The House on the Rock

The House on the Rock

When my daughter was a toddler, we frequently sang a song about the wise man and the foolish man.  She loved doing the hand motions for the house that was built on sand.  I had no idea how the truths of that song would affect me in years to come.

Part of keeping our house on the rock is to make sure that we don’t choose the better over the best.  Sometimes I see the need to give up some very good activities so that I am able to grab hold of the best.  In my quest to try and keep my house built on the rock, I will frequently assess the activities in my life.

For instance, I was looking forward to attending a dinner for our women’s group at church.  It was the first opportunity that the ladies would have to hear our new pastor’s wife speak.  That same evening my daughter had gym class.  This was only the second time our homeschool group had met to have this class, and my daughter was really looking forward to participating.

I had to make a choice.  I could serve myself and enjoy the women’s function, or I could set my own needs and wants aside and serve my daughter.  Since my daughter is higher on my list of priorities than the women’s ministry, I chose to take her to gym class.  This helped me to keep my house on the rock because I chose to invest in my daughter, showing her that she is more important to me than the women at church.

My normal habit is to attend church on Wednesday evenings.  However, one Wednesday, I could tell that my husband was incredibly stressed.  Since he is higher on my priority list than my church attendance, I decided to have a friend take our daughter to church so that we could have some alone time – a huge rarity in our house.  I wish you could have seen my husband’s face when I made the arrangements for Rachel to attend without me.  He was very pleased.  Later when we were alone, I got out the massage oil and gave him a wonderful treat that he didn’t soon forget!  Once again, my choices helped me keep building on the rock, rather than shifting sand.

Another opportunity came when I found out that my friend’s son had a cyst on his brain.  I had not been able to get in touch with her, so I left a message on her answering machine, asking her to return my call.  Since she knows that I am adamant about not taking calls during our homeschool hours, I also told her that I would pick up the phone if I heard that it was her.  Now, while homeschooling is very high on my priority list, that particular day, I felt the need to drop it down a bit so that I could minister to my friend, as well as find out the details on what was taking place with her son.

Writing devotions is a passion of mine; however, I must not make the mistake of allowing it to come before the Lord.  Nor can I let it come before ministering to my husband, my daughter, or even keeping the household running.

Recently, I went through a season where I wasn’t writing at all.  Other things were just consuming my time.  During that time, it would have been very easy for me to become frustrated over not having any new material ready to send out to those on my mailing list.  Instead, I focused on continuing to build my house on the rock.  I knew that if I kept my priorities in order, God would honor those decisions.  Finally, I sat down one evening and grabbed my pen and paper.  Very quickly, I had written and typed up six devotions.  I was even able to write four more the next day.  I couldn’t seem to write fast enough to get my thoughts on paper.

As I’ve had to set aside a few of the things that I really wanted to do in order to choose God’s best for our family, I’ve had no regrets.  God is so faithful in pouring out His peace and joy when we are obedient to His Word.  The sense of balance that I have felt when I know that I have made choices that honored Him has been marvelous.  It makes it easier for me to say “no” to shifting sand.

Are you making choices that help you to build on the rock?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

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Friends

Friends

 

Sunday:

Sincere Leigh: “Lord, I want to be more like You. Help me to be steadfast and faithful — a woman of integrity and character. Let me be a woman of great faith who can encourage others.

God: “Child, are you sure about this?”

Sincere Leigh: “Yes Lord! I can do all things with Your help, and I know it’s Your will for me to be more like You.”

God: “You sound pretty excited and confident in this request.”

Sincere Leigh: “Yes, I am! I know I’m praying in accordance with Your will, so I just know You will answer me!”

God: “Yes, my precious daughter. I am pleased with your request and I will grant your request. Prepare yourself for some visits by several friends over the next few days.

Sincere Leigh: “Friends? OK! Friends can be a great encouragement to me in my Christian walk! This will be great!”

 

Monday:

Sincere Leigh gets up and gets her children ready for school. On the way there, the car breaks down. Later that day while the car is still in the shop, the school calls to tell her that one of her children has come down with the stomach flu. Since she’s without a car, she must call her husband at work. He’s unavailable, thanks to an urgent meeting. Now she has to try and find some merciful soul who will take her to pick up her sick child. After reaching four answering machines, she’s beginning to get frantic. Oh! What a day this has turned out to be!

