It’s Really All About Jesus Anyway, Isn’t It?

It’s Really All About Jesus Anyway, Isn’t It?

Have you read the Bible from beginning to end? I am sorry to say that I have not, despite being a Christian my entire life. (Nothing like starting off with a huge confession, right?) I have read parts of the Old Testament and the entire New Testament, but I have not read the entire Bible. It’s interesting now to reflect on why I haven’t.

I remember the first time I tried to read the Bible from start to finish. My parents had given me my first nice leather Bible for Christmas when I was in 4th or 5th grade. This was way back before there were as many translation options as there are today, and my new Bible was the King James Version. It probably won’t surprise you to know that I barely made it past Noah and the Ark!

Hope-Filled Brokenness

Hope-Filled Brokenness

When we had first moved to Houston, I was struggling to adjust to my new normal and the Lord gave me a word picture of how He wanted me to live my life. It was a very broken and cracked vase, which had definitely seen and experienced a lot of life. It was so cracked that it could not hold water. As water was poured into the vase, it would begin trickling out of some smaller cracks and gushing out of the larger cracks. This vase appeared quite useless and without a real purpose, other than as a new décor piece for a mantle. This was not really the look I was aiming for however at this point, I definitely felt like that broken vase. I felt quite tired and useless being placed here in Houston far away from family and friends. The easiest thing would be to stay on the mantle and reflect on all the wonderful memories but the Lord wanted me off the shelf to be used once again. This is always easier said than done.

Shifting Seasons

Shifting Seasons

While we may be settling into a season, what is shifting is my perspective on that season — allowing Him to help me view the work He has called us to, not through the lens of the world and its shallow praise, but through the lens of His Kingdom and the joy of bringing Him glory in any and every facet of this life  — not just the big stuff, not just the stuff we display, not just what our community at large sees — but the relational stuff, the hard stuff, the messy people in a broken world stuff. Because at the end of the season, of the day, of the month, at the end of this life, isn’t that what we want to be able to declare? That it was all for Him? Not just that we did the big things, that we shouted from the rooftops, but sometimes I think even more importantly, that we honored Him in the little things — in the things the world may not shine focus on — because isn’t the world upside down without His presence to filter our priorities through? Maybe what matters most in our ministry is what happens on a small scale…not because the big, bold stuff isn’t important — we absolutely serve a big and bold God — but because there can be so much substance in the “in between” moments, in the personal connections — and we also serve a personal, relational God. I don’t know about you, but I often find those to be the things that are the hardest to focus intentionally on, to work through, to glorify Him in — because they really take the most investment. The things that tend to get the most attention in our culture are the big splashes, temporary and fleeting, but I’m learning to see more and more the immense value in swimming upstream to reach people at a heart level — and to invest my priorities accordingly. The things that really make the biggest impact are the ones that are carried through the shifting seasons, side by side, hand in hand. The ones that have a name. A story. That require the writing of pages together. Sharing this life is about giving and receiving — what I give to others, and how I receive them. I’m starting to believe that ministry isn’t primarily about what we give to others — but that they see Jesus the most in how we receive them — into our circle, into our home, into our moment. Though the situations and depths will vary, I believe that truly serving others is more relational than donational.

ps... I Love You!

ps... I Love You!

She crawled up into the seat next to me and looked up into my eyes with a sparkle in hers. I brushed a whisp of hair off her face, over her cheek, and something about that moment overwhelmed me with the need to tell her I loved her. She hadn’t done anything special, it was as ordinary a moment as any, an in-between moment even, but with her attention fixated on me it welled up inside me just the same and I felt compelled to make sure she knew.

A Decade of Love & Learning

A Decade of Love & Learning

I’m not entirely sure why 10 years gets so much attention — maybe it’s because you’re entering into double digits. Maybe it’s because it has this new name that sounds so accomplished — a DECADE — … Maybe it’s because when you’ve been living with another person for a DECADE, you finally start to feel like you’re possibly beginning to get the hang of it a little bit. For us, celebrating 10 years is a big deal because it’s not 6 years or 8 years — those were hard, HARD years for us — but we made it, and we’re stronger, and we’re happy about it {and also happy that we’re not in year 6 or 8 anymore 😀 }. Maybe we’re able to focus on celebrating a little more because we’re not changing any diapers this anniversary… though, you know, there’s still a chance someone will wet the bed tonight… 😉

Bringing Our Fish and Loaves to Jesus

Bringing Our Fish and Loaves to Jesus

Do you ever feel overwhelmed as a mom?  Oh, that is an understatement, right?!  Do you ever wonder how you are going to be enough for your kids who need so much from you?  From the first moment we meet our precious little one face to face we fall in love and instinctively want the very best for him or her.  We desire to nurture our little one physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We begin to feel the weight of the responsibility of leading this child into its future.  All these emotions can happen to us in a matter of moments.  I shouldn’t speak this way for all moms, but those were exactly my feelings when I met each of my three babies.  The love that welled up in me and poured out was immeasurable, but along with those loving feelings came the feeling of inadequacy.  Will I be able to be enough, know enough and do enough to always provide exactly what my children will need? 

