Are We Sweating the Petty Stuff?

Please. I ask you. Before you read this post, read Romans 14.
http://www.esvbible.org/Romans+14/

(Ok.. You can read this below, but REALLY promise to read the WHOLE chapter, not just verse 1 and 2. It is amazing)

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“Righteousness, peace, and joy, are words that mean a great deal. As to God, our great concern is to appear before him justified by Christ’s death, sanctified by the Spirit of his grace; for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness. As to our brethren, it is to live in peace, and love, and charity with them; following peace with all men. As to ourselves, it is joy in the Holy Ghost; that spiritual joy wrought by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, which respects God as their reconciled Father, and heaven as their expected home. Regard to Christ in doing our duties, alone can make them acceptable. Those are most pleasing to God that are best pleased with him; and they abound most in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. They are approved by wise and good men; and the opinion of others is not to be regarded.” Matthew Henry’s commentary

There are many many layers to Scripture. This is just one tiny layer that really caused me to stop and think today as I read this amazing chapter in Romans. I started reading it and thought of a couple of things:

~ Organic Foods
~ GMO Foods
~ Breastfeeding
~ Home births
~ Health Remedies
~ You name it.

These subjects, at least in the stage of life I am lovingly in, are hot topics. And it is easy to get all in a fluff with others over them.

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I re-read Romans 14 aloud and it made me feel oh so much more at peace inwardly and outwardly.
I think that every one of the wonderful friends I can think of off the top of my head that have decided one way or the opposite on the above subjects are EACH doing it because they are striving to honor the Lord with EVERY part of their life. They are actively yearning towards a life that gives glory to the Lord, that makes us more sanctified, and that ultimately comes from who we believe God is. And what He desires of us. Right?

So I want to encourage you as it encouraged me. Let us act toward one another as Ruth acted towards Naomi.

As I enter your home and your community, I want YOU to know FROM ME PERSONALLY this: I love you as a sister in Christ. And I TRUTHFULLY respect and honor you for the manner in which you have decided to love your family, nurture your children, and glorify the Lord. If you are doing what you are doing because of the earnest desire to be the most beautiful servant to the LORD… I am at your side. I want to help you do that when I am with you. If you ask for godly, edifying discussion, or simply need help grocery shopping, or need someone to eat a hamburger and french fries with, I am here.

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I am so thankful for this life that the Lord gave me. I recently told someone “Do you think God cares more about the FOOD we are eating, or the fellowship and upholding of the PEOPLE we are with?”  Life is short. Life can be sweet. And fun. and delightful. And precious. People make it all those things.

We weren’t meant to live alone. I don’t want to be alone. Let’s joyfully live together and delight in this life we have been given.

photo (2)As my Dad says “Don’t sweat the petty stuff, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff”
(He is right, you know…hmmm)

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=45&c=14&com=mhc (Matthew Henry)

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Are those in poverty happy?

The face of the Enemy is never a beautiful thing to behold, whether it takes its’ shape in sickness, poverty, sin, or hunger.
“The impoverished person lives a life of instability. He is subject to the same “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” as anyone else, and yet the smallest of these crises affects him in a way it does not affect the affluent or even the moderately comfortable. A touch of the flu, a week of work missed, an unexpected utilities bill, all of these can alter the course of his life for months, for years. He lives from day to day, and is incapable of preparing for tomorrow. Yes, he may be content in his poverty, he may be thankful for his daily bread. The well-to-do onlooker may even be tempted to covet the poor man: “He has so little, and yet, see how happy he is!” But the poor man knows not safety, knows not security. His poverty is an evil robbing him of peace, a pestilence, a plague, and it must be dealt with according to the Father’s eternal provisions for conquering this enemy alone.”

~ Caleb Sutton

The Weaver’s Skill

Cajamarca

My life was very focused that year, practicing violin for 3-4 hours every day, diligently plodding ahead in school. I didn’t know then (or even now to some extent) in what way God would use what I was learning, but I believed that He would use it, one way or another.
On one sunny afternoon, I excitedly opened the door of a little music shop. We (My mom and I) were looking for a violin for me to buy.. The warm scents of wood and rosin made me wish they made a candle of that scent to soften the aroma of my home. As my mom and I talked with the expert violinist about our wishes for my years of violin playing ahead, he smiled and led us to a small room in the back. Pulling out a case, he said “Try this one!” with that look on his face that instantly told me it was way above my price range, but yet an irresistable jewel one could never pass up touching, even for just five glorious minutes.

My fingers gently lifted the beautiful violin out of its case. The soft smell of ancient tree rose as I lifted it up and turned it around in my hands. It was a true work of art, a uniquely crafted instrument that boasted of great unknown players and gorgeous tones. When I took the bow and bid the violin sing, it did so with clarity and grace, each note swelling with fullness and richness that couldn’t contain itself to stay within its mere wooden frame. My 14-year-old mind was alive with gladness. What an opportunity to play on such a lovely instrument, to get this chance to see how it took each of my songs to a new level! I imagined the 200 years of players that might have played on it and pretended I was on stage, performing for an audience of hundreds. The last note faded away and with little ceremony except a glad heart and soft sigh, I carefully put the violin back into its’ nest, thanked the man, and proceeded to move into the other room of more ideally priced instruments for me.

(11 years later)

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~ We lay in the dark bed, struggling to sleep. As the cold night slowly shifted to approaching dawn, Caleb reached for his phone and then gave a short, quiet gasp. A text had come through, the one we had both dreaded and yet hoped for over the past few days:

“Dad is gone.”

Three simple words that enveloped a world of significance, a changed world. We numbly walked through the day ahead, holding conversations, making arrangements, wondering what each hour held for us.

As night swiftly took its’ shift, my mom arrived, bringing with her a violin and her flute, so that she and I could speak the language of music to others over the next few days, in an attempt to somehow usher warmth and comfort into the void which the lost loved one had left gaping open. As I opened the case of the lent violin, I picked it up gently, my soul already settling into a contented sigh. I could bare my soul now, could weep and sing, through the language I felt at ease with.
IMG_1480-001This violin felt particularly familiar. I glanced over at my mom and asked, “Is this the violin? the Italian one?” she smiled warmly as she nodded. What a wave of emotion, a touch of sweetness. I never thought that I would play on it again; yet here I was, watching the Lord weave His work into my life, in a time much different than years ago. In a time wrought with sorrow as opposed to a time of hope and ambition. A time of being a wife, mother, daughter-in law… as opposed to the time of a child.

This was a striking time for me, as I marveled at God’s work in my life. The violin was something very obvious and vivid, but from the time we are conceived, God is weaving things in and out of our lives. Are we capturing those moments so that He can use them in us later on? Are we carefully storing away lessons in the past to use in the future, even if they see trivial or unconnected?

They can come in any shape or form.

Here I am, settled in Peru as a missionary’s wife, neither using my nursing degree in a hospital setting nor my musician’s skills; two main things that enveloped my life for a number of years. Was it worth it to get a professional degree? Did it matter that I spent countless hours practicing those scales in my room? Did it shape me to becoming a more beautiful, useful tool for Christ?

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YES.

I could not have asked for a better past to prepare me for today and for the tomorrow to come. God has kindly orchestrated each of our lives to give us exactly the lessons we need to prepare us for the trials we will face.

The lesson of today?

Cultivate diligence, faithfulness, perseverance, courage, strength, wisdom, dignity, beauty, refinement, contentment, peace, and joy wherever it finds you. It will serve you well all the days of your life.