Posts tagged community
New Year Resolutions

As we enter a new calendar year, this often compels us to an eager anticipation for a sense of newness—a fresh start.  Whether it is driven by an urgency for change or a comfort in new beginnings, many people use January as a way of re-setting lifestyle choices or patterns they want to implement. The calendar gives us a natural transition into new beginnings. 

I love the distinction I recently heard Senator Ben Sasse offer between habits and addictions. The only difference between habits and addictions is that if it’s something good that we want or desire it’s a habit, but if it is something we don’t want or is bad for us then it is an addiction.

Many of us begin a new year with good intentions for a fresh start with a bold determination for building new muscles of habits we intend to keep, but often we fall back into old patterns and addictions.

The word resolution (n) is a firm decision to do or not to do something; the quality of being determined or resolute. The word resolute (adj) is a firm determination to do something or (v) decide firmly on a course of action. Both words come from the same meaning with a resolve to take a new course of action. But in order for us to build the muscle of “habit” we must be resolved to follow through with a resolution.  Resolutions technically are more than just goals, it is a resolve for action. 

Moms, what does this look like practically in our lives, in our homes, and for our children?

The Bible uses the word resolved on three occasions. All three references refer to a resolve to know Jesus and walk in purity and obedience. 

Psalm 17:3 “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.”

Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

David resolves to keep his mouth from sin. “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” which tells us this is more than just watching the words that come from our mouth, this is a heart transformation of a life that seeks to know God and reflect the image of God.  Daniel resolved to not defile himself although his place of life and work provided him essentially anything he could have wanted.  He created space and boundaries to look different from the world and honor God. And finally, Paul is resolved to know Jesus fully. He dedicated his life to bask in the presence of the Almighty to know God and make Him known. He was resolved to not let distractions (although probably good things) get in the way of knowing Jesus. 

Moms, I think there is a lot we can learn when it comes to resolutions and how we teach our children about resolutions in life. While healthy eating habits and exercise or ridding our life of addictions is good and keeps us in balance, where we put our resolve each year (each day) should be like the examples set before us.  If I resolve to do anything in life, my resolve is to know the Father heart of God so that my heart and mind are transformed into His likeness. My deepest desire for my daughters is that they are resolved to know God and make Him known living out their purpose in being created. 

As we begin a new year, may we challenge one another to be resolved to know a Father God who loves us and sent His Son to die for our salvation. When this becomes our primary focus in life, and we like Paul, are determined and resolved to know Jesus and make Him known, this allows us to maintain boundaries, protect our homes, and our time as we point our children to Jesus. 

Shifting Seasons

This morning, it’s suddenly cold enough for winter coats…
I’ll never get over how short the gorgeous fall season is around here.
We probably have a few warm days to go, interspersed amidst the crisp and the all too chilly ones, as it nears the end of October.

This time of year has often seen our family settling into new seasons of life change. Not every year, but often enough that I looked toward this fall with wonder, expectation, and curiosity over what it would hold. With so many shifts over the past few years, I couldn’t fathom what could change that much for us, and I wasn’t sure I even wanted to try.

But instead of a shift into a new season, as the weather around us is so eager to do, it seems God is willing us to settle into a season instead. To hunker down, to get under it, and to allow it to do its work in and through us.

To be honest, my heart is longing to step into a future chapter I feel God has woven the desire for, that from my perspective seems it should be coming sooner rather than later — but that’s not what we’re getting to do right now.

He’s also called us to something different in the here and now that I believe He wants us to focus on first. That doesn’t mean we’re letting go of the desire He’s seeded in our hearts for our possible future — on the contrary, I believe that this isn’t a season of merely waiting, but of preparation for what’s to come — really doubling down on a few things He’s pressing into us about as we await the opening of new doors.

However, He’s also called something seemingly unrelated out of this current season, something that is to be sharing our focus and commitment as we diligently prepare for Him to say GO to our next steps and whatever they may hold. In this present season, He has beautifully and graciously aligned us to really uncover what discipleship in biblical community looks like. To learn to study His word more thoroughly, and to discover how to effectively teach others to do the same.

It’s something that, from a bird’s eye view, and from the perspective of those who know us well, we’ve been told seems like such an obvious fit for us — but it’s not something we’ve ever intentionally pursued before, especially at this level.

