Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In the Quiet

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Proverbs 10:19)

...let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak... (James 1:19)

Before my quest for a quiet life, I spent a great deal of time worrying about blogging, particularly what and how often I would write. I followed the social media pundits who claimed that if I wanted to have a successful blog, I needed to post frequently, leave comments on a huge number of blogs, and always respond to comments on my own.  The dream of having a must-read blog and a book deal has vanished. These days I grapple with writing one post per week; it's a battle I lose more often than not. And I'm okay with that.

There will always be a part of me that longs to write, to see the words of my soul in print. Yet it seems to me that posting when I have nothing of import to write is at cross purposes with living a quiet life. I need to guard my tongue and my keyboard against self-indulgence and self-worship. I need to shut my "social-media-motor-mouth" (HT: Jared Wilson, from his must-read article about self- worship in today's church), as well as my human mouth.

And so these days find me being more introspective than usual.

...working on restraining my lips and fingertips.

...adjusting to this season of taking in, rather than letting out.

...challenging myself to be quick to hear  - the Word through a Bible reading plan, a commentary, and the gospel preached each Sunday - and slow to speak or type.

...learning lessons by reading intentionally (and letting some books go unfinished).

...seeking to apply these lessons to my heart, to model them in service to those I love.

In short, I am striving to live well and to live quietly.



..aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.~1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Sacrifices of Biblical Womanhood

...if you - you married women - embrace the truth that your womanhood, true womanhood is uniquely and indispensably created by God to display the glory of His Son in the way you relate to your husband, you will have a calling of infinite significance. 
- John Piper (source)


As I hoped it would, reading intentionally gives me a fresh perspective; in January I read with eyes bent toward my role in our home and helping my husband. Once I began looking, I couldn't stop seeing.  My Living Intentionally notebook can't confine the lessons, they're pouring out into my thoughts and - oh, how I pray! - my actions.

One lesson that has struck me with force came through reading A Severe Mercy. It's an exquisitely written account of the love and marriage of the author, Sheldon Vanauken, and his wife, Davy, and her untimely death. In the pages of their story, the Holy Spirit pricked my heart. "A year before her death, Davy offered-up her life for me, for the fulfilment of my soul." (p. 217, spelling as written)

In an illustration of John 15:13, this young wife was willing to give her life in exchange for her husband's soul.  I've often thought that it's the man's job to lay down his life for the woman. After all, men are generally stronger and Peter calls women the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7). Davy offered her life so that her husband might grow closer to God. Should I be any less willing to do the same? As Piper writes, my relationship with my husband should display the glory of Christ, who laid down His life that I might live. There are hundreds of ways I can do the same for my husband each day. I lay down my life when I lay down

      my agenda

     my selfishness

     my pride

     my laziness

     my frustrations

     and so much more!

The other part of Davy's story that encouraged me was the way she helped her husband watch her die. She set aside her pain and suffering to walk with him through her death. She supported, protected, and helped him, as only a helpmeet can. She continued to lay down her life for him, until she drew her last breath.

What a beautiful picture of Biblical womanhood.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Small-Minded

Lately I've been considering the way our culture has made us think that our value comes from our popularity - having trendy blogs, mega churches, or big ministries. Often, it can feel like high school on steroids; the competition to be popular distracts us from contentment within the boundary lines God has placed around us. I have suffered that mind-set far too long. By the grace of God,  I'm slowly learning to appreciate the concept of small, but valuable.

I started this blog 10 months ago, a few weeks after my family started attending our current church. I had already come to a point in my life where I wanted a quiet, simple, small life. I didn't realize that the Lord would emphasize that by directing us to a quiet, simple and small church, but He did. And He has used it to teach me plenty.

About my blog...

I will never have more than a handful of readers. I don't follow the latest social media trends and I certainly haven't spent any time crafting a brand for my blog. While I used to be tempted by thoughts of having a huge readership with lots of comments (that I would never keep up with anyway), I've seen that having a few kindred spirits here is a much larger blessing. My blog has a specific message, which, now that I think of it, may be my "brand".  It's one that will not appeal to many in our uber-busy culture (Daniel Montgomery has written a wonderful post about that here), but I will not change my message in order to gain popularity. Instead I will post when I have something to say and I will continue to pray that anyone who wanders here will find encouragement to live a quiet life.

About my friendships (online and off)...

I don't need to know what hundreds of friends and acquaintances are doing, thinking, or feeling. It's too much information for my brain to hold. It's both distracting and overwhelming. A few friends who love me well and allow me to love on them is a blessing beyond measure. Although I'm an introvert, I've challenged myself to invest more in friendships and to truly serve the people God has put in my life. This includes online friends.

About church...

The church we left behind was three times the size of our current church. We visited churches with two and three worship services. As much as I wondered how we would adjust if we'd chosen one of the mega churches we attended, I was also concerned about making a small congregation our family. Now I cannot imagine anything else. Our small church gives me a model of Acts 2:42-47 and Ephesians 4:1-16 in action. Our small church is a family.

About ministry...

My pastor is a wise, intelligent, and faithful servant. The world would most likely consider him mediocre because he doesn't want to grow our church past 250 members; they'd say he has no "vision". In truth, he wants to be involved in the lives of his flock. He would rather plant another church than grow ours to the point that he cannot personally minister to everyone. His example has been an exhortation to me, to be faithful in a few things rather than stretching myself too thin, and to recognize the boundaries that God has placed around me as a protection rather than a hindrance.