"In his heart a man plans his course - but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9
"Many are the plans in a man's heart - but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21
"A man's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?" Proverbs 20:24
Do not judge divine providence in little pieces - it is a grand mosaic, and must be seen as a whole.

The Lord's wisdom is seen in arranging the smallest events so as to produce great results. We frequently hear people say of a pleasant or a great event, "What a providence! This is the finger of God!" - while they are silent as to anything which appears less important, or has an unpleasant savor.

But the place of the flower upon the hillside - is as fixed as the station of a king! And the dust which is raised by a cart-wheel - is as surely steered by divine providence as the planet in its orbit!

There is as much providence in the creeping of an insect upon a rose leaf - as in the marching of an army to ravage a continent!

Everything, the most minute, as well as the most magnificent - is ordered by the Lord who has prepared His throne in the heavens, whose kingdom rules over all.

Whatever the event may be, the attentive eye will as clearly see the Lord's providential hand.

I am sure that God is in the world, yes, and is at my own fireside, and in my chamber - and manages my affairs, and orders all things for me, and for each one of His redeemed children. We need no miracles to convince us of His working, the wonders of His providence are great marvels as miracles themselves.

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28
                                                                                               ~ Charles Spurgeon


Rejoicing and Repenting with the Body of Christ - how beautiful it is!

Last week we had a family date with new friends.
We arrived at 5pm, left at 11pm, and did not stop for breath the entire night!
The best part?
None of the conversation had anything to do with our hobbies, interests, or what we have in common.
We spent the e n t i r e night talking about - sin.
(I know, you all want to invite us over to your house now, don't you?) <grin>

It may sound strange, but I kid you not. I am not sure how it actually started, but before we took our first bite of the scrumptious dinner prepared for us, the husband was sharing his testimony - which led to sharing marriage struggles they have endured - which propelled Dennis and I to share about our own pasts - which led to all of us sharing our current battles as believers as we seek to honor God and raise our children to love and honor Him too.

The funny thing is, it was not intense or awkward or uncomfortable. 
It just felt RIGHT.
And it was refreshing.
At one point, when Dennis was confessing a sin during our early marriage years, the husband looked me straight in the eye and asked me if I had responded to D's sin, with my own.
I was stunned by the question. Not because I was afraid to answer, but because during the worst years of our marriage, when we needed it most, no one was bold enough to ask those questions. Questions that matter. Questions that convict. Questions that change us
Which is exactly why Dennis and I are so passionate about investing in young couples.
We had no one.
And it hurt us.

This led to a long discussion about the purpose of the Body of Christ.
If we are all seeking the Lord daily,
if we love one another more than ourselves,
if we care about one another's holiness more than whether or not they "like us",
if we are willing to speak truth when a brother or sister is in sin - "He who turns his brother from sin saves his life" 
If we encourage one another in the faith, stirring each other up for love and good deeds - daily ...
How different would we be as believers?
If we really, truly took our own faith seriously - AND - took each other's faith seriously - what could we accomplish as a body? Can you imagine?!?
Faithfulness in the Word and prayer.
Strong marriages.
Strong families.
Children who respect and love their parents.
Purity in thought and deed.
Exercising our spiritual gifts.
UnitySo if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2

We spent quite some time talking about the "what ifs" of our own lives.
What if Dennis and I had been discipled as newlyweds? How different would things have been?
What if an older man had been in D's face asking him about his priorities, his duties as a husband, his role as a father? How much more would he have grown during those years?
What if I had an older woman pouring into me, teaching me how to serve my husband and meet his needs instead of waiting for him to change?
What if an older couple had taken interest in us and cared about our holiness enough to say, "You are blowing it! Knock it off, stop being selfish, serve each other, and outdo each other in love. NOW!"
What if we had looked at our friends and said, "We want you to hold us accountable. We NEED you to hold us accountable! Ask us anything and everything. Our pursuit of God, our finances, our purity, our viewing habits, our thought life, our words, our marriage, our attitudes, and anything else you see that does not reflect a heart seeking after God." How much more would we have grown spiritually with such Biblical accountability?

We cannot redo the past.
We cannot live in regret or shame.
But we can - 
change the future.

Dennis and I are no longer young and foolish.
We have walked through hurts and pain and mistakes in our personal lives and in our marriage.
We have watched others suffer the same.
We have confessed sin and hidden sin.
We have seen the damage of hiding, and the healing of confession.
And we never, ever want to be found hiding again.

The evening we spent with these new friends will not be forgotten.
Their honesty, vulnerability, and willingness to boldly asks what needs to be asked was a startling reminder of WHY the Body of Christ exists.

There is so much beauty, joy, wonder, celebration, and excitement in the life of believers.
Continual reasons to REJOICE and praise the God who created us.
There is so much sin - selfishness, apathy, discontentment and pride - in the life of believers.
Continual reasons to REPENT and praise the God who forgives and shows mercy again and again.

