Monday, January 30, 2012

Comfort and superficial peace

"It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace."--Francis Chan

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Take care of what I’ve given you"

This week I found myself doing dishes about 9 p.m. In-between crusty dinner plate and leftovers and messy counters, I was lamenting to the Lord. 

I was lamenting about our current state and the lack of knowing what the future state might hold. I was lamenting about finances and our family dreams and our heart to do things that we don’t feel we can do in this state of life right now. I was seriously lamenting complaining. I loaded the dishwasher and poured it all out (because God says we can you know. Go to Him. Anytime. Anywhere. Even while loading crusty plates and wiping messy counters).

And I heard him say, ever so softly, gently, but firmly… “Take care of what I’ve given you.”

Nothing profound, but profoundly affecting.

And His words, whispered to my heart, brought these words to mind: Take care of my sheep from John.

Take care of the children I have given you. They are young, so lather on your love and attention.

Take care of the husband I have given you. He’s trying hard to hold his chin up high…but he needs some love and attention.

Take care of the family I have given you. They won’t always be around so freely offer your love and attention.

Take care of the home I have given you. It’s old and requires love and attention.

Take care of your friends and the community you live in. The needs are great. Be intentional about giving of your love and attention.

And so I wiped the counters, filled the garbage, put the food away and responded to the Lord:

“Just to be clear, lest my heart be misunderstood, I wasn’t asking for more to do Lord…I was just complaining about what I can’t do—what we can’t do—even if we wanted to right now. Our hopes, dreams, desires—they are all on hold while we wait for employment. Big things and small things are all in a holding pattern. But now I realize…if it’s what You wanted us to be doing right now, then we’d be doing it. Because you are the One who opens the gates, you move the heavens, you light the stars, you guide the moon, you set the sun. And You—the One by whom all things are created and given—encourage me to care well for what you’ve blessed me with. And so I will Lord.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Josh Kelley and Katherine Heigl adoption video

This video is all over the blog's beautiful and sweet and I hope it encourages awareness about adoption. I believe Josh wrote the song for their daughter Naleigh Moon.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Faithful God

Can't stop listening, over and over again, to this beautiful song that my father-in-law introduced me to....

Faithful God by Laura Story

May the grace that sought my heart on that first day
Be the grace that binds my heart to stay
May the truth that opened up my eyes on that first time
Be the thoughts on my mind that never go away

For You are a lamp to my feet
A light to my path
You're the hand that's holding me

Faithful God, every promise kept
Every need You've met, faithful God

May the love that caught my heart to set it free
Be the love that others see in me
And may this hope that reaches to the depths of human need
Be the song that I sing in joy and suffering

For You are the love that never leaves
The friend that won't deceive
You're the one sure thing

Faithful God, every promise kept
Every need You've met, faithful God
All I am and all I'll ever be
Is all because You love faithfully
Faithful God

How deep, how wide the love
That pierced His side, the love
Redemption's mine, oh love
That will not let me go
How deep Your love

How deep, how wide the love
That pierced His side, the love
Redemption's mine, oh love
That will not let me go

How deep, how wide the love
That pierced His side, the love
Redemption's mine, oh love
That will not let me go

Faithful God, every promise kept
Every need You've met, faithful God
All I am and all I'll ever be
Is all because You love faithfully
Faithful God, faithful God

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The sweet dance of joy and sorrow

“Today I went to hallmark and found my trip to be very ironic. I found a small Willow Tree figurine for myself to remember our little one that we lost too soon (my due date would have been tomorrow). It’s a figurine holding a flower that is upside down. The card says, “Always, I will remember.” I also bought a card for Chilly and Tracy that says we will be praying for them about the loss of their newborn daughter. Then I bought a baby congrats card for Liz and Darin who found out they were expecting on New Year’s Day. Something for a miscarriage, something for the death of a baby, and something for a new pregnancy. Isn’t that the circle of life?” – Excerpt from my journal

Today my friend has a baby in the hospital who is working every day to grow stronger and healthier so he can go home. Today my friend has a baby in her womb who she will be meeting in about seven weeks. Today my friend has a baby in heaven that she lost to miscarriage recently and will never get to kiss or hold. Today my friend has a baby with a diagnosis that will change the future of her family forever.

This, my friends, is the circle of life. This is the sweet dance of joy and sorrow. This is how life teaches us to simultaneously mourn and rejoice, grieve and celebrate, love and let go. 

We cannot plan these things. We cannot prepare for them. This is how life happens.

Sometimes we live such sheltered, comfortable lives, that we know these things….but we don’t really get it. We still think we can schedule our days, plan our families, organize our lives, prepare for our future. We know that those things happen…but not to our family. We know about these things, but we haven’t personally experienced them. And when we do, it changes everything.

E v e r y t h in g.

Because then we begin to understand not just with our head, but with our heart. We are not just aware of loss and pain and grief and the possibility of. But these possibilities have become our reality and with every breath we take, we struggle to grasp what God is calling us to as we face our reality. And we realize that not for one moment are we called to lives of ease, comfort and security.

