Tuesday, November 22, 2011


My errand list was lengthy this morning as my eldest and I set out to see how much we could accomplish.  It was the kind of day that begs to be filled with old movies, apple cider, and cozy blankets.  The rain has been coming down so hard the last couple days, the pup of the house takes a look outside and opts out of his daily walk.  And he's a Lab.  A water dog.

Anyway, we had things we needed to get done before Thursday's holiday, so off we went.  We hadn't gotten far when we came upon a woman clad in rain gear poking something in the standing water that poured over the road.  At first glance, both DD and I assumed her cane was stuck in the puddle.  I pulled over and hopped out, thankful for my Columbia jacket.  (There is a reason Columbia is an Oregon company.)  As I approached the woman and offered my assistance, I realized she was trying to clear the storm drain.  The fallen leaves had successfully blocked off nearly all water flow to the drain, causing the small lake over the road.  As we stood in the rain talking, I was shocked by how many people drove by with little care for us there on the edge of the puddle.  Car after car didn't so much as slow down or widen their berth around us to avoid splashing us.  As car spray splattered me, I commented on their actions.  "Oh they think it's funny," she explained.  She went on to tell me that every year the drain gets plugged and every year, she's out there with her shovel to clear it.  She's concerned that if she doesn't, drivers will hydroplane and get into accidents.  Ironically, these drivers who she is concerned about and willingly getting drenched to help are the same ones who carelessly pass by with little thought for the wave of water their cars throw at her.  The kicker of the conversation was when she told me in the 10 years she's lived at that house, I'm the first person to stop to offer to help.

I returned to the car dismayed.  How could ten years go by with no one stopping to help this woman?  Have we really become so self-centered as a culture?  Granted, I know I can be as self-focused and oblivious as the best of 'em.  And I know that in many situations, women especially need to be cautions from a safety standpoint.  But there was nothing threatening about this situation.  Nothing that would cause a person to pause and wonder if it was unwise to offer assistance.  Nope, from my standpoint, all evidence pointed to dozens of self-absorbed, rushing people.

The situation afforded an awesome opportunity for conversation with my daughter.  I have harped and nagged at the kids to think about how their actions affect others.  To slow down long enough to consider how someone else is feeling.  To develop empathy.  As I related the woman's and my conversation to my daughter, she was able to see why I've been hounding them.  She gained a firsthand knowledge of the value of service and the cost of self-centeredness.  And I was thrilled to see her believe that God had wanted her to come with me to be a part of that experience.  She even excitedly planned to buy a card, thanking the woman for being considerate!

Ironically, as we went on our way, I found myself fighting to slow down and practice what I'd been preaching.  Stores were crowded, traffic was obnoxious, people were feeling rushed, and that panicked holiday spirit permeated the air.  Isn't it sad that the one time of year folks should be more joyful and charitable and gracious is actually the scariest time of the year to leave the house?  My desire is that this little moment in a busy day will serve as a valuable kick-off to my holiday season.  That rather than becoming caught up in the rush and panic, I will slow down, smile, extend grace.  As my daughter and I agreed, what better way is there to share Jesus, than to have your actions stand out from others'.  Sometimes it's hard to know how to do that.  I daresay a smile and common courtesy may be a good place to start.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blue Skies, Gray Skies, and Learning to Trust

I think I live in the wrong place.  While it seems laughably obvious, I had some sort of epiphany this summer.  Allow me to backtrack a bit.  We had an odd summer.  In reality, we had one week, maybe two, of true summer, (true summer consisting of 85+ degree days that begin with the bright sun bursting through the blinds in the morning, and end with deliciously warm nights).  The rest of the summer months more closely resembled really nice spring days --- cool cloudy mornings, sun emerging late afternoon with just enough time left in the day to push the mercury to 74.  Don't get me wrong, I like 74, but 85 energizes my soul and makes me giddy.  Ninety degrees is even better.

My epiphany arrived the first part of August along with the stores' fall/winter lines.  As if on cue, friends and acquaintances began mentioning the fall chill in the air.  Fall chill?  How could we have a fall chill when we never had a summer sweat?  (I struggle to maintain my gracious Christian attitude when people speak excitedly of fall chills.)  It was one weekend when I had an unusual amount of people mention their anticipation of the winter rain that I realized I was not designed to live in the Pacific Northwest.  That rather than all these people being really strange to love rain, maybe I was the strange one for being here.  I realized God created this section of the world for people who actually like gray and wet.  If He put an ounce of such appreciation within me, I have yet to find it.  I appreciate the greenery the rain affords.  I tell myself I wouldn't have the green without the rain, and then I see places like Hawaii that feature both sun and green and figure the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

For those who have never experienced anything resembling Seasonal Affective Disorder, all my whining may seem like a bunch of hooey.  For those of us who feel like Eeyore when the sky turns gray and quickly resemble Tigger if the sun peaks through, the oppressiveness of nine months of gray skies is overwhelming to say the least.