Thank You, Lord for giving us one another for the purpose of sanctification as we run this race together, with our eyes fixed on You, pushing, challenging, encouraging, and helping each other towards that highly prized finish line where we will finally achieve what we long for - complete sanctification - for eternity!

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3


A quote that cuts to my heart in this season of my life.

When I read this I wondered, "Has the author been reading my thoughts?!?"
This writing hit me at the core, and I could easily sign it with my own name, in full agreement with every word penned by the author.
Thank You, Lord, for the hearts and words of Your people across the centuries that echo our own hearts, today.

O my God, I desire to approach the footstool of Your throne of grace. Glory be to Your holy name that I can enjoy freedom of access into Your presence, and with the confidence of Your child, unburden to You . . .
all my needs and sins,
all my sorrows and infirmities,
all my perplexities and cares.

Lord, how unworthy I am of the least of all Your mercies! What righteous cause have You to cut me down as a cumberer of the ground. How cold my love, how infrequent my prayers! How full is my heart, of pride and vain-glory, self and sin! How little have I habitually realized Your nearness, and sought Your favor as my chief good! There is enough of coldness and formality in my best approaches to Your footstool - to lead You in Your wrath to spurn me forever away!

Let me see all my sin - in the light of Calvary's cross!

I cast myself as a worthless unworthy sinner, at the feet of Jesus. I need daily, hourly washing at that fountain which He has opened for sin and for uncleanness. Wash me, gracious Lord - fully, freely, and forever. Let me know the blessedness of "no condemnation." I come with all the great burden of my great guilt - to my great Savior! I seek to bring the unrighteousness of an unworthy creature - to the infinite righteousness and everlasting faithfulness of my loving Redeemer.

You have borne with all my obstinacy, all my perverseness, and waywardness, and ingratitude. I am at this hour, the monument of a divine love - as wondrous as it is undeserved.

Where would I have been, Blessed Jesus - but for You! All that I am, and all I have - I owe to Your free, sovereign, unmerited grace!

Whom have I in Heaven but You - and there is none in all the earth I desire besides You. You alone can fill up the aching voids of my heart. In vain can I look to a transient world, or to the perishable creature - for solid peace and permanent enjoyment. You are the only refuge for my sin-stricken, woe-worn spirit.

I rejoice in the inexhaustible riches treasured up in You - that Your fullness is adequate to supply all my necessities; and out of that fullness I may still continue receiving, and that forever and ever!

                                                                                          ~ John MacDuff 1856


A powerful quote.

'I am with you always' is enough for my soul to live upon no matter who forsakes me.
                                                                                                          ~ C. H. Spurgeon



Half our fears rise from the neglect of the Bible.
                                                                                                            ~ C. H. Spurgeon


There is purpose in the pain. And I will still praise Him!

This morning I worshiped the Lord with my brothers and sisters in Christ ~ at church!
What a joy it was to be back after such a long absence!
We arrived earlier than usual so I spent almost 30 minutes sitting quietly in the nearly-empty sanctuary reading Scripture and grateful for the peace and solitude of that time.
How good God is to meet such simple needs!

The service was wonderful, a communion Sunday, and the message was unexpected and thought-provoking. I love leaving church with hundreds of thoughts to ponder!

I was not prepared, however, for what was to come in the second service while worshiping with the youth group.
I greeted students and hugged my friends, smiling and enjoying the chaos and youthful energy that swirls through the youth area in abundance.
And then it was time for worship.
The first song was beautiful and drew us into His presence.
The next song cracked the shell that has been protecting my heart this past month and refused to let the emotions remain tucked away any longer. I stopped singing to let the tears fall until I realized they would overwhelm me ... and it was not the place for me to fall apart. But it was the time for me to let the Lord work in a worn and weary heart that has endured much this past month.
The tears fell, my shoulders shook, and my heart felt relieved to finally release what has been building for so long.
Thank You, Lord, for knowing what I need before I do ~ and taking me where I need to go at the precise moment I need to be there.

One of my girls was sitting next to me, and after keeping my head down and sniffing repeatedly, she pulled my hair back to see my face and whispered, "Are you okay?"
I shook my head, and she wrapped her arms around me ... and did not let me go until worship was over.
What a precious moment that was. 
She saw me, the one who is usually looking into the eyes full of tears, broken and hurting ~ and she did not hesitate to love me.
How sweet the discipleship relationship is.
Both give and take  - both comfort and rejoice - both love, and receive love.
I will never forget her tender hug ... and I will always praise God for blessing me with the privilege of having these young women in my life. How much I need them!

I pray this song will be a source of comfort to another hurting heart.
The lyrics are straight from the Book of Job ... and they speak truth.
There IS purpose in our pain. And He IS all we need.

Though You Slay Me

I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who's broken
The one who's torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I'll know every tear was worth it all

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

Though tonight I'm crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You're still all that I need
You're enough for me
You're enough for me

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need
Sing a song to the one who's all I need