We are called to Him.

And He lovingly holds out his arms and invites us to dance in both the joy and the sorrow.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Christ's blood shed for you"

Last month Ryan and I had the privilege of serving communion at our worship service. Different people serve communion each second Sunday of the month.

I felt grateful to be asked to serve and was excited to participate in this way.

However, as people started coming to the front of the church, I was shocked at how emotional I became serving communion to others. I could hardly state the words that I was supposed to speak as they took the 'body' from Ryan and dipped it in the 'blood' that I held.

"This is the body given for you," Ryan said.

"This is the blood shed for you," I whispered while trying to hold back tears.

I knew many of the people who came up to receive communion. I wanted to stop each of them and individually say to them:

"Joe, this is Christ's blood shed for YOU."

"Brad, this is Christ's blood shed for YOU."

"Katie, this is Christ's blood shed for YOU."

I wanted to grab faces in my hands and look into eyes and say: "whatever your past, whatever your present, whatever road you walk or have's done. He did it. It was taken care of on the cross...for you. Do you know that? Do you believe that? Receive that truth today friends. This is Christ's blood shed for you."

Communion isn't about tradition or ritual. It's about receiving the gift of a sacrifice. And it's about remembering:

His body. Broken. For me.

Each time I drink the cup...remember me.

This is personal business people. Christ tells us to examine ourselves before we eat the bread and drink the cup. It's not about following what those around you are doing. Communion is about a relationship with Jesus and remembering.

I know some churches celebrate and recognize first communion. But really, shouldn't every communion be treated as our first? Otherwise we can risk becoming callous to what the body and blood mean for our lives.

I've taken communion so many times and I do not enter into it lightly. I pause, reflect, pray, confess, receive, remember and give thanks. I strive to comprehend the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice for me.

But offering the body and blood to another...wanting them to see and experience the sacrifice personally...desiring to help them's changed my perspective on communion forever. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Verses for encouragement?

I have a friend who just had a baby boy last weekend. God has given this precious baby boy some challenges from the moment of his first breath. He will be in the hospital for awhile as he works on learning to breathe on his own and take consistent feedings.

Some friends are creating a care basket for her. I am going to add a few of my favorite Scriptures that have encouraged me in rough times. 

But I'd love to know...what verses encourage your heart when the future is scary, the tears are many and the heart is heavy?

Please drop a note in the comment section with one or two verses that have ministered to your heart or that you pray for others when they are discouraged.

If you're reading this friend, I'm on my knees for you...on my knees daily. Lord, bring that baby home!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Desire radically transformed

Some more thoughts on resolutions from the GirlTalk blog: Maybe This Year

"This year, let us ask God to dissolve all our hopes (however good they may be!)
into a single hope: to know Christ and to be found in Him.
May this be a year of desire radically transformed..."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The only thing I fear

For the past couple weeks everyone seems to be writing about New Year's Resolutions.

They are asking questions like: Do you resolve? Why or why not? How can we help keep our resolutions? Why can’t we keep our resolutions?

One piece I read stated that the reason many Americans don’t make resolutions anymore is because we have a fear of failure.

I agree.

For some, fear of failure is the greatest fear of all. Therefore they don't even try:

Don’t worry about avoiding fast food because eventually you'll give in.

It's not worth trying to get organized, you're a messy at heart.

Forget about not checking Facebook every're addicted.

Don’t begin an exercise plan because it won’t last.

Do. Don’t. Begin. Start. Stop.

Here’s the thing: most of the resolutions we are worried about failing are all about self. And a lot of them are very insignificant.


My life.

My betterment.  

Ponder this statement for a moment:

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.”
- Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

When our goals are to eat less chocolate, watch less television and spend less money, we are  consumed by me.

Those are all healthy (and probably wise) endeavors, but they are still all about self.

And, according to news sources, it turns out that we are so fearful of failing at these all-about-self resolutions, that many of us don't even make them anymore.

Rather than worrying about failing our insignificant resolutions, shouldn’t our greatest fear be that we are going to succeed at those things?

Less time on Facebook. Check.

A smaller pants size. Check.

A more organized home. Check.

Less money spent eating out. Check.

Fewer minutes wasted on mindless television. Check. 

Then, once we succeed at those things, we can pat ourselves on the back and go along living our comfortable, self-focused life. We smile because we resolved and we did and we became.

But all the while we overlook the thing in life that really matters: people.

Other people.

The family member with the addiction. The coworker who just got a diagnosis. The parent who is ill. The friend who is grieving. The child who is struggling. The neighbor who is lonely. The causes of injustice that are too great to list.

Our biggest fear should not be that we’re going to fail at insignificant things.

Our biggest fear should be that we're going to succeed at things that don't matter for eternity. 