The epiphany, coupled with my current study of 2 Corinthians, inspired my quest to make peace with my current setting.  Granted, we could pack up the family and move.  That is an option.  And if God says to move someplace tropical, I won't argue.  (Although if I step back and honestly assess the situation, I have to admit it would be incredibly hard for me to leave the support system and friendships I have established here.)  But, I'm increasingly aware that I need to be content where God has placed me.  And that means not whining about gray skies and rain.  That maybe (gasp, shudder, shake my head in denial), just maybe, I can be at peace with gray.  I know God could even get me to the point that I like the wet stuff, but that seems almost like I'd be betraying myself, so my goal at this point is peace. :-)

As I've read about Paul's life - his travels, heartaches, trials, persecutions - his faith and trust in God's sovereign plan for his life has convicted me.  He embraces weakness and rejoices in affliction for it affords him the opportunity to boast in God's strength.  He believes God's strength is perfected in weakness, and he truly sees difficulties as opportunities to watch God work.  I want to be like that.  When I wake up on dark, gray, gloomy mornings and would prefer to return to dreamland under my cozy covers, I instead want to bounce out of bed with thankfulness on my lips and excited anticipation to see God's handiwork in my day.  I want to bloom where God has planted me, focusing on His abundant goodness rather than the color of the sky.  I want to trust that He has put me here for a reason, even if it is "just" for me to become more dependent on Him.

Last night my kids and I watched Disney's Johnny Appleseed.  Do you remember the song?  I sang it in elementary school and Girl Scouts.  It's very simple, but sometimes wisdom resides in the simple.

Oh the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord,
For giving me the things I need,
The SUN and the RAIN and the appleseed.
The Lord is good to me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Blog

Check out my new blog --- http://todayiaspire.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lessons from a Three-Year Old

I had a revealing conversation with my youngest the other day. Monday night, a summer cold caught up with her, and she wasn't feeling too chipper. I had just read a devotion about responding to illness in children in which the author encouraged parents to pray continuously when their children are sick. With that in mind, every time I delivered juice or medicine or refilled a cheerio bowl, I said a quick prayer over my sick one. At one point on Tuesday, she asked why sometimes God makes us better in one minute and other times He takes lots of days. I did my best to explain sovereignty in toddler-terms and went on with my day, not giving the conversation much more thought. It's interesting to me what God uses to get His point across. 

Wednesday morning, my sweet pea came bouncing into my bathroom. "Mom, I'm feeling better! God decided to heal me. He decided it was a good idea to do it in one day!" The faith revealed in her announcement convicted me. It was evident that whether God chose to heal her after one day or seven, she still believed it was Him doing the healing. I realized that if God doesn't act within the time constraints I've given Him, I figure He's declined my request, that He's washed His hands of the situation and let "nature" take it's course. When I see the previous statement in black and white, I see how absurd and contrary to God's Word it is, and yet, somehow, deep in my subconscious, that's what I was thinking. I think this all relates to what Jesus was referring to when he spoke of child-like faith. My children believe God's Word, accept His love and goodness, and trust Him to answer their prayers without the questions, cynicism, and doubt that can too often jade us grown-ups. Oh to approach my relationship with God with the faith of a child.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

The day after congress approved the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, predicting that July 4th would be a day of celebration for years to come as "the great anniversary festival." He wrote, "It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty."

It is impossible to read America's history without seeing the hand of Providence guiding, protecting, providing, and laying the foundation for this great nation. As you enjoy the festivities of our nation's birthday, may you, like John Adams, take a moment to reflect, thanking God for our freedom, for His blessing upon us, and praying that we would honor and obey Him as a nation.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Value of the Delaration

"These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' .... They erected a beacon to guide their children, and their children's children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. .... [T]hey established these great self-evident truths that .... their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their father began, so that truth and justice and mercy and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land .... Now my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrine conflicting with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence ... let me entreat you to come back .... [C]ome back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence."
~Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Memorial Day

I realize this is quite late. Would love to have posted something on Memorial Day itself, but we've been knee deep in germs and all the other "fun" stuff of life.

