Tuesday, August 23, 2011

To Write or Not to Write

There is so much I have rambling around in my head and it drives me crazy some days. I love to process and then express my thoughts through writing. I write in a journal, but many times I want to share what is on my heart.

The last couple of months I have been trying to blog on more consistent basis, but I have been wondering if I should be blogging at all. What is the purpose of it? Why do I want to share what I think with others? Is it based on pride?

I get annoyed and concerned with our culture that allows anyone and everyone to have a platform to "express themselves," especially in writing. It is amazing to go to a bookstore and see the thousands of books. And, for every book I am sure there are multiple blogs, for a blog is just like an unpublished book of sorts.

We all want so desperately to be heard. We want to influence others. We want people to think our lives are great, or if you have a depressing blog, to know that life is horrible. Then there is a whole new surge of money making blogging. It's ridiculous, really, when you think of all the blogs that exist. Is it bad? No, not really. It's apart of the times we live in and blogs can be used, like anything else, for the glory of God or for selfish gain.

There have been several times in my blogging that I have taken a break from writing. I am considering doing it again and possibly never coming back. The main reason? Well, there are a few- 1. I get frustrated having to put a "disclaimer" on everything like, "I know this is not how everyone has to live..." I just wish I could express my heart without having to worry about possibly offending someone. 2. Is it the best place to passionately encourage people to live sold out lives for Christ? I am not sure. 3. Overall I want to live a quiet life (1 Thess. 4:11) and seek to please the Lord in all I do- whether the internet world ever knows about it or not.

So, if I never return to blogging please continue to follow Jesus with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world. Teach your children that it is His kingdom that comes. Do not waste your life investing in material things, entertaining movies, good restaurants or financial security.

Love Jesus. Serve Him. Seek His kingdom.

Monday, July 25, 2011

M is for: Monday, Ministry and Marriage

It is 10PM. Joel is watching some YouTube videos on CS Lewis. Jeremiah is asleep. M is for Monday and Monday has become our day of rest. Rest, ah, rest is satisfying when you are really working!

M is also for ministry. Ministry has consumed our summer and we have at least 5 more heavy weeks of events ahead of us. Last week I was extremely tired and did very little so Jeremiah could regain some normalcy after the mission trip to Pagosa Springs.

It has been almost a year since Joel left his job and began pursuing full time ministry. We are hardly the same two people now. God has taught us the beginnings of what it means to count the cost (Luke 14). The cost of serving God is great. We know the deeper He draws us into His service the more costly it will get. It has and will continue to cost us time. It has and will continue to cost us financially. It has and will continue to cost us relationally. It has and will continue to cost us physically. And, at least in this moment, I can honestly say it is satisfying.

Finally, M is for marriage. Marriage to a pastor is going to be hard. It is not the same as it was before- we do not ride to church together (I cried when we made that decision), we do not have two days off in a row (we follow the pastor's schedule since Joel is the newest pastor), most nights are full (at least in the summer), when we are at church Joel is pastor (he is busy and we wait), he gets calls for ministry when he is at home (Honestly, I find this annoying- especially since it is rarely an emergency), everyone knows who I am (an introvert loves that!), everyone knows Jeremiah (and wants to get in his face, poor guy), we stay at church late if someone needs counseling (I need to take 3 snacks instead of 2!), more people want to talk to me (again, an introvert loves that!), etc., etc. It is exhausting.

It is also satisfying to serve with him. It is encouraging to watch him grow in his pastoral role. I love watching him teach (he is teaching through Genesis and Acts right now). He comes home with amazing stories of how God lead him in counseling sessions. It is exciting to lead events with him. I am being stretched as a wife and a mother more than ever before.

I am learning what is truly valuable in a marriage and it is not date nights away from the kids (do NOT get me started on that!). The times of ministry with him is apart of the core design of marriage. I am watching God use MY husband to minister to people! I am watching God use MY marriage to minister to people! I am watching God use MY child to minister to people! I have said it before-a Christian marriage is not so we can have Godly romance, cute Christian kids and live the American dream. What a waste that would be (and is)!

Marriage is a picture of the Gospel. It is the husband like Christ and the wife like the Church together witnessing to the lost world and ministering to believers. It is bearing children and raising them to do the same. It is growing old together (not retiring to some place of comfort) and serving God until our days are done.

Please pray for us. God has definitely called us to this, but it is challenging. We are growing and with that comes its various types of pains. Pray that we would not grow weary and use our own strength, but that we would rely on God's incomparable power (Ephesians 1).

Coming soon: Luke 14 and Me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

True Independence

Jeremiah on the parade route- July 4, 2011

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."
Philippians 3:20-21

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ
who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."
Colossians 3:1-4


I am realizing more and more that I am not a very patriotic person. It is not that I do not love my country because I do; it is my earthly home. It is where most of my memories are, it is where I live, it is where my friends and family are and it is full of those who need Christ. It is where God has put me to serve Him.

This Independence Day was one of my favorite because we were wholeheartedly serving Christ in a little mountain town. It was not about the food; we ate sandwiches. It was not about red, white and blue clothes; we wore lime green. It was not about family since most on our team were away from theirs.

The lyrics to "Proud to be an American" really bothered me for the first time this year. There are so many things wrong with the lyrics from a Christian perspective. Should I be proud to be an American? The men who died did not give me my freedom. Who and what defines freedom anyway? I do not thank "lucky stars" for anything. As a child of God what should my attitude be toward my country?

I am an alien here. I should not think like the rest of the people. I should not talk like the rest of the people. I should not live like the rest of the people.

It is not my home. If you are a follower of Christ it is not your home either!

The problem is this: too many Christians sink their roots down deep in American soil. They are consumed with jobs, children, houses, land and the pride of life. They have a relationship with God, but it is void of sacrificial service to the Bride of Christ and lost souls. They proudly sing "God Bless America" as if it is a worship song and yet "I Surrender All" fades after Sunday service.

Independence Day took on a whole new meaning for me this year. Christ gave me true freedom. It is a freedom, that unlike political "freedom," can never be taken away. My allegiance is His alone and I would defy my country if it came to it. I never want to love things of this country (or any country) more than Christ.

Nothing here is real except for Him.

Nothing here lasts except for His Word and the souls of man.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Raising Jeremiah: Mission-minded

We just got home from our mission trip to Pagosa Springs, Colorado! It was an exciting week and God answered every prayer above and beyond what we had prayed. We were able to see the fruit of our labor right away which was so encouraging!

