Saturday, 21 November 2015
Sunday, 15 November 2015
Tomorrow I turn 28 and it has me thinking about goals. I’ve always been a goals-oriented person. Since having a baby, I’m still a goals-oriented person but the goals have definitely changed. Sometimes my goal in the day is to simply get my toddler down for a decent nap, to unload the dishwasher, or, let’s be honest, to just make it to bedtime. :) I think establishing goals for ourselves, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, is a really healthy, positive practice.
This morning had me thinking along the lines of personal goals. A lot of my personal goals the last few years have had to do with furthering my education or career. Graduate university, graduate with my teaching degree, get a job subbing, get a permanent teaching job. Once I had my son, the goals changed and became more mommy focused. Things like getting my baby to sleep well, helping him try different foods, nurturing values of sharing and kindness, being consistent with discipline, keeping a (somewhat) tidy home, cooking healthy meals, practicing self-care… these are all goals I’ve had this past year. But in the muddle of having a baby and getting pregnant relatively soon after, I’ve found that it is very easy to lose sight of myself and my own, personal goals.
It’s completely ok that my goals have changed in this season and I think it’s actually healthy. As our lives change, we reorient ourselves to what is happening around us and the needs of those counting on us. But I also think it's healthy for us to have our own things. I recently heard Jess Connolly say on a periscope that she believes all moms are a “mom plus.” This idea that moms can be, for example, a mom plus a business owner, a mom plus a teacher, a mom plus a homemaker, a mom plus a crafter, a mom plus a writer, a mom plus an artist, a mom plus a pastor’s wife, a mom plus whatever, was refreshing to me. It made sense to me. What is my “mom plus”?
When I invite God into this question and ask him what he is calling me to in this season (my ‘plus’ something), I feel a few things heavy on my heart. Heavy in a good way. Heavy in a way that even just thinking about them brings me purpose and excitement.
For me, right now those things are…
-encouraging relationships with the other moms he’s put in my lives
-preparing our hearts for the church ministry he is calling us to
-putting time, effort and resources into my blog
-setting aside time for writing on my blog
There are always more things, more people, or more endeavours we can give ourselves to. One day I would love to get a masters degree, but I don’t feel that is what I’m being called to right now. Paying attention to the things that he’s put on my heart right now allows me to discover my calling and purpose in this season of my life.
So, considering what I feel he’s calling me to right now, here are some personal goals I have for myself in this season…
- Invest in the women God has placed in my life- nurture friendship, encourage them in their motherhood and relationships with God
- Allow God to prepare my heart and ready it for the ministry he is calling us to- time in His word, continuous prayer, and building my relationship with my husband during this time
- Purchase a blog design and install it
- Write 2-3 times a week on my blog- ask God for help in narrowing my focus as I discern the particular purpose of this blog and the ways he wants to use it
I love setting goals. I love the purpose and structure they can bring to our lives. I encourage you to set some personal goals for yourself. And if they are simply to make it to bedtime with those kiddos of yours or to maybe eat a vegetable today…I so get that. :)
Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Some days, I feel like theres just not enough space. Space to think. Space to breathe. Space to be patient. Space to grow. Space to trust. Space to celebrate. How do we create space? I think the answer is in the word ‘less.’ In John 3:30 we read, “He must become greater; I must become less.” He must become greater. I must become less.
This past week we set up our Christmas tree. A little early, I know. But there’s something about having it up early that I just love. Having a tree in your home is kind of a funny thing, if you think about it. And then, to top it off, we put lights on this tree in our home and we decorate it? If you think about it, it is a little strange. And it had me wondering recently, where did this tradition begin?
I read up on it and discovered this:
“It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.” (http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees).
A man takes a moment to look up at the stars, notices their beauty amidst the evergreens and decides to recreate this moment of awe for his family, in their home. This simple act turned into a tradition that still is very much alive today.