As I reflect on Memorial Day, I again am thankful for all the brave men and women who have sacrificed their own lives for my freedom. Obviously, my gratitude goes first to all those in my family from the great great greats who fought in the Civil War to my great grandfather in WWI, my grandfathers (all 3 of them!) in WWII, my father-in-law in Vietnam. I am honored and proud to be related to each of them.

Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Embracing Pain

While in the doldrums a few months back, crying and praying and feeling miserable, and then feeling miserable because I was miserable!, God ever so gently told me that I'm too afraid of pain. More specifically, I felt like He asked me to embrace it. Even typing the phrase, I'm struck again by how odd it sounds. Embrace pain? Isn't it natural to shy away from what hurts, whether it's a simple headache or something more serious like a strained relationship? Yet as backwards as it sounded, as soon as I "heard" Him say it, it made sense. He showed me how I had become so pain-averse, I wasn't allowing pain to accomplish its purposes. Whether I was reaching for the Tylenol at the slightest inkling of a headache, obsessing about germs in and on my kids, or shying away from potentially uncomfortable conversations, He made it clear that I needed to be willing to feel, even if it meant hurting.

As I pondered His message and tried to figure out all it entailed, I heard an interview with Kay Arthur in which she said, "Don't run from the pain. Feel it. Allow it to accomplish the purpose God has, in His sovereignty, allowed it for. Then seek to heal so that you are equipped to minister to others." Her comment confirmed what I'd thought I heard Him whisper.

Weeks later, I heard Dennis Rainey say, "Too many Christians think Christianity occurs on a romantic balcony, not a spiritual battlefield." He's right. I think it is so easy in our culture of abundance and ease to forget that this world is not our home. To overlook the fact that Jesus told us to expect trials. To see the example of our Saviour, enduring the horror of the cross, for the glory on the other side.

I would never have chosen those dark, desperate months, and I dread the possibility of going through it again. However, there is something deep within me at peace with the prospect of facing a similar circumstance in the future, only for one reason: the closeness I felt to my Saviour during that time was indescribably sweet. He proved Himself faithful, His promises trustworthy, His love deep, His Sovereignty real. I see the miraculous things God has done since and would not go back for anything. I stand in awe of what He has brought out of such a dark time in my life.

The other day I heard a song by Laura Story that immediately became a new favorite. It beautifully described some of these vague ideas I'd been trying to put into concrete thoughts for months. May it be thought provoking and encouraging for you as well.

by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Passion Week

Several years ago, frustrated by the bunny and egg emphasis of Easter, I began exploring ways to make Passion Week fun and meaningful for our family. Since then, the week has became one of my favorite times of the year.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
Stained glass window from Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Downers Grove, Illinois

I love Palm Sunday. Watching the kids enter the sanctuary waving their palm branches and singing "Hosanna" always makes me cry. There is something profoundly moving seeing kids worship. During his sermon, our pastor asked, "what will your response be when God presents His King?" Just like when someone knocks on your door, you can choose to ignore them or open the door. But Jesus requires a response.

The Last Supper

Good Friday

This morning as I was reading Matthew's account of Jesus' betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, a verse I'm sure I've read dozens of times stood out to me. Judas has just led a group of armed men to Jesus and identified him with a kiss (vs. 49-50), and Jesus responds, "Friend, do what you came for." Friend!!!!

One of my greatest fears, to the point that it is often the subject of a recurring dream, is that those whom I trust the most and hold the most dear betray me. Thankfully, I have never been betrayed outside of my nightmares, and if the feelings in my dreams are anywhere close to reality, I never want to experience it. I usually wake up suddenly, adrenalin pumping, knot in the pit of my stomach, feeling undone and hopeless. So when I read Jesus address to Judas at the moment of betrayal, it stopped me short.

I suppose some could say in response that Jesus knew Judas would betray Him. That He wasn't surprised. That He because he was fully God, He still loved him. While those all may be true, He also was still fully human, and when a human is betrayed by a friend it hurts.

I did a little digging to see the meaning behind the word "friend" in this context. The definition is "a comrade, mate, partner; in kindly address; friend (my good friend)." Doesn't that one word embody what Jesus says to us? We go our own way, do our own thing, fail to stand up for Him when we should, and after all that and much more, He still calls us Friend. When we humbly come to Him, seeking forgiveness, He does not turn away in anger or hurt or spite. He receives with open arms, welcoming His good friend.