There were many firsts for me on this mission trip. First mission trip with Joel. First mission trip married. First mission trip leading Junior High students. First mission trip over a holiday. First mission trip as a mother with my child along.

I knew Jeremiah would survive, but he did wonderfully. He is such an amazing little boy. He is so flexible, patient and stays cheerful even when we push him to the limits. He was up early, missed naps, up late, being cared for by many people, without normal comforts, slept in a bunk in a room with 15 girls, out all day in the heat, entertained by few toys, in the car hours a day and in so many new places.

It was hard. It was exhausting. It was so worth it.

Joel and I desire to raise children that are able to handle a variety of tough situations. We want to raise them to be selfless. We also want them to know that we will do everything we can to take care of them in all circumstances. I pray, in Jeremiah's little mind, he learned some of those things this week.

We also want our children to be mission-minded. We want them to grow up realizing that this life is not about them and that it is all about Jesus. They exist to have a relationship with Jesus and then, in turn, live their lives serving Him. There should be nothing that holds them back from serving the Lord if they are obedient to Him and make wise choices. They must also be taught how to have a servant's heart. AND, to top it all off- serving the Lord with fellow believers as a FAMILY is a blessing.

I know I may be crazy, but I would do the last week all over again with a 9 month old. I would do it with a 2 year old and a newborn, 5 kids or 10 kids if God were to ask me to do it. There is nothing more satisfying than serving the Lord and giving yourself for him.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

All Rolled into One

The last couple of weeks have been crazy and I have not had the time to write. Right now is not the best time, either, but there are just a couple of things I wanted to say!

1. Joel is the best husband ever. There are so many times when I realize I do not deserve God's gift of him to me. He is perfect for me and we compliment each other in ways only God knew we would need.

2. Jeremiah is growing up so fast! He is 9 months old and such a blessing. He has four teeth now, crawls like crazy, walks around everything he can and is starting to try to stand on his own. AND he goes on his first, I pray of many, mission trips tomorrow!

3. We are leaving for Pagosa Springs tomorrow. There is still so much I need to do. Like pack. I am excited to see what God has planned for us on this trip. Pray for us, the other adults and the 17 Jr. High students we are taking! (Follow our blog here!)

4. Ministry is exhausting, fun and brings unbelievable blessings! There are so many people who need ministering to all the time. So many people who are lost and hurting. It is amazing to serve as a family. Life is so much more than the simple, common activities we pour our time into day after day!!! I pray we never get tired of pouring our lives into people who need Jesus!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Raising Jeremiah: Illness

Jeremiah is sick for the first time. I am still not sure if it is truly sickness or if it is teething since his top gums are really swollen. Whatever it is he started out yesterday morning with a fever and has been very restless the last two nights.

When I was at the church yesterday, as Jeremiah's fever really increased, I was talking with dear Miss Bess. She was telling me about a sermon she was listening to recently. She said the pastor and his family had 5 little children in the house when he was first called to ministry. They were living on a very small income and did not have insurance for a while. He said they turned to prayer before medication and seeking God's healing before heading to the doctor. Their kids never suffered from anything serious and are all still alive.

My thoughts exactly! Why do we turn to medication, doctors and emergency rooms before asking the Lord to heal? I do not take medication right away, have not been to the doctor (besides having a baby!) in over 15 years and am a pretty healthy person. No, I am not anti-doctor or anti-medicine, but if we desire to be people who live by faith, why do we minimize the power of God? I know what you are thinking, because people tell me all the time, "isn't that putting God to the test?" I'll save that discussion for another day. Many times that statement is just a cop-out for unbelief. We want so desperately to be in control. (Which isn't the case even if you go to the doctor, just saying...)

Well, after leaving the church I stopped at the store to pick up a few things. I tried finding infant fever reducing medicine and every package said it was not for children under 2 years. Jeremiah was getting fussy so I decided to go home, medicine-less, and just let him nap. The fever was not that bad (102) and I decided to just let it run it's course. I asked Joel to stop at Walgreen's on his way home to see if they had infant drops. He arrived home, medicine-less too, because I had his wallet. Ooopppps.

I did not want to give him the medicine anyway!

At dinner we pray that God would heal Jeremiah. We acknowledge that we are not in control and He is. We humbly ask for Him to heal and restore. We ask for wisdom in how to comfort and treat. Then we wait. How simple is that?

Jeremiah did not miraculously get better. That could have happened and maybe another time it will. He still had a fever last night, threw up and was so restless we all got little sleep. He woke up with a reduced fever (Praise the Lord!), but has already thrown up. I continue to pray that he will get better and I am confident he will!

And, he's still pretty happy and playing with his toys, so I think he'll be fine.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Temporal Mindset Reset

The last week, while I have been sick, I have been struggling to keep sight of eternal things. When I get sick all I can usually think about is what I am feeling, what I am needing and what I want. I want to be comfortable, well fed, sleep when I want and be down right lazy.

Thank God for Joel who helps keep me balanced! He does such a great job encouraging me to focus on Jesus and not on these temporal bodily feelings. These times of physical weakness come for many reasons and one of them is to sanctify us. When we are weak we tend to excuse more sinful behaviors and... there is no excuse. The Bible says, "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things." (Colossians 3) It does not list any exceptions.

The world is full of temporal things and we best not love them. Not our food, not our homes, not our clothes, not our country (I'll discuss that in a second). Those things are but a portion of God's grace He pours out on us. He could take them away in an instant.

I have also realized I am not a very patriotic person. I am grateful for my country. I pray for our leaders. I am grateful for soldiers. I am thankful for the freedom to worship. I just do not have the affection for America like many people have. Memorial Day, Independence Day, etc. are not that exciting for me beyond the extra day off and a chance to be with family.

Since Monday I have been asking God if my thinking is off and if I should love America like people say we should. As I pray about it I cannot get Philippians 3 out of my mind:

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

Raising Jeremiah: Playtime

Jeremiah is so much fun! He has been crawling for almost two months now and can seriously get around. He is pulling up on furniture, walls, people, toilets, beds and anything else that seems to work. He loves peek-a-boo and will initiate it. He has the cutest laugh, and the cutest forced laugh, you have ever heard. He loves to read books, walk in the grass, brush his two little teeth and explore new places.

And, boy, we love having him around!

Last week when I was drying the sheets over some chairs Joel made Jeremiah his first quality tent. He crawled around and through it for a good 30 minutes and played hide-and-seek with Joel. So. Much. Fun. I love watching them play and laugh together.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sicky Sunday

I *should* be at church right now. I *should* be sitting next to Joel in the crowded sanctuary laughing my head off at Tim Hawkins.