As we approach the sacred season of Advent, I am aware that, most years, the days leading up to Christmas are full. This year, I want it to be different. Instead of feeling rushed and stressed and busy, I want to have a quiet, joyful, in awe heart before the Lord. I recognize that in order to do this, I need more space. The question is, how do I make Him greater, and how do I become less? Becoming less doesn’t mean we boycott gifts, say no to family functions, and become the grinches who stole Christmas. Becoming less, I think, looks a lot like Martin Luther did. The story says he was walking home, writing a sermon. I’m sure he was feeling distracted or maybe even burdened on this walk. But instead of keeping his gaze downward, he turned it up. Towards the stars, the evergreens, the heavens. He noticed the beauty and basked in it. And then he recreated it for the ones he loved.
May our hearts be turned towards you in each moment of this Advent season. May we not become distracted by the burdens and weights that often overtake our hearts during this season. Instead, may we be so enamoured with the miracle of your Son, Jesus, coming to earth to save us, that we notice the beauty in lit-up trees, in giving and receiving gifts, in baking cookies and singing carols and smelling turkey. May it all be a sweet offering of praise to you. I pray that you, Holy Spirit, would enable us to make the space we need in our hearts to worship you. In your precious name we pray, Amen.
Monday, 9 November 2015
I woke this Monday morning, knowing that I have a choice. That, in fact, I have many choices.
I can start off my week grumbling about all that I need to get done, or I can start off my week with hands lifted in thanksgiving, trusting God to help me accomplish the tasks ahead.
I can live in hurry mode, constantly trying to tidy up after my 18 month old, racing to get small tasks done around the house, or I can slow down. I can look at the task in front of me as a portal into the Kingdom of God, as a small way to serve my Heavenly Father.
I can live out of fear, constantly worrying about our future and what it might look like, or I can rest in the unchanging love, faithfulness and goodness of the Lord, who already goes before us and has a good plan for our lives.
I can go through my days longing to have a big influence and platform, wishing that what I did seemed more meaningful, or I can choose to “celebrate my smallness” (Emily P. Freeman, Simply Tuesday) and see the sacred in making grilled cheese sandwiches, reading storybooks, cooking for my family and having dance parties after dinner.
Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. ~ James 5:11
I read these verses in James this morning, and the word steadfast stood out to me. Sometimes I think what makes our days frustrating, lonely and unfulfilling is that we’re striving after something God has not yet given us. We want to see the next step when he hasn’t revealed it yet. We want to live into the full potential of our calling when Jesus is asking for faithfulness in the small moments of our days. We want all the kinks and troubles of our health, our relationships, our finances, to be resolved so we can live at peace. Instead Jesus offers us himself, the Prince of Peace, and gives us all that we need amidst troubles, trials and unfulfilled longings in our lives.
So, on this bright November Monday morning, I’m taking a different posture. I’m not trying to do things perfectly, no, because I know I will only fail again and again. Instead, I am leaning in to my Saviour, Jesus.
I’m choosing worship, gratitude, and slow paced living. I’m seeking to trust him as I celebrate my smallness. I’m choosing to believe that those who remain steadfast will be considered blessed and that through it all, the Lord is compassionate and merciful, always.
Wednesday, 4 November 2015
I just started reading the book “Simply Tuesday” by Emily P. Freeman (one of my favourite bloggers.) It’s all about ‘celebrating your smallness’ and slowing down in a fast-moving world.
It’s so easy for me to wake up and move through my days like a bit of a robot. Making check lists. Measuring the days success on whether or not my toddler napped well or behaved well, or whether errands got run and dinner got cooked. But I’m starting to see that going through my days this way looks a lot more like striving than abiding… and I think it’s making my soul weary and tired.
So…Wednesday goals, simply put?
Receive ~ Receive my energy, wisdom, and love from the Lord
Pour out ~ Pour out that love to my family and those I interact with throughout the day
Read (not social media) ~ While baby boy naps, use that time to do something that pours into me- reading a life-giving book or a fictional novel is so much more life giving for me than spending the whole time texting or on instagram, etc.
Play Outside ~It’s supposed to be 20 degrees here (yes in November in Ontario! What!) So taking my boy outside and letting him play (and maybe even letting myself play too) is a goal for today
Abide ~ Throughout the day, the moments, the ups and downs, just abiding in the love of my heavenly Father
Dinner ~ I’m thinking spaghetti and salad night
Connect ~ Using some time after dinner and our son’s bedtime to connect with my husband
Rest ~ Get to bed at a reasonable hour and get the rest I need (this pregnant mama needs all the rest she can get!)
