Trusting God’s Will When Life is Hard

by Lynn on June 18, 2016

Trusting-Gods-WillWe humans love to get our own way. Ever since Adam and Eve decided that their plan was better than God’s plan, it has been our nature to pursue our own desires first. From early childhood, we begin to exert our own will, and learn how to manipulate others into conforming to it.

When my niece was about four years old, she and my sister stayed with me for the weekend. On the morning they were to return home, my sister packed their belongings while Katie sat on the family room floor watching television. I had given her a breakfast tray, some paper and a collection of colored pencils, and she had great fun using them to create her masterpieces. As the last of the toys, clothes, barrettes and errant socks were found and returned to the suitcase, Lori told Katie to gather her drawings together, and return the pencils to Lynnie. Katie replied that she wanted to take the pencils home with her. When I told her that she had to leave them here, Katie paused and then slowly handed over all but three of the pencils, stating, “what if I just take these?” Apparently to her, “no” might mean “maybe” if she could successfully negotiate a deal! It surprised me to see that drive we have to get our own way, so obvious in one so young.

Part of the Christian life is the battle between God’s will and our will. We struggle to obey, when what we want conflicts with what God wants for us. This is especially true when his plans don’t resemble ours in any way.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

This verse implies that part of the good plan for us may include some things that we’ll perceive as bad, since God has to point out that his goal is not to harm us.

Many of us enter adulthood with our lives carefully planned out—and then it all goes sideways. What happens when life falls apart and we find ourselves in circumstances we never thought would happen—a life-changing illness, dissolution of a marriage, or the death of a loved one? How do we make peace with the fact that God’s plan may include him allowing events into our lives that cause us pain?

We cry out to God, asking him how this could happen. Confused and hurt, we cannot fathom how our suffering can be God’s will. This part is especially hard for us to understand. When life doesn’t work out as we planned, our will is forced to bend to his will, like it or not. We cannot change the circumstances he allows, but we do have control over how we react to them. It is within our ability to choose to trust that his plan is good, even when we cannot perceive the good right now. James tells us that we are to count it all joy when we suffer.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4, NIV

The best example of this is Jesus himself, who went to the cross willingly on our behalf, knowing exactly what it would cost him.

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:41-42, NIV

Jesus surrendered his own will to the will of the Father, because the cross was part of God’s plan.

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. Hebrews 12:2b-3, NIV

The example Jesus left for us demonstrates that our suffering is never in vain. God’s plans and thoughts are not for us to fully understand, but we can know about his character. His Word shows that his love for us is vast and his plans for us are good. Ultimately we are left to trust his heart and surrender our will to his.

There is a beautiful ballad by Hillary Scott, which articulates the process of surrendering our will to God, and trusting in his heart when life is difficult.

When our broken heart is part of God’s plan, we can only rely on what we know of his character. Then despite the pain, we can accept that his will is always best for us.

On the journey toward Home,

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Pink and Blue Spring Tea

by Lynn on May 4, 2016

Royal Albert Lady CarlyleCollecting vintage porcelain is a passion of mine and two of my favorite colors are raspberry and aquamarine. I’m especially fond of the vibrant pink rose and the turquoise blue found on eighteenth century French porcelain made by Sevres. These pieces are exquisite but also very expensive, so the only Sevres porcelain I’ve seen in person has been in museums! Fortunately, other manufacturers like Minton and R.S. Prussia used similar colors in their some of their designs, so I’ve been able to collect some lovely blue and pink pieces over the years. One day it dawned on me that I might have enough pieces in this color scheme, to host a small tea! What great fun it was to design this table for my guests.

pink blue teaVintage glass vases feature monochromatic bouquets of gerbera daisies, ranunculus, stocks and mums. The center vase is a pink iridized Carnival glass from L.E. Smith Company and features a pinwheel pattern. The white tablecloth and napkins were made by Waterford Linens.