Instead, I am at home sick. Sad, sad.

Since I have been at home, and bored, today I have been on Facebook more than usual (and I usually do not get on the computer on Sundays. Now I wish I had done that today!). There are a lot of posts about how funny it is that the world did not end yesterday, how everyone is ready for school to be over and the normal self-centered broadcasting.

It still annoys me.

Today, though, one girl's statuses caught my eye and caused me to be more frustrated than annoyed. One minute she is praising God for dying for her, for His grace and the next status is something very inappropriate.

I see this kind of thing on Facebook all the time and it really bothers me.

We have no idea what we are saying.

We praise God for His grace that "covers" us, "forgives" us, "sets us free," "allows me to be me," "catches me when I fall" and a whole bunch of other misused ideas about grace. We tip toe around the hard issues, excuse our sins and then slap grace all over our failures.

I do not have the brain power or the time to get into a huge theological post, but I just want to know grace for what it really is.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Savings Saturday: Swagbucks

I have a great admiration for Swagbucks. I hesitate to use the word love, but I might just say it.

I love Swagbucks!

Someone introduced me to Swagbucks about a year ago and I was immediately a fan! I did not know it was possible to earn rewards by doing somethings I ALWAYS do- search the internet. There are a gob of reward sites, which I will talk about soon, but Swagbucks is by far the best.

One of the reasons I love Swagbucks is because I heard about it at a time when I was asking God to show me how I could be creative in saving and spending money as we moved from two incomes to living off of our savings. I know God will always provide and it is HIM who gives us all things, but in a small way Swagbucks is an answer to direct prayer.

As I think about Proverbs 31 I see a woman who was constantly looking for ways to provide for her family. She was not waiting for her husband to bring home the check. She was not just focused on spending that income wisely. SHE was seeking ways to provide- by BOTH being frugal and by bringing in income.

There are so many ways, in America, to get things for free. I have also started couponing and am amazed at how much can be saved by planning, waiting and trying new things. Why would I by pasta for $0.99, which is a great deal, when I could get it for free? Why would I by a generic brand of diapers for $0.14 a diaper when I can get Pampers for $0.12 a diaper?

Anyway, back to Swagbucks. Sign up HERE, download the toolbar and use it for all your internet searching. You will begin to win Swag bucks and can use them to purchase all sorts of things in the Swagstore. My favorite is the $5 Amazon gift card for 450 Swag Bucks. I "buy" the gift card and then load it to my Amazon account where it never expires. It is just sitting there waiting for me to buy something!

So, you ask, "How much have you made in this year?" It has averaged about $10 a month.

For. Doing. Nothing. (Except something I already do- search the internet.)

We have purchased baby shower gifts, birthday presents, a book I wanted and diapers. And I still have about $80 in my Amazon account and a couple more $5 gift cards on the way. It has been such a blessing!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Raising Jeremiah: Discipline Part 1- Types

A couple of weeks ago Joel and I could tell that a new phase of parenting was upon us- discipline of punishment and correction. We knew it would come, but it is difficult to know exactly what to do as new parents. We must rely so much upon the wisdom of the Lord!

There are two types of discipline and we want to be faithful to do both with our children. So many parents wait to correct and train their children until there is an urgent conflict. They hastily punish out of annoyance or anger and then wonder why their children are unruly. I am not saying we will raise perfect children perfectly. I do believe that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can raise children with discipline that honors Him.

dis·ci·pline–noun

1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.
3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
raining
The first two definitions for discipline are alike in the sense that it involves a proactive training to develop discipline. The only way to learn to do something well is by practicing, we all know that, and the same is true with teaching a child to obey.

The third definition for discipline is a result of direct disobedience. It means that there is a consequence for not following the expectations of the required discipline mentioned in the first two definitions.

Discipline of the first category begins, whether you realize it, in the womb as the baby begins to understand the characteristics of the mother. The growing baby is not oblivious to patterns, which is especially true once they can begin to hear what is happening in the outside world. What are those sounds? Voices? Are they arguing? Are they kind? Is she singing? The baby can begin to experience the routine of your day- a hot shower, the hair dryer, the TV, music, etc. The most basic, yet foundational, type of discipline has begun even before you hold your baby in your arms!

I could go on and on about this because I loved being pregnant and finding ways to begin building this new relationship with my baby. Looking back I wish I had done a lot more, but I am happy for what I did do all the same. I am not a talker, but I tried to do even more talking to the baby while at the same time touching my belly to somehow communicate that I was talking to them. We sang aloud more than normal. Jeremiah would become extremely active when he heard Joel singing- it was amazing! We also read the Bible aloud and Joel would pray near my growing midsection for baby to hear.

The greatest discipline we could EVER ingrain in our children is a love for God, His Word and a love for daily communing with Him. This discipline must first be in my life, though, if I am ever going to influence my children to do the same. I am not a fan of telling my child to "do what I say and not what I do." First, it is not Biblical. Second, would you want to listen to a fat and lazy Drill Sargent tell you to run 5 miles? Me either.

We were able to watch a few seasons of the Duggars on Netflix and we respect their parenting for so many reasons. The Duggars, while the older children were practicing their musical instruments, would sit the 2-3 year old in a chair to listen. The child was supposed to sit there without talking, wiggling or getting down. Mrs. Duggar explained that they want to train their children to do things like sitting through a performance, church service, waiting at a doctor's office, etc., before they were actually put in those situations. Instead of dragging a screaming child out of church they are hoping to build discipline, as well as obedience, into the child before a crisis breaks out. If the child started crying or got down they were able to correct and instruct in an environment that allowed focused training.

We know this is true in other areas of life, so why do we not apply this to parenting? No soldier is taught to handle an AK47 during the middle of active combat. There is no word to describe how foolish that would be. Why do we do this to our poor children? We get angry with them, grab their arms and jerk them out of the room when some extra time and care to training at home (or in other less urgent situations) would probably solve 95% of the problem.

The second part of discipline, where punishment and consequences for disobedient behavior must be enforced, is much easier to confront when the first type of discipline has been instituted. The child clearly knows what a healthy and obedient life looks like. They already know the boundaries and the consequences for crossing them have been lovingly established. They know basic things like touching the hot stove will cause pain to in-depth realities that yelling at mommy means a spanking.

We have tried hard to begin the first type of discipline with Jeremiah already. Since he was born we talk with him constantly about what we are doing and why. He may not have understood it at 2 weeks old, but the consistent reminders of what is going on has been good training, I believe, for both us and him. It has put me in the habit of explaining things to him and now, at 8 months old, I can see the fruit of that simple discipline. He knows the word "wait." He knows that I will pick him up- after I am done brushing my teeth. He knows we sing and play in the morning.

As good as he is, though, I am beginning to realize that this will take a lot of work. It will not be easy at all. He is starting to push boundaries. I must be disciplined with both types by my Heavenly Father so that I can be a faithful parent. I cannot be lazy if I expect my child to work. I cannot get frustrated for grumpy attitudes when I waver in the same way. I must be as patient with our children as God is with me.

Coming Soon: Raising Jeremiah: When to Say No!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Not Enough Time

Whenever I am absent on my blog it is not because I have nothing to write about. It is usually because I have SO many thoughts racing through my mind that I cannot pin them down into coherent posts.

Hopefully this will be remedied soon.

Here are some things I have been thinking about, and thus, would like to write about at some point in the near future-

1. Usama Bin Laden's death
2. Slaves of Christ, servant of others
3. Parenting
4. Is Seminary Biblical?
5. Money saving ideas

Until then, may the love of Christ compel you to abandon yourself to Him.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Mental Overload

It is Wednesday, but there is so much to say I could not post Wordless Wednesday pictures today! Do you ever have days when you feel like your head is going to explode or go to mush because of all the thoughts racing through it?

Well, that is me today.

Since Sunday I have been thinking and rethinking about the death of Usama Bin Laden. You may see some posts from me about it if I can organize my thoughts in a presentable fashion, but for now it is just giving me a headache. I was praying the other night that God would give me the right perspective about Bin Laden's death since so many Christians and Godly teachers seem to have opposing views.

I know that in a couple of weeks people will be past this "victory" and back to our self-centered lives, but I believe we need to have a Christ-like view of world events. I think we need to know what we think and why! I do not just want to push these struggles I am having inside away or just go along with what others are saying. Like other things- even if I reach the same conclusion as another blog I read, I still want to know that it was Christ working in me and not just a lazy way out.

I also caught a few minutes of Rachael Ray when I was looking for the news this morning. I do not usually have the TV on at this time of day and now I know why. I know a lot of people that like her show. It is something to watch for recipes, fashion tips and decorating ideas. You can watch it while cleaning or folding laundry. Me? I just wanted to throw something at the TV.

This morning I have been working on a ton of emails. I am in charge of the administrative side of a few Junior High events. One of them will be finished in two weeks, praise the Lord, but then another slew of summer events will begin. And I feel tired already!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Do Not Rejoice- or Fret

17Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.

19Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
20for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Proverbs 24:17-20

It is surreal that Usama Bin Laden is dead. His name has been spoken of in the news as a wanted man for as long as I can remember. He has influenced many people, either by striking fear in their hearts or by training them for evil.

The "celebration" is all over the internet. We get focused on such momentary military successes and shout praises in the wrong direction. We argue about who should get credit for the death. We complain about our president's speech. We whine that the soldiers do not get enough credit.

Do we so easily forget who rules the universe? Do we so easily turn our attention from Him to these fleeting happenings? Do we obey His commands to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5)?

Usama Bin Laden is not the first, nor the last enemy this world will face and he is definitely not the worst. He had no power besides what the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe gave him. He, just like all of us, had one life to live and will face the same judgment seat as the rest of mankind (2 Corinthians 5). He will first and foremost be judged for his belief of Christ. If he is not covered in the blood of Jesus by his faith in Jesus Christ then it matters little what else he did or did not do.

We all stand condemned apart from Christ (John 3). Your pride is no worse than Bin Laden's mass murders. All sin separates us from Christ and the wages for sin is death (Romans 3, Romans 6). If you are not in a right relationship with Jesus Christ, believing in His work on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead to pay for your sins, then you will suffer the same judgment as Usama Bin Laden. What is that punishment?

Separation from God- for eternity. Separated from eternal love. Separated from eternal peace. Separated from eternal forgiveness. Separated from eternal happiness. Separated from eternally enjoying Christ.

That is hell.

We should not wish that on anyone.

Believer, do not let yourself get caught up in politics. Beware of letting your affections be so easily swayed by momentary excitement that is based on human wisdom. Guard your mouth from praising or criticizing presidents, soldiers, news anchors or your neighbor.

It is all about Christ. Turn your eyes, your heart, your passions, your affection and all else that is worthwhile in your life towards Him. Think eternal thoughts (Colossians 3).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Week in Review

The last couple of weeks have flown by and I did not take the time to blog.

We have faced sickness, teething, a Seder dinner, four Easter services, a short-notice day trip to Cheyenne, "regular" ministry responsibilities, our second anniversary, vacuumed and did one load of laundry.

I have also faced a bout of discouragement and feelings of been completely overwhelmed. There has also been a twinge of jealousy regarding what others have and a dose of pride regarding what I have given up.

God is so gracious to rebuke and correct my misplaced desires.

He alone satisfies.

I find myself expressing unBiblical ideas such as, "It is so hard," more than I ever should. Do I believe the Bible is true and that God has given me "all I need for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1)? Do I believe that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13)? And, if I do believe it, but do not live it what good is that?

"If we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would do nothing for ever and ever. There are unemployables in the spiritual domain, spiritually decrepit people, who refuse to do anything unless they are supernaturally inspired. The proof that we are rightly related to God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not." (Read the full entry here.)

There are seasons of life and not one of them has all the joy, nor is there one with all the pain either. God gives and He takes away. He sends the sun to shine on wicked people every morning and even the righteous must endure the storms.

Discouraging times come from the enemy to distract me from the Truth. I have hope in God- hope of eternal life and the promise of everlasting joy. I have been given a peace that no one can buy. Jealousy over possessions others may have is only my heart deceiving itself into thinking those things last. Jesus did not die and rise again so I can live the American Dream.

And He did not leave me on the earth so that I could spend my days trying to obtain it.

The Gospel is worth far more than that.

Monday, April 18, 2011

M is for: Monday, Ministry and Marriage

(Some family fun last week!)

I am so stinkin' tired emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. Last week was draining in so many different ways and I just wish I could take a day and sleep.

That is not possible, but one can dream!