Sure, there are other more ‘productive’ things I could put on my list for today. And it’s not a fail if I end up using some of my time to do laundry or clean, but those are not the primary goals of my day.
What about you? What are your “Wednesday Goals” today? And if they feel more burdensome than life-giving, is there a way for you to rewrite those goals (even if they are still very task-oriented) that will allow you to abide rather than strive today?
Monday, 26 October 2015
Hi All! I’ve had the topic of transitions on my heart for a while, and I just want to name some things God’s been teaching me in this season of transition. For us, the transition has been a long time coming and the transition still isn’t over. We left our jobs, moved across the country a year and a half ago, had a baby, moved to a new home that we’re renting temporarily, and my husband has two courses left at seminary to complete his Masters degree. Baby #2 is on the way and we have no idea what the next step is for us.
Your transition in life might not be quite as dramatic, but no matter when or what the transition is, transitions are just downright hard for most of us. Transition means change. And change is not easy. Maybe, for you, it’s that you’re graduating and wondering what you'll be doing next or you’re getting married or you’re in a new relationship or you’re moving to a new house or you’re switching churches or your kids are starting school. Whatever it may be, I hope you’ll find encouragement here today and can know that transition doesn’t have to be this horrible, dreaded thing. There can actually be a lot of fruit and growth and blessing in seasons of transition.
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
There are seasons of transition, but the biggest thing that keeps me hopeful in seasons of transition is knowing that it won’t last forever. :) My husband and I often tell each other, “This is just a season.”
So, three big things that have helped me in this season of transition?
- Seeing God’s provision. In season’s of transition, we are often losing something. But what’s amazing is the opportunity we get to recognize God’s provision, where perhaps we may have taken it for granted before. During this season, God has provided me with friends, peace, a home for us, funds to pay for our home and Kevin’s school while neither of us are working, and a church community…just to name a few. If you’re in a season of transition, use it as an opportunity to take notice of what God is doing and how he is providing for you. It's also okay to be sad about those things you have left or lost. Give yourself grace to grieve and lay it all at Jesus' feet.
- Learning to trust. Sometimes there are seasons where there is literally nothing else we can do but trust Him. Trusting him is pretty easy when things in our lives are going smoothly. When a lot is up in the air and we’re unsure of where he’s taking us, it’s downright hard to trust. But instead of living in doubt and fear, we can use this time as a beautiful opportunity to build our trust in the Lord. And then we simply pray and wait for him to show us the next step.
- The growth I’ve experienced. I can honestly say that I’ve had a ‘growth spurt’ during this season of transition. And by that, I mean a 'spiritual' growth spurt. It’s not that I think I’m more ‘spiritual’ than I was before. But I see how God has used this season to grow me. For some reason, this season has given him access to parts of my heart I had buried for a while. He has taught me so much in this season. He's reminded me of who I am in Him, how my security is in Him alone, how I don’t have to strive and I can simply be, how He is so much bigger than my problems and His love is so much bigger than fear. I know that I probably won’t completely understand the growth He has done in me and my family during this time until later on. But it’s real. He is with us in this season and He is not allowing it go to to waste. He’s using it all for His glory and His Kingdom. I believe that.
These are things I cling to when this season of transition just seems really hard. When I’m feeling discouraged in this season and am wondering will we ever know the next step or will God really come through for us, I can remember that He has already come through for us, over and over and over again. And my security is not in knowing our future plans. My security is ever and only all in Him alone.
Thank you, Jesus, that seasons of transition are never wasted. Thank you that you use each and every season of our lives to draw us closer to your heart. Encourage those those who are in seasons of transition in their lives. Help us to use these seasons to simply abide in you while we seek your wisdom and guidance for the future. Amen.
Thursday, 22 October 2015
Do you ever wonder if God still speaks to us today? Like really speaks to us?
When I think of some examples of God speaking, I think about when he showed up to Moses in a burning bush and commissioned him to go and rescue His people. Or when he revealed to the virgin Mary through one of his angels that she would conceive of a son, named Jesus, who would be the Son of God. Or the time he caused the scales to fall from Paul’s eyes so that he finally understood Jesus truly was the Son of God and he was wrong in his persecution of the Christians.
