Surprise Snow

Ransom and I should have checked the weather before driving to Buffalo this Friday. But our judgment was “clouded” (I’m my Father’s punny daughter) because we had to run pre-Christmas errands, and we were dazed by the opportunity for a work break. Plus, it had been 60 degrees less than 5 days prior. We never expected a snowstorm.

Halfway there, the snow began. It was a beautiful addition to the gorgeous backdrop of north western NY. Large, lonely fields welcoming the white, silent fluffiness. The snow wasn’t menacing; magical and mesmerizing. It began to rekindle my hopes for a White Christmas.

We did our shopping thang, and by the end, my feet were aching from the boots I wore. #comfortoverfashionnexttime #ineverlearn. Finally we collapsed in the car, content with our bargains and buys, and began the 1.25 hour drive home. I groaned glancing at the dashboard clock to find it was way later than planned. And then, I neglected my navigating duties at the exact moment our exit passed by, setting us back an extra 15 minutes.

That’s when the snow started up again. Harder, heavier, and darker. This was a different kind of breed than earlier in the day, in the sunlight. I began reading a book aloud to distract us from the storm and to entertain Ransom. But soon, it became dangerous and we needed to turn the lights off for better night vision.

I was too nervous to keep reading anyway, although I sort of missed the safety I found in the world of our book. When I wasn’t reading anymore, I had to focus on the GPS, tracking the number of miles ’till home. There were still way too many for my liking.

It kept getting worse. The GPS took us back a different way than we came, through isolated back-roads. We’re still not sure why. We got stuck on an uphill, tires spinning. I tapped the accelerator as Ransom got out and pushed us up and over the hill.

We swerved around a turn and almost swung into a deep ditch. We were silent and about 30 seconds later Ransom said seriously, “I thought we weren’t going to make that turn.” We got stuck on another hill. No houses in site. We’re in the boonies, remember. 🙂 Ransom pushed us up the hill again. We moved as slowly as possible. A few cars whizzed past us (did they have snow tires?). We soon hit the 1.25 hour mark and we still had a long way to go.

It was treacherous. I prayed aloud a lot. I kept thanking God for getting us past the next hill, the next turn. I was suddenly amazed to find we were getting closer to home. But we had one more hurtle ahead of us. A long, steep downhill preceded our street. I would have preferred an uphill where Ransom could push us up. But we started down and we started to lose control of the car. It was steeper than we remembered. We were going to go down fast and we would probably start spinning, ending up who knows where down at the bottom. Thanks be to God, a driveway appeared and Ransom made a split-second decision to steer us into the direction of the driveway. Our car gained traction and we parked in a stranger’s long driveway.

At that point we were close enough to home to walk, so we left an apologetic note in their door, promising to pick up our car as soon as the storm let up. We gathered our things and walked home, arriving almost 3 hours later.

Phew. My adrenaline is pumping just remembering that anxious-ridden drive. But I want to express my thankfulness, beloveds. I am thankful for God’s protection. He kept us from danger countless times on that drive. I am thankful for my husband, Ransom. He stayed calm for the two of us, made wise decisions, and gave all he had (even brute force) to get us home. I am thankful for the life God has given us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. It’s experiences like these that help remind us just how small we are and how big He is. Just how out of control we are and how in control He is. We very well could have crashed at the bottom of the hill, if that was His will. But that doesn’t change the fact that even then, He is the same loving and caring God.* Ultimately, I am thankful God is the only refuge for our souls, our safe place, our eternal peace. Christ has and will ultimately silence the waves (and the snow), making it magical and mesmerizing again! Thank you God, for your Fatherly care on this life journey and for one day guiding us to home sweet home again.

snow falling

*Nancy Guthrie says this well-Jesus protects us from the Evil One and Judgment:

“The fact is, God cares more about our spiritual health than our physical health. Our bodies are going to die. Our souls are going to live forever. And God’s ability to protect our souls from eternal judgment and eternal death is more significant than his ability to protect our bodies from disease or death. Trapped in these bodies and in this time, it is hard for us to grasp. So in our prayer requests for safe travel and physical health, and in our more desperate prayers amid great difficulties, we try to apply to our bodies his promises of protection for our souls, and we’re left disappointed, accusing him of falling down on the job. But we will continue to be disappointed in him until our value system lines up with his, until we value the eternal life of our souls more than the limited life of our mortal bodies, until we understand that God’s primary agenda is kingdom building. It may cost us our very lives, and he is okay with that…

...God knows that you and I need protection from judgment, which is going to fall, flowing out of divine justice. So he sent us a Protector in the form of a vulnerable baby, a Savior who is no less than his own Son. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). As we hide ourselves in the person and work of Jesus, we find shelter from the sure and certain judgment of the last day…

So can I expect God to protect me, and anyone devastated by a tragedy as big as Katrina? Absolutely! I’ve come to see that his “protection plan” is more vast and far-reaching than my shallow expectations once defined. I see now that God’s promises for protection go much deeper than protecting my body or my agenda or my plan for my life. I can rest easy. I’m protected.” –“Can I Really Expect God to Protect Me?” by Nancy Guthrie

 

Not to Deny Self, but to Be Like Christ

There once was a time when I thought self-denial was noble and I marveled at the monastic life. However, looking back, I see a lot of selfishness in my motives. I wanted to deny self, not for God or others, but for my own sake; to make myself better. Below, Warfield calls us to pattern our lives after Jesus and his self-sacrifice, as “we are no longer are own, but we are bought with the price of his precious blood”:

“…Our self-abnegation is thus not for our own sake, but for the sake of others. And thus it is not to mere self-denial that Christ calls us, but specifically to self-sacrifice: not to unselfing ourselves, but to unselfishing ourselves. Self-denial for its own sake is in its very nature ascetic, monkish. It concentrates our whole attention on self—self-knowledge, self-control—and can therefore eventuate in nothing other than the very apotheosis of selfishness…. Self-denial, then, drives to the cloister; narrows and contracts the soul; murders within us all innocent desires, dries up all the springs of sympathy, and nurses and coddles our self-importance until we grow so great in our own esteem as to be careless of the trials and sufferings, the joys and aspirations, the strivings and failures and successes of our fellow-men. Self-denial, thus understood, will make us cold, hard, unsympathetic,—proud, arrogant, self-esteeming—fanatical, overbearing, cruel. It may make monks and Stoics,—it cannot make Christians.

He [Christ] was led by His love for others into the world, to forget Himself in the needs of others, to sacrifice self once for all upon the altar of sympathy. Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from but into the midst of men. Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort. Wherever men strive, there will we be to help. Wherever men fail, there will we be to uplift. Wherever men succeed, there we will be to rejoice. Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows: it means absorption in them. It means forgetfulness of self in others. It means entering into every man’s hopes and fears, longings and despairs: it means manysidedness of spirit, multiform activity, multiplicity of sympathies. It means richness of development. It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives,—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours. It means that all the experiences of men shall smite our souls and shall beat and batter these stubborn hearts of ours into fitness for their heavenly home. It is, after all, then, the path to the highest possible development, by which alone we can be made truly men.” —“Imitating the Incarnation,” B.B. Warfield.

Father, Help Me To…

Prayer by Bryan Jeffery Leech

Father, help me to TALK like a Christian:

to speak in such a way that I build up another person’s confidence in himself, instead of tearing down his reputation.

Father, help me to DRIVE like a Christian:

to be watchful and careful lest I cause harm to someone else on the highways.

Father, help me to GIVE like a Christian:

without thought of return, without anyone knowing what I do, and with Your approval as sufficient reward.

Father, help me to DRESS like a Christian:

by not attracting attention to myself for being too fashionable or too causal; and help me to show by my appearance that I want people to know me for what I am inside myself.

Father, help me to SLEEP like a Christian:

at peace with myself because sin is forgiven; and at peace with others because I do not allow my anger to last through a day.

Father, help me to EAT like a Christian:

to eat healthily, to eat moderately, to eat gratefully, giving thanks to You who provide my food, and for the one who prepares my food.

Father, KEEP ME from being so pious that I keep You out of the practical areas of life. Be with me when I am alone, and when I shed my inhibitions, lest in those moments I cancel out all that I seem to be when I’m on my best behavior.

Father, I ASK THIS because I follow a Master who was never guilty of the slightest wrong-doing, and who always showed His love in the small details of living. Amen.

4 Days!!!

From 42 to 4 days!

Our wedding day is so close! Thank you, sweet God, for the gift of Ransom. As I walk down the aisle, even though I will be looking at my future husband with deep love in my heart, I plan to set my heart on the greater truth that we are the Bride of Christ!

“Oh, what a day that will be when the eyes of the entire universe shall be turned in one direction and the glorious Christ, in the splendor of His Manhood and of His Godhead, shall take the hand of His redeemed Church and, before men and angels and devils, declare Himself to be one with her forever and forever! That will be the beginning of the marriage supper of the Lamb–it will be the publication to all of the great fact of mutual love and union!” – Charles Spurgeon

The Mystery of God’s Complete Rule and Man’s Real Choices

The Belgic Confession

Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence

“We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement. Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly. We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.

This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground *without the will of our Father. In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will. For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.”

*Matt. 10:29-30

Do you not perceive it?!!

It took me some time to settle on this, but here’s my scripture passage for year 2015! Two different people sent me this passage on my birthday and I just can’t stay away from it. Reading it is like drinking a tall glass of cold water; refreshing in its truth. It’s replete with God’s powerful action, redemption, deliverance, salvation, hope for the future, excitement (hence my added exclamation points in the title), and refreshment (tall glasses of cold water a.k.a. rivers in the desert). What verse(s) are you focusing on this year, beloveds?

“Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”

-Isaiah 43:18-19

Whatever Our Souls are Made of, His and Mine are the Same

Apologies for my bloggers’ neglect. As the title of this post suggests, there has been lots of love in my life recently- I’m engaged to my dearest love! Praise God for His sweet gifts! Ransom and I are now swiftly moving towards marriage. In honor of the excitement and joy of it all, and in preparation for being “Broken Together,” I’m sharing this powerful song with you, broken beloveds. Be encouraged by the One who heals and makes us truly last forever.

Broken Together by Casting Crowns

“What do you think about when you look at me
I know we’re not the fairytale you dreamed we’d be
You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand
And we dove into a mystery

How I wish we could go back to simpler times
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light
Now on this hallowed ground, we’ve drawn the battle lines
Will we make it through the night

It’s going to take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

How it must have been so lonely by my side
We were building kingdoms and chasing dreams and left love behind
I’m praying God will help our broken hearts align
And we wont give up the fight”