...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Where Is Your Happy Place?

I love the movie "Finding Nemo." 

I love the Dad, Marlin, who will go to the ends of the earth to search out his son. (He reminds me of my Heavenly Father Who has gone to the ultimate length to save me.

I love Dory who not only can't remember what she did 2 minutes ago, but also doesn't remember how grumpy Marlin is to her, and never wavers in her loyalty to him. (She reminds me of my children who have seen me at my very worst and yet love me anyway.)

I love Crush, the sea turtle, who is the coolest surfer dude dad ever. (He really doesn't remind me of anyone I know- maybe because I live in Texas? Not many surfer dudes here!)

One scene where I always get a chuckle is when the child-terror Darla, the fish killer, is banging on the aquarium tank, and the starfish, Peach, is saying, "Find my happy place! Find my happy place!"

Sometimes, when life is getting turned upside down on me, I think of Peach, and try to find my happy place.

Up to now, my happy place was picturing myself on a big, cushioned swing hanging in a screened-in porch in the Colorado mountains, with the sound of the rushing river in my ears, a Dr. Pepper by my side, and a good book in my hands.

But today I found a better happy place, even than that:
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
Psalm 27:6

 Why is this a better happy place?
  1. God is the One Who conceals me, hides me, and lifts me to the spot. I don't even have to GET there by myself. My Father, who loves me, takes me there, and then He hides me away in safety.
  2. Just look at where He is taking me!
  • Tabernacle: where I can PRAISE Him.
  • Tent: where I can recover with rest.
  • Rock: where I can be secure with a firm foundation.
It just doesn't get much better than that.

So where is my new happy place? In the arms of my loving Heavenly Father, who hides me away in the midst of life's storms.

What could be happier than that?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where is the Control Z?

My life on the computer was made ever so much easier when I discovered "control-z".

What I know about the computer I have figured out through trial and error. I am from the generation which is NOT intuitively computer savvy. I have learned a great deal over the years, but most of it the hard way.

Every time I make a new discovery on the computer I can literally feel the light come on as I realize how many applications one little key stroke or tool can have.

But the best one ever is control-z.

I don't like how that looks?

I accidentally highlighted and then erased an entire paragraph?

I completely messed up this freecell game?
Control-z. Control-z. Control-z.

Today I am wishing for a life control-z button.
Or a do-over.
Or a backsies.

But life in this world with people and stuff and mess and mistakes and sin does not have a convenient button to undo the stuff we mess up.

Thankfully God says:
You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away;
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10
How amazing.
God does not require for us to figure it all out.
He looks at us in the midst of our sinfulness, sorrow, and pain and He. Holds. Us.

And today I need to be held.
I cannot undo what has been done, but I can lay down in the palm of my Father's hand and watch Him help me.

I am so glad I don't have to figure this one out.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Enduring Love

I have to admit that yesterday, as we walked into church, I really didn't want to be there.

It wasn't the church.
It was me.

My heart was a conflicted mess and I don't do well when it feels that way.
I felt unloved.
And I felt unloveable.

And then the music began, and the first song:
Give thanks to the Lord, our God and King,
His love endures forever.
As I soaked in those words, which hope longed for but self-condemnation denied, there followed the sweet whispering in my heart, "You are my beloved. You are loved."

I was completely overwhelmed.
Not just because of the humbling fact that the God of the universe reassured my heart of His love, but because I was agonizingly cognizant of how deeply undeserving I was of this love.

His love endures forever.
It endures my bad moods.
It endures my inconsistencies.
It endures my contradictions.
It endures my hot spells and cold spells.
(And it endures my hot flashes, my emotional unreasonableness, and my mood swings.)
It endures my angry outbursts.
It endures my worry, fretting, and complaining.

His love for me is not limited by time, distance, location, weather, circumstance, or situation.

Because His love is based upon Who He is, not who I am or how well I am behaving.

So at a moment that I could not think of another thing to thank Him for (and there were untold number of things to thank Him for- I just couldn't think of them in the jumbled mess of my mind), at that moment I was filled with the healing, sustaining, completing, invigorating fact that My God Loves Me and that Love Endures Forever!

For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Ps 100:5

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Birthday George!

One of the best perks of having been a homeschool mom for the past 20 years is that I learned all sorts of things I never knew before.

Take George Washington.
My knowledge of Washington after 12 years of public school and 4 years earning a history degree was as follows:
  • He chopped down a cherry tree and learned not to lie.
  • He crossed a river in a boat with some soldiers when it was cold and won a battle.
  • He had a really bad winter in Valley Forge.
  • He had wooden teeth so he never smiled.
  • He won the Revolutionary War.
  • He was our first president.
Impressive amount of knowledge, don't you think?

After diving deep into the waters of our country's founding, time and time again with my different students, I have learned a bit more.

But this time around, going through it again with my youngest group, I discovered some very interesting facts that I had totally missed before.

The most illuminating one was this:
  • George Washington lost more battles than he won in the Revolutionary War.
That's right.
He fought in 9.
He lost 6.
He won 3.

And because of that there were politicians calling for his resignation.
There were critics that hurled insults.
There were generals underneath him who thought they could do a better job.

And it seems he had nights of deep questioning and severe doubts about what he was doing and why he was doing it.

Listen to this quote:
"I have often thought how much happier I should have been, if instead of accepting of a command under such circumstances, I had taken my musket upon my shoulders and entered the rank, or if I could have justified the measure of posterity, and my own conscience, had retired to the back country, and lived in a wigwam."  ~George Washington

I understand how he felt.
I have thought many times that a "wigwam" in the back country would be a marvelous idea.
Away from the struggles.
Absent of the dissenting voices.
Ignorant of the climatic events that are surrounding me.
Free from the worries of the future.

But just like George, I have no choice but to keep on fighting.
As a woman of honor with a higher calling than myself, I must keep trudging on in the face of apparent defeat, without enough supplies, hearing the nagging voice of doubt ringing in my ears, all the while attempting the look of confidence for those who are following behind me so that they aren't tempted to give up.

In the end, it didn't matter how many battles George won.
It mattered WHICH battles George won.

He won the last battle!
He won Yorktown. The one that mattered. The one that ended the war.

So keep fighting. Whatever war or battle or difficulty or obstacle that you are facing, however many times you have already been defeated, however bleak the future appears or hopeless the circumstances seem......keep fighting.

It does not matter HOW MANY battles you win.
It matters WHICH battles you win.

Don't. Give. Up.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."   Galatians 6:9

Monday, February 11, 2013

Change is the Only Constant!

Our Christmas letter this year went out decidedly AFTER Christmas, but at least it was BEFORE Valentine's Day!  Disclaimer: This letter is about MY family, so I find it fascinating....I don't really assume anyone else will. But I like to write a letter each year to record the ways God is working in each one of us.

    Let the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to him.  
He changes times and seasons, …He gives wisdom to the wise; he imparts knowledge to those with understanding;...O God of my fathers, I acknowledge and glorify you. 
Daniel 2:20-23

On innumerable sappy plaques and countless cheesey coffee mugs is the old saying: Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

There has been much change in our lives over the past year. There has been even more change over the past decade, as our Christmas picture clearly demonstrates! The first picture was taken in Dover, DE in 2002 and the second picture was taken in our front yard in 2012. Yes, there has been a great deal of change.  Babies became children, children became teenagers, and teenagers became adults. And all in the blink of an eye, or so it seems.
Change can be unsettling but it is also inevitable, as well as necessary, as we are molded more and more into the people God desires us to be. When we were young, we thought the molding process would have been done by now. We assumed 5 decades were long enough for God to work on us! But we can attest that God never stops working on His children, and that may be the main reason we take the time every year to sit down and recall some of the things God has done in our lives…because we want to give Him His due. Now, our letter is late again, because some things never change, but here is our best effort at sharing some of the things God has done!

Nathan’s greatest change came in the complete gender shift of the home. It is currently he and six (6!) females occupying our home. Some nights you can find him tucked away in the corner having received more than his share of female hormones for that day. To be honest, he thoroughly enjoys the company of all six lovely young ladies. Though his business has seen modest growth, he continues to look for additional sources of purpose and income. He enjoys teaching with Cru Military one Sunday a month at Lackland AFB, and has joined together with local men to equip and encourage other Christian Men of Business here in our hometown. He enjoys teaching and public speaking whenever the opportunity presents itself. Helping navigate the family in today’s changing seas is always full of challenges and joy!
 Change seems to be one of the main ingredients to Susan’s life this year. She has gone from stay-at-home mom to Principal of a small Christian school, Summit Christian Academy, and finds herself still on the upward climb of the learning curve of the new job. It has been a relief, however, to experience the many ways God has prepared her for this journey over the years. Much of the work and effort of homeschooling has direct applications to this job, so maybe God knew what He was doing?!?! The school is a combination of homeschooling and private schooling so she still teaches Hannah and Abigail at home two days a week. She continues writing on her blog when she can, although finding time for that the past few months has proven difficult. She still enjoys cooking, though the frequency has fallen. And it appears she has given up gardening all together! One item, though, was crossed off her bucket list- she took the girls to DeSmet, SD and saw Laura Ingalls Willder’s home! It was as wonderful as she had hoped!
One of the most important changes for Caleb has been a renewed sense of the call of God on his life. After the heartache and death of a vision that Caleb experienced in the past few years, it is a joy to once again see him feeling joy and living purposefully. He continues as a firefighter, enjoying that job. It allows him the freedom to travel, which he took advantage of this year by traveling down under to Australia.  He also pursues other interests like coaching soccer, photography, and playing with his dogs, Toby and Tess, who had puppies this year -a time consuming but rewarding event.  After spending his entire childhood sharing a room with his two brothers, Caleb now shares his house with them, because being brothers….well, that is one thing that never changes!
The changes in Luke’s life have been in amounts rather than activities. He still talks on the phone incessantly, works with clients strategically, drives all over the state continually, and loves his family and friends passionately. But he just does MORE of all that than he did the year before! Since this past year was a campaign year he was very busy, even by his standards. Macias Strategies had a successful campaign season across the state, with several new, principled men in office. We are grateful to say that even with his success, his smile, his love for family, friends and the Lord, and his passion for living hasn’t changed a bit!
There are two major changes for Aaron this year. First, there is the change of location as he came back to Texas after finishing his second year at Ravencrest (all his family says, “Yeah!”)  Second, there is the change in his heart as he fell deeply in love with a lovely young woman named Gigi Robinson whom he met at Ravencrest.  In between finishing school and starting his new job Aaron spent 6 weeks in Iowa at a Christian camp. Now Aaron is working full-time at a new job (another change!) and living with Caleb and Luke at Caleb’s home. Gigi has recently moved to San Antonio from Alaska and is living with us in Bulverde and has begun studying to become a massage therapist. In order to be selfless and to help her as much as we can, the family has offered to let her practice on them whenever she needs to!
                As Grace ended her school year last spring she again qualified for Nationals in Speech (NCFCA) for the last time, a bitter-sweet experience. Now moving into the next stage of life, Grace has experienced a great deal of change. She is an entrepreneur with her photography business, a part-time student as she finishes a few classes, and a part-time baby sitter to help put gas in the car. She is also an indispensible help to the family in filling in with cooking, cleaning, and other aspects of homemaking. She has a new website for her business, gracemacias.com, if you would like to see some of her work. In her spare time she goes to BSF, visits with friends, and drinks sweet tea!
                Leah has entered a new season and experienced change in several areas as well. She is working part-time for Summit as an Administrative Assistant. She loves working with the kids, and not surprisingly they adore “Miss Leah.” She is finishing up some high school math but has also moved on in her other studies to pursuing college credit through CLEP, passing several tests already. After qualifying for Nationals in Speech and in Debate, and after competing for 4 years, she is taking a break from competition this year. But the biggest change she would like to occur is for her to become a licensed driver, an accomplishment to which she is painfully close.  Along with Aaron and Grace, Leah was taken on one last cruise! This time they got to go to Alaska where they were awe-struck by the incredible natural beauty.
                Change has been a major player in Hannah’s year this year. Last spring, in her first year of Speech competition, she and Grace did a Duo (an interpretive speech done together) with which they won Regionals and received 16th in Nationals.  This school year she has entered the world of private school two days a week with backpacks, lunch boxes, uniforms, and teachers other than her mother! We still homeschool three days a week, but it has been a big adjustment! Another change is the opportunity Hannah has been blessed with to learn flute. She is trading babysitting for lessons and seems to have a natural ability with the instrument. She hopes to add guitar to the list this year!
                Abigail has rolled with the changes in her life with amazing resilience this year. She has adapted well to Summit and enjoys her classes and her new friends. She is enrolled in a new ballet school where the study is taken much more seriously, but she has thrived with the discipline and loves it! Another change for Abby is a bit of a growth spurt, though it would appear to be completely in her legs! (Not entirely a bad thing for a ballerina.) Thankfully, at least so far, some things about Abigail have not changed. She is still gentle, and cuddly, and silly, and sweet. And she will always hold the place of “baby” of the family!