These are major, huge, pivotal moments in history. And there are countless stories of God speaking to his people in the bible, in both big and small ways. He didn’t just speak to ‘important’ people. No. Do you remember who showed up at his manger after he was born? The shepherds. Men who took care of sheep weren’t particularly important or distinguished members of society. Yet they were invited to this momentous, sacred, unbelievable moment in history. There is no criteria for who God speaks to. He longs for relationship with us all.
Sometimes hearing God’s voice seems impossible to us. Why is that? We seem to think we need to work hard to figure out how to hear his voice. Like it’s this big mystery. But I think its a lot more simple than that.
I’ve been thinking about what it means for us to simply reach out to Jesus. Because, when it comes down to it, he simply desires relationship with us.
“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. -Matthew 9:20-22
This poor woman had suffered for years. I’m sure she questioned God. I’m certain she felt angry about her condition at times, that she would pray and nothing would change. Yet, in this moment, she sees an opportunity to reach out to Jesus. She touches the edge of his cloak. And He tells her that her faith has healed her.
Why didn’t Jesus heal this woman’s plight sooner? Why didn’t he reach out to her in that moment? I don’t know the answers to those questions. What I do see and the truth I love in this story is that it matters that we reach out to Him. He takes notice. He loves us. And he wants a relationship with us. He will never ignore us. I also see that, when we have even a tiny, little bit of faith, this is pleasing to Him.
So when I come back to this question, does God still speak to us today? Yes. Absolutely. He speaks in His time and in His way, but He absolutely speaks. I have most definitely had seasons where his voice has been quieter, even silent at times. I think God has his reasons for this and those seasons serve a purpose. But perhaps, he’s simply waiting for you to reach out to Him in faith. Maybe there’s actually a lot he wants to say to you right now.
I think where we tend to give up is when we think “Well, I don’t know if thats my voice or God’s voice?” I started attending a six week workshop on this very topic last week and the pastor said this about that issue… When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we become one with Him. His Spirit comes into our hearts. So if we have a thought and we’re not sure whether it’s God’s voice or our own, we can simply test it. Does this line up scripturally? Is it encouraging and not condemning? Then it can be trusted. I’m sure we get it wrong at times and listen to our own voice instead of God’s. But I also believe He is faithful and, over time, as we learn to hear His voice and distinguish it from our own, it will become more and more clear. Just like how you can distinguish your mom’s voice or your husband’s or your best friend’s on the phone. Over time, it’s unmistakable.
I hope this encourages you today, especially if you’ve been feeling like the Lord’s voice is quieter or silent in your life right now. He wants to speak to us. He is faithful. We can reach out in faith and trust that the God who created us, knows us intimately, and loves us unconditionally, is listening and will respond.
Monday, 19 October 2015
Right now, I’m a stay at home mama of one. Our one and a half year old boy is at a really fun stage and I’m loving that we have a more consistent routine than we did when he was a baby. Before being at home, I was a kindergarten teacher so my days were very routined and organized and I loved that. The past year and a half has been quite a shift in what my daily routine looks like, and I know that routine is about to change again in five months when the next little babe comes along!
I wanted to do a post about some of the things that make our daily routine enjoyable, smooth, and what that routine looks like for us right now. It will be interesting to compare this routine to what a routine with two looks like in several months! To be honest, I can’t quite imagine it and mostly I imagine a bit of chaos. :) Which I’m sure it will be at first.
In the mornings, we wake up (whenever Landon decides to wake us up. That time has switched a lot over the year. For a time it was consistently 6:00. The last few weeks it’s been 7:00 or a bit later, which we relish in!)
We’re in a unique situation right now in that my husband is in school and not working so we get a lot of ‘daddy time’ too, which we love. One of us gets up to make coffee, get Landon’s breakfast ready, and L inevitably points to the remote and says “Paw?!” (his cute way of asking to watch Paw Patrol- his favourite Netflix show.) We usually let him watch an episode while he eats breakfast and Kevin and I get a few minutes to wake up and chat. If Kevin is not home, I use this time to wake up, check my phone, read a quick devotional, etc.
