Lumps of clay

lumps of clayThe past few weeks in Pottery Class, we have been learning to use the wheel. Let me just say, it looks a whole lot easier than it actually is.

The first step is centering, which is the art of learning how much pressure to apply with the right hand, while holding it steady with the left. Too much pressure, will send the clay flying off the wheel, and not enough pressure will keep it from centering.

After almost two weeks of trying, with clay sometimes flying, and other times becoming a very uncentered mess, I finally achieved this aspect.

The second step is to pull the clay upward, and then flatten it out, while using your thumbs to apply pressure in order to create a bowl.

I am far from victory on this step. It seems my bowls are either too thick, or they collapse when I’m trying to get them thinned out.

It has been quite the frustrating time for me, as I have watched the other students sail through this much quicker than I have .

As I worked with the clay today, I would be so close to having it , when suddenly it would cave inward, and I would be forced to begin again.

And I could not help, but think of the fact that I am the clay and the Lord, He is the potter. I was reminded of all the shaping He must do in our lives to get us molded into His image. Many times, He must feel similar frustration that I felt today. When He sees us doing so well, moving in the right direction, growing in our walk with Him, then suddenly, falling back into sin.

For once again, the Lord must come along and center us and our eyes back upon Him. He does this by applying some pressure to our lives, causing us to look to Him. Then, once our eyes are back on Him, He can begin shaping us once more into the image of Christ.

Thankfully, the Lord is merciful, and long suffering. He doesn’t give up on us, He doesn’t throw in the towel (like I wanted to do today), He doesn’t quit on us. No, He is faithful to continue day by day to shape us and change us. Faithful to mold us into the image of His Son.

I am so thankful for the verse that says, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6).”

Thankful that the work He began in me, He will complete. I have a long way to go. There is much shaping, and molding God must continue to do in my life before I will reach this point. Yet, He doesn’t give up on me. He keeps working, keeps allowing the pressures of life to draw me to Him, disciplining me when I fall away, and lovingly bringing me back so that my eyes are centered upon Him.

How is the Lord shaping you today?

 

 

 

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To the one who is waiting on God…

A good reminder for those waiting upon the Lord…

mandylynncarpenter

thG2HN27RCI know it is hard, I understand.

I’ve been where you are, and it is a tough place to be.

For two years, our family went through a time of waiting. A time wondering what God was doing and why at times He just seemed silent.

Two years of seeking to know what He wanted, two years of praying, fasting and crying out to Him.

Then, He answered, and led us to the other side of the world to serve Him.

In those two years, we learned so much about trusting Him. And in those two years, He worked to prepare us for the life we are now seeking to live.

In my quiet time this week, as I read the story of Abraham and Sarah, I was reminded of some truths about waiting.

Waiting on God often leads to….

  1. Doubt, and questioning if God knows or cares.

Abram and…

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Choosing Joy

muddy roadsIt was raining again, which meant the roads were going to be covered in mud as my daughter and I made our way to the bus. Just a few days ago, we had slipped and slided down the road, and now again, we’d be forced to do so.

As we walked, we huddled under our umbrellas, and talked. My daughter was bemoaning the mud, the rain, and the fact that once again on her swimming day, it was raining.

I listened and understood her frustration.

Then I reminded her that we have a choice to make daily. We can choose to grumble and complain about all the negative things, or we can choose to give thanks for the good.

Oh, it is so much easier to complain, than to be thankful. Yet, giving thanks can change the mood and attitude of our entire day.

Before long, we were giving thanks that it was only a misty rain falling, we were giving thanks that the route we took today was less muddy than the route taken before. We gave thanks that the bus wasn’t crowded, and that we got to school on time.

As I made my way back to the main road, to catch another bus back home. I watched as little girls in their school uniforms were trying to brush off the mud that had splattered on their shoes and pants, and smiled. Reminded that the rain and mud didn’t just affect me, it affected everyone the same.

Riding back on the bus, I looked out the window and saw the clouds hovering over the mountain tops, and smiled at their beauty.

An hour after I’d left, I returned back home to begin my day of homeschooling my other two. Grabbing a quick cup of coffee, I sat down to begin. Reminding myself, and the boys, that it is always best to give thanks.

Sometimes we don’t feel thankful, sometimes it is difficult to choose joy. Yet, when we do, we offer up a sacrifice of praise unto the Lord, and allow Him to change our hearts to be more like His.