On this Good Friday, as I reflect on the work Jesus did on the cross, I am once again amazed that He calls me friend. That He willingly bore the pain and guilt of all my sin, just to be able to call me "friend" for eternity. I am without words.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tennis Shoes and Velvet

The other day as my kids romped at the playground, I noticed a little girl having a grand time. I couldn't help but smile to myself when I saw her outfit. She proudly wore a beautiful burgundy velvet dress that complimented her straight, dark hair. Admittedly, several years ago I would have wondered why a mother would allow her daughter to play at the park in dress clothes. Two daughters later, I have accepted (notice I did not say understand!) that velvet and monkey bars go together in the mind of many little girls. This little girl completed her ensemble with what looked like some very comfortable (and well-worn) tennis shoes.

"What a picture," I thought. What a perfect visual of what I often feel battles within myself -- the war between feminine princess and strong woman. I'm not sure why or how, in my mind, the two became mutually exclusive, that I have to choose between between them. That embracing femininity means accepting weakness, brushing up on swooning, and abandoning activities I enjoy. Afterall how many princesses do you see swinging a hammer or appreciating classic cars? Can tool belts and china tea cups really live harmoniously side by side?

Studying Esther has revealed that she was a very strong woman but that did not detract from her femininity. If anything, the two complimented each other. Maybe that is why I've always loved her story. She's been one of my heros since I was a kid.

After watching the tyke at the park, I came home and reread Proverbs 31, trying to put words to the visual her outfit provided. Usually reading about the Proverbs superwoman brings out the Martha Stewart in me and I go overboard striving to do it all. But this time, I was able to overlook all of her accomplishments and focus on verse 25a. "She is clothed in strength and dignity..." That's it! It answers the dilemma I've struggled with for ages. It's strength and femininity rolled into one. It excuses any juxtaposition between pounding nails and high tea. It embraces every thread of variety that God wove together to make woman in His image. It's tennis shoes and velvet.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Security and Foundations

As I've watched the news of late, from local concerns to world disasters, I've felt very unsettled and insecure. It's interesting how God can use such things to point out where we tend to look for security. I don't think it's a coincidence that the following hymn comes to mind when I start to fret. Thought I'd post it, since it has been encouraging to me ...

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thoughts and Musings

I seem to be in a rough spot mentally and emotionally right now. Don't know what to call it, but it feels like a deep dark pit that an invisible hand pushes me into unexpectedly. Or like a dark cloud that is so oppressive I can literally feel the weight of it, giving "all you who are weary and heavy laden" a whole new meaning. While I've spent more time crying in the past month than I ever remember crying in the past, and while my mind is so muddled I can't make sense of anything (especially grocery shopping ... why did I buy a half gallon of buttermilk??!), and while none of this is fun and I desperately want to feel like my happy self again, God keeps telling me over and over through one source after another that He does not waste trials and pain. That He is sovereign. That He has a purpose for my good in this. Do I see the good? Honestly, not yet. I feel like a caterpillar wrapped so tightly in a cocoon, my vision is blurred by brown silk. I can't see a new me forming. I can't see God gently shaping my wings, infusing them with beautiful colors, leaving His fingerprints as He works. But I have to trust that the discomfort has an ultimate purpose. To think that suffering is wasted leaves one utterly hopeless.

I've been reading MaryBeth Chapman's book Choosing to SEE. She has become one of my heros, and I've decided that when I get to Heaven, I'm going to host a tea party for all these godly women whom I "know" from afar so we can become kindred spirits over vanilla chai (because there will be vanilla chai in Heaven! :-) While I don't even pretend to identify with the road her family has walked, I could relate to so much of what she wrote. Thought I would share some passages from her book that really spoke to me as well as some other quotes that have ministered to this muddled mind of late.

May this be your experience; may you feel that the Hand which inflicts the wound supplies the balm, and that He who has emptied your heart has filled the void with Himself.
~James Hudson Taylor

In the winter of our grieving and the frozen mourning of my plans that will never be and my dreams that have died - the reality is this: God's warm breath is on the move. New life is budding ... and often where I expected it the least, like right inside me.
~MaryBeth Chapman "Choosing to SEE"

I think I am realizing something through all the craziness. Yes, God wants my quiet, and yes, God wants me to rest and hear Him and learn from Him. But ... I realized that if I always think that I am going to finally get that place where I am constantly trying to get -- like in a quiet, picked-up house -- then I'm wrong.
I need to choose to SEE Christ in every birthday party I drive to, every piano lesson that gets taught, every ballet tutu that gets twirled. God is with me. He isn't waiting until I die for me to be with Him. He isn't waiting until BB season is over or until I get completely healthy. He SEES me now. He is with me now. I know this is a simple realization, but it was big good news to me.
~MaryBeth Chapman "Choosing to SEE"