Once we’re done with breakfast, Landon usually plays with his toys for a good while. Right now, he loves his Little People castle and also loves playing with his cars. He also loves having books read to him.
He is finally down to one nap, which is really nice because it gives us time to have some kind of morning outing. This usually consists of going for a walk or to somewhere like the library for story time or playing with the train table and taking out books. After an outing, we come home, make some lunch, and L goes down for a nap around 12:00.
Ahhh, break time for Mama. Sometimes I wish I was a little more productive with nap time. I usually use the first half hour to unload the dishwasher or tidy up. But I really try to prioritize doing something for myself during this time. Whether thats checking blogs I like, calling a friend, writing, reading, etc. Depending on how long he naps, sometimes I’ll just lay down and try to nap a bit myself.
L usually wakes up around 2-2:30. I find we need an afternoon outing because there is just way too much time between waking up from nap time and dinner time. Places I love to go are Indigo (they also have some fun toys and a train table that L loves), to visit a friend and do a play date, a walk with my mom or a friend, or we do something simply like grab groceries and run a few errands. This usually takes us about an hour and then we come home and L will play some more. Lately, I’ll put a show on for him while I start making dinner. A few other shows he likes right now are Clifford and Ruby & Max. I always kind of struggle with putting on the TV for him, but I feel comfortable with it if it is limited.
We are early dinner eaters. It’s nice because Kevin is usually home early other than a couple of days he’s in school so we have the flexibility to eat early. We’ll sit down for dinner around 5-5:30. After dinner, we usually do an activity together as a family (like a walk or just playing around with toys). However, if we ate something like spaghetti, Landon usually goes up with one of us for his bath while the other cleans up.
Generally, bath time starts at 6:30 and we put Landon down for bed at 7:00. We’ve done a bath every single night basically since he was born. It just seems to be a nice activity to start settling him for bed time and he's used to it now so it just kind of stuck. I think we started putting him down at 7:00 for bed when he was around 4-5 months. He didn’t sleep through the night more consistently until 11 months, but I have to say that having the evening with my husband is just the best. I’m sure once baby #2 arrives, we will miss that quality time together.
Kevin and I like to keep things low key in the evening. Sometimes he has homework and I’ll do my own thing. Usually, I’m pretty exhausted from being pregnant and chasing around a 1 1/2 year old all day. :) We love to watch Netflix together or play a card game and eat dessert.
I have to go to bed really early when I’m pregnant. In my first trimester, I start fading around 8:00! Now that I’m in my second trimester, I usually last until 9-9:30. I’ll usually get ready for bed around then, read a little bit in bed and try to have the lights out at 10-10:30. I’m not an amazing sleeper (especially when pregnant) so I have to stick to a good routine when it comes to bedtime if I want to try and get a good night’s rest.
Sleep, wake up, and repeat!
I really love our routine right now and am loving the crisp, fall weather! I’m a bit nervous for when the cold winter temperatures arrive, but I’m determined to continue to get outside with L. It will just take an hour of bundling up beforehand. ;)
Being home is so different from having a consistent work schedule so I find that sticking to a routine makes me feel a little more ‘normal’ as a stay at home mama. What about you? What routines work for you if you have young kiddos? What was the switch in routine like from having one to two?
Monday, 7 September 2015
It’s been quite a summer for us (for reasons I couldn’t express earlier because usually you don’t share this particular information until you’ve known about it for 12 weeks.) :) We’re pregnant! We finally shared the news on Facebook yesterday so it’s public. Here’s the photo we shared to announce our second pregnancy.
I found out I was pregnant in early July (I was quite early on!) and we told our families that very day. This pregnancy was a bit of a surprise for us… so it definitely took some time for it to sink in for me! The week we found out, my husband was working full time at our church, running the VBS. And then as soon as he finished that Friday, we packed up and headed up north to the cottage for a week’s vacation with family. So it took some time for us to unwind from a crazy year and process all that's happened...and all that is coming up for us!
With Landon, I never had any nauseousness, mostly just fatigue. But with this baby, I’ve been a lot more nauseous, which put a bit of a damper on the summer. Now that I’m in my second trimester, I definitely feel a lot less nauseous. Yay!
