26 09 2012

I turned 40 last week, and I have been reflecting on that number a lot lately.  First, I came up with a list of 40 Things  I want to accomplish in my next 40 years.  Today, I am reminded of the biblical significance of the number 40.

  • The rains poured down for 40 days in the days of Noah.
  • Moses lived in Egypt his first 40 years, in Midian his second 40 years, and wandered with the Israelites in the desert for 40 more years.
  • Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving the first set of laws as well as 40 more days receiving the second set after the sin of the Golden Calf.
  • The Israelite spies were sent out for 40 days.
  • Jonah spent 40 days prophesying in Nineveh.
  • Ezekiel laid on his right side for 40 days to symbolize the 40 years of Judah’s transgression.
  • King David and King Solomon, among others, ruled Israel for 40 years.
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness as he was tempted by the Deceiver.
  • For 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to his followers.

40 most often symbolizes a period of trials and testing followed by a period of refreshment, deliverance, prosperity, or rest.   Taking each of those items listed above,

  • Noah saw God’s promise to mankind in the form of a rainbow.
  • Moses saw the Promised Land before he died.
  • Israel settled in the land flowing with milk and honey.
  • Nineveh repented and was saved.
  • Israel grew and prospered under the rule of King David and King Solomon.
  • Jesus was refreshed by angles attending him after confronting Satan.
  • The Holy Spirit was given to followers of Christ.

I have certainly had some trials and experienced periods of great testing in my first 40 years of life.  But I really like the idea that my next 40 could be . . . should be . . . filled with goodness.  I am truly excited to experience what God has in store for the next half of my life.


Home Full of Scripture

17 06 2011
One of my goals with my home is to have scripture in each room, something applicable to function of the room.  I’m about half-way done after five years of living here.  This is what I have so far.

Living Room:   Hosea 2:19-20, cross-stitch.  I made this in 1999 for our first anniversary.  This is the scripture that my husband and I have inscribed on the insides of our wedding bands.  It is such an incredible reminder not only of our love for each other as husband and wife, but also of how God loves us.  I may move this our master bedroom once the remodeling is finished.

Hosea 2:19-20

Hosea 2:19-20: "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I wll betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord."

Dining Room:  Proverbs 30:8, hand painted 30” wood lazysusan.  A friend, Devon Dixon, of Simply Artistic Design,  painted this for us.  I gave her the design, and she created this masterpiece.  This is one of my favorite pieces of art in my entire house.

Proverbs 30:8

Proverbs 30:8 "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."

Kitchen:  Ecclesiastes 9:7, canvas.  I created the picture and used a Groupon I purchased for Canvas on Demand to produce the canvas. 

Ecclesiastes 9:7

Ecclesiastes 9:7 "Go, eat your food and drink your wine with a joyful heart."

Guest Bedroom:  Numbers 6:24-26, acrylic on canvas.  Devon Dixon also created this beauty for us.  As with the lazysusan, I gave her a photo of what I wanted it to look like, and she did the rest.

Numbers 6:24-26

Numbers 6:24-26 "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."

Library:  Romans 12:9-10 and Proverbs 3:5-6, ink on silk.  We purchased these while on vacation in China.  I may have English translations made at some point.

Romans 12:9-10 & Proverbs 3:5-6

Romans 12:9-10 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." & Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

However, I may move these two pieces somewhere else as I really like the following versus on wisdom for the library.

  • Proverbs 3:13, 15, 17, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.  She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire compares with her.  Her ways are pleasant and her all her paths are peace.”
  • Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.  Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”
  • Proverbs 9:9, “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”
  • Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Stairwell:  Collage, ink on cardstock.  This was the first art I made specifically for our new home.  My idea for infusing each room of my house with scripture began with this project.  These are some of our favorite scriptures.

scripture collage

scripture collage

  • Jeremiah 6:16, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
  • Isaiah 43:18-20, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
  • 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
  • Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
  • Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
  • Jeremiah 29:11, “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.”
  • Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Psalm 37:4-5, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit you way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act.”
  • Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others  up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Caleb’s Bedroom:  Psalm 22:10, cross-stitch.  When I was pregnant with Caleb, this scripture really stuck out to me, and I have “claimed” this verse for him. 

Psalm 22:10

Psalm 22:10 "From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God."

Jason’s Bedroom:  Psalm 103:1, cross-stitch.  This was the verse that really stuck with while I was pregnant with Jason.

Psalm 103:1

Psalm 103:1 "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name."

These are the rooms that are left.  I have ideas for the scripture I want, but I have not decided on how best to display them.

Foyer:  I may move the two pieces in the library to the foyer, but I really like Joshua 24:15 for an entry, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Guest Bathroom:  I really have no idea what scripture I want here.  I will probably go with something simple like 2 Thessalonians 3:13, “Never tire of doing what is right.”

Caleb’s and Jason’s Bathroom:  I think Psalm 51:7 is appropriate for a young boys’ bathroom, “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

Playroom:  I like Proverbs 19:20 for this space, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and in the end you will be counted among the wise.”

Office:  I especially like this Titus passage as both my husband and I are teachers.  Titus 2:7, “In everything set an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech.”

Laundry:  I’m thinking of this one for my least favorite room in the house.  From Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

Master Bedroom:  I want some type of collage with some of my favorite love versus including these. 

  • Song of Songs 6:3, “I am my lover’s and my lover is mine.”
  • Song of Songs: 4:10, “How delightful is your love . . . How much more pleasing is your love than wine.”
  • Song of Songs 8:6, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.”
  • Proverbs 3:3, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”
  • Proverbs 31:29, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
  • Psalms 85:10-12, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.  The Lord will indeed give what is good.”

Master Bath:  There are a few I like for this room.

  • Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment . . . Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

What are your favorite scriptures?  How do you have them displayed in your home?

Fasting – Five Weeks Down, the Rest of My Life to Go

1 04 2011

 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him sent me and to finish his work.”
-John 4:34

 “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 
After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 
The tempter came to him and said,
‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread,’ 
Jesus answered, ‘It is written: 
‘Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.*’”
–Matthew 4:1-4, *Deuteronomy 8:3

 I have completed my fifth week of fasting—one day per week consuming only liquids.  (It may be helpful to read about my Call to Fast before proceeding with this post.) After the very first week I was sold on the importance of pursuing this spiritual discipline as well as the blessings it offers.  Here are my observations.


I have to be proactive.  Going into each fast, I asked a few close friends to pray for me that:

  • I would be able to fight whatever Satan would throw at me to thwart my efforts.
  • I would fight temptation victoriously.
  • God would honor my heart and my desire to connect with Him on a deeper level.
  • Goodness and blessing would abound.

Indeed, all these prayers were answered in mighty ways. 

I think about food way too much.  However, during my times of fasting, every little stomach grumble or stray thought about a piece of chocolate brought me that much closer to the heart of God.  Every reminder of why I was fasting immediately turned my thoughts to prayer.  I found I was praying constantly throughout the day—significantly more than I normally do.


I eat way too much.  I do not need to consume anywhere near the amount of food I do.  I am not overweight by any means, but I eat more than I should simply because it’s there and it tastes good, and most of what I eat is junk.  I am very disciplined in discerning needs versus wants when it comes to financial issues and material possessions, but I lack discipline in this area when it comes to food.  I need to learn to eat what my body needs.  Honestly, I can’t think of a single time when my body needed that second cookie (or even the first.)


There is a significant connection between our stomachs and our relationship with God.  I can’t explain this one well, yet.  This is a thought I’ve had often during my fasts, and it’s still something I need to ponder more.  However, there is no denying that food holds a significant role in scripture.  Great feasts and times of rejoicing are mentioned often as are times of sacrifice and fasting.  Whether we are living in abundance or scarcity, how we treat food is possibly a good indicator of how we connect with God.

  • Do you gorge when you are sad or depressed?  Or do you seek the One who can comfort you?
  • Do you eat to reward yourself?  Or do you find your worth as a child of God?
  • Are you continually thinking about your next meal?  Or are you focusing on the One who provides your next meal?
  • Are you disciplined at the buffet?   Or do you seek self-control to avoid the buffet line all together if you know it will be your downfall?  Is this indicative of how you deal with temptation in other areas of your life?


There is nothing wrong with being tempted.  Jesus was tempted, after all.  It’s how I deal with temptation that matters.  Going into this the first few weeks, one of my biggest concerns was how I would respond to the temptation of food—the free ice cream after the pep rally, the reheated Polish sausage for Caleb’s dinner, passing the Cinnabon stand at O’Hare, the cookie a co-worker gave me at 7:15 a.m.  I found that because I had been proactive in prayer and continually in prayer throughout the day, the temptation to eat diminished greatly.  Turning my mind from food to God was quite easy and natural.  Physically, I’m still surprised at how easy it is to go a full 24+ hours without eating.


Once I got started with my extended time of prayer in the evenings, I didn’t want to stop.  Some days, I get so distracted after just two minutes of trying to pray.  During my times of fasting, however, I want to keep going, even after a solid hour of prayer.  I can’t describe the peace at the core of my soul during these times.


God honors our hearts when we seek Him.  The night of my first fast, my husband and I had a long conversation.  He shared with me, with difficulty, about how I had hurt him in the past.  We’ve had this discussion numerous times, and usually I have responded very poorly.  My default behavior is to become defensive, sarcastic, and try to turn the conversation to make myself out to be the victim.  Of course, this is anything but helpful.


Because I had been in prayer so intensely throughout the day, I heard the Spirit talking to me very clearly as I continued to pray while my husband was talking.  Seeking God’s will in that moment, I very plainly heard God tell me, “Hold him.  Apologize.”  As simple as this suggestion was, I’m not sure I would have come to the same conclusion had I not been fasting, praying, and seeking God’s will all day, and I’m not sure I would have had the strength to actually do it.  But I did, and blessings flowed.


Goodness came from each fast, and I’m not sure I’d have received the same blessings had I not been fasting.  I read this Psalm a few days ago.  It speaks so perfectly to my experience with fasting.

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say;
he promises peace to his people, his saints–
but let them not return to folly. . .

Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.

The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.”
-Psalms 85:8, 10-13

What I Love About You Now . . .

19 03 2011

The men in our home church group are on a retreat this weekend.  On our ladies retreat in January, the men wrote notes to us–one for each of the three days we were away.  We wives decided to do the same for our men this time around.

  • For Friday, we focused on what we love about our husbands.
  • Saturday’s notes were written by our children and included a list of things they are thankful for, for their fathers.
  • For Sunday, we wrote about our dreams and goals for our futures together.

Mapenzi, this is for you!

  1. You are a man after God’s own heart.
  2. You have a rock-solid faith.
  3. You have one of the purest hearts I’ve ever encountered.
  4. You thirst for righteousness in everything and from everyone.
  5. You desire goodness, always.
  6. You are a man of many, many, many talents.
  7. You are a true Renaissance Man.
  8. Your musical abilities continually amaze me.
  9. Your intelligence is incredible.
  10. You are interested and curious about so many things.
  11. You can fix almost anything.
  12. You can build sheds and decks that rock the neighborhood.
  13. You are a most fabulous father.
  14. Your sons adore you above any other man on earth.
  15. You do all the driving.
  16. Your running capabilities will never cease to astonish me.
  17. You are a great experimental cook.
  18. You make delicious pickles and salsa.
  19. You do all the grilling.
  20. You clean the bathtub for me.
  21. You do all the yard work and take care of the vehicles so I don’t have to.
  22. You are my filter.
  23. You fast with me and for me.
  24. You will do anything I ask.
  25. You love me more than words can express.

I only thought of this one after I saw “The Addams Family” musical on Broadway this past week, but it’s so, so true:  You love me like Gomez loves Morticia.  If all husbands loved their wives with that deep, passionate, boundless love that transcends age and physical beauty, the state of marriage would be so much closer to God’s heart.  I get to live there every day with you.

Psalm 151

17 01 2011

This weekend I was at a ladies retreat with some of my dearest friends.  Our task Saturday morning was to write a psalm that expressed where we were at that moment in time in our relationship with God.  Once I began, the words flowed unceasingly.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.
All that I am, all my inmost being, every fiber within me will praise you always.

You are my God, my Savior, my Lord, my Life, my Creator, my Perfector.
I trust in your will with a pure heart.
I long to live a life of goodness, peace and joy.
My heart’s desire is to be transformed into a woman after your own heart.

Why do I wrestle with my thoughts day and night?
Why do the talons ensnare my heart so fiercely?
Why must I fight with my oppressor every day?

I am tired of fighting.
The struggle has wearied my spirit.
My mind longs for rest.
My heart yearns for peace.

“Forgive me! Help me!”
Some days those are the only prayers my spirit can utter, but you always hear my cry.
You long to hear my pleas for forgiveness and help.

Despite the pit I am in, I see your Light ever-present before me.
I feel your love ever around me –
          in my family and the friends you have placed in my path.
I feel the prayers of your saints who cry out to you on my behalf.
I feel your arms steadying me on the path, holding me when my strength fails me.
I feel your Spirit embracing my soul when my own thoughts betray me and turn against you.
Amidst the brightening light of your love, my cares and sorrows fade.
Your comfort stills my heart and mind.

You call me beautiful when all I see within me is ugliness.
You call me beloved daughter, heir to your kingdom,
          even when I turn my back on you and follow the path of my tormentor.
Yet, you never give up.
You never let go.
You never stop loving me even when I break your heart.
Your infinite grace, unlimited patience, and immeasurable mercy astound me.
I cannot comprehend your extraordinary love for me.

I am blessed beyond anything I deserve.
You have given me precious treasures I can never repay.
You allow me to live in a land of plenty.
You have filled my life with abundance and wealth.
I need for nothing.
I want only to be known as a woman after your own heart.

I will wake in the mornings and give thanks that you have given me another breath,
          another day to live your goodness,
          another opportunity to pursue knowing your heart.
Help me to live out your heart’s desires,
and to make your truth my truth, O Lord my God.
I will rest each night in your unfailing, never-ending love.
I will ever praise you, my Savior and my God, most intimate lover of my soul.