And it’s scary.

It’s crazy to me how something so close to what you’ve seen yourself doing practically your whole life and assumed would just come naturally, can kind of terrify you as it’s actually beginning to come to fruition…

It’s not the big audacious visions I’ve had, though those are scary in their own right, they still feel far enough off… It’s the calm, intimate, ‘small scale’ callings that are really showing themselves to be what will have the monumental impact and joy sparking capability in our lives and in the lives of those around us. And so I see simultaneously such beauty and such weight in the reality of what this chapter is bringing.

It’s not a monumental shift our world will watch and comment on, it’s more of a strong & steady progression — something internal being poured out as it’s stirred up. It’s intense and deeply personal.

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. {and yes I made up that word 😉 }.

Regardless of what I think I have to give, an open hand and heart may be the most effective tools I can possess. It can be easy to get caught up in the going and doing — but who are we really *being* with? That’s where discipleship happens — which is the commission Jesus left us with. And following His example, there’s a lot of togetherness in the building of disciples. So that’s the challenge I’m undertaking in this season. Not something new, or shiny, but something authentic and, for me, a bit uncomfortable — in the most convicting and fulfilling way.

It was a line about 2 minutes and 45 seconds into a live feed of this next song that spoke to me in reference to this post ::

“so many hopes and dreams — I can think of a thousand things, that I’m waiting for — but that doesn’t change, who He is to me. No it doesn’t change who He’ll always be”<3!!! and in another version “your leadership is perfect in my life” — what amazing truths to hold onto!

But if you find yourself in a season of waiting without clarity and your heart needs encouragement, just take 15 minutes to connect with God about it and allow this video to speak to you :

If you are interested in Discipleship, you can learn more here.

Guest Contributor:

Andie Fair.jpg

Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

A Decade of Love & Learning

My husband and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage today… 15 years of falling in love.

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… 😉

It is true that fifteen years is a long time to invest in someone; Ten years is a long time to be voluntarily bound to someone. We’re lucky that our marriage is fun {for the most part} and that we’ve come to be on the same page about a lot of things — those factors make it easier to enjoy life together. Though I’m not sure lucky is a very accurate word — we’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here. And I’m sure there’s much ahead of us. That’s something I feel like no one tells you about marriage. It’s hard. But also very much worth the hard. We tend to either get this picture that marriage is one long romantic comedy or that it’s the end of the world as we know it and something to be terrified of. I’ve found it to be not much like either.

Here are a few things we’ve learned during this first decade of marriage… things that at face value may not seem worth celebrating but OH. ARE. THEY. EVER. Many of these are things we pray our daughters learn BEFORE they get married. Though some can only be truly realized through experience. If you’re not married yet but think maybe one day you possibly might be {careful writing it off too quickly there — at 16, I didn’t plan on ever getting married…I also met my husband at 16…ha. ha. ha. 😉 } — I hope you’ll take these things to heart. If you’re currently married, and you’re in a season of HARD — I hope you’ll find encouragement here at least in knowing that you’re not alone. If you’re in a really fantastic season of marriage, I hope you’ll tuck these away to draw strength from when it gets tough. Maybe your marriage will always be a bed of roses, but that’s not our story…unless you consider that the gardener forgot to remove all the thorns before making that bed we’re laying in… 😉