Maybe you too can relate?

Why Your Child Needs a Counselor

Why Your Child Needs a Counselor

In light of the most recent school shootings, I have come to the conclusion that our schools need less teachers and more counselors. As a teacher who is around children from ages 10-18 all day long, I can tell you without a doubt- your kid needs counseling. Even if he is not going through his parents’ painful divorce, a relationship break-up, struggle with pornography or a thought of suicide- he certainly knows someone else going through difficult times, and is trying to process it with them. Our kids need someone with clarity and insight to help them process through everything that is coming in and happening to them. Not only do our kids need it, they are desperate for it! School counseling offices across America are so booked that there is not enough time in the day to meet with all the kids that want help. Our kids are crying out for help. 

It is striking how desperate our culture is for counseling. Even as far back as 2004, one study from the American Psychological Association stated that over 50% of the people polled said that someone in their family has received or is receiving counseling, and 9/10 people said that they would go to or recommend a counselor to a loved one if a problem came up. A follow up article from 2014 shows that the trend has only been increasing year after year. 

 

Am I Distracting my Child from Their Purpose?

Am I Distracting my Child from Their Purpose?

Am I distracting and hindering my children from their intended purpose? Am I contributing to their demise? You see, if I actually believe that my children (and myself) have been created for a purpose, then I must know what that purpose is. I believe God has created each and every one of us with a purpose.  And while each of our individual skill sets look differently and our gifts vary, our purpose in being created is all the same.

At what point am I contributing to distracting my children from their intended purpose in being created?  Am I giving my children so much that I am feeding their desire to serve self? Am I giving my children in abundance to the point that they are not lacking, but instead feeding pride, and an entitlement that they deserve what they have? Do I keep my kids so busy, so distracted, surrounded by so much "stuff" that I am actually contributing to their demanding that self is put on the throne of their lives instead of God?  By giving them abundance, am I teaching them that the world revolves around them? 

Adoption: Welcoming Sons and Daughters

Adoption: Welcoming Sons and Daughters

Adopting was indeed, a very different story.  There was a mountain of paperwork, interviews, and fingerprints to be examined.  And then there was the waiting.  Throughout the whole experience there were a lot of questions, some that we did not see coming or know how to answer right away.  We had not anticipated the level of detail that the adoption application itself would entail.   Would we accept a child or any race or ethnic background?  If not, which ones?  What if the biological family had a history of cancer?  How about mental illness?  What if the mother smoked, drank alcohol, or took drugs while pregnant?  And if some drugs were ok, which ones weren’t?  What if the child was the “product” of a rape?  How about multiples?  Some of these questions were “easy”, and others stopped us in our tracks and caused us some considerable thought and discussion, as we wanted to make sure we were equipped to handle any situation that might come along—as if that’s even possible!  

Other  “interesting” questions came from the people around us.  Perhaps they meant well, but their questions indicated to us that they were leery of adoption.  “Do you think you will be able to love both the children the same even though one is yours and one isn’t?”  “Why would you want to raise someone else’s kid?”  Wow.  It was hard sometimes to not be defensive since we knew this was the plan for our family, and we had little doubt that we would love our adopted baby just as much as Emily.  

Becoming Truly You

Becoming Truly You

 I remember, before I was even pregnant with my firstborn, Anchor, I made some pretty massive commitments to myself. I had babies smack in the midst of all of my friends (not the first to get pregnant and not the last). I watched as beautiful, passionate, talented, independent women began to disappear and drown- not in motherhood, but in society’s expectations of them, as if they had suddenly given up their rights to the life they lived before. It wasn’t a conscious transition, and every one of them experienced it to varying extremes; but I heard it in their conversation, in the way they spoke about the past and future, in the words of advice given to new mothers (advice that really sounded more like a warning of what was to come). I saw an incredibly selfless, strong, but beat down woman in front of me who legitimately didn’t see her youthful dreams as possibilities anymore. This was my unexperienced perspective before having children; and, to be honest, I was terrified of becoming that woman. So, I made a list of promises to myself. The top of this list was: “I will fight for myself.”

The Task of Neighboring

The Task of Neighboring

People, however, are much different from tasks. People are complex. They can sometimes be complicated, needy and intricate. They require attention, relationship, and time. So how does a task person like myself prioritize the people around me? I kind of hate to admit it but sometimes I think of people as tasks. I put them on a list, make a goal of relationship and am slowly checking them off as they turn from people into friends, and alter from tasks into life. This has been something I’ve been pursuing particularly with those who live nearby, my neighbors. 

My neighbors are no longer tasks, they are my life. And I haven’t checked them off my list, because I’m not finished yet. I’m so humbled that God has placed me at my current address and chosen me to show love to my neighbors.

