Thursday, August 12, 2010


You know something I thought about yesterday, that hadn't dawned on me before?

Jesus must have been really joyful.

Think about it. It came to me when I was listening to a message on John 15. There, Jesus tells his disciples that if they abide in Him, their "joy will be full." Then He says that He wants them to abide in Him the same way He abides in the Father. He also mentions that it's HIS joy that will be in us.

All put together, it made me realize that this joy I get whenever I'm close to Jesus is His joy - not just in the sense that He gives it, but that He is the author of it, and it is part of His very essence. Hence, how joyful He must be!

I never really thought about it before. I know Jesus wept on earth. I know He felt pain. But the Bible never says He laughed, or smiled. So I just assumed...Oh, I don't know. I didn't think He was a kill-joy or anything. I certainly thought He smiled and laughed, and was pleasant, and fun to be around...but I didn't think of "joyful" as one of His major characteristics.

But it must have been. It must be, for I can still feel that joy today, thousands of years after He walked the earth. It must be a continuing part of Him - a wonderful part of Him.

That joy I get during close communion with Christ, that spontaneous laughter that bubbles up when I see Him answer a prayer, that excitement I can hardly contain when my eyes are opened to a new truth from His Word...all that joy is His joy,...He feels it too. He started it all.

Can you picture it? Can you picture the joy His disciples felt coming from Him? Can you feel His smile? Can you imagine His laugh? Can you hear the encouragement He would speak, when the disciples were tired?

This is a wonderful thought. It's a wonderful truth. It means that all of the sudden, everything is totally ...wonderful.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I've got an announcement: Somebody's In Love With Me!!!!

I'll bet you're reading really fast, now! Did that post title make you catch your breath?

I intended it to. I want you to capture that feeling that hit your stomach when you heard that somebody is in love with somebody else (if you're anything like me). I want you to hold onto that feeling and remember it while you read this post.

Why did you feel that way? (And, by the way, that statement in the title is true, but I'll get to that in a minute.) Why does love capture our minds and emotions so violently?

I don't know, but, for the moment, just accept that it does. The reason I want you to hold on to that "excited gulp" feeling is because I'm about to tell you of a relationship that I'm in which may not meet your "ideals" of a romantic relationship, and I don't want you to get a disappointed feeling in your chest. Why not? Because I don't have that feeling! I love him immensely, and feel dizzy with emotions, and am supported by the underlying knowledge that this is real, and isn't dependent on my emotions, and isn't going away. When I tell you about this relationship in the next paragraphs, I don't want you to sigh and say "Oh; is that all?" Yes, yes, yes, it IS all!! Oh, I'm so happy! And so in love. So don't sigh. I forbid it! :) :) :)

Okay. Deep breath. (On my part, that is.) ...Where to begin?

Let me start by telling you about how I first starting learning what real love is. I suppose it all began the instant I entered the world; I learned that my parents loved me. I learned a lot about parental love quite rapidly, in fact; they protected me, fed me, clothed me, hugged me, and provided for everything a little baby needs. As I got older, they continued to take care of my physical and mental needs; that ranged from buying me a bunk bed to giving me an education.

Of course, being very young, I couldn't really analyze all this - I just accepted it, and loved them back, a rather selfish, childish way. But I did love them. How could I help loving two people who were so good to me? As I got older, I learned that they did things for my good, and even when they deigned me certain pleasures, I loved them for it. I knew they were doing it because they cared.

But physical and mental needs are only half the needs a human being has. I also have spiritual and emotional needs.

Daddy and Mom knew they couldn't supply my spiritual needs, but they knew the One who could, so they pointed me to Him.

Emotional needs were - and are - partially met by my parents, but they are also met by dozens of people in my life; siblings, friends, teachers, other adults, grandparents, babies I cuddled...the list goes on.

When I entered my mid-teen years, I started to sense another emotional need that I hadn't had before; the longing for a different kind of love. Not parental love. Not sibling love. Not friendship. No, I was longing for the love of...a Lover.

I don't really need to explain that. You know what I mean. Someone who treasures me and protects and provides for me - not as one of many loved daughters, but as his one, his only, his precious, his beloved. Someone who longs to be intimate with me. A soul mate. Someone who thinks I'm beautiful and perfect.

But even then I didn't realize the huge difference between "kinds" of love. How could I? I knew the affections of a father, not a lover. In a vague way, I knew what I longed for, but I didn't know how different it was. I was too young. Too inexperienced.