Minton Dresden TuscanFor each place setting I used alternating colors of pink and blue. The bread plate was made by Minton in the pattern Cockatrice, and the luncheon plate is a Dresden Richard Klemm design. The cup and saucer were made by Tuscan, and the pattern is Naples.

Minton George Jones Crown StaffordshireThis place setting features a bread plate made by Crown Staffordshire in the pattern Lyric, and a luncheon plate made by George Jones & Sons. The cup and saucer were made by Mintons.

Shelley George Jones RS PrussiaThe cup and saucer set used for this place setting was made by Shelley in the pattern Duchess. The bread plate was made by George Jones & Sons, and the luncheon plate is an R.S. Prussia, lily mold, with a yellow rose décor.

Shelley George Jones Imperial CrownFor the fourth place setting, I used a Shelley bread plate in the pattern Duchess, and an Imperial Crown China luncheon plate. The cup and saucer were made by George Jones & Sons. The flatware was made by Hoogosil H. Solingen in Germany.

pink blue tea

Harry David trufflesA tiered server holds truffles from Harry and David.

pink blue teaAssorted tea sandwiches and fruit tarts complete the presentation on this vintage china server. The top tier plate is a Royal Crown Derby, in the pattern Fifth Avenue. The middle tier is a Noritake plate, in the pattern Polonaise, and the bottom tier plate was made by Minton, in the pattern Malta. The cream and sugar set are Royal Albert, and the pattern is Lady Carlyle.

Minton pinkThis lovely vintage plate holds vanilla cupcakes with orange icing and fondant flowers. The hand painted pink charger was made by Minton.

vanilla cupcakes orange icing

pecan meltsPecan melts fill this vintage glass bowl decorated with a silver poppy overlay. The bowl was made by Silver City Glass, in a pattern called Flanders. I used a pink and blue floral travel case as part of the centerpiece. It is designed by Paula Scaletta, for Tri-Coastal Design.

pink blue tea

blue hobnail candle stickBlue Fenton hobnail candle holders were used as vases for bouquets of white mums.

pink blue teaAquamarine art Deco-styled crystal glasses hold pink champagne. These were made by Bryce Glass, and the pattern is called Aquarius-Blue. The pink floral spoon trays were distributed by Momentum Brands.

cranberry sconesA blue Fenton hobnail bowl holds flower-shaped cranberry scones. The silver tea service was made by Oneida. The tiered server is Royal Albert in the pattern Lady Carlyle, and a Fenton Silvercrest cranberry glass vase holds a bouquet of white stock. The Devonshire cream and lemon curd are served in a vintage glass and silver floral condiment dish.

scones Devonshire cream lemon curd

pink blue teaI hope these pictures and links provide great ideas for you to use when you host your next tea!
I’m linking up today for Pink Saturday!

On the journey toward Home,

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Finding Purpose in the Everyday

by Lynn on April 17, 2016

Purpose-in-Everyday

Do you ever wonder if your life matters? Do you sometimes feel that your presence on this planet doesn’t mean much? Do you ever get discouraged that you can’t seem to identify a clear impact you are having on this world? In a society that absolutely worships fame, it can be difficult for many of us to recognize if our efforts have any positive influence.

While discussing this topic with my sister, she voiced a familiar refrain—“I would love to make more of a difference, but I’m already overwhelmed with just trying to get through life.” Between work and school schedules and unending cycles of laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, car pools, homework, making dinner, and a thousand other tasks we try to shoe-horn into each 24-hour day, we are left with little energy or motivation to do much of anything else.

Indeed, life for most of us is very busy and when the break-neck speed at which it moves becomes overwhelming, we can sometimes feel that our efforts are all for naught. And so when we’re collecting our teenager’s clothes up off the floor for the zillionth time, or we’re still up washing dishes long after the family has all gone to bed, or we’re retyping that report for our boss, even though it already took us hours to complete the first time around, we start asking ourselves, “Is this all I’m good for?” “Does my life even matter?”