No matter what you’re going through today, I encourage you to take a step back from your situation, and begin to give thanks for the good. For I truly believe, that when you do, you will suddenly be reminded of how blessed you are.

May we offer up sacrifices of praise, as we decide daily to choose joy!

 

Joy comes in the morning!!!

Joy does come.. just wait!

Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

joy in the morningWhy is it that sickness seems to strike during the night. I can’t tell you the number of times, I have gone to bed feeling fine, only to be awakened in the night sick. Last night was such a night. Yet, the amazing thing is, more often than not, by morning I’m feeling fine. The same proved true today, last night, I jokingly told my son, just kill me 🙂 because I felt so poorly. Then I awaken this morning feeling just fine.

I’ve noticed this same trend with the weather here in Nepal. The day can be a beautiful sunny day, and then suddenly it will rain all night. Yet, the next morning you awaken to sunshine.

As I thought on these things, I was reminded of the Scripture that tells us For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.Weeping may…

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Raising World Changers….

downloadRecently I was picked along with a group of others to help Kristen Welch launch her newest book, “Raising World Changers in a Changing World.”

I was super excited to read this new book, and the insights I knew would be there. See, Kristen and her husband began a non-profit organization back in 2010 called Mercy House Global (http://mercyhouseglobal.org/about-us/), which exists to engage, empower and disciple women around the globe in Jesus’ name. Engage those with resources to say yes to the plight of women in poverty. Empower women and teenage mothers around the world through partnerships and sustainable fair trade product development. Disciple women to be lifelong followers of Jesus Christ. 

Knowing that she and her family were indeed seeking to make a difference in this world, and after having read all of her other books, Rhinestone Jesus, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, and Don’t Make me Come up There, I knew this new book would be inspirational as well.

This past week, I began reading the book, you can pre-order yours here http://bit.ly/raisingworldchangers  now. Each chapter gives some question/answer, which she asked, and her children answered, and which she encourages us to ask our children.

So I finished chapter one, and began the question/answer time with my own. With the first question being, “What does it mean to be a world changer?” I gave mine the day to think it through, and then excitedly gathered their response.

My oldest said, “A World changer is someone who allows God to work through them, and goes out of their way to help others.” My middle son said, “A world changer is someone who helps others, and who tells others about Jesus.” And my youngest replied, “To be a world changer is to be a light that points others who are in the dark to Jesus. It means to be different than others.”

And I suppose I couldn’t have answered it better than that. You see, being a world changer does not mean you have to be someone special, you have to do something huge, you don’t have to start a non-profit, or move overseas.

To be a world changer begins right where you are, it begins when you change the lives of those you come in contact daily, rather than allowing this dark world to change you. As my daughter said, it is being a light in the darkness, and being different than this world.

I am excited to continue reading this book, and for the impact I know it will make.

We live in a dark world, a world whose news is full of tragedy, heartbreak, and strife. A world so far from the Lord and His teachings it is scary. Yet, we do not have to allow this world to change us into fearful, angry people. We don’t have to allow this world to change our kids or draw our kids away from the Lord. We can rather seek to change this world, by being His hands and feet. By being that light on top of the hill that shines ever so bright, that points the lost to Him.

See, we can’t change the world, only Jesus can.

Yet, He allows us to be His hands and His feet, He allows us to be apart of what He is doing.

And it begins with our own. We can’t expect to change the world unless we are first and foremost changing the lives of those most precious to us, our families.

May we join together and seek to raise up the next generation of people who will say “yes Lord, here am I send me, use me, and use my life for your glory!”

Instructing our Daughters in the Way of the KING.

beauty“Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline you ear; Forget your people and your father’s house; then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.” Psalm 45:11

This verse is full of imperatives, “Listen, give attention, incline your ear, forget..” And as I read this verse, I couldn’t help but think of my daughter, and likewise all young girls.

We live in a world that says, impress your people, that says listen, give attention to what others think, what others say.

And if our daughters listen to the messages that bombard the media, they will hear messages which contradict God’s Word.

They will hear messages that say, “dress this way to get attention, use people to get what you want, use your body to manipulate.” They will hear messages that tell them they have to be a certain size, or a certain weight to be accepted. They must wear certain fashions to be popular.

I know, because I’ve been there. I heard these messages years ago, and fell for their traps. Something I want my daughter now to avoid.