 

Tuesday:

Sincere Leigh was hoping for a good night’s sleep after the disastrous day on Monday. As soon as she drifts off to sleep, her youngest child vomits all over the bed. Yes, he’s come down with the flu as well! Instead of sleep, she is now washing bedding at midnight and giving a very sick child an unwanted bath.

 

She awakens, feeling exhausted, but knows that she still has one child who must attend school today. Since the other two are sick, she will be forced to send her child to the dreaded bus stop. Her daughter is adamant that she’s not riding the bus because the kids are always so mean. After putting her foot down, and getting quite cross with her daughter, Sincere Leigh’s current crisis comes to an end.

 

After changing the bed sheets for the two children who are no longer vomiting, Sincere Leigh gets them settled for a nap. She decides to take a nap herself. She dozes off, and the phone rings. It’s the prayer chain calling. She quickly takes care of that and realizes that she still has a little time to rest before the children will wake up. The phone rings again. It’s her daughter, calling from school. She forgot her gym shoes and she’s upset because they’re going to play her favorite game during gym class. “Please Mommy! Can’t you leave long enough to bring me my shoes?” Of course, Sincere Leigh couldn’t leave the other two children home alone to rescue her daughter, even as life-threatening as it seemed to the poor child.

 

Wednesday:

Sincere Leigh’s last child came down with the flu at 2 AM. She starts the vicious cycle once again. She is exhausted by now, and she barely muddles her way through the morning routine as she tries to get one child off to school. Suddenly, she remembers that she is supposed to meet her friend for lunch today. She makes a quick call to cancel. Now all she wants to do is go back to bed, but she knows that she must start laundry.

 

Later, when Sincere Leigh goes to get the laundry out of the dryer, she discovers that it’s still wet, with no sign of having been heated at all by the dryer. At this, she throws up her hands, and begins to wail, “Why me, Lord? I didn’t need this right now! First the car repair, now the dryer needs fixed! I’ve had sick kids all week, and had to cancel my luncheon plans! Why can’t anything go right for me?” She cries some more, but doesn’t take the time to listen for the Lord to answer all of her ‘whys.’

 

Once the kids are resting peacefully, she decides to take a nap, only to remember that she hadn’t read her Bible all week. She thinks to herself, “I’m exhausted and I need some sleep. I have the women’s retreat this weekend. I’ll make up for it then.” Suddenly, the phone rings. Her husband has been unexpectedly called out town on business. He has to leave in two hours. Can she pack his bags and have them ready? “When will you be back?” she asks. He informs her that he will be gone until midday on Saturday. What!? What about the women’s retreat?

 

Thursday:

Sincere Leigh is really wiped out this morning. She is very short-tempered, leaving everyone walking on eggshells, and she’s having her very own pity party. She can’t have her parents watch the kids so she can go to the retreat because they are on vacation. She can’t take them to a friend’s house to stay because all of her friends are going to the retreat. She was really looking forward to this retreat, and now she can’t go. She is terribly depressed.

 

Friday:

Sincere Leigh wakes up and decides that she going to do something special for herself after she drops the kids off at school. After all, it’s been a very rough week. She has to miss out on the retreat, so she owes it to herself to do something special. She finally decides that she will go out for breakfast at her favorite restaurant. After saying ‘goodbye’ to the children, she notices that she suddenly has a pounding headache and her stomach feels rather queasy. She opts out of treating herself to breakfast. She barely makes it in the door, and to the bathroom, before she starts vomiting. Yes, you guessed it — Sincere Leigh has the stomach flu.

 

After literally hanging over the toilet for about four straight hours, she feels like she is dying. She finally manages to crawl into bed and starts to fall asleep. When she reaches that ‘twilight stage,’ where she’s not completely asleep, yet not fully awake, she hears the Lord say, “How did you like the friends I sent you this week?” Angrily, she says, “What friends? No one came to see me. No one even called me.” With that, she starts to fall asleep. As she does, she keeps hearing “James 1:2” going through her mind. Even in her sleep, she dreams that her pastor is preaching from James 1:2.