But let me go back to my "spiritual needs."

I was nine years old, I believe, when God saved me. I remember the time of conviction before salvation; how miserable I was, realizing how dirty I was in His sight! It was awful. And when He saved me, I was so relieved. So thankful. So grateful. I wanted to kiss His feet. I wanted to wash them with my tears, and dry them with my hair.

My Christian life has been, and is, a wonderful time. Not that it has been filled with joy constantly, but it has been wonderful nonetheless, because it's been full of learning. I'm constantly learning new things. And I'm constantly being shown how good God is.

Much of the "joyless" times came from realizing what a sinner I am, and how deeply sin had already rooted in my heart before Christ saved me. It's amazing what nine years of abandonment to sin can do, even in a little girl. I've been blessed to be under the preaching of many godly men, who know it is their duty to preach the truth, not tickle men's ears. I knew from early on in my Christian walk that there is nothing good in me. God did not save me because of my own righteousness. I do not have the strength to do good. He is as different from me as He could possibly be. He's unlike anything I know. He's unique. And I am vile. It's only because He's good that He loved me enough to save me. It's only because of His mercy that I live and breathe and have eternal life secured. Everything I have stems not from anything I earned, but from His grace.

Wow, that's heavy stuff. It's true stuff, but heavy, nonetheless. Did you know that if you hear nothing but this, it can get burdensome? At the time, it was all I listened to. For years. There were other things to be heard, but I ignored them. I think part of it was my own make-up. I am prone to pride, and hence to self-punishment, for not being good enough. I went from being a proud sinner to being a proud saved person. I beat myself up mentally all the time for being so offensive to God. I wanted to be pleasing to Him...because I was proud. (But I didn't admit that last part.)

Now, don't think that I felt like God was a stern judge. I didn't! I was awed that He had forgiven me. I was astounded that He loved me, and answered my prayers, and took care of me. But I wanted to thank Him for all that; I wanted to be the best Christian I could be. I knew I couldn't do it in my own strength. I asked Him all the time to help me, to live through me. I loved Him.

But it wasn't enough. I wanted to love Him more - to fall in love with Him. I heard people talk about that; about "falling in love" with God. I wanted that. It seemed to be the height of spiritual perfection. I knew I loved Him. ....But I also knew I wasn't as close as I could be. I couldn't figure out why. Didn't I know what He was like? Hadn't I seen, over and over again, His goodness and mercy and grace? I had every reason to fall in love with Him! So why hadn't I? I had long, personal talks with Him. I didn't feel like there was a wall of sin between us. I was walking in obedience, as far as I knew. He was personal, real - right there with me. So why didn't I feel "in love"?

About the time I turned 12, I started encountering depression. That time in my life is too detailed and too personal to share here, but it has lasted a long time - followed me, as it were. I've seen more depression that I'd ever wish on anybody. I've known suicidal thoughts, and I've known mental pain worse than any physical pain could ever be.

It all centered around my inadequacies. My failures. I said I hated myself, but the truth was I loved myself. I was in agony because the real me couldn't be the way the mental me wanted to be. I wanted to be good. I wanted the fruit of the spirit to be evident in my life in a more powerful way. I wanted to be able to pray for hours without being distracted. I wanted to have more of a burden for lost souls. I wanted to love God more than I did. I wanted to live a holier life.

Three weeks ago, a woman whom I admire and look up to, sat me down and had a talk with me. We don't know each other well enough for her to have known that I handle direct approaches better than vague ones, but God must have told her, because that's the approach she took.

She told me flat out that she thought God brought her and my life together because she needed to tell me how much God loves me.

Immediately those long-practiced barriers and excuses popped up. "Yes, I know He loves me, but be careful what you say about it! Never forget that you don't deserve it! Be very careful to remind yourself and others that you have nothing good in you, or anything worth loving." I was very near to blocking out the rest of the conversation already. I'd heard too much man-centered gospel, and I shied away from anything that sounded like it was going to lift up man and make him seem like he was doing God any favors by letting himself be saved.

I was quick to assure this lady that I know God loves me. She responded by saying that I didn't know the kind of love He has for me. She said He treasures me, as the apple of His eye. He valued me. He thought I was beautiful, without spot. He saw me as clean in His sight. He loved me the way a husband loves his wife. He is ravished with love for me.