  1. Love is a VERB. It takes action. True love {and no I don’t mean Disney fairy tale princess love where your eyes meet from across the room and suddenly you live happily ever after…or, having never met you, he kisses you while you’re sleeping, and you live in some deranged world where you don’t wake up and knock his teeth out for the audacity…okay, sidetracked}… TRUE LOVE requires action. effort. work, if you will. You may even find yourself feeling like you are literally fighting for it. My best advice is to get on the same side and fight for it together.
  2. Being High School Sweethearts does not set you apart on a pedestal of romantic hierarchy. Nor does it doom you to misery, as some would have liked to convince us was our future. But for us, it definitely meant extrawork. Because as grown as I thought I was at 16, 17…22…I was not. We both had a lot of growing, self discovery, and change ahead of us that we were not prepared for, independently nor to walk through together. I honestly believe it would be in the best interest of everyone’s hearts to not get romantically involved until you’re in your mid twenties and you’ve hopefully really discovered who you are and what this life has to offer. It’ll be a different kind of hard to meld 2 lives that are well established, but that brings me to my next point… 
  3. “You Complete Me” is a load of {you fill in the blank with anything that smells unpleasant} destined to lead your heart and your relationship into {you fill in the blank again, still unpleasant}. DO. NOT. attempt to “find yourself” in someone else. Do not walk into someone else’s arms while attempting to find yourself. While I 100% support and encourage having friends and mentors who walk alongside you as you discover who you were created to be and determine how you’re going to embrace that, it should be a primarily independent seek & find adventure, at least in terms of who you’re committed to {or distracted by}. If you have tied your heart to another before you have found yourself as a complete person, you will {possibly inadvertently} tie your identity to that person rather than to your destiny… see below ::
  4. Your identity, and the confidence you walk in, should be defined by your Creator & Savior. No one else can rescue you. And really, expecting them to is unfair to both of you. Trust me, I’ve been there. I was broken… he seemed strong, made me smile, built me back up…so I put my faith in him. That was wrong. I set him up for failure, set myself up for disappointment. He is a person. and people will always let you down. It’s not an excuse, just a reality.  We have let each other down many times over the course of 15 years. I’m confident we will let each other down in the future, try as we may to avoid it. But we have also learned along this journey where our faith, hope, trust, joy, and ever present help come from — and it’s not one another. There are a lot of things we can, should, and love to do for one another. Filling the role of Savior should never be one of them.
  5. Unspoken expectations are the ammunition of a loaded gun, waiting to be fired. If you’ve been within 50 feet of relationship advice, leadership advice, interacting with people advice… you’ve probably heard “communication is key” — it’s truth. That’s why “they” say it. all. the. time. Set aside time to be open and honest with one another {when you’re not in the heat of a spirited debate} about your needs, about the expectations you have on yourself in this relationship and how the other person sees those, what you want to be and may need help with, what you feel like you need from your partner, what you would love to see, experience, what you dream of doing independently and together. Approach this time prayerfully and with as much of an open mind and spirit of grace as you possibly can. Your relationship will be richer for it. See point 1 ❤
  6. Connection is the other key. Without connection, communication is cold. Marriage is so much more than a contractual agreement. Remember why you wanted to marry this person in the first place. Reflect on their charm. Remind them of it. Give yourself space and permission to discover new things you love about them. Find something you both enjoy to do together — and make time to do it. Invest in your relationship the way you would when you were dating. Love on them through their favorite things. Has it been a while and you’re not so sure you know what his/her favorite things are? Ask. And then follow up with action.  If you don’t know your spouse’s primary love language(s), figure it out! It’s an easy place to start — and could be a great date night focus. Kindling connection will keep the spark alive and help to burn that fire around which you can enjoy authentic communication.
  7. Your marriage bed is sacred. This is a hard one to put out there on the internet. In the world of acceptable Christian issues, this one is still pretty scarlet. Listen to me, I believe this is ESPECIALLY important BEFORE you are married. It is of course equally important having entered into marriage, but I think too often we discount the things that happen “outside of marriage” when we weren’t married at the time. This is mostly directed at those of you who are young and maybe even think yeah, yeah, you know, you’ve got it. Or maybe you’re searching for the why and struggling to understand it in the heat of your relationship. For those of us already married, or already having “given up” this sacrament, read on to #8. But for those of you who hold it, whether intentionally or by circumstance — hold fast. Maybe you don’t find the Bible making a convincing argument. That’s fine. I didn’t either. So hear mine. EVEN IF you marry the person you are intimate with outside of marriage, in my experience, there is a whole world of emotional baggage you could avoid, both in your inner personal battles, and in your relationship, pre and post marriage, by abstaining. We use the word intimate for a reason. It is a deeply personal connection that is filled with vulnerability. There are plenty of other things that will be messy and require your emotions — don’t let this be one of them. Let it be beautiful.
  8. This one applies to so many aspects of life but I also want to highlight it in reference to those of us who feel the pangs of guilt when reading #7, — and not as a permission-giving excuse to those addressed there {because I promise you it is just. not. worth it and there are always consequences that ensue and must be carried}, but — our God is a great redeemer of ALL things — and I believe this to be no different. Surrendered to Him, He will make it new. He will heal the hurt. We may carry scars but He brings beauty from ashes. And this to all realms of our relationship — bring your hurt, bring your troubles, bring your doubts, bring your struggles, and surrender them at His feet. I pray, so hard, that you are able to do this together as well. That your marriage will be unified under a loving Savior and great Redeemer. Yes, there are times, many times, to come to Him personally, but coming to Him together as well brings a whole new level of strength to your relationship. I believe He wants you to walk in freedom and in unity and though I may not know you, I am praying that over you with hope today. ❤ 
  9. Community is priceless. Your relationship NEEDS other relationships. Growing together with others you relate to personally, and learning from couples who are a few steps ahead of you, one day imparting wisdom on those coming behind… being embraced in an encouraging community can be such a powerful catalyst to the growth and development of your marriage!
  10. Never stop learning. About each other, from each other, for each other. If you’re going to be invested in this relationship, learn to love it. You will never arrive there. Encouraging, right? We are multi-faceted creatures, ever changing, planted in an ever turning world where influences come and go and grow and wither… these lives we’re living never stop changing, and we are encouraged to never stop growing — but growing comes with pain, it comes as a result of effort and investment, it comes bearing beauty and strength — and in a marriage, there is someone next to you, with whom you aim to be intertwined, who is also changing, and hopefully growing — and you can either get tripped up in the process, irritated by their change, distracted by your own, or you can make the choice to be better together — by learning to love the process and to process the love. Wash, rinse, repeat. Keep your relationship in the light of Grace, allow it to be watered by your community, and learn to love learning to love.