And there you have it- another year of revisions, adjustments, corrections, refinement, modifications, and well, in a word, CHANGE!  Yes, we have changed. But the good news is that God, in Whose hands our lives and our futures rest, has said, “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6) How grateful we are that His is a God that “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). What an amazing gift that this infinite, eternal God desires and seeks relationship with us!

The Macias Family prays that you are blessed this year with the presence, the reality, and the assurance of the love that the never-changing God of the universe has for each of you.

Nathan, Susan, Caleb, Luke, Aaron, Grace, Leah, Hannah, and Abigail

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Five Minute Goal

Here it is February, 1/12th of the way through 2013, and I still haven't made any goals for this year.

So what is the grace period on "New" Year's resolutions? Or in other words, how long is the New Year new?

I have felt resistance to resolutions this year. I was fine with carefully avoiding them up to now, but somehow I feel I let a ball drop or have a task undone. And I hate feeling like I left a task undone.

Oh, the curse of being a "doer".

But I have come up with a new idea for this year.
I had already decided to make this the year of living "right now" in the life I have.

So why not make my resolutions "Right Now" resolutions?
Instead of deciding on something big I will need a long time to accomplish, like losing ten pounds, or running a 10K, or writing my first novel,...instead I will resolve on something I can do in the next 5 minutes.

I will show God's grace toward the slow cashier.
I will appropriate Christ's long-suffering toward the guy in the big truck who just cut me off.
I will follow Jesus' example of long-suffering by listening intently to the long, drawn out description being given to me by my 10 year old when what I really want to do is spend a few mindless minutes on Facebook.
I will return evil for good.
I will remember that love endures all things.
I will give a gentle answer so that wrath will be turned away.
I will lay down my life for my friend.

At least for the next five minutes.
Because I cannot really be that good for an entire day.
And for a whole week?
Yeah, not so much.

But for the next five minutes?
And the five minutes after that?
And the next five minutes after that?

I don't need to look at my entire day, or week, or month, or year, and try to figure out how to get enough of God's grace to get me through all the trials and temptations. That simply overwhelms me.

But I can appropriate the ever-available, always-sufficient, never-ending, supernaturally-enabling grace and power of the Eternal God for the next five minutes.
Because, right now I need His grace, for my right now.
And for my next right now, and my next right now, and my.....well, you get the idea.

So my goal- to just keep living for Jesus five minutes at a time, for a whole year.

Jesus, let's do this thing. Because I can't do it without You- not even for five minutes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"I Need Thee Every Hour"....Every. Single. One.

Every now and then an old hymn is part of our praise singing at church.

I love the oldies. There is such richness in the words. There is often a vibrant, poetical style as a saint of old tried to capture a measure of the eternal in the transient vapor of earthly words.

A few weeks ago we sang "I Need Thee Every Hour", a hymn written in 1872 by Mrs. Annie Hawks. As we first began to sing I was lulled by the familiarity and nostalgia of the tune and cadence of the words.

But then something happened...an understanding dawned.

I need Thee EVERY hour. Every. Single. One.

In the hour that I wake up and struggle between the desire to tunnel down into the covers and the need to get up so I have time in the Word before the masses wake up...I need Thee in that hour.

Next, in the hour that we are rushing out the door, and we are almost late, and someone has to run in for one. more. thing....I need Thee in that hour.

Then, in the hour when I am on the road, behind the truck that is perfectly content going 15 miles an hour slower than is allowed, and there is no place to pass, and I am on the verge of being late....I need Thee in that hour.

And when, in the course of the day frustrations come, and disappointments, and roadblocks, and difficulties, and impediments....I need Thee in every single one of those hours.

