Wednesday, July 13, 2016

So This Is What Surrender Looks Like

Recently, a visiting missionary repeated something he had heard someone else say,  "Just get up every morning, and do what you have to do." Pretty simple, right?  It really is a very simple statement, but when you think about it, it truly is the essence of living the Christian life, and it was something I needed to hear.

At the beginning of every year, I choose a verse for the year, and these scriptures can usually be summed up in one word. For 2016, I chose Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.....and the word surrender is what came to mind. At the time, I had no idea how that word would manifest itself in my life. I knew it wasn't something I could force or resolve to make happen, but I claimed it as my word for the year, and left it in God's hands to work out the details. Many times in the past few months, I've thought about that word, and have to admit, I was wondering if I had the right word!

Maybe a little update on my life is in order....My husband and I are both 58 years old, parents of eight children, and sixteen grandchildren. Five of our children came by way of adoption, and three are still at home. We are in our 29th year of homeschooling, and our youngest daughter is nine years old, so we have eight years of school left. Brian has often joked that our pension and the child tax benefit will overlap for about a year. Still, with each year that Danica gets older, I've enjoyed a little more freedom, and I've been looking forward to a new chapter in life. 

Then came June, and circumstances changed. One of our adult sons moved back home, and with him came a sweet pink bundle...grandchild # 16. I commented to someone....more than once...."I was seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, and someone just rolled a boulder across it for the foreseeable future." As much as I love my granddaughter, I really had been enjoying my bit of freedom. After thirty eight years of parenting, I wasn't the least bit interested jumping back into caring for a baby. Anyone who has followed my blog over the years will find it hard to believe that I didn't jump for joy over the prospect of a new little one in our home.

Enter the visiting missionary, and his very simple statement, "Just get up every morning and do what you have to do." As I thought about that statement, a lot of things came to my mind....but mainly,  the question, "What has God called me to do?" Because ultimately, that is what I need to do...Get up every morning and do what God has for me to do. In my Bible, I have a piece of paper dated, February 29, 2007, with these words written on it, "Not My Will, But Thine Lord." I won't go into the story behind those words...but if you like, you can read about it in this post, and more in this post. No matter what the circumstances, those words are always the answer, and this time was no different. I didn't have to think long to be reminded of what I know God has called me to do. In fact, when I asked my husband that same question later that day, he didn't even hesitate with his answer, "Take care of kids." Yup, that's it....the thing that God has shown me over and over, the thing that he gave me to do when he gave me the desires of my heart. Not something that I could just quit when I got tired, or when things got hard....and believe me, there have been some extremely hard days! No, this calling isn't something that I can just say, "Okay God, it's been great...thank you for answering my prayer, and blessing me with this big family, but I'm done now...I want to do something else...maybe some Me time!" Not that it's wrong to take time for myself, but this is the life that I asked God for, and this is the life that he has called me to. My life is not my own; it's bought with a price...Not my will, but thine Lord. I realized then that at this moment in time, what I need to do is help my son care for his little girl. It won't be forever, it may not be very long at all, but for now it's what God is asking me to do.

And then I had that "Uh huh!" moment. So this is what surrender looks like...setting aside my desires, and my plans and just getting up every morning and doing what I need to do. The moment I got that, life became sweet again....and that little pink bundle is a big part of that sweetness! 

Thank you Lord for working your will and your way in my life in the most unexpected ways.

A song that I wrote for my sister, Victoria, comes to mind...who knew it would one day be for me?

More Than I Could Dream (click title to listen)

Abiding in Christ, in the secret place, is my desire
To live a life of faith, as I'm transformed and changed to trust and obey
It's only through Christ, and his mercy and grace
Thank you, Lord, for giving me this life
Thank you, Lord, for my heart's desires
Thank you, Lord, for blessing me, more than I ever could dream
In this world of hurt, filled with broken lives, we're called to serve and to redeem the time.
With God's word as our guide, we work side by side
Together we learn to live our lives for Christ
Thank you, Lord, for giving me this life
Thank you, Lord, for my heart's desires
Thank you, Lord, for blessing me, more than I ever could dream
This life you have given, I offer to you.
I pray I'm found faithful in all that I do
Thank you, thank you, for more than I  ever could dream
More than I could dream

Thursday, May 12, 2016

He'll Give Rest

Recently our pastor taught a series on sharing the gospel, and the importance of being prepared to do so. He went through a few 'plans', such as The Roman Road, The New Testament Road, and The Six Step Plan. The last plan was taken completely from the book of Isaiah. It's beautiful to see how God has woven the gospel throughout the Bible, and specifically in the book of Isaiah.

In Acts 8: 26-40, we see how Philip was able to use the book of Isaiah to preach Jesus to the Ethiopian Eunuch.

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

 As I was taking notes, I could see a song taking shape. Given that I haven't written a song for well over a year, I started to get excited. The next morning, I took out my Bible, and my notes, and started writing. Our pastor had seven points, The People, The Prophet, The Problem, The Provision, The Plan, The Pardon, and The Peace. I didn't use all  seven points, but combined them into four: 1. The Problem, 2. The Plan,  3. The Provision, 4. The Pardon. 
 By 2 pm, I had the lyrics finished. Below, I've shown the lyrics, with the corresponding scriptures. Some phrases are taken directly from the Bible, while some are paraphrased or my own wording.

He'll Give Rest  ©Deborah Bolack 2016

V. 1     The Problem

57:20-21 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot find rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
1:4a Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children, that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, 
53:4a Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:

 Like a troubled, swirling sea, 
 that cannot find rest or peace.
Laden down with the weight of sin                           
No relief from your burdens and grief.                