Yesterday was really, really, really long (welcome to the new normal). We were out all day at church, my parents and then back to church (insert YAWN). It is exhausting to take care of a 7 month old at church (he is not in the nursery yet), do normal Junior High activities (of which I lead a game that went pathetically wrong), talk with 76 people (which drains me after about the third conversation), sit through the second service (a great message!), attend a meeting (for our mission trip to Pagosa Springs) and do most of that with an empty stomach (when will I learn my 7AM breakfast will NOT last me until a 3PM lunch and bring a snack?!?!). We headed back to church at 6PM after spending time with my family (yay!) to lead the Junior High Discipleship Groups (almost done and they have gone so well!) and attend the evening of prayer with the church (the D-Group students participated, too- what a blessing to watch them grow).

We left the church at 10:15PM.

Welcome to ministry.

Marriage and ministry is a wonderful thing, too. It was a taxing day (no pun intended, but laugh if you must). When we got home last night we were talking about how satisfying it is to serve the Lord. What else would we want to do together?

A. See a movie (wasting $20 and 2.5 hours on junk)?
B. Go out to dinner (Chick-fil-A is our favorite date spot when we get the chance)?
C. Lounge around the house (which we do on occasion, of course)?
D. Serve the Lord (and see eternal blessings all around)?

Definitely D!

(Oh, and 6 days until our second anniversary!)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Savings Saturday: Books!

(NOTE: Ok, so having an alliteration for every day of the week might be overload, but I think it will help me write more frequently and keep my thoughts somewhat organized.)

Today Joel and I spent the morning and early afternoon wandering around town. We had breakfast at Chick-fil-A (LOVE them) and then went to a nearby Christian bookstore in search of some books about this generation.

The Christian bookstore could only offer us books by or endorsed by Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and other emergent pastors (holding back a major rant here!). We were disappointed and decided to go to Goodwill instead. We have found that Goodwill usually has a nice selection of Christian books (sadly) and we would much rather pay $0.99 than $15.95.

The only problem is that it is pretty hit and miss at Goodwill, too. We still love to try and it is relaxing (to us) to browse cheap books. We usually see a lot of books that we already own like My Utmost for His Highest (there is ALWAYS a copy at thrift stores, sad, sad), Boy Meets Girl, and Fresh Wind Fresh Fire (all books we would highly recommend).

We did not find any books on the subject we were looking for, but we did find one amazing deal: The Two Towers Extended Edition DVD set for $2.99! Wooohoooooo! We also bought a potty training book for starting to train before 12 months for $0.99, a Bible memorization devotional called Memorize This for $0.99 and the above mentioned copy of Boy Meets Girl for $0.99.

I thought those were all amazing finds! We were driving home and, low and behold, noticed the Borders bookstore was going out of business and had things up to 80% off! We were in the bargain hunting mood so we decided to stop in there as well. We did not find any reliable books on the topic we originally set out to find, but I did get two books I had been *wanting.* They are: The Vaccine Book for $4.90 and Happy Baby: The Organic Guide to Baby's First 24 Months for $5.20.

TOTAL book/ DVD purchases: $16
Original Value: about $110.00
Savings of: 85%

Friday, April 08, 2011

Financial Friday: Thanksgiving

Money has always been intriguing to me. What is it, really? How does money travel from one person to another? What builds an economy? Is it more than numbers? What can I do with it? How much can I save? How far can it go when stretched?

I love having money. I loved watching my bank account grow. I like feeling the "security" (real or not) that having a savings account can bring. Saving money has always been important to me and being careful with how I spend money even more crucial.

The last year I have had to face the loss of money, for several reasons, and God has been teaching me a great deal about letting go. I need to trust Him. He will provide all we need. And, as a matter of fact, I need less money in the bank than I think.

I hope to spend more time writing about my struggles and what I am learning, but for today I wanted to share something I got in the mail:

12 Keys to Financial Stability
TRANSFER ownership back to God (Col. 1:16-17, 1 Chron. 29:11-12)
HUMBLY adjust your lifestyle to live below your means (Pr. 21:20, Dt. 25:13, 1 Pet 5:5-7)
AVOID or eliminate growing indebtedness and surety (Pr. 22:7, Dt. 28:15, 43, 44, Ez. 28:18-18)
NAVIGATE away from financial temptations (Ps. 119:36-37, Tit. 2:12, Rom. 13:14)
KNOW your financial status and goals (Pr. 27:23-24, Pr. 21:5)
SHARE with people in need (Pr. 22:9, Jam. 1:27, 2 Cor. 9:9)
GIVE to God first as your highest financial priority (1 Ki. 17:13-16, Dt. 14:22-23, 2 Cor. 8:7)
INVOLVE yourself in productive work (Pr. 10:4, Pr. 13:4, Mt. 6:33, 2 Thess. 3:9-13)
VIEW every need and desire as a chance to trust God (Mt. 6:11, Ps. 34:10, Ecc. 2:26)
INSERT time into your week to manage your finances (1 Cor. 16:2, Pr. 13:16, 14:23, 24:3, Is. 32:8)
NEVER be dishonest (Pr. 13:11, Pr. 20:17, Pr. 10:2, Eph. 4:28)
GAIN Biblical understanding (Ps. 119:11, 2 Chron. 26:5, 2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Quietness

***UPDATE***
I did, amazingly, get my To Do list below done!

Jeremiah is still sleeping. Wednesday night at Jr. High wipes him out and he usually sleeps longer on Thursday mornings. Ah, so nice for an equally tired mother.

And now I hear him waking up, ha!

To Do Today:
- play with Jeremiah (done!)
- grocery shopping (done!)
- finish laundry (done!)
- meeting at church (done!)

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Epic Fail: Sponge Sanitation

It sounded like such a great idea.

The tip on the website seemed brilliant:
put damp sponge in the microwave for 3-5 minutes every night to sanitize it.

So, Monday night, I tried it.

I will not be doing that every night.

In fact- I will never do that again unless I want a burnt sponge, a house full of plastic scented smoke (that is still lingering three days later) and an evening of frustration (not to mention a headache from the stench).

Epic fail.

(Come to find out this is epic fail #2 of the same brand. I did not think it was possible to have two epic fails of the same nature, but my mom assures me I tried this several years ago and the same thing happened. You would think one would remember the smell and never attempt sponge sanitation via microwave ever again.)
I am grateful for a husband that encourages me to laugh at myself!

Honesty

I love Katie's honesty in her post yesterday and Dawn's post a few weeks ago. I am sitting here, in wrinkled clothes, with a sleeping baby on my lap (typing one handed) and a long list of things to do (that I am not doing). The house is a semi-mess. The laundry is half done. I cannot remember the last time I dusted. The vacuum has been broken for weeks now and the carpet looks as you might imagine.

