Live Low

Ann Voskamp

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

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Write

sleddingThe word “write” is intimidating to me. I don’t consider myself to be a writer. A talker, yes. I’ve never disciplined myself to keep a journal faithfully. My version of writing regularly in a journal boils down to one or two entries every other year. Unfortunately my children will not have the luxury of looking back into my memories of the past.

My grandma always said I should write a book about our family. I never really put much stock in that, although I have toyed with the idea from time to time. Writing was never my forte though, and even in college composition classes I had great difficulty deciding on topics and narrowing them enough to create a mildly interesting paper.

I do want to somehow bottle up this time with my family and friends so that I can fully remember the accomplishments, victories and joys that we’ve experienced together. Mostly I just record these things through photography, but I’m not always on top of that either. Maybe someday I’ll figure out the best formula, but for now, I try to be present in my current situations and keep track of the lessons I learn along the way.

I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo today for Five Minute Friday.

Garbage

I do not care if I am treated as the offscouring of the earth as long as the Gospel is proclaimed.

I was reading My Utmost for His Highest this morning and the above quote stood out to me. Can I really say this about myself or do I secretly (or maybe not so secretly) want to live a comfortable upper middle class American life? Do I want to be revered and admired for my sterling reputation in my community?

It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around. Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.” When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. And it’s not getting any better. I Corinthians 4:9-13

To be honest, I could’ve gone my whole life without reading this. Do I really want to be treated like garbage? No, but I’m so thankful for God’s Word. What a great reminder to keep my expectations low! I’ve learned in my short stint in parenting so far that expectations are the name of the game. Keep those expectations at a realistic level and don’t be disappointed when your kids don’t live up to them. Make every experience a teachable moment and keep moving forward out of love for those precious little ones.

So, in my life, I must expect to be mistreated by others and not let my heart be discouraged by it. How else does a dying world see Jesus in me? Is it by my comfortable, easy life? No, it’s by my response to hardship, my love for those who despise me, my desire to see the Gospel made known at ANY cost.

Steadfast

People are choosing words for 2014. I typically rebel against these kinds of things because I am stubborn, but as I was sitting here thinking a word popped into my head. Steadfast.

The first few definitions swayed my decision a little: firmly fixed in place, not subject to change. Do I really want to broaden my stubbornness in 2014?

Then I read this one: firm in belief, determination, or adherence. There. That’s the description I want. Also this:

You will keep in perfect peace 

those whose minds are steadfast, 

because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Who knows what 2014 will hold? With God’s help, remaining steadfast in my faith through it all is the goal!

Quote

So let’s go out…

So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.

Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?

Hebrews 13:13-17

I needed to read this today. That is all.

Aliens

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I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, but I just thought I’d share something briefly that God brought to mind. I was talking to my husband about my desire for my kids to go through their entire school experience with the same group of kids (Lord willing, of course). I want them to know what it means to belong, to have history with a group of people who may be diverse in their beliefs and backgrounds. Things that happened this year seemed to diminish my hopes for my children to experience that sense of belonging that I yearned for them to have. Of course, they will always belong to our family and hopefully they all will spend eternity with their heavenly Father, but the future in their school didn’t seem quite as bright as I had initially envisioned. As I sat reflecting on my feelings and wondering why I was so disappointed, the phrase “aliens in a foreign land” came to mind. I read 1 Peter 1 and 2 which was a great reminder of our purpose here on earth. We will long for that feeling of inclusion and belonging from the residents here, but on earth we will never truly find it. As believers, we are simply aliens, foreigners, whose home is in heaven.

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
-1 Peter 2:11-12

While I’m copying scripture, this next passage is something I should probably read daily, or even better, hourly! Suffering in silence? It feels like an impossible request. I know I’ve failed miserably at this, but here’s to a fresh start!

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
He never did one thing wrong,
Not once said anything amiss.
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.
-1 Peter 2:21-25

Good Times

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We took a short camping trip with friends last week. Did I mention we camped in a tent? All seven of us. In a tent. We just sold our pop up camper and plan to get a bigger one someday. In the meantime, we borrowed my parents’ tent (which was significantly bigger than ours) and headed over to Deer Creek State Park. We loved the park. Our campsite was perfect (we are kind of picky and like a secluded site surrounded by trees). We spent a lot of time out on the lake where our three oldest kids actually waterskied for the first time! It was an adventure to say the least, but that’s what I crave. Even though I was a grouch part of the time (no big surprise), we had a good time as a family and enjoyed spending time with friends who provided some great entertainment while we were there (boat, jet ski, and awesome campfires)!

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