 

When Sincere Leigh awakens, she gets her Bible and looks up James 1:2 and finds that it’s admonishing her not to resent trials. She thinks to herself, “Lord, this week has sure been a huge trial!” She finishes reading the verse and discovers that it says to welcome trials as friends. (Phillips)

WHAT? Friends? Suddenly, she blurts out, “Oh, I get it, Lord! When You told me to prepare for some friends, you were referring to trials! But I didn’t ask for trials! I asked for You to help be steadfast, faithful, full of integrity, character, faith, and encouragement.”

 

God replies, “Yes, child, you did. And now, let’s take a look at some more scriptures so that you will understand.”

 

Sincere Leigh begins to read I Peter 4:12-13 where it tells her that trials come so that her faith may go through a spiritual refining process. (The Message Bible) She discovers in Romans 5:3-4 that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance will produce character. She goes back to the first chapter in James. After reading verse three, she realizes that perseverance must finish its work in her so that she will be mature, faithful, steadfast, full of integrity, character, and full of faith and able to encourage others.

 

God speaks to her again: “Do you see it now? All of these trials are part of My plan and purpose for your life. Sincere Leigh, you sincerely prayed to become all of those things without realizing that to do so, it requires that I use trials to make you into that person. While your trials won’t be easy to endure, I will always be there with you, every step of the way. The end result will be a deeper, more intimate relationship with Me, and a heart full of joy for having grown so much during the trial.”

 

Sincere Leigh: “Wow Lord! I guess I’ve got a lot of growing up to do to become mature! Will you really be there with me through the whole process?”

 

God: “Always, child, always.”

 

Sincere Leigh had no idea what to expect when she prayed that bold prayer, but yet she did pray it sincerely. Sister, when you find yourself going through trial after trial, God is faithful, and He will also walk through it with you.

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

 

Proverbs 31:26

Proverbs 31:26

AMP: She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness (giving counsel and instruction).

MSG: When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.

CEV: Her words are sensible, and her advice is thoughtful.

The Message Version reminds me of a saying I often heard my mother telling us when we were young. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Another thing I noticed is that it says ‘when she speaks,’ indicating that she didn’t always have to be blabbing, letting her opinion be known on every issue.  Nor did she find it necessary to always have the last word.

Some of us have a hard time letting go of an issue when we know that we are right.  We just can’t let the issue go!  What we find happening here is that in our desire to prove that we were right all along, we become wrong — wrong in our attitude, our speech, our thoughts, our motives, and our character.  Is it really so important for us to be proven right that we are willing to sacrifice these other things?  The Proverbs woman didn’t think so.  That’s why the words she spoke were kind, thoughtful, and sensible.  She knew her words were a gift — to be used to give counsel and instruction.  She had learned that there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecc. 3:7) She knew the wisdom of being quick to hear and slow to speak. (Jas. 1:19) She has made the choice to let her words be a fountain of life. (Pr. 10:11)

Jesus told us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  We can see here that she has taken the time to invest in her spiritual life, keeping the oil in her lamp full, allowing God to help her speak words that will grace the ears of those who hear.

Would you rather be right or righteous?

© 2004, Stacy R. Miller

Balcony Seating

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Balcony Seating

When our high school girls’ basketball team went to the state finals several years ago, we bought tickets from some fans of the losing team so we could sit closer to the floor for the evening game. When we arrived, someone else was sitting in our seats. We showed them our ticket stubs, proving the seats were ours and they moved to higher seating.

We allow people who are close to us to take a front row seat into our lives. We discuss personal things with them because they have earned that privilege. Occasionally, we will have individuals who expect front row seating in our lives. Yet, we see the need to put up some boundaries and quickly send them to the balcony of our lives.