People have told me that I always seem to have it together. HA! I think we all feel that way about other people in our lives. It is an easy way the enemy uses to discourage us and make us condemn ourselves.

Please know that I do not have it all together. I struggle with worry more than you may know. I get frustrated at others for things I myself do. I have days where I am so lazy.

I never want to excuse sin, I want to grow and improve, but I know that this side of heaven I will always fall short of perfection.

Praise God for His grace!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Raising Jeremiah: A Series

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you,
then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates,
or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.
But as for
me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15

I LOVE being a mother. Have you guessed that yet? I LOVE BEING A MOTHER! It is absolutely amazing to carry a child inside your body, nurturing and caring for them, as they are hidden in the secret place. It is a delight to experience the full pain of labor and delivery as you bring them into this world.

We LOVE being parents. There are no words to describe looking at the small scrunched up face of your flesh and blood for the very first time. Oh, I could go on and on with this list. It truly is unbelievable to be a parent.

Today Jeremiah was giggling as I was tickling him and I just had to sigh. What a blessing from the Lord! He is such a gift. He is a reward (Psalm 127) that we definitely do not deserve.

The last 15 or so months, as I was pregnant and since Jeremiah has been born, have been a time of accelerated growth for me. I have had to take all I once dreamed of and put it into action. It was finally my time to experience morning sickness, heartburn, crazy dreams, labor, delivery, nursing and child raising!

There have been so many supportive people in our life who have given Godly counsel and advice. There have been a lot of people who have asked us a myriad of questions. I have been pregnant with several good friends (Dawn, Darrah and Katie!) and walked the journey of motherhood with them.
Still, Joel and I are different. We always have been, I guess, and we knew that raising children would set us apart in more ways from the mainstream- even among Christians. We have "radical" ideas, as some call it, and as others would say are "too idealistic." Maybe. Maybe not.

As with all things Joel and I want to be fully surrendered to the Lord in our decision making processes and what we do. We want to make sure that we have sought the Lord in all things instead of just following what everyone does. It may be that in the end we do what most people do, but we still want to know that the direction came from God Himself!

Romans 14, at the very end, after talking about the weak and the strong follower of Jesus, in relation to food sacrificed to idols, states, "and everything that does not come from faith is sin." We get focused so much on the issue of not causing another brother to stumble that many times we completely miss this absolute fact. Romans 14:23 is a verse for ALL followers of Jesus, about ALL decisions in life, across ALL cultures and for ALL time. If it is not done by faith it is sin. Hebrews 11:6 also tells us, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

Those are just two verses that remind me to take all my decisions before the Lord before moving forward! I want to please the Lord, not sin and do all things by faith!!!

Many people have asked why we did, do and plan on doing certain things like natural family planning, womb bonding, out-loud pregnancy Scripture memory, natural childbirth, delayed and limited vaccinations, co-sleeping, feeding on demand, attachment parenting, delayed non-parent care-giving, baby wearing, natural solid food timing, baby potty training, realistic toys, spanking, homeschooling, etc., ETC, ETC. I would like to begin sharing why and how we are parenting!

(I never want to cause you, my reader (whoever you may be) to stumble or to feel that I am judging you for your decisions. As I stated here, I just want a place to share, digest and encourage you to, at the base of it, surrender your lives to the Lord- in ALL things. When you read my thoughts on parenting please take it at face value. And, for your home, seek the Lord!)

We are Jeremiah's parents. We have been given the role of raising him. We will answer for what we did or did not do in leading him to know God. We do not take that lightly! We are also not perfect. We am new to this parenting thing. I get really tired and drained. There are days that I have no idea what I am doing. I told Joel last night that I can see how parents can so easily get lazy. I also realize that what I share on this blog may not be what ends up happening in our home. I also know that Arrow #2, when the Lord blesses us again, will be a completely different child! I will probably have to write a whole new series about them!

Parenting is HARD work.


Maybe by expressing some of my thoughts and our convictions here I can encourage you while at the same time challenging myself to really think about what we are doing! I also want it to be a place where we can share ideas. You may have learned something along the way that we need to know!!! (Like HOW in the WORLD do you know when a 6 month old is being curious, playful or defiant? God give us wisdom!)

If you are a parent, the key is always prayer. We cannot do this without the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives! I hope to look back at these posts one day and smile... what an adventure!

Monday, March 28, 2011

M is for: Monday and Ministry

The Junior High Winter Camp last weekend was, to say the very least, interesting. It had been a LONG time since I had been on a trip with youth. It was also my first time doing a trip with ALL Junior High students. Wow.

The drive was beautiful and we had perfect road conditions (thanks for praying!). The camp was stunning and so quiet (minus the Junior High noise). Joel did a wonderful job teaching Friday night (I am SO blessed to be his wife- what an amazing man!). It was almost just like old times spending the weekend with my brother, Ben (another amazing man!). Jeremiah did wonderful (an amazing man in the making!)!

We learned a lot about ministering to Junior High students. There is so much boy-girl drama. There are fewer students seriously walking with the Lord than we thought. We knew the majority of our students come from broken homes, but it was eye opening to talk with them about their personal lives.

I do not have much time to get into this right now, but please be praying for this generation. Step outside your little personal bubble and minister to a Junior High student in your realm of influence. They need Godly adults who will love them, say hard things and correct their foolish ways. Pray for the single mothers trying to raise unruly, disrespectful and distracted children. Pray for the youth leaders in your church.

Just pray!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jr. High Winter Camp

24 hours from now, Lord willing, I will be at the church preparing to leave for the Calvary Chapel Aurora Junior High Winter Camp!

The house is a mess, the laundry is half done, I am still in my pajamas (it is noon), my Bible has not been opened yet today and I have exactly 38 things to do before Joel gets home (in 5 hours).

My lesson last night went well (I think). I pray that the kids students (trying not to call them kids anymore) are thinking about what I said. Joel and I have so many desires for the youth group as we get involved more, but we also realize that change takes time.

Pray for us this weekend as we spend time with 200 people from four churches! Pray for safety on the road (four vans with winter conditions). Pray for me since this is the first time I go on a ministry trip with MY child in tow (SO fun to have a little family to do ministry!). Pray that Jeremiah does well and that the kids students do not smother him (too much)! Pray that we will all draw closer to the Lord and seek His will for our lives. Pray for Ben (my brother, yay!) as he leads worship and Joel (as well as the other men) as he teaches.

