Embrace It

Embrace. More than a hug. Fully wrapping your arms around it and holding it…

God has been teaching me to embrace several things in the past few months.

Embrace the way He made me…embrace what I see as good and what I see as bad knowing that when it put me together He said it was very good.

Embrace the gifts He has given me. Don’t hide them. Don’t neglect them. Use them for His glory and to encourage and equip His people.

Embrace critique. I don’t like this one. I still shy from it, but I am learning that when I embrace it, it doesn’t hurt nearly as badly as I thought it would and it makes me better at using my gifts.

Embrace change. I really don’t like this one. And yet, it shakes me up and makes me look at things more closely. It makes me examine myself and see more changes that need to happen – that I need to embrace.

Embrace trial. Does anyone like this one? I don’t think so. And I don’t mean embrace it like you love it. I mean embrace it so that you can get everything out of it that God intends. Embrace the endurance that it builds in you. Embrace the strong faith that comes out of it. Embrace the knowing that God never leaves during the trial.

Embrace community. For some of you this is no big deal. For me it is huge. To step out of my tendency to be a lone wolf. To turn away from thinking I can do this on my own. And finding out that community is what I have been craving all along and did know it.

And finding out that when I embrace community, I am really learning how to embrace the way He made me, the gifts He has given me, critique from people who love me, change with the help of friends, trial alongside brothers and sisters.

Embrace.

I think I am getting it.

 

A little late this week, but I am joining the other writers at Five Minute Friday writing on the prompt word – Embrace. You can join us at www.katemotaung.com.

 

Photography by PicJumbo

What Is a Real Friend?

A friend – a real friend – is a treasure.

Being a friend – a real friend – is hard work.

Too long I’ve looked at friends as something I want and need when I should have been looking at whether I was putting in the hard work necessary to be a real friend.

So what does it take to be a real friend?

  1. Unselfishness. Why is it so hard  to put other people before myself? That is what a real friend does! A real friend looks at those around her and sees their needs and looks for ways to meet those needs.
  2. Grace. A real friend clearly sees her own sin and the grace that God offered her and is able to offer that same grace to her friends.
  3. Time. A real friend takes the time to do the hard work of listening without an agenda, without checking her text messages, without thinking about what to say next. She freely offers her time to her friends.
  4. Honesty. A real friend is not afraid to tell truth about herself and she gently tells her friends the truth about them to help them to be the best they can be.
  5. Love. A real friend loves with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love – the kind of love her Savior lavished on her. She’s not stingy with her love. She’s not conditional with her love. She offers her love freely without expectation of a return.

Hard, hard work, but so very worthwhile. And really, just exactly what our Best Friend calls us to be to the people around us.

God, help me to be a real friend!

 

I’m joining my friends at Five Minute Friday in writing on the prompt word – Friend. Please come along with us – write about friends and read what others are saying about friends. You can find us at www.katemotaung.com.

photography from Unsplash.com

What’s Going On, Mrs. Noah?

How would you have felt? I just ask you!

My husband comes home with a wild look in his eyes, calls for our sons, grabs an axe, and takes off for the woods. No explanation. Not a hint of when they’d be home again. What about dinner? No consideration – none at all.

And that was just the first day.

We’d always been a normal, respectable family. My husband had always been a good man – everybody said so. My sister, Irene, and my best friend, Nadine, said I was the lucky one. And they were right.

So what happened to him? It took forever but I finally pieced together some of the story. God had talked to him. I know, I know. It sounds crazy. Just wait ’til you hear the rest.

God told him to build a great big boat. We didn’t live by a lake or the ocean or even a river, you know, but a boat he started to build. In our backyard. Where everybody could see it. Imagine that.

The bigger that boat got the worse it got. People gawking. People laughing. And then, people avoiding us.

Nadine for one. We’d been friends since we were little girls. We met at the well every single day. No more. My best friend lost. For what? For my crazy husband’s crazy boat.

But it got worse.

My husband, God bless him, started to tell our neighbors that it was going to rain and rain and that the only way to escape was to get on his giant boat. I saw their faces. Why couldn’t he see what was coming? They laughed in his face. “What is rain, you crazy old man? Why should we be afraid of rain, whatever that is?”

I didn’t go to the well anymore. I sent one of my daughters-in-law. It was just too embarrassing. The whispered jokes. The pointing fingers. The eyes that wouldn’t meet mine. No, I stayed at home as much as possible.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it got worse.

The boat, the ark – that’s what my husband called it – was finished. My husband and my sons started packing it with food and water and all kinds of supplies. One day, out of curiosity, I took a look inside. There were rooms for people, but there were many, many stalls and cages and coops and hutches. What insanity was this?

And then animals began to arrive. Yes, that’s what I said. They began to arrive – no shepherd driving them, no keeper of any kind. They were just coming and getting on the ark. So strange. At first everyone stayed away. I stayed in the house. There were animals we’d never seen before – animals with sharp teeth and huge claws. But, after a couple of days of this, the neighbors came out to watch. Irene, my sister, came with her children. “Sister, what is going on? What is your husband doing?”