A lot of pieces of our lives are up in the air right now. We know that we have the house we’re in until January. Kevin is applying to churches and we’re praying a ton about that. We don’t know where we will be living or where this baby will be born!
I read these verses this morning and found them so comforting. I know that He is trustworthy. I look back on our lives so far and I see his faithfulness over and over. It’s easy to question, “Will he come through for us this time?” It’s so comforting to look to God’s word when life is uncertain. We see the stories of God’s faithfulness to His people, over and over and over, despite their unbelief or their waywardness.
If theres an area of your life that is uncertain or you simply need some encouragement where you’re at, take comfort in these words from the book of Jeremiah…
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your trimbrels and go out to dance with the joyful…” (Jeremiah 31:3-4).
This passage is a testament to the Lord’s faithfulness to His people in the past, and His promise to be faithful, loving, and kind to them in the future. These are His promises to us as well, right where we’re at, whatever season we happen to be in. Praise Him!
Friday, 14 August 2015
I want to get a little more intentional about finishing up this blog series: 31 Days to Abundant Life. Since it’s been summer, things have been more chill around here with vacations and unpredictable schedules. I’m hoping to dig into the next 17 days and ask that God will reveal more and more of His heart to me, and to us, on this subject of Abundant Life. There's always more he wants to reveal to our hearts.
Can you think of one person in your life who consistently lives life abundant?
I’m not talking about someone who is perfect or seems to have it all together. I’m talking about someone who obviously, evidently, lives their life with abundance. (Remember, abundant means life overflowing, abounding, lavish, generous, bountiful, teeming.) I don’t think someone who lives life abundant necessarily has a lot of things or money. Life abundant is displayed as a posture of their heart.
The person that comes to mind for me is my great Aunt Ruth. What can I tell you about her? First of all, she was possibly the kindest person I’ve ever known. Kind, not just because that’s how she was, but because I believe she allowed the kindness of Christ to shine through her. She was generous with her time and her resources. She genuinely cared about you and anyone she met, for that matter.
The secret to life abundant, I think, is that there is no secret at all. We can choose to live in the teeming, bountiful, lavish love of Christ each and every day, despite anything. Whether we’re 85 or 5, Christ offers us life abundant. Whether we’re married or single, in a secure job or struggling to get by, Christ offers us life abundant. Whether we have 10 children or none, the best friends and family in the world or just a few close companions, Christ offers life abundant to us all.
The secret is not in how to have life abundant, the secret is in how to receive it. When I think of people who live it out, people like my Aunt Ruth, as opposed to people who don’t, I think there's one simple difference. Those who live abundant life have somehow learned the secret of receiving from Christ. They’ve allowed their lives to slow down enough to hear the sacred whisper. His whisper to come to him and receive. Those who are striving for it, always grasping for more, never quite getting what they think they want, I think they simply haven’t learned the art of receiving.
How do we learn this sacred art? Think about receiving a present on Christmas morning. What do you do when someones giving you a gift? ….. Nothing. You sit there, stare at the gift under the tree with your name on it, watch as they place it in your hands, and you smile. Some like to rip the paper off as fast as they can, some like to remove the bow slowly, unwrap the paper so it doesn’t rip, but no matter how you open it, inside will be the same gift. You look at the gift, “I love it!” you exclaim with a smile. You might stare at it for a while. Then, you look up at the gift giver and you thank them. You go over and give them a hug. You return to your gift and look at it some more and think about all that you want to do with it.
Can we think about receiving abundant life from Christ in the same way? Instead of striving or searching, simply stop and sit. Wait for him to place it in your hands, anticipate what’s inside, and each day, open the gift He promises to give to those he came to save.
Saturday, 1 August 2015
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
I had coffee with a friend last night and was explaining to her how some circumstances in my life lately have caused me to feel distant from God. Do you ever have weeks or months where you feel like you’re in this great stride with the Lord? Learning, receiving, hearing, seeing Him at work so evidently? And then, all of the sudden, you find yourself feeling at a distance from Him? You don’t know how to approach Him and you don’t even know why you feel that way.