Which is why I love these verses. This passage was written most likely describing the marriage of Solomon to Pharaoh’s daughter. And yet, the true King is the Lord, and as His children, we are His bride.

Thus the message is true for us as well.

God speaks to you ,to me, to our daughters, and He says,

“Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear!” He wants us to hear and know this message. Three times He says listen….

Next, He tells us to forget our people and our father’s house. 

Basically He says, it matters not what your friends, the world, or even your family has to say. Forget it, forget the message they are pushing upon you. What they have to say is not what is important, it’s what I say, what I think of you that matters.

“Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.”

When we care not for the opinion of others, when we care more for what our Lord has to say, we will realize it is He who desires us. We will recognize that we are beautiful in His sight, not because of what we look like on the outside, but for who we are on the inside.  We will understand that the Lord looks not at the outward appearance, He looks at the heart.

And when we grasp His great love for us, we will realize He is Lord, and we will worship Him.

The Lord He is God, it is His opinion that matters, not what the media has to say, not what our friends or even family has to say.

And our daughters need to hear this message.

They need to realize their beauty comes from within not from without. They must grasp that the opinion of man matters not, rather it is what God says that matters.

Girls have a deep desire to be loved, this is the way God made us.

And they will seek to find that love in all the wrong places, if they don’t realize this love can only be found in the Lord.

Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

We must teach our daughters that they should dress themselves not in the seductive dress of the world, rather they should dress themselves with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience.

These are the qualities which make them beautiful. This is what matters, not the size of their jeans.

Peter says it this way, Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (I Peter 3:3-4).”

Obviously taking care of ourselves, looking our best is important, but as Peter says, this is not the end all. For he says, it is what is inside, the gentle and quiet spirit that make us beautiful to others and to the Lord.

It is up to us moms to teach our daughters these things, for if we fail to do so, they will only hear the messages of the world, and they will succumb to their traps.

Let us be faithful to point our daughters to the King who is enthralled with their beauty. And teach them that what truly makes them beautiful daughters of the King is not what is on the outside, but rather what comes from within.

 

Beginning and Finishing Well

I love the Olympics. This past weekend as my husband, and I sat watching the qualification games for speed skating. I was struck by something as I watched the skaters burst out from the starting line.

It isn’t enough to start well, you have to finish well.

I watch race after race, as the one who started out quick, was passed toward the end by one who seem to be at the end of the pack. This one had begun well, but failed to end well.

Then there were those amazing few who not only began well, but finished well also. They were the first out, they maintained their spot and their speed, and finished the winner.

As I contemplated this, I was reminded of what Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).” He fought hard, he finished the race, and kept the faith. He never quit.

You may ask as I did, how did he do this? This answer is also found in the Bible. Hebrews 12:1-3 says,Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

The way Paul finished his race was by getting rid of things that weighed him down, getting rid of sins that entangled him, causing him to fall. Then he ran with perseverance, meaning he didn’t just run, he ran to win. He continued to run, even when he wanted to quit, even when he felt like giving up. He ran with his eyes fixed on Jesus, fixed on the finish line, considering all Jesus had endured, so that he might not give up.

The speed skaters much the same, must not only begin well, but persevere through their race despite the pain, despite how weary they get. They fix their eyes on the finish line, and the prize set before them.

Far too often these days I hear of those in the ministry who have fallen to sin. Pastors who fall into adultery and pornography. Ministers whose marriages and families are falling apart. It is more common than not these days. And I never fail to be shocked, never fail to wonder, how they could let this happen.

But as I watched the speed skaters, and considered Paul’s words, I realized how simple it truly is. How easy it is to start well, but not to finish well. How easy it is to lack perseverance in the Christian walk. How quickly people can become weary and lose heart. If in fact they have allowed themselves to be entangled by the things of this world. If they have allowed themselves to excuse sin and compromise on the small things. If they have taken their eyes off of the one they served, and placed them upon themselves.

The race set before us takes endurance, it takes hard work and stamina. This Christian walk takes eyes fixed upon Jesus. It requires one unwilling to compromise, unwilling to get caught up in the things of this world.

It is tough, no doubt. For I’m sure there are days we all want to quit, days we all would like to give up. Yet, we must keep our eyes fixed on the prize. We must set our hearts and minds on the things of God. Only then, can we endure to the end, and finish the race.

What has God called you to? Whatever it is, finish well. Run the race He has for you… keep your eyes fixed on Him.

Friend, it is not enough to start well, the true winner, both starts and finishes well.