Now, all that got my attention.

Kind of love? Somewhere in the back of my mind, memories were stirring. Those things I learned when I was very little, about different kinds of love. Those longings I started to have when I was younger - and still had - for someone to treasure me as his one.

I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. It couldn't be true. It was too wonderful....too good for me. It couldn't be for me. It seemed blasphemous to say He loved me that way.

You see, I understood the love of a father. I have a wonderful father. And I can comprehend God the Father as just that - a father. A provider. Protector. Someone who loves you even when you're unlovely. Someone who sees you fall, shakes his head over your mistakes, but gives you a helping hand back up. Someone who teaches you, leads you. I understood all that.

But someone who thinks I'm beautiful, and clean? Someone who longs to be intimate with me? A lover?

A lover.

I didn't get that. Not one bit. And I was scared to pieces. This lady and I talked for over an hour, and I was trembling inside the entire time. I wanted to bury my head, pretend I hadn't heard. It seemed so wrong...I wanted to think that someone loved me like that, but I was scared. Scared to say "I believe," and then be humiliated by seeing that it was false. I wanted to run away, deny it. I wanted someone to tell me she was wrong.

But I also wanted someone to tell me she was right.

I practically sped home, and pounced on my parents. "Mom, what do you think?" "Daddy, is she right?" "Is it true?" They both gave me good answers. But I wasn't satisfied. I can't even really remember very clearly what they told me. I wasn't coherent. I was dizzy with wonder.

The next two days were unlike anything I've ever experienced. You must understand that I'm not a single-minded person. I have a very short attention span.

VERY short.

I'm constantly starting new projects, and my thought-life is continually jumping around. I don't stay serious for long, and I don't stay goofy for long. I don't stay sad for long, or happy for long. I'm constantly changing.

But for two days I thought of nothing else. That alone was terrifying and strange to me. I couldn't get my mind off this new thought! "Can it be true? Can it possibly be true?" I could think of nothing else.

For one day, I just walked around wondering, rather vague and almost in shock. The second day, I came to life. Every spare minute I had, I was in the Word of God. I read through Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 John, and the 17th chapter of John - not just once, but over and over again. I searched the Psalms. I searched the prophets. I searched everywhere I could think of. I grabbed a red colored pencil, and highlighted every scrap of hope I could find - anything that hinted of this marvelous love I had begun to hope for.

I was scared. Scared to assume too much. Scared of being wrong. Scared of being proud.

But verses started turning red all over the place. My hand trembled as I colored as fast as I could read.

And finally, as I read John 17 for the ump-tienth time, I got it.

"He loves me."

No, really - He loves me. I'm clean! He died on purpose. He loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it...Christ hath loved us, and given Himself for us...what more could He have given? ...My beloved is mine, and I am His... We are members of His a husband and wife are one...He asked the Father to make us one, like He and the Father are one... God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him...there is no fear in love...there is now no condemnation...a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle...that ye may be rooted in love, and be able to comprehend with all saints, the height, and depth, and breadth, and width...

Oh, Glory - He loves me!

All of the sudden, tears were flowing, and all I could think of was the verse "we love Him because He first loved us."

I loved Him. I loved Him for this boundless love He has for me - a love that supersedes all my sins, and that washes me white as snow, and makes me a fit bride for the King of kings; He considers me fit to be by His side, as a part of the church! Oh, how He loves His church!

And all of the sudden, I knew what it was to be in love.

All this time, I've been asking Him to make me fall in love with Him, when all it took was seeing that He is in love with me.

And I couldn't keep quiet any longer. I had to tell you about it. Because maybe you don't know about it, either.

Now I see love everywhere. Everything I hear makes me think about His love. Everything proves it over and over again. Everything I read, see, or hear seems to be talking about His love.

Want proof? Guess what random forward I got in my inbox just before I began writing this post?

