Friday, January 27, 2017

God is Steadfast.

I've studied this attribute of God before, but it is worth repeating:

God is

Exodus 15:13

“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.”

Exodus 20:5- 6
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 34:6
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

1 Chronicles 16:34
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 5:7
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Nope! Not Married!

“Nope! Not married.”

That's the response I wrote to tonight's Bible study question, “Would you describe yourself as a 'husband-liker'? Why or why not?”

This study is supposed to be about biblical womanhood: married, singled, divorced, widowed, or some other status. One of the authors is even unmarried! But here I am again reading something that makes it seem like the highest and holiest calling in life is to get married. I get that marriage images God, that it describes His love for us, that I'm supposed to value and encourage its institution. Marriage is a great thing! I don't dispute that! But guess what, I'm not married, and it's not like there's a whole lot I can do about it.

I wish the church would value single people. I wish the church would ask me what unique characteristics I have to contribute since I'm single and not married. I wish that I didn't have to describe my family (or lack thereof) and its support or lack of support for my endeavors on every church ministry application. These are great questions for the married, but not for the single. When I answer these questions, I feel less than, like the church will turn me down because I don't have the support system of a husband. Guess what? I can't help it!

And what if God never wants me to marry? Paul talks about the benefits of non-marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. What if I can best fulfill God's calling on my life as a single person? What if I'm always going to be single? First of all, can I accept it, and second, church, can you accept it? Can you allow me to serve just as I am? Can you help me see the value in the stage of life I'm in? Can you encourage me to remain faithful to God and to the people around me, even if one of them will never be my husband?

Please, church. Please include in your lessons messages for the married and the single. Please value me like you value the institution of family. Help me find ways to encourage families and their pursuit of Jesus instead of envying them and feeling ashamed that I'm not like them. As a child of God, I'm part of the big family of God. I'm not a black sheep, and I'm tired of being treated like one.

Friday, January 20, 2017

God's Presence is Made Known in All The Earth.

Canyon Bible Church started a new series on the book of John this morning. Pastor Jon Gaus read verse 3, "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" (New International Version, NIV) and pointed out that Jesus is God's creative agent in the earth. Arriving home, I read Psalm 8:9, "Lord, our Lord,  how majestic is your name in all the earth!" This got me to thinking about God's presence and how God is evident and made known in all the earth.

Genesis 18:25b
Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Exodus 9:16
But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth

Psalm 8:9
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 19:4
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

Psalm 47:2
For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.

Psalm 57:5
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 83:18
Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord— that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Isaiah 54:5
For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.

Revelation 5:6
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

Friday, January 13, 2017

God Shines.

God Shines.
Gives light, wisdom, and understanding; showers blessings.

Numbers 6:25
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.

Psalm 4:6

Many, Lord, are asking, "Who will bring us prosperity?" Let the light of your face shine on us.

Psalm 31:16

Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.

Psalm 50:2

From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.

Psalm 67:1

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us.

Psalm 80:1

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth.

Psalm 80:3

Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

Psalm 118:27

The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.

Psalm 119:135

Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.

2 Corinthians 4:6

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ."

Ephesians 5:14

This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Revelation 21:23

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Afghan #47 (And An Update On My Hand)

I finished this afghan today, a simple double crochet pattern from Easy Crocheted Accessories.  
This is my first afghan since April of last year, and arguably the hardest I've ever made. Why the delay? Why the struggle? To put it concisely, I've been having problems with my hand.
It all started after a restful Thanksgiving weekend of crocheting and movie-watching in November 2015. I had some numbness and tingling in my right hand, wrist, and forearm. It was a little hard for me to crochet, type, grasp, etc. Mom noticed my issues over Christmas break and told me to go to the doctor. She had struggled with carpal tunnel syndrome for years until finally getting corrective surgery.

So when I returned home to Arkansas, I went to see an orthopedic doctor and told him I thought I had carpal tunnel. He sent me for an EMG test and when the results came out "normal," he declared that I didn't have carpal tunnel syndrome and should see a neurologist if I had further concerns. I decided to let it go.

Fast forward nearly eight months to Arizona, and I still had problems. My hand clenched at odd times. My pinkie hurt. Pain radiated up my arm into my shoulder when I tried to crochet. I got to where I had to chicken peck with my index finger instead of typing with my whole hand.