Happily Ever After requires intentional investment. There’s a slew of helpful resourcing out there, and even this is a list I’m sure I’ll be coming back to myself, because no one’s got it all together, least of all me. In learning to love actively, I have to remind myself to find my completion in my Creator, to kindle the connection with my husband, to cultivate open communication, to engage in encouraging community, and to celebrate the freedom found in the constant truths of Christ and the beautiful change of established growth. It is such a beautiful journey ❤ 

Guest Contributor:

Andie Fair.jpg

Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

Coffee and Fellowship

As I sat to write this blog this morning, writer’s block over-whelmed me. I certainly have plenty of things I could write about. My life has been a flurry of activity with a multitude of trials and tribulations as of late.  Should I write about contentment, prodigal children, mental illness, spiritual warfare, marital communication? The potential topic list went on and on in my head.  So, in utter frustration, I prayed that God would give me a word, that He would show me what He wanted me to share, that He would use me as His conduit.  Then, in such an unexpected way, low and behold, He answered my prayer in a mighty way!  

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.

Dear ones, we were made to be in relationship, with Him and with others. I know that sounds simple and not very profound, but I can attest to you that it is of utmost importance. It is critical that you surround yourself with people that love you, that are walking in the ways of the Lord, that not only speak the truth, but live the truth. I am not at liberty to share about the events going on in my family’s life right now, but suffice to say that we are experiencing first hand what can happen when you do and when you don’t surround yourself with Christian friends and fellowship. Also, it is so important to be that Godly person for someone else, to share the love of Christ with others, to be a person who is a doer, not only a hearer, of the word. (James 1:22)

When you don’t surround yourself with loving, Godly friends, you leave yourself exposed and vulnerable to the enemy. The enemy is real and he delights in isolating you from your friends, family, and faith. He wants to have you to himself so that he can devour you. 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that “…Your adversary the devil prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour”. Even Jesus was alone and isolated when He endured the temptations of the devil, and after that time, He was attended to by angels (Matthew 4:1-11). Like Jesus, we need angels to minister to us in times of trial, and those angels, metaphorically speaking, are our friends and family.  We can not endure without them.

What my friends did for me was so much more than feeding my coffee habit, they fed my soul.  Although their great kindness and generosity made me feel so loved, by them and by Jesus, their prayers and support are even more priceless to me. If you don’t have a community of believers supporting you, may I encourage you to seek them... join a small group or a Bible study, get involved at church, invite others for fellowship, sign up for the P4M discipleship program, do something to get connected.  And if you do have a circle of believing friends, don’t forget to give, not just receive!