"Believers love Jesus with a deeper affection than they dare to give to any other being. They would sooner lose father and mother than part with Christ. They hold all earthly comforts with a loose hand, but they carry him fast locked in their bosoms. They voluntarily deny themselves for his sake, but they are not to be driven to deny him. It is scant love which the fire of persecution can dry up; the true believer's love is a deeper stream than this. Men have laboured to divide the faithful from their Master, but their attempts have been fruitless in every age. Neither crowns of honour, now frowns of anger, have untied this love-bound knot. This is no every-day attachment which the world's power may at length dissolve. Neither man nor devil have found a key which opens this lock. Never has the craft of Satan been more at fault than when he has exercised it in seeking to rend in sunder this union of two divinely welded hearts. It is written, and nothing can blot out the sentence, "The upright love thee."
The intensity of the love of the upright, however, is not so much to be judged by what it appears as by what the upright long for. It is our daily lament that we cannot love enough. Would that our hearts were capable of holding more, and reaching further. Like Samuel Rutherford, we sigh and cry, "Oh, for as much love as would go round about the earth, and over heaven - yea, the heaven of heavens, and ten thousand worlds that I might let all out upon fair, fair, only fair Christ." Alas! our longest reach is but a span of love, and our affection is but as a drop of a bucket compared with his deserts. Measure our love by our intentions, and it is high indeed; 'tis thus, we trust, our Lord doth judge of it. Oh, that we could give all the love in all hearts in one great mass, a gathering together of all loves to him who is altogether lovely!

- C. H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I spent today writing and sewing. Life is good.

My sewing project went well - it was a dress for my older sister. My writing moved forward a little slower than the sewing, but steadily and better than it has the past few weeks. Have I told you yet what I'm working on? I don't remember if I have. It's a story along the lines of this story bit, but slightly different and much longer - I hope it will become a full-fledged novel! (A good novel.) Maybe I'll share some pieces as I work on it.

As I write, I'm listening to thunder roll. (Yes, I know you're suppose to shut off electrical stuff during a storm. I'm a little nervous...) We're in the middle of a splendid display of God-made fireworks. Tonight it made me think of Mt. Sinai. I wonder what it was like to stand a short distance from the foot of that mountain (not right at the foot - remember why?) and watch the cloud, or lightening, or whatever was going on up there. I wish I could have felt the trembling in the air and among the people when God actually spoke to the nation from atop the mountain. That's one thing that makes the ten commandments special, you know that? God gave all the Levitical instructions, the priestly laws, the temple descriptions, etc., to Moses, up on top of the mountain, and Moses relayed the instructions to the people, but the ten commandments - those God gave right to the people Himself. What an experience!

Do you make use of the law? It's such a valuable tool when you're soul-winning.

But then, I wonder... when was the last time you went soul-winning? I don't mean to sound like I'm shaking my finger at you. God knows (and I'm saying that respectfully) that I am not active enough in that myself. But the fact is, we are commanded to go out and preach the gospel; we're promised blessings if we do, we're told the Lord will be with us, we're assured that the harvest field is white and that the Lord does have His people waiting for us to bring them in, ....all this, and yet we don't DO it! Why not? What hasn't He provided for the job?

But tonight I was thinking about how the law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Do you use it that way? Do you use it to show people what a high standard "perfection" is? Do you walk them through the law, and let them see their sin, before you show them their Savior? Do you show them Mt. Sinai before you show them Calvary?

It's important that a person understands his own sinfulness when you're trying to tell him about Jesus. A Savior won't make sense until there is something he needs to be saved from. He needs to see he's a sinner. And not just in a general "all have sinned" sort of way - he needs to know "I am in big trouble, because I lied yesterday, and I have had adulterous thoughts, and I have disobeyed my parents many times, and I have taken God's name in vain, and I am incapable of keeping these ten commandments." You don't have to sound like you're accusing or judging a person to get them to realize their true state before God; just show them the law and explain it to them! They'll do their own convicting - if God's working on their heart.

I can't tell you how many times I have spoken with a person who claims to be saved, but then when I start explaining the law to them, they see themselves as a sinner for the first time, and they shake their head and say "I never saw it that way before!"

Yet they claim to "be saved." They say they "go to church." Why in the world hasn't someone told them all this vital stuff before now? It makes me so sad!

But it makes me excited, too, because now they have heard - and I had the privilege of being the one to tell them!

(Ooo - that was a BIG boom!)

I'll tell you a secret; I have yet to share the gospel without crying. I get so excited, so moved by the dear, old story. Ache so much to have them understand its beauty.