Have a wonderful weekend (find a way to serve the Lord)!

Monday, March 14, 2011

M is for: Monday, Ministry and Marriage

I LOVE Mondays now that I am a full time homemaker! The last 10 years I have dreaded Monday morning because it meant crawling out of bed, getting ready and heading to work.

The last six months I have spent Monday at home with Jeremiah, playing with him, cuddling with him, cleaning and doing laundry. I now find Monday to be one of my favorite days of the week!

I am thinking about writing a post every Monday about ministry or marriage. I cannot decide which one, so today I will do both!

Ministry

The last year God has worked in our hearts to pursue ministry full time. It has been a long process and I may share more details at some point! Needless to say, Saturday and Sunday are quite full now. Joel attends all three (soon to be four) weekend services at church. I serve at the early morning service on Sunday and we attend the second service together. It has been an interesting transition. I miss having all day Saturday to spend together.

Translation: I am selfish and miss having Joel all to myself.

God is teaching us that only what is done for Him and His kingdom are important. It is a blessing to be given the responsibility to minister to people. I love hearing the stories Joel is able to tell me about people he counsels. God is changing lives!!!

Why would I want my husband all to myself if he is able to do the Lord's work?

Marriage

Joel and I are not perfect. We do not have a perfect marriage. One thing you will never see on this blog and never in person is me criticizing or putting my husband down. (If you ever see it- confront me... seriously!) We made a promise before we were married that we would never do that. We must guard, with our lives, this precious marriage relationship that God has given to us.

I detest, even though that may be a strong word, when people make fun of their spouse, marriage, intimacy or anything related to marriage. There are, of course, funny things that happen between a husband and wife. There are funny characteristics about men and women that are laughable. I am not talking about good-natured teasing.

Marriage is a vulnerable relationship. Joel knows more about me, my weaknesses and my faults than anyone else. I trust that he will not expose my failures to anyone in anyway- seriously or joking about it. When I hear a husband or wife degrading their spouse in a light-hearted manor my blood starts to boil. It is not funny.

The world does a good job at degrading marriage. We should not be joining them. Marriage is a holy picture of Christ and the Church. We should do everything in our power to uphold that image to the world.

Think of the last argument you had with your spouse. Was it about something eternally important? Was it worth getting angry about? Were you being prideful and selfish?

Pray for your marriage regularly. Study the Word of God together. Do everything you can to cultivate the relationship you have with your husband or wife. Work on arguing less. Encourage one another more.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is worth it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Who I Am

Passionate is a word that could be used, I think, to describe me. I am also pretty opinionated about most things. Yet, at the same time, I am reserved and can be pretty quiet. I am not shy by any means, but just like to observe people before I jump into a conversation.

If you read my blog, though, you may be kind of confused and think I go around talking to everyone I meet the way I voice myself on this site. Welcome to the (wonderful?) world of blogging!

I seldom voice my opinionated thoughts with the average person I meet. You have to know me a long time, or bring the subject up yourself, before I would feel comfortable ranting in person about certain convictions or opinions I have. There are times I speak up when I feel it is crucial, but I would say those times are rare. Still, I have a lot of thoughts on a lot of subjects! I desire a place to not only voice them, but encourage others to consider everything as they follow the Lord. Welcome to the (wonderful?) world of blogging!

If I ever sound harsh or blunt please do not take it personally. Instead, be a person that knows why you believe, do and say what you believe, do and say! I am a real person with real struggles. I never want to hide those struggles as I am growing in God's grace. What comes out on this blog is from a heart that is working out her own salvation.
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
Philippians 2:12-13
Please continue reading. I have a lot I want to share with you.
"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end."
Hebrews 3:12-14

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jeremiah's Mommy


It is hard to believe that I am a mother. I dreamed all my life about having children and now I am the mother to an adorable little boy. He will be six months old in just a few days. He is growing and changing so quickly!

I love watching him study something new.

I love giving him a bath.

I love getting him up from his nap.

I even love changing his diapers.

Joel and I talk a lot about parenting. We want to be the best parents we possibly can be. I know I will make many mistakes (and already have). I have had a couple of days in the last six months where I seriously thought I was not fit to be a mother! It is exhausting in every possible way- spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

Jeremiah is starting to show signs that he has a sinful nature. It will not be too long (probably a week!) before we have to discipline him. I pray every day that God will give us wisdom. I want to be intentional in everything I do with him as we discipline, love and nurture him into an adult.

Everything matters when raising a child. I seriously believe that. Everything. Children are like sponges. They soak up what they see and hear. They are aware of our emotions, patterns, habits and desires. They understand more than we really give them credit for understanding! I know Jeremiah will not be perfect. I do not expect him to be. I know he will sin. I know that he will disobey. I know he will pick up all sorts of our bad patterns. He is human and we are, too.

Still, I never want to be a mother that makes excuses for any bad behavior. I cringe when I hear parents say things like, "Oh, it's just a stage they are going through" or "haha, he is going through the terrible twos." (Seems parents have an excuse for lazy parenting at every "stage"!) Christ died to set us free from sin! He died to make us like Himself. He left us on this earth to do HIS will. He wants to make us vessels that are willing to be used.

He did not leave me here to have cute kids. He did not leave me here to make sure my kids each have their own room, birthday parties, a Wii, nice clothes and gobs of toys. He did not leave me on earth to just raise a nice American family. What a waste.

He gave me Jeremiah, first, as a gift and blessing from His gracious hand. He gave me Jeremiah to sanctify me so that I am more like Christ. He gave me Jeremiah to raise in the fear of the Lord! He desires that Jeremiah know Him, serve Him and be a witness of the Gospel of Christ.

And me? I am Jeremiah's mommy. I get to spend my days raising him to be all God desires him to be!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pride: The Childbirth Method

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit,
but in humility
count others more significant than yourselves."

Philippians 2:3

God has been showing me areas in my life where pride has so easily and cunningly crept in to set up camp. The more I am sensitive to pride in my own the life the more I see it in everyone else as well (which can be both good- and- bad). Pride takes so many shapes and forms it is simply unbelievable.

A few weeks ago I was at Katie's baby shower and came home ranting to Joel about how pride and childbirth, when combined, can be so infuriating! First, though, a picture:

She is so CUTE pregnant!

Anyway.

Whenever you have a group of mothers together you will probably hear something about their children and chances are that sooner or later the topic of childbirth will surface. I am sure it has been this way for at least a couple thousand years. Now that I have been through the whole process of pregnancy, labor, delivery and five whole months of motherhood I can understand why it becomes the center of many conversations. It is an amazing and life-changing experience.