The enemy has a very efficient whispering campaign he relentlessly uses to wear us down, until we begin to believe the lies he tells us about ourselves. And while we try to remember that we are “folding laundry to the glory of the Lord” we are human, and in our weariness we question whether our efforts really make a difference.

During those times, we can be encouraged by what God says about our roles and our interactions with other people. He designed us to live as family—to care for, to love, and to encourage one another. First, we love one another because God told us to.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:14-17, NIV

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14, NIV

God placed us in each other’s lives to be of benefit to one another. As family, we are afforded opportunities to strengthen and encourage each other.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17, NIV

But our love for one another doesn’t just benefit those in the family of God. It is a model of God’s love for mankind which is a witness to non-believers.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35, NIV

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17, NIV

We are called to care for one another with a fierce consistency—displaying a kind of love the world is not familiar with.

Several years ago my sister was going through some severe medical issues. She was very unwell, and her condition made just getting through each day a major battle. I took time off work to accompany her to a variety of doctors, and spent countless hours on the internet searching her symptoms, and countless more on the phone with her while she cried. It was frustrating that I could not help her more and I made a comment to that effect one day, to one of my colleagues. Her reply stunned me as she said, “Well, some would say that you’ve already done more than enough.”
Wow. After recovering from the initial shock of her comment, I felt bad for her. Of course she can’t recognize sacrificial love, because it doesn’t exist in her world. In her life, and in the lives of those around her, people give to others to get back something for themselves. And with no eternal perspective, they cannot imagine why anyone would choose to live otherwise. But here’s the point to the story—on that day she did imagine. My family situation demonstrated a stark contrast between sacrificial love and the conditional love offered by the world. This appeared to bother her enough to prompt her verbal disapproval of my continuing efforts to help my sister.

While unbelievers may express their disdain for the Church, they are still watching us. They are comparing our lives to their own and the Holy Spirit is using the disparity to draw them. Our love and care for each other displays the power of God in the human heart and ultimately points others to Christ.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16, NIV

So how do we find purpose in the everyday? We strive to make a difference in the lives around us. Our mission field is the community of those in our sphere of influence—first our family, then our friends, our colleagues, and our neighbors. And while it may not often be obvious to us, God will use our consistent sacrificial love to work in the lives of those we interact with.

He is glorified through our obedience and he is the one we please when we love sacrificially. Our worth does not rest in the number of laundry loads we complete, but in the attitude of our heart. He knows when we’re tired, and he sees our tears of frustration, but it is never all for naught. Even if our work goes unnoticed by those we love, God sees each effort that we make. What we do for the glory of God does matter. It matters to him and that should give us all the purpose we need.

On the journey toward Home,

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Harvest America 2016Many rejoice as they see years of prayer come to fruition. The Holy Spirit has moved their loved ones to finally respond to the Gospel. This scene never gets old. There is not a sight more beautiful than thousands streaming down those steps to the field where they will make the most important decision of their lives. To the grass they tread, bringing their guilt and their shame. They bring their loneliness, their pain, their hopelessness. They bring their fear of death. They bring their sin.

On that field Jesus meets them, offering forgiveness, a love they cannot imagine, and a freedom that the world can never give them. In an instant lives are changed. Every shackle of sin that has kept them bound is gone. Hope is renewed. They are loved. They are forgiven. They are cleansed. They are free.

Pastor Greg Laurie has been presenting the Gospel at evangelical events since 1990. For many years, Harvest Crusades have been in baseball stadiums to accommodate larger crowds. In the last few years, the ministry has incorporated live stream technology which has enabled them to telecast the crusades across the U.S. as Harvest America. This year God lead the team to consider an even larger venue. When Pastor Greg announced that Harvest America 2016 would be held at the 82,000 capacity AT&T stadium in Texas, I admit my first thought was, “Wow! That’s ambitious. I hope a lot of people show up!” But where we see challenges, God sees opportunity. Not only did people show up last week, but they packed the stadium to capacity!