Things got a little better when my place of work purchased a standing laptop desk for me. The desk inclines up, and seems to take pressure off my hand a little bit. The problems still didn't go away, though.

Once I got health insurance with my new job, I called to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. That doctor wouldn't accept me as a new patient without a primary care physician's referral. So I called and got accepted as a new patient at a local clinic. When that nurse practitioner saw me, she declared that I didn't have orthopedic problems, but rather neurological ones (just like the first doctor). She ordered a brain MRI and referred me to an neurologist. Thankfully, the brain MRI came back normal (other than inflamed sinuses from a cold), but I had to wait until Christmas break to see the neurologist.

The neurologist I saw is a good one. He took time with me and did all kinds of neuromuscular tests. He declared that he thinks I have task-specific dystonia, but would rule out other conditions first. He put me on some medicine for a day and a half that didn't help my hand, but did make me feel woozy and nauseous. I had an MRI of my neck yesterday. The next step is to try shooting my hand with Botox to relax the muscles and try to retrain my brain into correctly operating my limb. I hope and pray that it works. There's a chance that it won't, but if it does, it probably won't last.

On the one hand, it's discouraging to receive a diagnosis for my hand issues that isn't curable. On the other hand, it is good that the cause of my symptoms isn't more major, or even life-threatening. God has blessed me with relatively good health overall.

I miss crocheting for hours on end, but the purchase of an ergonomic crochet hook has enabled me to do a little more than I used to, and with less pain. If I have to deal with this the rest of my life, God will help me.

For those of you who wanted an update, here it is. To those of you struggling with chronic health issues, hats off to you, and I empathize, even if it's in the tiniest way possible.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Re-Examining Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

~Matthew 11:28-29

The new year is here, but with in the end of my two week, one and one-half break from work. I'd like to say that I've rested during this time, and I have, but not the extent that I'd like. As I've looked back over my habits this past year, I've realized that I constantly rush through life. I lose out on the ability to enjoy even simple things like clipping coupons because I hurry through the activity just to get to the next one. I'm trying to slow down, to really enjoy and savor life, but it's hard. I wish I could say that I'm excited to go back to work, but I'm not. I'm dreading it, fearful. I've tried to start some new habits, like writing on daily journal prompts and practicing yoga, but I worry that I won't be able to keep up these routines while working. I worry that the frenzy will overtake any life and spirit I have found during this time. I want to find who I really am this year instead of running through life, tripping over obstacles, ignoring the scenery, and generally acting like a robot, but it seems impossible.

I've realized recently that rest is a choice. There is never really enough “time” for it, and certainly never a “good” time. This past semester, I've gone to a yoga class once a week after school, but this month, I decided to embark on a 30 day yoga video challenge. The videos vary in length, which means I have to plan ahead to fit them in, be intentional. Often times, I approach yoga in a rush, as one more to-do item to cross off my list. But then I have to hold a pose and breathe and wait. By the end of the practice, I've normally calmed down and my body feels better, but that feeling doesn't stay. When the next day comes, I don't really want to make time for what I know is good for me.

This is kind of like rest. I want rest and the benefits it gives, but not the time and commitment it takes. I want to read my Bible slowly and enjoy it, but instead I approach it like an adrenaline shot—get it in fast and get it done. I want to make friends and enjoy my family, but when I'm with these people, I often find my mind on the next task, the next thing to get down when I arrive home. Part of the issue is that I don't remain present. I don't remain here in the moment or enjoy God's blessings in it.

In Matthew, Jesus commands his followers to come to him with their burdens and find rest in him. I think my burden is the harried lifestyle I live, the loss of myself and my personality to the to-do list. I want to know God's rest, to experience His peace, but I've incorporated the rush into my personality. I've used it to evaluate and valuate my life. If I give up the rush, I have to re-found my life on Christ and re-establish my identity in Him. That sounds painful, excruciatingly so. But that's the way to go, I guess. I can't have rest if I have rush.

God is Unshakeable.

God is Unshakeable.
Immovable, unchangeable; strong, loving, true.

Psalm 16:8
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 21:7
For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.

Psalm 55:22
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 62:2
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 112:6
Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.

Psalm 125:1
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

Isaiah 54:10
"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.