Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:12-13 says, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

This was the basis for Pastor Lee’s message today. I don’t know what it is about his sermons, but they really stick with me throughout the week. He really hits each point home, and it is a convicting word. I need it!

Lately we’ve been learning more about the Beatitudes. I love hearing well-known passages that I loved as a child rehashed as an adult with adult perspectives. It really puts the Word into practice; or, at least it should. I’m trying.

I love this quote: “Grace is getting what you don’t deserve; mercy is not getting what you do deserve.”

Being merciful is hard… it’s just not our nature. But when we read the story of the unmerciful servant, it’s easy to get upset at him! It’s a story told by Jesus to illustrate how mercy works. A servant was forgiven a huge debt by his master, but failed to forgive his servant of a much smaller debt.

The truth is, this is what we do, all. The. Time. I do it, all the time. I think… “Hmm, it would teach this person a lesson to do such-and-such or say such-and-such.” It’s not our job to “teach lessons”… it’s the Holy Spirit’s.

Jesus also teaches to forgive seven times seventy. Whoa. I don’t know if I’ve even forgiven seventy times in my whole life. The point is not the number though, it’s the “attitude of forgiveness”, as it was put this morning.

The way judgment was explained made sense to me. Like, if someone acts a certain way and I think, “Man, they must not be saved,” or “I hope they get what’s coming to them! They really hurt me,” or “No wonder that happened to them.. they’re a sinner.”

The problem I have is how to apply that in real life… but it’s best to err on the side of mercy.

I can ask myself these questions and answer them pretty quickly:

Who do I need to forgive? How do I show them mercy? 

I want to forgive more, and in turn, I will be forgiven more.

I need the peace that comes from forgiveness and showing others mercy. Without that peace, I am left to my own devices… my sin, my guilt, and will be tortured by them.

Praise God that we don’t get what we deserve.

So, here’s the deal.

I’m learning a lesson. A big one. And it’s calllllled…..

CONTENTMENT.

Sigh. This is probably the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in awhile… and I’m actually relearning it, just in a different area of life. Last time I learned it was last summer when Aaron gallivanted off to Korea and the Army just.. left me here. So, I became content in my jobs, and living alone, and taking care of, well, everything. And I did it well.

Now the tables have turned a little bit. I have my husband with me, every day, every night and that in itself is pretty amazing. I mean, have you tried living the same zip code, much less the same house with your spouse before?? It rocks. I love that we can eat meals together almost all the time, and workout together, and all those other married things. Just sayin’…

But then there’s this part of me, that’s actually a really big part of me, that I can’t shake. It’s the part of Elizabeth that seems to only be happy when she has a title outside of “Wife” and is bringing home some bacon. Heck, it doesn’t need to be a lot of bacon, but some. And she also has to be doing something creative or worthwhile, preferably something that has to do with what she paid $50,000 to learn about… She has to be productive about 110% of the time, or otherwise feels like a failure.

I’ve had my ups and downs over the past couple weeks. Guess what? The grass isn’t any greener down here. I’ve felt guilty for racking up all this debt in a freaking private university education just to sweep the floor or wash a few dishes. I should be out there in the world, making money to pay off my debt.

However, my husband is the greatest gift ever. He doesn’t see it that way at all, and he encourages me to do whatever I want. If I work, fine. If not, fine. He reminds me daily that we worked hard to be able to live (not just survive) on one income… I have to remember that. WE worked hard. We BOTH worked hard. When we got married, everything became ours,  even our debt.

I had an interview earlier this week for a job I was actually on the fence about. I didn’t get it, and I was honestly a little relieved. It just didn’t feel right. Last night I filled out some more applications, including Sylvan, Starbucks and other jobs at a school district (clerical and aide jobs). I don’t feel an overwhelming need to teach full-time and have my own classroom, but I do feel a need to teach in some capacity. It is what I was made to do, I believe.

Aaron asked me if I could do anything, what would I do? I said that I would be a mom; however, I know it’s not the proper time yet.

Today I got a call from Sylvan. I have an interview tomorrow, and I would love to work for them again. The schedule is flexible and part-time if I want it to be.

A few things keep going through my head…

“God delights in exalting our inability.” ~David Platt

“God equips the called.” (Not sure who said it.)

The book of Ecclesiates… that all the toil under the sun is meaningless.. what really matters in eternity?

The thing is, I have to learn this lesson soon. I can’t move forward in life until I can be content with what I have right now. Life is too short, people are too precious, the weight of eternity is too great, for me to be whining about a perceived problem that I’ve created all on my own. So, here it is: No More Pity Parties for Elizabeth. I’m really really rreeaallllyyy gonna try. And pray. Maybe you should check in on my husband at some point soon…

Who knows what I will do in El Paso, but I do know one thing. At my funeral, my loved ones aren’t going to be standing around telling each other about that one time I didn’t work full-time and make such-and-such salary. They will talk about what kind of person I was.. my character, how I treated people, how I loved Jesus, how I nurtured my children and served my husband. Those are the things that matter.

Only two days??

We can’t believe it’s only been two days since we arrived in El Paso. So much has happened already! Aaron goes to work tomorrow for inprocessing. For those of you who don’t speak “Army” (sometimes I wish I didn’t!) that means that he’s getting acclimated to this post and will be learning more of what he’ll be doing while he’s here. Not to mention attending tons of briefs with a lot of useless information.. a lot of hurry up and wait.

I have driven everywhere we’ve gone. Aaron doesn’t care when I drive, normally, as long as I don’t try to kill us. Or maybe he sends us into oncoming traffic… yeah. That happened when on our way to church today. “If you swing out wide, you could make a left here and turn around.” Yeeeaaahhh. Okay. Or not.

So. We went to church this morning at Harvest Christian Center, which is an Assemblies of God church. I had been listening to the podcasts and doing research on this and other churches before we got here. We really enjoyed it and will probably be returning next week. People were very friendly and welcoming, and we met the pastor, his wife, and his daughter, who leads worship with a baby grand. The message was great… he spoke on 2 Chronicles 20 and standing strong through hard times. He also shared a very poignant story from Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala (pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle). I read the book last year and loved it.

After the service was over (it lasted about an hour and a half) we got coffee at their coffee bar and sat down for a few minutes. Silly us… we got hot coffee when it was probably over 90* out by that point!

We went on post because Aaron needed to get new rank insignia for his uniform and PC (stands for patrol cap… no more berets.. yay!. We wandered around the mall there.. looks brand new. We got lunch at Subway and ate the rest of it tonight for dinner.

———————

We came back to take a nap and for the life of me I could not fall asleep. I got on the computer and had a slight freakout about finding a job. I know, I know. Take it easy, Elizabeth. I’m still getting paid through August. And technically, I don’t need to work… but I want to. But I’m picky. I want a “normal” job, no retail, no food, no weekends or evenings (the only exception is Starbucks, naturally). I’ve looked a lot of places… school districts aren’t hiring for Spanish right now, or even aides, and it will cost around $500 to get certified in this state. I’ve looked at places like Sylvan… not hiring.  I have applied for a job on post, so we’ll see if that turns out.

Big sigh. I honestly don’t have an inkling right now what I should be doing, besides being a wife. I’ve been a “single” wife for two years to my “single” husband, so maybe it’s about time I focus on us and our house (but no kids!!).

I don’t know. I’ve been praying about it for awhile, and I got nothin’. Patience is not my strong suit… maybe it’s time I make it my strong suit.

I do know, however, that I need to spend more time in prayer, and more time studying the Word. I can be a judgmental person, and irritable, and rash, and impatient. I need to work on that.

I think I’ll start with that.

>Prayer is powerful…

>…and as Pastor Rick says, you can’t argue with real-life change. Ask the crippled beggar in Acts 3 if he doubts there is a God.. he was healed and could walk again! What else could he do besides praise the Lord?! “…He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” You can’t argue with real-life change, and this man was quite the contender!

As I sit here pondering the verses I want to pray over Carson tomorrow, I am blown away by the outpouring of love, encouragement, and prayer on this family. Like I said earlier, the body of Christ is a beautiful thing! What an engineer of true and real relationships God is. It’s pure genius.

I am praying these verses for Carson, and also for my relative in California, Liz Moffat who is battling cancer.

“…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7)

“…Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (II Tim. 1:12b)

“…Abraham believed God, and it was credited to Him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)

Today Aaron’s brother Scott and his wife Anessa met with their five-year-old daughter’s heart surgeon to schedule her open heart surgery to correct sub aortic stenosis, which she was diagnosed with when she was only two. The surgery is scheduled for July 5, the day we were scheduled to begin our journey south. However, we will be staying until July 6.

Please begin praying for Zaia… and her parents, and her two siblings.. Joel, who is 11, and Rhianna who is 7. I am starting with this verse…

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7)

Our nieces (Rhianna, Zaia and Lena) and nephew (Joel) (and Baby W on the way!!) make us a very happy Uncle Aaron and Aunt Lizbiz.

>Week in review, May 30-June 5

>Here’s a snip of my training for the week…

Wednesday, I did a 3-mi interval run and then BodyFlow.. Friday was the 10-mile bike at the gym. Tomorrow I hope to tag on another 8 miles from an early-morning run.

I can feel myself getting faster, but the work that goes into becoming faster is tough. Sometimes I would rather run 10 miles at a comfortable pace than run 3 or 4 at a hard pace. Does that make me a long-distance runner? I’m not sure, but that’s what I would call myself.

Adjusting to the heat and humidity is something I haven’t quite figured out yet. Last summer I wasn’t ever running this much per week… maybe a max of ten miles in seven days. Sometimes I’d rather run in sub-freezing temps.

Anyway… I don’t really have a set training plan for this month. I want to keep doing one interval run, one tempo run and one long distance run every week, and two days of cross-training (per Run Less, Run Faster). I also want to swim a little more if time allows.

Here’s to another happy and healthy week, complete with spending time with friends, swimming, relaxing, Glee-ing, and we are one more week closer to my husband coming home.

Oh, and don’t forget to join me in prayer and fasting for Carson this Tuesday!

>From excess to destruction.

>I love this time after work and my workout when I just get to sit in the silence and decompress. I caved and turned on the air for the first time this season. After a humid 90* run with my sister’s boyfriend Tim (he’s an ex-Marine and will probably smoke me soon…), the last thing I wanted was to relax after a lukewarm shower in my 85* apartment. I’m not sure what it is about summer this time around, but I am loving the heat so far. Maybe it’s because I was anemically cold for the past seven months, or maybe it’s because I’m trying to prepare myself for Texas… who knows.


Anyway. I’ve been thinking about this blog since last night, and I started to hash it out over my commute to work this morning, title and all. I don’t know about you, but I’m human. I tend to open my mouth and speak, a lot. And as genes and personality have it, I have a big mouth.


My sister-in-law Anessa just posted a blog about words being able to cut like a knife. If I tallied up the words I said throughout the day, I would bet you at this point in time, the destruction would outweigh the construction. Criticism would outweigh encouragement.


Lately my mouth has run away with me. Many times, I praise people, but other times I talk about others and mask it behind a prayer request or a concern. I think we all have the potential to do this, but the fact that it’s such a widespread sin doesn’t make it any less of a sin. I know pretty much the second after I say or divulge something I shouldn’t have.. I feel guilty. But words are interesting; they’re not a too-expensive pair of shoes you can just take back to the store.


They stick around even if that person isn’t around to hear it. Our mouths are just reiterating what is already in our hearts, so we are revealing how we truly feel about that person. Sin is sin, and if there’s any blatant explanation about this particular one in the Bible, it’s in James.


We all slip up and say mean thingsWe all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. (3:2)


We have to recognize that the tongue drives our entire bodyWhen we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. (3:3) If we say something mean about someone, that means we actually feel that way about that person. Will we show love to them then? Probably not.


We cannot speak praise to the Lord and tear down others at the same timeWith the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (3:9-10) However, this is not to say that we shouldn’t stand up for or defend ourselves… but rather speak the truth in love.


We need God’s help to tame our tongues. but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (3:7) Jesus has already faced and CONQUERED every temptation that is thrown our way. We CAN be victorious over sin with Christ’s help.


I compare this to my love of sweets. It’s inevitable that I will want something sweet. It’s also inevitable that I will eat something sweet. But I either have to work it off, or not eat so much of it. It can be addicting, just like bad talk. It has to be a step-by-step process in which I made small decisions throughout the day that can lead to a big victory over a week’s time. 


I wish I could say that since I’ve become a Christian (ten years ago!), I don’t say hurtful things about people seemingly in the name of love, concern, prayer, or just because I felt like saying it. I wish I could say I have matured past that. I wish I could say that I haven’t given into others’ poor attitudes and tendencies to gossip. I wish I could say that I have discouraged others from taking part in this destructive way of life.


Breaking out of this habit might mean [are you ready for this?!] keeping my mouth shut when someone asks me a question about someone else with the intent of being nosy (bad words aren’t the only words that are bad). It might mean backing off of certain relationships that often tempt me to gossip. It might mean making my prayer requests at small group more vague. And get this: it will most definitely involve more prayer.

In conclusion, I can’t help but refer to the scene in Mean Girls about “word vomit”. We can either spend our time on this earth writing our own personal “Burn Book” and acting it out or we can actively show others Jesus through us and speak truth in love.