“…the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people…” 1 Samuel 13:14

What-is-God-Looking-For

King Saul of Israel was in the midst of battle with the Philistines, and he was scared.  Instead of standing up to the enemy, the soldiers of Israel hid themselves in caves, rocks, high places, and in pits.

The prophet Samuel had told Saul that he would come and offer sacrifices, to speak to God on Israel’s behalf, but Saul just couldn’t wait for him any longer.  So Saul performed the priest’s job himself.  He bypassed authority and decided to take matters into his own hands.

When Samuel made it to Saul’s camp and saw what he had done, he told Saul it was over for him. That because he didn’t follow God’s plan, his time as king would soon end and God would raise up a new king.  Someone after His own heart.

Three chapters later, Samuel is looking for the new king.  God has led him to a man named Jesse, and Samuel knows that the next king is one of his sons.  Jesse starts parading his sons before Samuel, starting with the oldest.  And apparently this guy was built.  In my mind, he kind of looks like The Rock.  As soon as Samuel saw him, he said “surely this is him!”  (that’s paraphrased. ha!)

But God replied, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

Well, no offense The Rock, but you’re not what God is looking for.

The future king God was looking for was the youngest, scrawniest brother out in the fields watching the sheep.  The one that The Rock picked on mercilessly.  The one that Jesse didn’t even deem worthy enough to round up to show to Samuel.  The one minding his own business, not seeking any glory.

He was David, the one after God’s own heart.  And when he is soon faced with the Philistines, he will not choose to run and hide under rocks and in pits.  He will call on the Name of the Lord and stand up to the giant Goliath with no weapon but a sling and some stones.

 

Abraham was a friend of God, John was the beloved, but David….  David’s heart was just like God’s heart.  David’s heart drew God in.  God could look at David and recognize Himself in him.

This quality, this being after God’s heart, isn’t what is outwardly popular.  Even Samuel, the prophet of God, was blinded by outward appearances and strength.  Surely God would want someone big, strong, and powerful to rule Israel.  Surely God would want someone who had it all together.  Surely God would want the smartest, brightest, most impressive one to represent Him.

But nope.  God doesn’t look at that.  He looks at something hidden that only He can see.  Something that draws Him in.  Something that is patterned after His heart.

For this pale, short, frizzy-haired girl with zero depth perception, knowing that my outsides are not what God is looking for is so refreshing.  Open any magazine today and you’ll be bombarded with tips on getting a bikini body or working off back flab or filling in your eyebrows.  I’m going to try not to linger on the fact that if one is worried about back flab, one clearly needs a life.  I mean, back flab just gives you more cushion for hugging.  Hugs are great.  Go back flab.  Moving on.

This world gets so focused on the things that God could care less about.  God doesn’t see what man sees.  He looks for something different.  He is drawn to the heart.  Step one to becoming a woman after God’s own heart?  Remind yourself what God looks for.  Rid yourself of the ingrained beliefs and expectations that you have to look perfect, have the most talent, have the most eloquent speech, or have it all together to be noticed.  For the Lord is searching for someone after His own heart.

31 Days button

*Want to read this story about Saul, Samuel, and David for yourself?  It’s all in 1 Samuel 13 and 16.
On October 2, 2014 · 2 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

This month I am doing something exciting.  And scary.  Which is really the best kind of thing to do.  Each year in October, The Nester hosts a 31 Day Writing Challenge.  You choose your own topic, link up to the site as accountability, and then write.  And then write some more.  With a bit more writing thrown in.

I’ve thought about joining it for a couple of years, but never had the spizzerinctum to do so.  (Side note: I so thought this was a word my Grandpa had made up, but it is indeed real!  Boom.)  And actually, I didn’t decide to join this year until yesterday, so I’m behind the game.  A lot of people already have their 31 days’ worth of posts already written.  *insert emoji with wide eyes here*

Topic after topic flit through my mind.  Do I want to write for 31 days about knitting?  My mom and I might like it, but it would bore everyone to tears.  Then I thought about 31 days about love.  Because love seems to be all I ever write about these days.  What about 31 days of painting all the orange wood trim in my house to white?  Riveting.  I’d mix some days’ posts up by showing videos of paint ACTUALLY drying.  Genius.

Then it came to me.  And I’m excited and scared.

31 Days button

For the next 31 days, I’ll be writing about Becoming a Woman After God’s Heart.  This phrase kind of has two meanings.  When you first read it, “a woman after God’s heart,” you think about a woman in search of, wanting, trying to find, or in pursuit of God’s heart.  But it also brings to mind King David from the Bible.  It says multiple times in Scriptures that he was a “man after God’s own heart.”  As in, David’s heart resembled God’s heart.  His heart was set on the things upon which God’s heart was set.  He took after Him.  David had fashioned His life and thought processes in such a way that God couldn’t help but be drawn to him.

So what does that mean today?  What does being a woman after God’s heart look like?  I’m not 100% sure, but I’m hoping to get closer to the answer by the time this 31 Day Writing Challenge is over.

This post will be the landing post, so if you click on the little button on my sidebar, it will take you right here.  I’ll be updating this post with links to each day’s writing as I go.  And if you’d like more information about the 31 Days Writing Challenge, you can check out the site here.  You’ll also be able to find a whole bunch of other bloggers writing about specific topics for 31 Days.  So if you’re disappointed that I didn’t choose knitting, maybe someone there can make your day.  Ha!

Would you like to join me?  I’m oh so excited.  And, of course, scared.  My interests always bounce around multiple times a day, and I usually only blog once or twice a week.  So this will be stepping way out of my norm. But I’m ready.  Most of all, I’m ready to be stretched by God.  And I’m ready to start pursuing His heart.

Day 1 :: Becoming

Day 2 :: What God is Looking For

Day 3 :: Characteristics

Day 4 :: After You

Day 5 :: He Sings Over Me

On October 1, 2014 · 10 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING | Reaping and Sowing in Marriage

I can vividly remember the first hard core argument Timothy and I ever had.  We were months away from getting married and he casually mentioned the fact that he’s often heard the first year of marriage is the hardest. Looking back, I still can’t explain what happened.  I just flipped out.  I got flustered, started crying, and hung up the phone.  I felt like it was a personal attack and how dare he say that our first year of marriage is going to be hard.  It’s going to be perfect!  We’ll be the ones to prove everyone wrong!

Ha.

That first monumental argument came to mind recently when I was listening to this podcast by Dr. Gary Chapman and guest speaker Tyler Ward.  Tyler has written a book called Marriage Rebranded: Modern Misconceptions & the Unnatural Art of Loving Another Person.  Quite a mouthful.  Ha!

The basic premise that I gathered from the podcast is that Tyler and his wife dated for about nine months, got married, and were chugging along splendidly until about a year and a half into the marriage.  Then things got rocky and they had to reconfigure their expectations and redefine the marriage.  The whole “unnatural” part refers to the fact that the lovey dovey honeymoon stage fades, and then you’re left with hard life and love that doesn’t always come easy.

So the podcast wasn’t exactly promoting the idea that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but it was definitely saying that there comes a time when your just-wedded bliss fades and real life gets hard.  Real hard.  Dr. Gary Chapman said that from his years of experience, the in love stage lasts about two years.  Which is kind of depressing.  I can’t really speak from experience on how long that stage lasts, because Timothy and I were kind of catapulted into real life a little over a month into our marriage.  So technically, our in love stage lasted a month.  But in spite of that, or maybe because of it, I always get a little itchy and cranky when I hear the statistics on how long those romantic feelings should last before real life takes over.  I feel like a defender of love, and just want to give all the naysayers an ice cream cone so they’ll be too busy eating to spread their gloom and despair.

I guess some things never change.  I wanted to pause the podcast, call up Dr. Chapman, and then hang up on him.  Because how dare he say that the lovey-dovey-ness goes away at two years.

 

But then Tyler Ward introduced a concept that I’ve heard a million times, yet have just never applied it in this way.  He said that a lot of couples today are trying to reap what they haven’t sown.  I think this is especially true for Christians.  I know this was true for me in my marriage.

I just assumed that I would have an amazing marriage.  I mean, I had daydreamed about it often enough.  Ha!  Since I had guarded my heart my whole life, kept myself pure, and lived my life in pursuit of God’s will, I just expected that my marriage would be this fairy tale thing.  I thought I had already sown enough.  I didn’t have any past intimate hurts or baggage.  I didn’t care if we lived in a mansion or a shack.  I just wanted God’s will in our lives, so I figured God would kind of shine down His blessings on our marriage.  But that’s not really how it works.  Don’t get me wrong, God has blessed our marriage like crazy, but I never expected that His blessings could and would sometimes come in the form of trials to make us stronger.  That our first few months of marriage would make us confront things in our minds and hearts that most couples don’t face until years down the road.  I was expecting to reap an “easy” marriage where everything clicked and where the in love stage would last until death do us part.  I thought that since I had sown a pure life, that I had sown good intentions, that my marriage would reap the benefits.

But nope.

It takes more than that.  It takes daily sowing into your marriage.  While I don’t necessarily agree with Tyler Ward’s idea that love is “unnatural,” I do know that love is hard.  Maybe that’s where the whole two-year in love stage concept comes from.  Maybe it’s not an inevitable journey to no more romance and smelly socks, maybe it’s just the fact that the newlywed blissful rose-colored glasses can only get us so far.  Then, if we haven’t been diligently sowing into our marriage, cracks start to show.  Real life bleeds through.  Being in love isn’t enough to pay the bills or solve arguments or pick up those ever present socks.  We have to have a firm foundation to fall back on.  And we do that by sowing into our marriage.  By praying for our husbands and wives even when things are going great.  By fasting for our marriages even when no troubles are in sight.  By continuing to work diligently to protect our hearts and keep them only for each other.  By continuing to pursue each other, continuing to woo each other, continuing to treat each other as if we just got married yesterday.