Yet, in everything, pride finds a way to wiggle itself into hearts and eventually out into conversation. We all have had our own experience and we want so desperately for others to understand why we did what we did in our childbirth.

Epidural vs. Natural. C-Section vs. Vaginal. Long labor vs. Short labor. Bradley vs. Lamaze. Doctor vs. Mid-wife. Formula vs. Breastfed. Hospital vs. Home Birth. And the list could go on and on.... and on.

It does not matter which side you fall on in any of the list above- you have pride about it! Those that did go all natural have pride that they did. People who did not go natural call those that went all natural the prideful ones and in that statement itself is a truckload of pride. I will spare you more of the types of comments I have heard from both sides! They are sometimes brutal!

I am not sure how to say what I am thinking without sounding incredibly harsh.

What if we, as women, learned to hold our tongue? What if we, when we feel slighted by another woman's childbirth story, would just listen? What if we applauded those who went all natural and listened to why some decided to have a c-section? What if we did not call people who get epidurals wimps and those who went without medication stuck up?

What if we prayed about all our decisions? What if we obeyed the Lord's will for our lives and then would confidently abide in His love? What if we were humble enough to just keep quiet?

When I think about my childbirth story I smile. I have so many precious memories in my heart and mind about that night. I am excited that God answered my prayers. I am incredibly thankful for my husband who cheered me on in the wee hours of the morning. And, I am SO grateful for a healthy baby boy.

There are some situations, like baby showers, where I wish I could tell my story without fear of being interrupted by those who have a different experience than me. I wish I could share my life without wondering what people would think. I wish I could give women advice without being seen as a childbirth nazi.

There are so many topics for women that we could discuss when it comes to pride. It may not be childbirth for you. It may be homemaking. Cooking. Time-management. Money. Appearance.

Take your pick.

Above all, I wish to see pride rooted out of my life because as a woman of God it has no place and is not welcome in my heart.

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit,
but in humility
count others more significant than yourselves."

Philippians 2:3

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Online Self-Centered Mess

Maybe you do not have a problem, like I do, with being self-centered. Thinking of others might come more naturally to you than it does for me. If that is your story, congrats, you are more like Jesus and I want to be like you. If I guess right, though, you probably think more highly of yourself than you ought.

I stand in the middle of a grand stage.

::Facebook, iPhone and Flip enter stage right::

::Myspace, iPod and Blogger enter stage left::

I believe that we can use these modern tools for the glory of God. I believe we can take something that is used for evil and turn the attention to God. I am not an advocate of locking oneself in a closet and never touching a computer.

There are days when I really, seriously, want to delete my Facebook page. Today, as you guessed, is one of those days. How self-centered can we be?

"Hey, world, me, me, me, I, I, I, look at how cute I am, look at my cute kids, look at my perfect life that is not so perfect because I either hide the truth or make it look worse than it is, and oh yeah I love God, too."

Really?

Joel is teaching though Philippians with the Jr. High students on Wednesday nights. I was feeling quite self-centered yesterday and then remembered he was teaching on Philippians 2. Great.

No, adjust attitude, GREAT! The Lord needs to work in my heart. The Lord needs to work in the lives of these students. We must cultivate humility or we will be in danger of thinking that God feels sorry for us. We may begin to feel like we need the world to look at us and applaud. We may begin to rely too much on Facebook notifications to fill our hearts with a fake sense of acceptance. We may begin to think the world revolves around us.

Do you love Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything?

Do you love Jesus Christ more than you love yourself?

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Body of Christ

I have been falling in love, all over again, with the Church. She is such a beautiful creation and I am grateful for her.

I am also so grateful for MY local church, Calvary Chapel Aurora, where I fellowship, serve and learn.

I am ALSO grateful for my pastor, Ed Taylor. He is imperfect, but we love watching him grow and obey the Lord! It encourages Joel and I to do the same!

He will often at the end of a service, when he is presenting the Gospel or challenging believers, feel like there is someone specific he needs to mention. It is usually something simple like, "I feel there is someone here that needs to be reconciled with their wife. You need to surrender to Jesus and make it right!"

He told an amazing story at the beginning of our service yesterday:
Saturday night at the end of the normal service he (Pastor Ed) felt the Holy Spirit was leading him to mention a specific situation that someone was facing in the church. He said that there was someone who was a believer that was doing drugs and needed to give it up. He said that the Spirit kept leading him with further descriptions. He said (something like), "You are doing drugs and, in fact, you are not listening on the radio or watching online, but you even came to church high tonight. You are in this building and can hear my voice. I feel the Lord is telling me you are a woman- a young woman." He then challenged the girl, whoever she was, to give up the drugs and fully surrender her life to Christ.

He said that he, lacking faith, fully expected to just get an email during the week with a "that was me you were talking about Saturday" type of message. He said that often happens when he gets specific like that in his challenge to people.

After service as he was talking and praying with people a couple came up to him. They said that when the girl he mentioned makes herself known that they would like to help disciple her. Pastor Ed said that he would let them know... and then he saw a young girl right behind them.
Now, before I continue, let me say this before you write this off as crazy, absurd or mystic: it's not. My church is not a coo-coo place where we put the Spirit to the test or try to fabricate these kinds of stories to make people cry or go "wow!"

I have a real pastor who just wants to obey the Lord.

Ok, now I will continue:
The girl stepped forward and said she was the one he was talking about. She said she had been down in the bathroom when she heard him talking about her. (We have speakers in the whole church that broadcast the message.) She knew it was God calling to her.

He felt the Holy Spirit was telling him she had the drugs with her so he held out his hand and asked her to give him all the drugs she had with her. He said they would go flush them down the toilet right now and connect her with people who would help her. She reached in her pocket and handed him the drugs. He paused and asked her for ALL the drugs. She reached in her purse and gave him the rest.

He handed them to a couple other pastors and they flushed them right then and there.
This is the body of Christ. This is faith. This is being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, how He works and then obeying!

So many people, including me sometimes, wonder why God is not "working in their lives." Yet, at the same time we keep God in a little box. We tame Him. We turn church into a social club, gossip session, compare my cute kids with yours day, duty and all around American past time.

It is time to wake up. The end is near and the Lord is calling YOU to step out in faith, like never before, and obey.

You know what you need to do.

Will you join me? Let's do it!

For the sake of Jesus Christ, His kingdom and HIS glory!