Often when we thrill to the realization of a call from God, we picture going from our faces to our feet as He increasingly elevates our position. To accomplish our call, we must be humbled far more than exalted, though God certainly lifts up His faithful servant in due time.
~Beth Moore "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman"

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Can Identify

"We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." C. S. Lewis

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Designed to Dance

My youngest has an affinity for "sad music." From what I can gather, her definition of "sad music" is any song with a slow rhythm. So this week #2 offered to share a cd filled with songs sure to please #3. As the melody filled the living room, I glanced over to find my sweet one, arms spread and chin raised, twirling and swaying to the music. Her expression was pure delight as she uninhibitedly danced with her invisible partner. Watching the vignette made me think.

Several years ago I read Captivating by Stasi Eldridge. Thought-provoking little book. One of her points has remained with me. She explained that God created women with a need to be wooed and romanced. Ok, no surprise there. But here's the kicker ... He is the romancer. The Knight in shining armor desiring to sweep us off our feet. The Prince Charming asking for this dance. The Lover in the Song of Solomon calling His Beloved to come away with Him. The Bridegroom delighting in His bride.

See, I think that God designed us to dance through life on His arm, gazing into His eyes while the things around us dim because we're so focused on Him. To have that "crazy in love" daze about us because we're so taken with Him. To be so in tune to His lead, that we respond to the slightest touch on our back. Yes, God designed us to dance, but we'll only truly be satisfied when He is our partner. Anyone else will step on our toes!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Great Quote

Can't remember where I first read this, but I ran across it today again and thought I'd post it. It's challenging, to say the least, but encouraging as well.

"There is nothing -- no circumstance, no trouble, no testing -- that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God, for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is. That is the rest of victory!" ~Alan Redpath, "Victorious Christian Living"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Crucified Life

For years it seems I've been very aware of God asking me to deny myself. Except it doesn't feel as simple as self-denial. That sounds somewhat easy, like letting someone have the last cookie. No, it's much more excruciating than that. Maybe that's why Scripture refers to it as being crucified with Christ.

A couple years ago I thought I was going to drown in the innumerable opportunities to get beyond myself. Granted, mothering young children in itself is a wonderful tool to point out just how selfish you are. And mothering three provides three giant flashlights shining on things you thought you had well hidden! It felt like God and I would just finish working through an issue when another would raise its ugly head. What was worse is we often revisited issues I thought I had gotten over. As time went on and I got lots of practice, it became easier to turn to God as soon as I felt that nasty sense of self-entitlement creeping up. Yes I still had lots of opportunities to get my feathers ruffled, but the act of immediately giving Him the situation brought much peace.

Recently, a few circumstances resurrected familiar feelings of frustration and unfairness and self-righteousness I've been able to give to God for a long time. I haven't been in such a twit in a ages and I was shocked by how stealthily those feelings climbed on my shoulders until I was wearing such a burden of self-entitlement, it couldn't help but spill over onto those closest to me. Unfortunately, the outburst that seemed so right left a wake of guilt worse than the original frustration and anger. I was sure my intentions were pure. I was positive this time I had facts to back my feelings. However, if I was right, why did I feel so yucky? Again I asked myself a question I've asked myself (and God) innumerable times before -- what about me? Do I always have to put my feelings last and let You handle these silly frustrations? Can't I just tell people what I think??

Wouldn't you know, as I was doing my Esther Bible study this morning, Beth Moore talked about the crucified life. I didn't even finish the day's lesson, I got so hung up on this comment she made. She sited 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 --

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life maybe revealed in our mortal body.

Her follow-up comment stopped me short: "Listen, Beloved. God's forte is life. He's just not willing to leave things dead. A paramount theme in Esther is what God can do when we resolve to obey and 'if I perish I perish.' Any time He calls us to die, His purpose is to reveal larger life."*

While Esther was risking her life by approaching the king, the principle holds true even with daily opportunities to deny oneself in the small things. God has a purpose. Just as a master gardener won't leave an empty space in his garden when a flower fades, God will replace what He's weeded with something lovely and beautiful, far surpassing anything that we could manufacture on our own. So to answer my "what about me" question, denying myself really is about me. Because while it seems painful and like part of me is being crucified again, God is answering my prayer to make me into the woman He desires me to be. And He's promised He has my good in mind. His desire is not to harm but to give me hope and a future. Is it painful? Very much so. Is it worth it? Beyond doubt.

*Quoted from Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman by Beth Moore.