So, yes.  I will cease my love flag waving and phone slamming and rose-colored glasses donning long enough to admit that yes, at some point, those “feelings” will no longer be enough.  At some point, be it two years or two months, what has been sustaining your marriage thus far may not be enough.  But that’s not when the love goes away.  That doesn’t mark the end of your fairy tale.  Just the opposite in fact.  That’s when it gets GOOD.  That’s when you begin to see your husband or wife for the person he or she really is.  A beautiful, broken human.  Just like you.  And it is then that God can step in and use your brokenness for His good.  He can transform you and remold you and change your mindset and remove your expectations that were simply set too low in the first place.

For He is the Lord of the Harvest.  He works in reaping and sowing.  He is faithful.  If you sow into Him and the things that He places value on, the reaping will come.  Then you just keep sowing.  And reaping.  And sowing and reaping.  And reaping and sowing.

Yes, the in love stage doesn’t last forever, but what comes after that stage is just about the best thing ever.

On September 26, 2014 · 6 Comments · In Mr. and Mrs.
 

Just a few things I’m loving lately.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-upThe Jesus Culture Leadership Podcast.  A million thumbs up.  Plus a few extra.  I just recently got into podcasts (Elise’s podcast got me hooked!), and now I’m a podcast devourer.  Podcast.  Maybe I can type it again.  Podcast.  This *podcast* is geared for leaders of all types – church leaders/leaders in the work place/community leaders.  And it’s good.  Very good.  I’ve cried and laughed.  And since I generally podcast it up while mowing, it’s been a lovely site for my neighbors I’m sure.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-up-4Car knitting.  Mitten knitting.  Knitting in general.  It’s all good.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-up-2Sweater weather!!!  It’s here!  And I’m ecstatic.  But who am I kidding?  I wear sweaters year-round.  It’s the inner 70-year-old librarian in me.  She likes sweaters, historical fiction, wool socks, and hand work.  It’s pretty hardcore.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-up-1Steffany Gretzinger’s new album, The Undoing.  I like to play it in the morning at work when I’m still trying to make sense of the world.  She eases me into my day.  Then I can switch to shuffle.  And when the 1:30 blues comes, I can switch to Group 1 Crew and get pumped back up.  Music listening.  It’s a science.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-up-3A fresh new batch of laundry soap.  I posted about this quite a while ago, and in case you were wondering, I’m still its number one fan.  Here recently I had to buy a bottle of Gain because I ran out of the good stuff.  After a few weeks of using it, Timothy brought his work clothes to me and said that something was wrong, that the stains weren’t coming out like usual.  In a moment of heart swelling pride, I realized it was because I had switched from my homemade stuff to the store bought stuff.  And the homemade laundry soap beats Gain’s tail!  I felt very proud and cave womanish.  This is an amazing example of a homemade product that saves crazy money, isn’t too complicated to make, and is so much better than store bought.  Boom.

These are a few things I’ve been loving recently.  What about you?  Have you been giving thumbs up to anything recently?

On September 17, 2014 · 2 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

I have a soft spot in my heart for weeds.  Maybe it’s because I can’t seem to keep any other plant life alive?  Or maybe it’s because I feel sorry for them that they have been labeled too harshly.  I mean, who called them weeds in the first place?  One man’s weed is another man’s garden.  Stick that on a mug and call it a day.

Photo-Aug-11,-6-56-09-PMRecently one of our bushes died.  It was a huge bush – as tall as me – and seemed to be thriving.  Then it just shriveled up and died.  Am I supposed to water bushes?  Trim them in certain shapes?  Sing to them?  I’m obviously doing something wrong.  Anyway, my dad graciously came over and sawed it down.  A few weeks later when mowing, I noticed new life where the bush used to be.

Three baby trees were growing!  I was sure of it.  They were huge.  They had to be trees.  I let them grow for a few more weeks and then decided that I had to pull them down since they were so close to our foundation.  I felt so sorry for the trees that I clipped off the leaves of one and stuck them in a vase.  Poor Herman the tree could live his last days treated as the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.

As you can see above, he looked pretty sad.  But after a few days of love and attention, he perked right up.

Photo-Aug-13,-6-27-48-PMThen my dad bursted my bubble by seeing Herman on our table and asking why I had a weed in a vase?  Ummm, because he’s a tree?!  And I had to kill him?  He quickly set me straight and said that Herman was a weed.  Just a weed.  An unlovable weed.  When Timothy found out about it, he just laughed.  You mean you really thought the weed was a tree this whole time?  I thought you were joking.

Men.  It was probably a man who labeled the weeds of this earth.

But see how much Herman flourished when he was treated as more than a weed?

Photo-Aug-13,-6-27-59-PMThis is where we could spin this into some heart-warming moral of the story and declare that we should never label anybody as less than, or as a “weed.”  Treat them like trees and flowers, like they’re the most valuable humans of all, and they’ll thrive.  But that’s not what this post is about.  This post is actually about weeds.

Because my little shrub area is covered in weeds.  And I’m just so proud that they’re alive.  They’re my flowers.  These guys are tough.  They’ve grown through layers of plastic and rocks.  They’ve survived many applications of weed killer.  (I know, I caved into social pressure.)  They’re just trying to flourish.  Who am I to say they are less than roses or daisies or ferns?  I can’t keep any of those plants alive.  But weeds?  Weeds are my jam.

On September 12, 2014 · 7 Comments · In Lovely Life