In the hour when I am choosing a line to check out at the grocery store, and I choose the slow one....AGAIN!, and I am tempted to grump at the check-out person for being so slow, and sigh and complain, and let everyone know how irritating this is.....I need Thee in that hour.

Later, in the hour when I have to choose between the really choice retort that is ready to leap off my tongue and the gentle answer that the Spirit is prompting me to give....I need Thee in that hour.

And finally, in the hour I am readying for bed, and I look back on my day and wonder if I have done ANYTHING of eternal value, and regret my bad choices, and feel despair and condemnation creeping into my heart....I need Thee in that hour.

I need Thee EVERY hour.
Every hour I described, and every hour inbetween.

I need Thee, oh I need Thee.
Every hour I need Thee.
Oh bless me now my Savior,
I come to Thee.

What hour do you most need the Lord?
Describe it in the comment box.
Aren't you glad He is there for us when we need Him most?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Don't Know Anything

"The Thinker" by Rodin
I remember being young and confident and self-assured and certain that my generation could change the world.

I remember being convinced that justice would win out in the end and that making the right choices would be rewarded and that honesty would triumph.

I remember believing that good actions would be acknowledged and that teaching children the right thing when they were young would guarantee their success and that eating well, juicing, and not being immunized would keep us from getting sick.

I used to know a lot more than I do now.

Now? Now, I don' know anything.

I have watched young people who have been taught about covenant marriage their whole life, who have avoided the dating trap, who have had lovely, God-glorifying weddings, and who have in a very short time abandoned their spouse, their families, and their God.

I have seen men take their family to church, homeschool their children, and tell others about the Lord and who have then abandoned their wives and children for a younger woman.

I have observed Christians double-deal in business and been successful while men who have stood by principles and dealt honestly but have lost everything.

There are so many things I don't understand!
There are so many things I don't know.
In fact, I. Don't. Know. Anything.

Except this:
"I know that the Lord is great, 
and that our Lord is above all gods."
Ps. 135:5

And this:
"...one thing I do know, that, 
whereas I was blind, now I see."
John 9:25

I also know this:
"I know that my Redeemer lives, 
and at the last He will take His stand on the earth."
Job 19:25

Additionally, there is this:
"I know whom I have believed and I am convinced
that He is able to guard what I have entrusted
to Him until that day."
II Tim. 1:12

So maybe I know something after all.
Maybe in the end, what has really happened is that all the temporary, fleshy bits of non-eternal, which is where I had expected to see the results, were just the moanings and groanings of a world gone terribly wrong.
But it was never about the results.
It was never about what I could see with my temporal eyes.

My confidence should never have been in anything but God.

And from now on, this is my pledge:
I am determined to know nothing among you
except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
I Cor. 2:2

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's The Obedience, Stupid

Back when Bill Clinton was running for president, James Carville coined the phrase for the emphasis of the campaign, "It's the economy, stupid." Because, apparently, at the end of the day most people vote for their pocket book above every other consideration.

So what is my trump card?
What is the deciding factor for me to decide what to do, which to choose, why to move, or where to go?

For years I have fought a tendency to evaluate my life and my choices by the results. If things don't look or feel that great, it must be that I am doing something wrong. And if things are going well, that must mean I am doing something right.

Really? Do I believe that really?

The answer is no, I don't. There are too many Biblical and historical examples of making the right choice that leads to a bad result.

Abraham obeys God, leaves his home in faith, and wanders, waiting for the fulfillment of the promise, but doesn't see it for 60 years.
David was chosen by God to be king but then hunted relentlessly by Saul for 13 years.
Daniel lives faithfully yet is taken captive, forced to live in a pagan culture, and eventually thrown in the lions den.
Noah, following God's blueprint, builds a huge boat, far from water, to prepare for a cataclysmic storm when there is not a cloud in the sky. And is ridiculed by his neighbors for decades.

It was not about the results for any of them.
It was never about the results.

It was the obedience.
It was the faith to believe God in spite of the logical realities.
It was the hope in the ultimate, eternal reality in spite of the present conditions.
It was the trust in the Ruler of life in spite of set backs, defeats, and disappointments.

It was the obedience.

"Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; 
paying attention is better than the fat of rams."
I Sam 15:22