bible. If it holds true when held up to the Light, it stays. Unfortunately, not much is. Haha. :-P And even as I cringe because I feel like I've wasted seven years of my life with religion, I am so thankful it's all coming to a head now and not five, ten or twenty years down the road. I see Christians of many years who are not experiencing the joy and peace of the Lord. And more than that... they don't have a clue about God's love. And because they haven't experienced or embraced (or forgotten about) it, the lack of it is evident in their lives.
The end really is as simple as that: love.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)
Jesus also said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” and “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15: 10 – 13)
The following verse has been quoted and read so many times but it has taken on a new meaning for me: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 38 – 39)
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
... and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13: 8 – 10)
When a lawyer came to Jesus, trying to trick Him, he asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.... The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37, 39 – 40)
Friend, God's love is so powerful that He can set us free from any bondage.
For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Bondage is anything that holds us captive from the love of God. I have been in bondage to sin, fear, my Bible, church, family, standards... the list could go on forever. This is because Satan will take anything, whether it's good or bad and try to use it to cause us to stumble in our walk and not have the relationship with God that we should have.
I never would have seen how far I was from the truth if it hadn't been for the Lord opening my eyes. Even now, I know that I am just touching the surface of all there is to know about God. And I pray that He will open my eyes and heart to see more of who He is. Oh! There are so many questions still... but, thank God... He's answering them as I can fast as I can handle the answers. :-) I could go on for days about this and the aspects of it. But I'll step off my apple box and talk about other matters. ;-)
I got a library card and have been perusing authors and their works. I checked out several newer books... two I appreciated were “All The Tea in China” by Jane Orcutt and “Every Secret Thing” by Ann Tatlock. The former author I had never read before but found her writing (at least in this book) to be well done... the storyline was very realistic and well written; the humor dry... enough to keep me smiling but not to distract from the tale; research well done; and a good message to Christians. For maturity level of readers, I would gauge this book on the same level as Christy.
As far as the second book mentioned, I had read one other book by Ann Tatlock and was thoroughly impressed by the author's maturity and wisdom as she weaves timeless lessons into an riveting storyline. She loves mysteries and God. Put those two things together, add Ann Tatlock and you have a great book. :-) I have learned a lot from this author. Truly, in our weakness, we are strong through Jesus Christ. And, all things (even doing right when it seems impossible) are possible through Jesus. (Now, Naomi, remember that. :-P) (Yes, I'm writing this for me because it seems like I can remember things better if I write them down ;-))
Life has been going along smoothly for the past little while. I have been noticing a definite increase in my strength, energy level and endurance. The only thing I can think of is that my doctor had some herbs sent to me... I have been taking the highest recommended dosage. It has been quite exciting to feel all the energy. I had a couple fairly sick days right before I got the pills so it has been doubly exciting. :-) Until we don't have it, good health is something we take forgranted... sometimes I think getting better is the best part of the journey. ;-)
Today part of the family went to go look at some land up by Lintlaw, SK. They have been looking up in Endurance (which is a couple hours at least from the area we are currently renting in) but although they found one place that might have worked, Dad didn't like several things about it. He is possibly considering offering on it but who knows what will happen. Something could come up and change his mind. :-)
We got to see our dear friend and “brother” Ray Bell the other day! :-) Visit was way too short but it was so nice to see him even if for just a little while. I am so thankful God brought him into our lives. :-) How dull life would be if we didn't have people in our lives we could trust, like and enjoy.
Let me see... other bits and pieces of news... Ellie turned 19 on the 3rd. A very happy birthday to my beautiful sister. It's hard to believe she's 19 already... how time flies. We have two other birthdays this month. Anyone want to come help celebrate? :-)
Sara is still growing: 12 lbs last week. She's fat and sooo cute! :-)
I've taken lots of pictures that I want to share with you. In fact, I have 30 pictures I want to post. :-P Something tells me that I'm going to have to pray for several hours worth of internet time so I can post them all. ;-)