My friend asked me some good questions last night and I realized some things. When we feel distant from God, it's really easy to blame ourselves or get down on ourselves. Why don’t I feel close to Him? Why can’t I just get past this and start pursuing Him again? I realized, in this case, that Satan has been trying to make me believe some lies. He’s been out, just like the verse tells us, to steal my joy, kill my effectiveness in God’s Kingdom, and destroy the freedom I’ve been experiencing in my relationship with God. And you know what the sad part is? I’ve absolutely been allowing him that power. The Good News is, however, that God is always pursuing us, even when we feel far away. He is always drawing us back to Himself, to His truth, to His heart.
Yes, Satan is out to steal, kill and destroy. But God...He always fights for us. He uses the body of Christ to draw us back to Himself. He uses his Word. He never lets us go.
If you’re feeling distant and you don’t know why, that’s ok. Our relationship with God is that- a relationship. Theres ebbs and flows just like any relationship, I think. But don’t let Satan have the control he desires in your life. He knows that if we’re covered in the blood of Jesus, he simply can’t touch us. But he sure can mess with us while we’re here on earth. When he does, we have a God who is stronger, more powerful, and mightier than any weapon forged against us.
Isaiah 54:17 says this:
“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD.”
THIS is our heritage, our promise, our Good News. If God is for us, NO ONE can be against us. Satan cringes at the name of Jesus because he knows His power. He already knows who the Victor is.
I'm reminding myself of these truths today. When lies come at me, when circumstances make me feel distant from the Lord, when I feel that I simply can’t hold myself together, I can trust that Jesus stands up for me. His love for us is greater than anything. He came to give us life to the full. Today, I'm taking hold of this truth and dismissing the lies that have been loud in my head lately. I'm remembering the promises of God and His character- that His plans for me are for my good and that He loves me more than I know.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:12
Press on, dear friends.
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
Life gets stressful sometimes, doesn’t it? When life gets stressful and overwhelming, the first thing to usually go for me is “me” time. Ironically, when “me” time goes, life only gets more stressful and overwhelming.
This week I’m refocusing and leaning into those things that bring me life. Those things that I’m passionate about, that make me feel like me, and that, in turn, reduce my stress and fulfill me.
What are those things? For me, it’s pretty simple. I would narrow it down to 4 things…
- Time alone with Jesus
- Exercise & eating healthy
- Time with my people
There are lots of other things that make me feel good and reduce stress, like accomplishing things around the house, etc. But if I really narrow it down, these are the four things I need to be doing all the time. The time alone with Jesus, I’ve discovered, is definitely a thing I need every day. That doesn’t always mean a regimented devotional time, although sometimes it does. Sometimes its simply turning my mind and thoughts towards him and talking with him throughout my day. Other times, it’s digging deep into His Word and learning new things and meditating on them. Exercise and eating healthy is also an every day thing, even if the exercise is just a walk. I would say that writing and quality time with my people is an every week thing. I feel at my best when I’m writing about 2-3 times a week. As for my people, that means quality time with my son (which I get every day since I’m a stay-at-home mom right now), time with my husband, and seeing a few friends, whether its a coffee date with a girlfriend, meeting with my moms group, or having a couple over for dinner. These are all life giving and needed.
If you’re in a bit of a slump and are forgetting or neglecting to do those things that bring you life abundant and fulfillment, you’re not alone! When we’re stressed we tend to think we don’t have time for these things. Sometimes we have to change our expectations of what those things will look like practically in our lives. We can be creative and put forth the effort to ensure we are doing things for ourselves that are life giving.
What are those things that bring you life? Have you been doing them? If not, how can you make time for them? It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.
Saturday, 11 July 2015
We’ve talked about having abundant life when life is uncertain or hard, but what about when you don’t feel like you deserve life abundant?
When Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden, they initially had a perfect relationship with God. He delighted in them and they delighted in Him. They lived in this beautiful, abundant, place where everything was perfect. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. They eventually gave in to Satan’s temptations and lies and ate from the one tree God specifically asked them not to. They were cut off from God, they felt ashamed, and this perfect relationship they had with God was forever severed. This time in history is often referred to as “The Fall" and it forever changed our world. We aren’t born into a perfect world and we don’t have a perfect relationship with God right off the bat. Jesus is the only way to bind us back to God and he’s the only one that cleanses us from our sin and makes us whole again.