For instance, I know a lady who feels the need to frequently tell me that I need to have more children. This woman has a proven reputation of being a busybody, so I quickly move her to balcony seating. The Word speaks against the behavior of being a busybody. (Second Thessalonians 3:11) I choose to stay away from her so that her bad company does not have a chance of corrupting my character. (First Corinthians 15:33)

I had a close friend who began to make foolish choices. After investing a lot of my time and energy on her, I saw she was choosing to continue in her foolish choices. After confronting her on the issues, I chose to move her to the balcony, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)

If you are trying to watch your words, you may find it necessary to move some people to the balcony in your own life. If we continue to hang out with those who are given to obscene language, foolish talking, and coarse joking, we will have a much harder time breaking that cycle in our own lives. (Proverbs 4:24; Ephesians 5:4)

Perhaps you have a friend who is constantly speaking negatively about her husband. It is so easy fall into the trap of adding your own negative thoughts. Yet, by doing so, you will find it difficult to respect your husband. (Ephesians 5:32) Rather than doing him good, you will likely resort to nagging. (Proverbs 19:13; 21:9, 19) It is time to move this person to the balcony so you can focus on developing the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. (First Peter 3:4)

Because I know several women who struggle with setting boundaries, I want to give one more example that may hit very close to home for many of you. Sometimes we need to move extended family members to the balcony. If we have extended family members who cannot respect the way we choose to raise our children, and they continually belittle us in front of our children, perhaps it’s time to move them to higher seating. I recently had to do this with a family member. It has been very hard because I thought I had a very close relationship with this person, and often shared very intimate details of my life with her. However, she made it quite clear several months ago how little she thinks of me. I was devastated by her behavior. I have had to do much praying to be able to handle this situation in a godly fashion, especially knowing that my young daughter is closely watching because she was there when all of this transpired. The result has been that I no longer make the weekly phone calls to her, nor will I visit her. However, when there is a need to inform her of something, such as an upcoming clogging performance for my daughter, I will tell her, but I choose to keep the conversation very short. When there are family get-togethers, I attend, and I will speak to her, but refrain from engaging in any in-depth conversation. I still treat her with respect, yet at the same time, I have moved her to balcony seating.

Do you need to move some people to the balcony in your own life?
© Stacy R. Miller

A Used Gift

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A Used Gift

How would you feel if you were given a used gift for your birthday? Many of us would feel hurt by it. Some of us may even feel like we aren’t deeply loved or appreciated if the person doesn’t care enough to buy us an unused gift. Yet, God calls us to give used gifts every day.

For instance, we are told to encourage each other daily. (Hebrews 3:13) The more we encourage others, the easier it becomes. Thus, it becomes a ‘used’ gift because we are using it frequently. For the frustrated cashier who may be overworked and underpaid, we can encourage her by simply saying, “I appreciate your help. Thank you so much.” Little words like that can go a long way! With our words, we can give her a wonderful gift that may carry her through the rest of her day.

There are several more gifts we can give to others. (Romans 12:7-8) We can serve others. This can take many different forms, but most of the time it will be through serving those in our own household. Yet, there are times when we need to serve those outside of our home.

Some of us can give the gift of teaching. This can be done through teaching a class at church or even teaching young women how to do practical things in their homes like cleaning, planning a menu, or even finding the best value for their money. Whether we like it or not, we most often teach in our own homes by the example we set.

Giving is another way we can bless someone. For the person who is really struggling financially, we may have the ability to give them some money. Sometimes our giving may be in the form of babysitting for a friend so that she can run some errands or so that she can have some uninterrupted quiet time. Another way to give could be through lending a listening ear to someone. A treasured gift that we can give to our children is quality time.

Another gift we can give is through our leadership in the home while our husband is at work. When we allow him to have confidence in us, it gives him peace of mind. He knows that he can leave the house and not have to worry all day about what is taking place while he is gone. We give our husband a wonderful gift by being a godly influence on our children. When we work to keep our home running smoothly, we bless our husband immeasurably.

We live in a world that lacks in showing mercy, yet there are numerous people dying for someone to grant them some mercy. What about the mother who feels like she is failing miserably? If we let her know that we have struggled with the same issues she is facing, we give her hope that she isn’t alone. We also give her the hope that things will get better.

Paul tells us to stir up the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. (Second Timothy 1:6) Unlike many gifts that will wear out over time, these gifts will never wear out or break. They will actually get better the more they are put to use!

What used gifts do you have to offer someone today?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller