Friday, January 16, 2015

Perfectly Broken

Walking along the beach, I saw a beautiful seashell.  Its edges that the rolling waves had worn down the rough edges against the sand caught my eye and heart.  My first thought was how beautiful it was. Once I realized it was broken, I set it gently back down in the sand to move on.  But I could not leave it there.  Picking it up, I felt God telling me that I was like the beautiful broken seashell.  

Once whole, something happened and it broke. Even as a broken shell it is still God's creation, His work.  The breaking of it did not remove it from creation; it simply changed shape.  

Its once sharp broken edges are now smooth and it appears as though this is how it was created.  This little beauty became something new; a new creation.  That is exactly what Christ does with us:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation... 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NIV
 God has shown me ways that my brokenness was made beautiful through Him.  Not hidden from my view are the rough edges that He is still smoothing.  Sometimes the smoothing process hurts and is something I would rather skip.  When I see this perfectly broken smooth shell though, I see hope.  

God is not finished with me; not even close.  What a relief and terrifying thought at the same time.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

New Year ~ 2015 ~

Whatever goals I set in 2014 were sidelined when I returned to school full-time in February.  Since then, my "job" has been being a student!  I had two weeks off in the summer and one of those weeks was spent at Kids Camp.  My Christmas break just ended and it was the first time since I started classes that I had two weeks off in a row while home.  IT WAS WONDERFUL!  While I love learning and my on-line classes, I forgot how much I missed focusing on my family, hanging out with them, and reading for the sake of pleasure/escape.  I am now "back at it" but am looking forward to a lighter load this semester. 

New Years was spent in McCall relaxing and playing games with my family.  For the fifth year now, we have left the regular life and escaped to the mountains to get away and spend time with each other.  I am so glad my parents are able to join us for these getaways and the memories we make will be with us forever.  This year, we taught the little boys how to play Rook.  They are now hooked and I look forward to more evenings spent playing this OLD card game.

Time keeps passing and my DH and I are looking forward to our sabbatical next week on the Oregon Coast.  While I will still have my school work and he will still need to check in on his work, we know God is going to use this time to speak to us individually and during our times as a couple.  We are still seeking His will on our future plans but have peace about the unknowns (so far). 

I would like to say that I will be better about posting here but all I can say is I will try and post more often.  While in classes, it is hard for me to think of sitting here at the computer more than I am and I do not want to bore you with my scholarly posts that I am pondering for school.  Hopefully, I can find a nice balance.

I came close to recording 1,000 gifts but fell short at 930.  Perhaps 2015 is the year I count 1,000 gifts. 

Until then, here is to a year seeking God, growing spiritually, and continuing life-long goals of:

  • Continuing Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University baby steps. 
  • Spanish - still need immerse myself in the language but am waiting for God to open those doors.
  • Living in a way that brings glory to God in my actions, possessions, and life. 
There are some exciting things happening this year!  To God be the glory! 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Christmas 2014

Advent is underway and we are enjoying our family readings together. 

The children understand giving and it is always shocking for me to realize that they are more comfortable with doing and buying for others than for ourselves.  When it comes down to it, they are so generous and I want to allow room for Jesus to continue fostering those desires.

The desire to love.

The desire to serve.

The desire to bake cookies and deliver them to someone who needs love shown to them.

The desire to help another family.  A child.

The desire to be Jesus to others. 

I am humbled by my children's hearts and their desires. 

#advent  #Christmas  #giving

Friday, October 10, 2014

Quaker's Testimony of Integrity Part II

This is the second post regarding integrity; so go here to read part one first.

Christianity Guide lists some practical ways “The Testimony or Evidence of Integrity includes such practices as. . .
  • making sure that one’s words and actions flow from one’s beliefs
  • speaking the truth, even when it is difficult
  • paying people fair wages for their work
  • giving one’s employer the right amount of labor for one’s pay
  • saying difficult things with grace and tact
  • receiving difficult sayings gracefully
  • guarding one’s reputation for honesty, fairness, and fidelity; that is faithful and loyal  
  • taking responsibility for one’s actions and their results
  • fulfilling one’s commitments
  • taking care of items entrusted to one
  • being open to the ideas of others but not being too easily swayed by them
  • confronting lapses in integrity in oneself and in others
  • giving credit to others for their contributions
  • assessing people and situations fairly and accurately
  • avoiding spending beyond one’s means through the use of credit”

Queries are thoughtful questions that remind people of the spiritual and moral values Friends seek to uphold. They help individuals and the church body to consider the true source of spiritual strength, to nurture loving relationships, and to maintain a strong Christian witness to society.

Ask yourself these queries and consider how you are and how others know you are 1) honest, and 2) stand firm:
         Are you honest with yourself as well as with others?
         Do you stand firm when an ethical principle is challenged?

Integrity with your Friendships
  • Keep your promises. Always keep your word.  If you say you can meet for coffee and someone else calls and asks you to lunch, YOU HAVE PLANS!  Show the people you have committed to that you value the time you spend together and do NOT ditch them for something (or someone) else.  
  • Don’t talk smack about other people.  If you would not say it to their face, do not say it behind their backs.  If you have not said it to their face, do NOT say it behind their back.  Doing so shows a distinct lack of integrity. 
  • Be the vault. When you promise you won't tell another living soul, DO NOT TELL ANOTHER LIVING SOUL!  Lock those secrets away and show your friends that they can trust you with their deep dark secrets.  Nobody wants a friend with "loose lips."  

Living with integrity requires frank and sincere self-examination and self-awareness.  Joseph John Gurney asked himself questions like these every day:

Have I this day been guarded in all my conversation, saying not one thing inconsistent with truth, purity, or charity?
Have I felt love toward my neighbor?
Have I done my part towards my family?
Have I been temperate in all respects and refrained from unlawful desires, habits, and anxieties?
Have I been diligent in business?
Have I given full time to effectual study?
Have I admitted any other fear than that of God?
Have I in everything acted, to the best of knowledge, according to the will of God? (Williams, pg. (172)

The next step is how.  How have I guarded my conversations today?  How have I been true, pure, and loving?  

Remind yourself that you have made a decision to live differently.  Here are three ways you can do this; though there are SO many more:

         See it!  Wall art, post-it notes with verses or phrases on how God is leading you to live serve as constant reminders.

         Wear a piece of jewelry that reminds you of a decision you have made.  This is for YOU; not for others…

  •    Get an accountability partner – someone you trust and will listen to; even when you do not want to hear it. 

Integrity is not simply telling the truth. Rather it is applying ultimate truth to each situation.  There must be harmony between one’s spiritual and physical existence. 
#Quakers #integrity 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Quaker's Testimony of Integrity Part I

Friends define testimony as “an outward expression of an inward leading of the Spirit, or an outward sign of what Friends believe to be an inward revelation of truth.” (Cooper, pg. 101)  The call for integrity in daily life lies at the heart of Quakerism. It reflects Friends devotion to truth, honesty, authenticity, and wholeness. 

At its simplest, the testimony of integrity means that we believe that it is wrong to lie, and we try to tell the truth in all things and at all times. It is commonly associated with honesty and fairness.  Perhaps you have heard “It’s what you do when no one is looking.” 

Integrity could very well be the most important testimony because it is on integrity that all other testimonies are built on!  Integrity is not simply telling the truth. Rather it is applying ultimate truth to each situation.  There must be harmony between one’s spiritual and physical existence. 

It is the belief that we should live our lives true to God, true to ourselves, and true to other people.  While these are all PART of it; for Friends, it deals more with personal wholeness and inner Truth, Truth being Jesus, and from Truth we get the outward signs of integrity: like honesty and fairness. 

The “testimony of telling the truth” that Quakers “endured heavy fines or imprisonment” (Williams, pg. 79) fighting for our religious freedom to obey Christ in the command not to swear stems from Matthew 5:34-37 and James 5:12. 

George Fox said, “For the Lord showed me that, though the people of the world have mouths full of deceit, and changeable words, yet I was to keep to Yea or Nay in all things.” (Jones, pg. 66) Since George Fox was eleven, he lived by the simple affirmation of speaking the truth.  Using Matthew 5:34-37 and James 5:12, Friends have long stood firm on their obedience to the commands in these verses.  

Matthew 5:34-37 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

James 5:12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment. 

With this in mind, Friends believe that speaking truthfully is something done when the Spirit lives within you.  Being told that they need to “swear’ that they are telling the truth implies that unless they “swear,” they might not be telling the truth and this was not only disrespectful to them personally, more importantly, it doubted God’s presence in their life.  

Christianity Guide describes the essence of the Testimony of Integrity as placing God at the center of one's life. Quakers believe that the Holy Spirit is in everyone. Integrity means focusing and spending time listening to the small voice of the Spirit and being open to its leading - whether the Spirit is speaking within oneself or through another.  The Testimony of Integrity also means refusing to place things other than God at the center of one's life - whether it be one's own self, possessions, the regard of others, belief in principles (such as rationality, progress or justice) or something else. It is the understanding that even good things are no longer good when they take the place of God as one's center. be continued. 

#Quakers #integrity 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quaker Gratitude

As I sit on the beautiful deck, here at Quaker Hill, I cannot help but think of the Friends who saw a need for a camp decades ago and gave of themselves in every way to make it possible. 

All across the country, you will find Friends camps, some are primitive and some are posh. They all are a blessing and meet needs while they provide a peaceful setting to minister in.

Again, I am extremely grateful for the men and women who have seen and met needs then so my needs can be met now; and I can help meet other people's needs.

Peace out.  I have some basking in God's glory to do.

#Quakers #Quakerwomen #Quakerhill

Monday, September 15, 2014

Grief Stinks

My original post title was: Grief Sucks.  But, I would not say "sucks" in front of my Auntie; nor do I say it in front of my Moma when I have my wits about me; so I changed it to "stinks."  Because it does.  Grief is never welcomed.  It is never wanted.  It is not my friend.  After reading the words my great-aunt shared, though, I think I should re-think something.  Perhaps, RAW, GUT-WRENCHING, PHYSICAL HEARTACHE PAIN stinks but grief changes, moves, and is part of a journey.  I do not care for this part of the journey and I let God know my thoughts on the whole thing.  I even used the word sucks with Him because while He loves me as I am; while He accepts me as I am; as He takes me as I am; He is working in me and someday that word may change in my vocabulary and I will find a more polite way of describing my feelings.  Until then, stinks, sucks, and whatever word aptly describes what no words can convey will suffice.  

My Great-Aunt Ella shared these words to my Uncle and his family, "Grief never ends, but it changes.  It's a passage, not a place to stay.  Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith.  It is the price of love."

I looked up these words and the whole poem is:

Grief never ends,
But it changes.

It’s a passage,
Not a place to stay.

The sense of loss
Must give way
If we are to value
The life that was lived.

Grief is not a sign of weakness;
Nor lack of faith.
It is the price of love. 
~author unknown~

I have a pretty special family.  We have the hope in Jesus Christ to strengthen us and give us peace that we know that my Auntie is in heaven; her real home.

I am just selfish.  I was not ready to say good-bye; nor ever would be ready.  Many feel the same.

#grief #Brownfamily