The Enemy of our hearts is still very crafty in how he tries to draw us away from God. He tricks us into thinking, “I don’t belong here” or “I don’t deserve this”, or any number of lies he can use simply to draw you away from the heart of God.
The verse that this whole "31 day series" is based on is John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
He has come that we may have life to the full. But theres a big, elephant in the room, sentence right before it. The thief (Enemy or Satan) comes to steal, kill and destroy. What does he come to steal, kill or destroy? Anything that draws us closer to God.
Talking about the Enemy is not something a lot of people are super comfortable with. Umm, yeah…I get it. It’s NOT comfortable. There’s someone out there who wants to steal, kill and destroy my life? That sounds scary. But, remember, there’s a second part to the sentence, right? I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. We can breathe a sigh of relief as we read that. Even though the Enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy, we have a God who is MUCH stronger, MUCH more powerful, and who has ALREADY WON. He conquered our sin and shame when He rose from the grave.
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5).
We’re healed, made whole and given life to the full. Even though we don’t deserve it, He paid the price for us. You see, He wanted to give us life abundant, not because we deserve it, but because it brings Him delight. If we continue to listen to the lie that we don’t deserve it, we’re giving into the Enemy's schemes to keep us from God.
Jesus, help us to release any shame we might be holding onto that tells us we’re not worthy of your love. We are absolutely worthy because we are your beloved children and you will never stop pursuing us with your love. Instead of believing Satan’s lies, help us to put our hope in your truth and to receive the abundant life that is your delight to give to us. Amen.
Wednesday, 8 July 2015
One funky feature of the rental home we’re in is that the previous owners painted chalk board paint on a couple of the doors. On my pantry door right now is this verse: “I will meditate on your wonderful works” (Psalm 145:5).
It’s so easy to read that verse and think, “That’s great. I totally want to spend my time meditating on God’s wonderful works. I know that would be life-giving, rather than focusing on my present troubles.” We read it or hear it, but then what?
Jesus told this story in Matthew 13:3-8:
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
A few verses later, he explains this parable…
“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:18-23).
So basically, this means…
If people don’t understand the word—> the evil one takes it away
If people hear the word and receive it with joy—> it only lasts for a bit cause theres no roots and they fall away
If people hear it but get caught up in the worries of life—> theres no fruit because they’re caught up in other things
If people hear the word and seek to understand it—> they produce fruit (good things) that multiply
Just hearing or reading God’s Word in and of itself is not enough to produce the fruit we are longing for in our lives. Just writing a verse on my pantry chalk board wall doesn’t necessarily mean fruit will come. And by fruit, I mean the good things and the promises God gives to us. Not earthly treasures but heavenly things like love, peace, patience, goodness… the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ (Galations 5:22-23). It’s not just hearing the Word that matters. It’s seeking to understand it that makes a difference in our day to day living. Which brings me back to that verse on my pantry chalk board.
“I will meditate on your wonderful works.”
How do we seek to understand? Sometimes we need understanding outside of how we might interpret it. We can look into the context, who is saying it, read commentaries and consider what others think… but ultimately, it’s by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us.
What I’m learning and beginning to understand about this verse is that meditating on God’s wonderful works is a really good way to live. I can choose to meditate on what is worrying me or burdensome, or I can choose to meditate on God’s wonderful works. When I meditate on God’s wonderful works, I am actively pursuing life abundant. I can make the conscious choice to meditate on the God who loves me, who goes with me, who isn’t concerned about life’s troubles but is concerned about my heart.
Today, I’m trying to slow down and meditate on His wonderful works. What are some of them? Once you get going, the list is endless....My son’s laughter. A strong cup of coffee with my husband in the morning. An encouraging text from a friend. Immersing myself in a pool on a hot summer’s day. A leisurely walk with my family after dinner. Bright pink flowers. A summer thunderstorm. Reading a good book. The ability to buy delicious food and make a meal. etc, etc, etc…
His wonderful works are endless because He has created all things. When we meditate on His wonderful works, we experience life abundant because we're focused on the goodness of our Creator, who loves us and blesses us beyond measure.
As you seek understanding, know that the Holy Spirit is with you. He knows what you need and He is willing and waiting to reveal truth to you as you seek to live victoriously, abundantly, in Him.