I didn’t know, but I knew that it wasn’t him who was gathering these animals. I was beginning to think that maybe God had talked to him. “Irene, I don’t know what is going on, but I think you better get your family ready to get on the ark with us.”

“You’ve got to be kidding! Are you as crazy as your husband? I’m not getting on that ark.”

And then the sky started to look different. Describing it is hard. Gray instead of blue. It looked…well, it looked angry.

My husband told us it was time to get on the ark. He said that God was going to save us. He said that God would take care of us. I still didn’t understand, but I was afraid. More afraid of staying in my house than I was afraid of all those animals on that big boat. My husband saw that I was afraid. When I was about to lose it, he took my face in his hands and looked in my eyes and he said, “God will provide for us. He will save us.”

And I believed him.

I packed the house up and we moved into the ark. The neighbors jeered at us as we went, but I said nothing. Just as I was about to go into the big door of the ark, something wet fell on my cheek. I touched the wet spot and then another drop fell. I looked up at the angry sky and, suddenly, my face was wet. Was this it? Was this rain?

My husband called out to our neighbors once more, begging them to come on the ark with us, promising that God would save them. They laughed, they yelled evil words, and a few threw clods of dirt and even stones.

We went in the ark, but that big door was still open. Just as I was about to ask how we would shut the door, it creaked and began to move. A chill went up my spine. No one was touching that door, but it was definitely closing.

As soon as the door completely closed and my sons latched it tight, there was a booming noise and then the sound of an avalanche of drops of water hitting the wood of the ark.

The next sound I heard was the most horrible sound I have ever heard. It  was my neighbors, my friends, my family crying out for the door to be opened. My own sister was out there. My best friend was out there. Everything I had known was out there.

I caught my husband’s eyes on me and the peace I saw in his eyes instantly stopped the panic that had begun to well up in me. He believed God. He really believed God.

It was enough for me at that moment that my husband believed. But that was not the end.

The day that we knew the ark was floating. The day that I faced the fact that my sister and my friend were gone. The day that I realized those ferocious animals were not ferocious at all. The day we saw that our food supplies never seemed to diminish. The day that I realized that the stink that should be coming from such a huge company of animals and people was not happening. The day that I realized how much I loved my daughters-in-law. The day that I remembered that my husband was not crazy but was a very good man.

And then the day that God opened the door.

Sunshine, green grass, solid ground, safety, and a new start.

God had torn me away from everything I knew and depended on and He had given me something new. He had saved us and provided for us.

He had not talked to me the way he had talked to my husband, but He had shown me who He was and He had provided. No, He had not talked to me, but, like my husband, I believed!

 

This is the second story in the series, Through Her Eyes. Click here to see the first in the series.

Photography from Unsplash

May They Find Us Faithful

Many years ago, when my children were little I heard Steve Green sing these words:

“Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”

Those words stuck with me while we were raising our children, but I think that now, as a grandparent, they instruct me in the way I am to interact with my grandchildren. And the timing seems much more urgent. My oldest grandchild is almost five years old. In another eight years or so, her beliefs about God for the rest of her life will be pretty much established.

Eight years passes by with frightening speed.

So, what can we do to make sure that we leave footprints for them to follow?

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.

Sounds kind of scriptural, right? If our love for God is not real and strong and devoted, it won’t last and it won’t be obvious to our children. You know how it is – you can preach and preach to your family, but if they don’t see it modeled, you might as well preach to a rock.

I always think of Paul when I think of modeling the Christian faith. Everywhere he went he was genuine and unashamed of his love for the God who had changed him.

Just one example – read the words he wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy.

“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

2 Timothy 1:12b-13

After Paul reminded Timothy of his own faith, he was able to instruct Timothy to listen to his words and to follow in his footsteps.

2. Keep your memories of God’s power in your life fresh.

We all have stories of what God has done in our lives – how He saved us; how He has provided for us; how He has made us strong enough for trials – all kinds of stories. The Israelites who were brought out of Egypt had stories too – stories that God expected them to tell to their children.

Take the crossing of the Red Sea, for example. If you had experienced such a thing – tons of water pushed back by an invisible hand, walking through the sea on dry land, and then watching your enemies destroyed when the waters were allowed to rush back – would you have had any doubts about the power of God?

“Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.”

Exodus 14:31

And would you ever have stopped talking about what you had seen God do?

And yet they did stop talking about it.

And a generation grew up who didn’t even know the story. A generation who did not serve the one, true, living God.

God has given you stories and you need to be telling them to your family.

3. Pray

Pray for yourself to really know and love the one true God.

Pray that God would keep you faithful.

Pray that God would shine the light through you to your family and those around you.

Pray that those who come behind you would follow as Timothy followed his mentor, Paul, and his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois.

Pray, remembering that it is God who is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in all of us.

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