A Mother's Christmas Gift

A Mother's Christmas Gift

One of my favorite things to do each December day is get up before anyone in the family is awake, go downstairs and in the dark, turn on only the lights of the Christmas tree.  While sipping coffee and my Bible in my lap, with just the twinkling of the Christmas lights, I spend time with my Savior.   It is such a sweet time.  I look forward to it all year long.  There is just something about staring at the lights of the tree and pondering the God of the universe who chose to come down from heaven Himself, in human flesh, to show us how much He loves us.  Morning after morning, this renews my focus.  This intentional and special time with Jesus fixes my eyes on Him, encourages me to lean in to Him, fills me with His Spirit and helps me keep this season about Jesus and not what the world has made it to be.  This time with Jesus overflows into the rest of my day and becomes a gift to my family.  My heart is full.  My focus is clear.  My joy is real.

Heart of Thanksgiving

Heart of Thanksgiving

Whether you are looking forward to Thursday, or attempting to wish it away, I want to pose a challenge. Is it possible to view Thanksgiving, not as only a holiday, but as a choice of our will that directs our attitude?

At times, we can be so overwhelmed by our circumstances the thought of being thankful for them, knowing that He sees the end from the beginning, when we can’t, is repugnant to us. I challenge you; I challenge me, to start by bringing our needs to Him.

Why Just Reading the Bible to Your Kids is Not Enough

Why Just Reading the Bible to Your Kids is Not Enough

There is a much larger reason as to why so many teenagers and millennials are leaning towards witchcraft (or other similar mediums) for guidance. I believe it is because we are created to look to the supernatural for direction, and many are not finding it in the Church. 

As human beings, we have a deep sense that there must be something beyond us. Even though many Americans would say they are not religious, a recent study said that 89% of Americans still say they believe in a god or a universal spirit.  It is in our very DNA to long for something beyond us, and we crave a connection to the supernatural. Almost every person still prays to something when her or she is about to get into a car accident or a close friend is dying. All humans are desperate for something beyond them, and yet, so often in modern churches, people go to a church service and leave without ever connecting to the supernatural. Christianity to many people is a good, moral worldview, but in reality, seems absent of any sort of real power. 

 

Coffee and Fellowship

Coffee and Fellowship

I decided to take a break from the computer and get a bite to eat. After eating my frozen meal (quick and easy so I could get back to “writing“), I went outside to bring in my Amazon delivery and saw an unexpected bag from another store. What was in that bag brought me to tears, gave me the topic for this blog, and reminded me of what God wants us all to remember. In it was a new coffee maker, given in love from dear friends, secretly delivered by them to my front porch.  Why? Because my existing maker has decided to be temperamental, and won’t always work.  And, my friends know me…they know I don’t function well without my coffee… they know what is going on in my life and want to help in any way they can… they care… they love as Christ loves.

Growing Pains

Growing Pains

After I dealt with the children and we came to a resolution, I realized something about the situation. I saw my own actions in the root of this fight, which is being quick to judge.  My sweet children were replicating what they see in me. Ouch!  I reflected back on times in which my first response is often a judgment statement instead of a question to clarify behavior.

A Single Mother Watching God Redeem the Story

A Single Mother Watching God Redeem the Story

“Just hear us out. You’re only 21. You have your whole life ahead of you. You have to be sure about this.” 

As I listened to them talk me through the reality of my situation and tell me that this could all be over if I wanted it to be, I sobbed and pleaded with God for answers. For a split second I did just want it to all go away. As quickly as the thought entered my mind I became nauseous with indignation.

A Mother’s Sabbath Rest

A Mother’s Sabbath Rest

One of the best things I did as a young mom was to begin taking a Sabbath rest.  Did I have time for it?  No.  Was it a necessity?  I learned the answer to that question was YES!  When my third child was about 12 months, I was overwhelmed.  This wasn’t the first time I was overwhelmed as a mom, but this time I was about ready to give up.  My temper was getting short, my patience low and my energy level was below zero! Have you ever been there?  Don't get me wrong, I loved being a stay at home mom, but I was EXHAUSTED.  What could I do?  I couldn’t see an end in sight where I could refuel.

Staying in the Lane God has Assigned Us

Staying in the Lane God has Assigned Us

I take my eyes off of my own race as a mother. I begin to look at how other moms parent their children, or how successful their life appears juggling and multi-tasking the demands of a busy family.  It is particularly hard when I see someone a few steps ahead of me in a season of life; I begin to unfairly compare my life to hers.  

Social media and the world of comparison we live in with "selfies" and documenting the highlights of each day taunts us constantly. It is as if the runners around us flaunt the fact they are running the race better and faster. We become distracted and consumed and our eyes begin to wander. 

Leaving Your Nets and Your Boat: Finding True Peace and Rest

Leaving Your Nets and Your Boat:  Finding True Peace and Rest

Trust His perfect plans for you, even when He speaks the word immediately to you.

There were days when I wanted to ask the disciples if they ever looked back, if they missed just being a fisherman or if they missed their friends and families?

Then I hear Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”