One of the best tweets of the night came from James, who’d driven 9 hours to attend the event, but was content to be turned away at the door when greeted by this sign.

Harvest America 2016Pastor Jack Graham enthusiastically started the evening with that announcement.

This is the first Christian event in the history of this stadium, and it is [at[ full capacity; people are outside and [watching] all across America… God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think, according to the power that works in us. –Jack Graham, Pastor Prestonwood Baptist Church

A great time of worship followed with musical guests Switchfoot, MercyMe, Lecrae, and Chris Tomlin. Pastor Greg began his message with four things he assured the audience he knew about them, “You’re empty, you’re lonely, you feel guilty and you fear death.” From there he shared accounts of his own life, describing how he also used to feel those things before he gave his life to Christ. The message resonated with the audience, bringing 6,300 people to the field to make professions of faith. The response was tremendous, but the most amazing part, is that the 82,000+ people at AT&T Stadium were less than one-quarter of the total audience that night!

Harvest America was simulcast to over 7,200 remote host locations, with an additional audience of 180,000 people. It was also streamed live on the internet to over 89,000 viewers, and it was broadcast on over 600 radio stations. Harvest America was viewed live in all 50 states, and in 123 countries. It was the largest evangelical event ever held in the United States, with a total attendance of 351,769 people, and 25,342 professions of faith!

The numbers are just amazing, showing the phenomenal power of the Gospel to save.

We only celebrate these statistics because they represent the personal lives changed by the transformative gospel message. –Greg Laurie

Here is a short recap of Harvest America 2016.

What an awesome privilege it is to see the Holy Spirit drawing people into the family of God!

To watch the archived web cast, use this link: http://harvestamerica.com/texas-2016/home.html

Special thanks to Jordan and James for granting permission to use the images in this post.

On the journey toward Home,

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Boldness Under Fire

February 25, 2016

The Apostle Paul is probably one of the most prolific speakers in the New Testament. Having authored a good portion of it by way of the Holy Spirit, Paul writes passionately about his devotion to Jesus Christ. A legalistic Pharisee originally known as Saul of Tarsus, he made a name for himself by persecuting first […]

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A Tour of the Historic Mission Inn

January 27, 2016
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There’s just something special about historic hotels that make you feel as though you’ve stepped back into time. I love the grand old buildings, steeped in the majestic splendor of days gone by. Earlier this month, my twin and I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the Mission Inn. The hotel sits […]

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A New Edition of Held by God has been Republished by WestBow Press

January 13, 2016
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After our family struggled through some serious medical challenges, my twin and I published a book about our story. Originally released in 2010, Held by God was written to encourage others who might also be feeling a bit overwhelmed by their life circumstances. We are happy to announce that the book has been updated and […]

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Unique Vintage and Handmade Christmas Gifts are Available in my Etsy Shop!

November 29, 2015
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Now that the Christmas shopping season is officially underway, I’d like to introduce some of the new items listed this week in my Etsy shop, The Drawing Room at Pemberley! Vintage china plates make lovely gifts for collectors. I have several dinner and salad plates made by Dresden, Rosenthal, Aynsley, Royal Bayreuth, and Spode. Many […]

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How to Create an Elegant Buffet on a Limited Budget

October 18, 2015
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A few years ago I coordinated a large open house event at work, to celebrate the retirement of a high level manager. Due to his rank, hundreds of invitations went out to colleagues and dignitaries. The goal was to serve food and beverages for 200-400 people who would wander into the venue over a period […]

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Women of Faith Celebrates 20 Years of Ministry in the Final Conference Tour

September 26, 2015
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Alas, my sister and I have attended our last Women of Faith conference. For thirteen years, we’ve set aside four days in September to join 10,000 other ladies in a packed arena for a weekend of spiritual refreshment. But sadly, this is the final conference tour for Women of Faith. The conference started in 1996, […]

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