If you've never had the experience of sharing the gospel with someone, you don't know what you're missing. Find out. Tell somebody. If you're shy, find a stranger - somebody you'll never see again....unless they accept Christ. :)

The first few times I tried to witness, I didn't enjoy it the way I do now. I liked it, yes, but I was more miserable than happy after the conversation was over. Had I said everything the right way? What was she thinking of me? Did I forget anything? Was my heart right? Had I prayed enough beforehand? I dreaded and feared the next time I talked with someone about Christ, and yet I wanted to do it again, too, so I would have another chance to "do better."

Things began to change with practice. And as I listened to older believers talk about how they share the gospel. But what really helped was when I stopped thinking of soul-winning as a play. I wasn't an actor, reciting lines. I couldn't say the magic words, and have every person respond the same way each time. And I wasn't talking at anyone, either. I was having a conversation. I was trying to be a teacher, not a lecture. I was trying to show them something, in a gentle, leading way.

It wasn't a routine. It was a purposeful conversation - I knew where I was heading, and I knew what I wanted to say, but I could say it however I wanted to. It needed to sound like me. It needed to be tailored to my listener. It needed to be genuine, spontaneous, and filled with love.

Then I thought I had the hang of this "soul-winning business." I started to enjoy talking with people. I stopped having so much guilt at the end of each conversation.

I didn't know I was missing the most wonderful part.

Love from God.

No, I'm not talking about love from God for other people, although that's important. I'm talking about the love of God for me.

I've really started to discover - in a small but wonderful way - how much He loves me. ME! It's been so recent, and so wonderful, and so amazing......It thrills my heart, and knowing that He can love somebody else that way spurs me on to tell them about it, in a way I can't describe.

Think about it - if you lived in a different culture, and you had the job of going to a young, blushing, girl and telling her that a handsome, wonderful young man was in love with her and was asking her to marry him, through you, wouldn't you have the most wonderful time telling her about it? I mean, wouldn't you just get a kick out of it? Me too!

And knowing that He loves me, in a way that's not dependent upon my performance, that He delights in me, even when I'm not perfect (who are we fooling? I'm never perfect!), that He is there, and is never going makes me feel so safe. I can talk to someone about Him without feeling like I'm "out front," out of my comfort zone, in harm's way, pushed to the front, vulnerable, etc. I'm just wrapped in His loving arms, talking to somebody because He wants me to and I want to. It's

I love it.

You will, too.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Something's wrong.

No - really. Something is wrong.

Let me explain.

You see, I am a sewing teacher. (No, that isn't the problem! Just wait a sec, and don't jump to conclusions.) I have..hmmm....three students right now, and two about to start in a month or so. They are a joy to teach.

I also have my own sewing business. No, that's not necessarily a problem, either. I like sewing for other people, most of the time. I like the variety, the flexibility, ect. I like meeting new people.

I'm also working on starting my own clothing line. (Surprise, surprise!)

But that's not the problem, either.

The problem is that my last two sewing projects have been flops.

That is not good! Not when I "make my living" sewing. Not when I sew for others, teach others to sew, and sell things I've sewn. Now, granted, these flops are both things I was making for me, but, still...

I would like them to turn out! It's discouraging to have two dresses in a row turn out bad.

At least I have the comfort of knowing my techniques were correct. It's just my measurements that were off. My measurements always seem to be off when I'm making something for myself.

Why? Is it because I'm vain and measure too small to begin with? Or is it because I'm always trying to save fabric, twisting and turning and skimping pattern pieces until they fit on the cloth? Or is it because I can never make a garment from a pattern without changing it in the middle of construction?

I'm so discouraged with my projects that I don't even feel like fixing them. Or buying a new zipper (I melted the one that I was supposed to be using. I always seem to do that.) I don't even feel like working on my latest sewing order, or the shirts that I'm suppose to already have on a website.

I broke down today; I went shopping with Mom and she bought a dress for me - a very pretty one, too. It reminds me of the blue, floaty dress Fraulein Maria wears in The Sound of Music's gazebo scene.

I also bought a shirt that needs repair. I always seem to do that; buy something really cute that needs to be mended. "Just a small tear here!" Or "it only needs to have the hem fixed." Or "I'll just take it in three inches on the side, add four inches to the bottom, and it'll be perfect." Why can't my seamstress mind rest even when I'm buying clothes?

You can't argue with a good deal, though. My new dress was originally $80.00. We bought it at Good Will - with the tag still on it - for $4.00! I couldn't sew a dress for that price.

That excites me enough to actually not mind repairing my new shirt. In fact, I already have ideas for future projects...