At times, even 'Christian' resolutions have the potential to become self-focused and all consuming: Read through the Bible in 2012. Memorize 52 passages of Scripture. Keep a consistent, daily quiet time.

Those can absolutely be life-transforming practices. But if memorizing 52 passages of Scripture only gives you head knowledge and doesn't change the way your heart beats every single moment of every single's not about Jesus. It's about self doing, becoming, stopping, starting, changing, trying, striving.

David Platt, author of Radical: Taking Back Your faith from the American Dream, talks about his greatest fear:

“My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him. ”

Radical obedience isn't about improving self. It's isn't about striving to make resolutions that make us better people. And it certainly isn't about fearing that we are going to fail our list of 2012 resolutions.

It’s simply about falling in love with Jesus and taking care of the people He has put into your life.

It’s not complicated. 

Instead of balancing your checkbook, write a check out to help the homeless...the hungry...the hurting. Instead of worrying about getting to the gym so you can fit into smaller pants, find an elderly person who is lonely and take them for a walk. Instead of complaining about how tired you are, ask how someone else is doing - and really listen to their answer. Instead of worrying about eating less chocolate, take a kid from a rough home out for hot chocolate.

Don’t resolve to be, do, have, stop or start.

Just go. Offer. Sit. Ask. Touch. Cry. Listen. Care.

Then you we will have nothing to fear.

"The only thing I'm afraid of is living an insignificant life."
- Louie Giglio, Passion Conference 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Little man and sweet baby girl

My sister says my blog needs more pics of the kiddos. So in honor of the fact that I am, indeed, a mom of two darling children, here are some pics from Thanksgiving Day. I would share pics from Christmas but those are still on my memory card. My handsome little man and sweet baby girl keep getting bigger and there is absolutely nothing this mama can do about it...

These are for you Auntie Sher!

The hat Samuel is wearing is thanks to Auntie Rachel.

Even though Samuel is alone in this pic (and not wearing overalls) it reminds me of the posters with the caption: "Been farming long?"

He looks like he's 6 years old here!

Swinging in a dress and tights!

Friday, January 6, 2012

I will wait - new song on waiting

A new reader stumbled across my blog recently and shared a song with me that she wrote a couple years ago about waiting. I love it! The words are powerful and the voice beautiful. 

In this New Year may we all pray with conviction: "I will wait. God, whatever you have in store for me, I will wait because you alone are worthy of my waiting. I trust that my waiting is never wasted when I wait on You."

May God use you -- and your story -- this year as you choose to faithfully wait on Him.
And may you experience an abundance of unexpected blessings on your journey of waiting.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Lord is my strength

This week I've been pondering the following statement from a Streams in the Desert devotional:

But to do nothing, just to sit still and wait, requires tremendous strength.

Waiting is tough stuff and that's why I am so thankful that the Lord is my strength.

Maybe this year God will answer 'yes' to the prayer you've been praying over and over.

Maybe he'll answer 'no.'

Maybe he'll answer 'not yet.'

Maybe he'll answer 'yes', but not the way you expect it.

May God give each of us the grace and the supernatural strength to 'just sit still and wait' for what He has in store for us in 2012.

Here is the devotional in its entirety:

The Lord is My Strength
"The Lord hath sent strength for thee" (Ps.68.28, PBV).

The Lord imparts unto us that primary strength of character which makes everything in life work with intensity and decision. We are "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." And the strength is continuous; reserves of power come to us which we cannot exhaust.

"As thy days, so shall thy strength be"—strength of will, strength of affection, strength of judgment, strength of ideals and achievement.

"The Lord is my strength" to go on. He gives us power to tread the dead level, to walk the long lane that seems never to have a turning, to go through those long reaches of life which afford no pleasant surprise, and which depress the spirits in the sameness of a terrible drudgery.

"The Lord is my strength" to go up. He is to me the power by which I can climb the Hill Difficulty and not be afraid.

"The Lord is my strength" to go down. It is when we leave the bracing heights, where the wind and the sun have been about us, and when we begin to come down the hill into closer and more sultry spheres, that the heart is apt to grow faint.

I heard a man say the other day concerning his growing physical frailty, "It is the coming down that tires me!"

"The Lord is my strength" to sit still. And how difficult is the attainment! Do we not often say to one another, in seasons when we are compelled to be quiet, "If only I could do something!"

When the child is ill, and the mother stands by in comparative impotence, how severe is the test! But to do nothing, just to sit still and wait, requires tremendous strength.

The Lord is my strength!" "Our sufficiency is of God." The Silver Lining A Door Opened in Heaven "A door opened in heaven" (Rev. 4:1).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

They shall know

I cannot watch this video without sobbing.

I cry because these people are family and they are dearly loved.

I cry because of their journey and legacy of faith.

I cry because they truly live out the words Paul writes in Philippians - they have so much to boast about, and yet they consider everything a loss except for knowing Christ and bringing glory to His name.

More than test results they care about God being glorified.

In fact, the only result they care about is that others shall know that "I am the Lord God."