Chorus    The Plan

55:6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
55:1a Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,
14:3 And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.

Seek the Lord while he may be found.                      
Call upon him while he is near.
If you're thirsting, come to the waters.                       
He'll give rest from your sorrow and fears.   

V.2     The Provision

53:4b yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
53:3a He is despised and rejected of men
53:5a,b, But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:
53:10a,b Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,
53:12c because he hath poured out his soul unto death:

He was smitten of God and afflicted.                         
Despised and rejected of men.                                     
Wounded and bruised; made an offering for sin,     
Jesus poured out his soul unto death.  
Repeat Chorus

V.3    Pardon

1:18 Come let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
55:7a Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:

The Lord says come let us reason.                                  
Forsake wicked ways you have known.                         
Though your sins are like scarlet and crimson,             
they shall be white as snow.

Repeat Chorus

This song is now posted on my Lyric Devotions site. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I`m a Dabbler

 My son, Daniel, is an artist. He likes to draw cartoon characters, faces, still life, animals, and more. He uses pencils, pens and markers in his artwork. He's also starting to paint with acrylics. Sometimes he switches to working with with wood, and has sold a couple of his carvings.
 When I said he should focus on one form of art, he responded, "I'm a dabbler." Then I thought of this blog, and realized we have a lot more in common than I thought! Just take a look at the tab at the top labelled 'Topics', and you'll see what I mean. I started out with just one blog, but over the years, I've added several more. Even this blog is a hodge podge of various topics. I'd like to be able to just focus on one topic, but I've yet to figure out exactly how to do that. So, I guess I just have to resign myself to the fact that I too am a dabbler.


Friday, April 29, 2016

The Greatest Sin

A powerful thought...paraphrased from a message preached by Evangelist, Jim Van Gelderen, at our special meetings.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Patio and Planters

I'm a little late posting this, but considering I rarely post anything, it's not likely anyone is going to notice! Anyway, on with the post....
One of our projects for the summer of 2015 was to finish the patio in front of our house. For the past few years, it's just been gravel and weeds, and it's nice to finally have it looking nice.

Patio blocks laid

Started building planter beside retaining wall

Planter finished  with fence boards along the front

Planter beside deck

Planter beside the deck

Planter filled with petunias

Planters finished, filled,  and planted.
Staining planter started


Friday, January 1, 2016

My Verse For 2016

In my search for a verse for 2016, I reviewed my verses from previous years. each verse can be represented by a single word. Starting in 2011, these words have been SEEK, GO, SERVE, HOPE, and TRUST. In looking at these words, I see a progression. In SEEKing God's will, we followed when he said, GO. As we watched other Christians falling away, we reaffirmed  that our home would SERVE the Lord. That commitment led to renewed HOPE and TRUST.
The word that comes to mind today is SURRENDER. All of these other words are good, but if I haven't fully surrendered I am going to continually succumb to my own fleshly desires. I know there are areas of my life that I struggle with, and until I give them completely to God, I will not have victory.
I didn't have far to look for my verse.

I want this verse to be more than words...I want it to be real in my life. I don't want to start out the year committing to 'doing' or 'being' better, only to find that somewhere along the way, I've lost that zeal, and I've slipped back into old habits....whether physically or spiritually. What I want is to truly be transformed...and unlike most years, I have no plan, no program, no idea really...exactly how that is going to happen; how this year will be different from any other year. And maybe that is the difference...maybe that is the first step toward surrender. All I know for sure is that HE is able, and I'm trusting in him to do a work in my life. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflecting On 2015

Continuing my tradition of looking back over the past year....even though I haven't posted all year!

1. What were the highlights or accomplishments of 2015?

This year hasn't been one of big highlights, but more of steady progress, continuing in the direction we believe God has for us.
Brian has now been back to work at the Royal Oak Inn for almost a year and a half. It's been a busy time for him, but hopefully things will settle into a routine soon,,,,well, I can always hope.
The main highlight was becoming members of our church in June. We'd been attending for about 9 months, and knew it was time to take that step and become more involved in the ministry.

2. What were the major themes of the year?

I think the main theme of this year could be described as just putting one foot in front of the other and doing the next thing. It's been good to be a part of a church again, and to have opportunities to serve, whether in VBS, Ladies Conference, or the ongoing ministries of nursery, cleaning and yard care. Hearing the word preached regularly, and participating in Bible studies has brought back a stability and purpose that was lacking in my life, and in my family.

3. What disappointments or regrets did you experience?

Last year, I wrote, "I can learn from my regrets, and I can commit to a better today and tomorrow. With that thought in mind, I look forward to the changes that 2015 will bring, and pray for the strength to embrace them," This year I can say, I have no regrets, and have indeed embraced the changes in 2015, and am looking forward to what 2016 will bring.

4. What was missing from the year?

Last year I said, "We are closing out the year with a much clearer vision of God's will for our family, and the accompanying peace (that has been missing)." That continues to be true; we're following the direction we believe God has given, taking steps to bring our family closer to him. I know that I'm in a better place spiritually than I was last year, and believe the same is true for my family. But I also know that I still lack the self discipline needed to have a close relationship with the Lord. I was challenged by last nights message on TIME. What is required to be close to God is time...time in his word, and time in prayer, will result in a desire for time in worship. I'm lazy, plain and simple. I know this is something I struggle with and need to change.

5. What did you learn from the past year?

I think this year just reaffirmed what I learned the previous year. We need to be a part of a church to live this Christian life in a way that brings glory to God. I know that our time away from church was so detrimental to all of us. I also know I have a long way to go to get where I need to be, and I need  the church to help me get there....we're not in this alone. 

Once again...looking forward to the coming year!