Tag Archives: Faith

The Listing

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For many years I have created lists of New Year’s Resolutions.  The goals varied from the fairly typical, such as eat healthier or maintain a consistent Bible study, to some that perhaps not many people would venture to accomplish, like completing a marathon (oh yes, I am that crazy person.  I enjoy it too…).

As the New Year came in 2013, our little family was busy visiting Chris’ family in Virginia.  While I had ideas rolling around in my mind regarding what I could strive to attain in the coming year, nothing actually was put down on paper.  Almost like a free ride.

There was one singular goal, however, that stuck with me.  Chris and I talked it over and decided that as a family we would try to accomplish one thing.

Simplify.

We both genuinely desired this for our family in so many ways.  We wanted to let go of material possessions that really weren’t needed.  We wanted to clear our schedules of all of the “extras” that take time away from meaningful relationships.  We wanted to get back to the basics and lead our family in an atmosphere free of distraction and clutter.  To focus on Biblical principles and application personally, as well as a family.  To even free our diets of much of the “clutter” of junk and processing

We made strides.  In all of it, though, I was shy to share our goals publicly.  I knew that once we voiced our hopes we would have to truly commit in ways that were challenging for all we desired of a simple life.

We began to de-clutter little by little.  After much research, trial and error, we truly have a healthier means of eating in our home.  But much else was left untouched in hearts that were struggling to release our own preoccupations and selfishness.  So in the meantime I have spent time thinking hard and praying about how to let go of so much that clamored for our attention without much action.

Well, friends, as the saying goes: Be careful what you wish for!

Eight months later and the Lord is giving us the biggest adventure and opportunity of a lifetime (so far) to downsize and simplify.  Due to recent events we are obligated to let go of much that we have held tightly in recent months and years.

Some of this is painful.  For me, the most difficult is certainly putting our home up for sale.  Our lovely place of belonging, comfort and family.  Where we have poured our hearts for the last three years.  A place I love deeply.  The home in which we have established our family.  Where we brought our first child home and hoped to bring our future children to grow and thrive.  My heart breaks a little.

Then I am reminded that the roof under which we gather and rest our heads does not define our home.  Home is established in the love and fellowship of our family and friends.  I believe we can have the same beautiful community in a tiny apartment as we have experienced in our treasured house.  Perhaps more so.  We will soon find out!

There are other belongings we will be releasing soon.  Some of them are almost comical to ponder.  Such as the couch we bought earlier this year.  It was the first time Chris and I had purchased a couch together rather than receiving a hand-me-down.  It brought us such excitement and pride.  But as we discussed moving into an apartment we realized that it was completely impractical to bring our nice, new couch when the old one with the unattractive pattern that sits hidden downstairs in the basement has a hide-a-bed. So while we have anticipated the day when we could let go of that baby, here it comes with us.  And the new couch will be sold in a garage sale…

As Chris often says, we need to hold onto everything with open hands.  That way, if and when the Lord requests us to lay it down it won’t be like prying it from our grip.  Rather, we can give it up as a pleasant offering.

The more we contemplate this era of our lives, the more we are convinced of how wonderful it can be.  Already we are immensely thankful because for the first time in our marriage there aren’t multiple jobs clamoring for our attention to make ends meet.  There is freedom in letting go.  Our family time is sweeter and our faith is growing.  The special “treats” we enjoy are delectable because they are more rare.  We are being refined in our perspective of necessity and desire.  So while I am certain that we will struggle as we pursue this new course of life, I am more certain that we will find solace in the providence of our Savior.  The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

As a side note, if any of you happen to know a family who is looking for a home in the North Spokane area, please have them take a look at ours!  We absolutely LOVE our neighborhood.  This is possibly the most difficult part of moving because we have such amazing neighbors.  Seriously.  Our hope and prayer is that the family who moves into our home will love it the way we have and truly bless the community with their presence, as we are certain the community will bless them.  Please be praying with us that our home sells quickly!  Here is the listing if you happen to know of anyone:  http://www.mlsfinder.com/wa_sar/kw_179/index.cfm?action=listing_detail&property_id=201322475&searchkey=75de57b5-ba1d-717c-0831-8b476aae0908

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‘Tis So Sweet

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’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Life is much like a mountain.

It is majestic. 

I think of my favorite mountain.  It is Mt. Rainier, as it should be for any girl from the Northwest.  Viewing it from the West side of Washington is breathtaking, if not rare considering the clouds that often crowd the skies.  But when the clouds clear you are brought face-to-face with the glory and majesty of such beauty that there is no other choice but to take a moment of silence and soak it up.  There is no other choice beyond that than to simply worship the Creator of such astounding art.

When we dare to tarry onto the mountain we are drawn closer to the beauty and fear that are contained in such a place.  For the glory of every flower, waterfall, tree and trail there is also a dangerous pass, animal, crevice or force of water.  We understand the danger and treat it with holy fear and awe.  We also understand that the mountain holds untold wonders, promise, places of unknown and adventure.  So we venture out to explore and live!

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

As I have pondered our personal experiences and life lately I have noticed that it is very much like time in the mountains.  There are cleared trails to follow or trecks to be explored off the beaten path.  Either way, however, there is no promise of what will be experienced or found.  And while it may cause us to tremble, even in the depths of the darkness and unknown we find beauty.

Chris and I have come upon a completely new stage and place of life over the course of the past couple months.  We thought we knew just what was ahead.  We were wrong.  Totally and completely wrong.

In a very short synopsis, about a year ago we made plans to help plant a church locally in Spokane.  We gave a year notice to our church at that time that we would be leaving to launch our new church with Chris as a lead co-pastor this September (2013).  Chris tirelessly planned and invested in the blueprints for what we believed to be our upcoming place of home in ministry.  We knew things may be tight and that there would be unforeseen events that would occur as we launched, but we were excited for the opportunity to serve as long as the Lord made clear.

We had no idea how close our time was to drawing to a close.  Recently it became clear that due to circumstances and philosophy of ministry we needed to step away prior to the launch next month.  We found an impasse where we thought there would be a bridge.  So at this moment of life we find ourselves without a church home, a place to minister directly in a local body and without a pastoral position for my sweet husband.

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

So we are “here” now.  Though we’re not completely sure where here is.  We do know that in this time we need to set up camp for a while, gather our wits and go back to the map and our Guide to figure it all out.  We are praying constantly, asking the Lord to make clear what we are supposed to do.  Chris is continually applying to churches nationally.  Our utmost desire is to courageously follow the Lord wherever He may lead.

This has been a time of turmoil for me personally.  Between concern with where we will go from here, if we will be called away from “home” in Spokane, where we will live in the meantime, how we will provide necessities for our family, what our ministry is supposed to look like, the capacity in which the Lord desires to serve at this time and so much more, I have found myself overwhelmed with worry.  Oh, and let us not forget the pregnancy hormones.  I’m fairly certain that anything that seems hard in typical life is viewed as the end of the world when pregnant in the third trimester with a toddler who suddenly thinks bedtime and sleep are optional.

In this, however, we have been given such grace.  Already we have seen the Lord provide in ways that are absolute astonishing.  We are affirmed that as God cares for the sparrows and lilies of the field, He cares for us much more.  I am reminded that in life we must always be willing to listen to the Spirit. To trust God for our provision.  To live for His glory.  To lay down self and our personal concerns.  To commit ourselves and family fully to the will of the Lord.  He is the Author of Life, the Sculptor of the mountain.

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

More than anything, Chris and I are reminded that God is good.  In this time of wandering we are given the lovely and amazing opportunity to trust Him in His goodness.   To wait on the Lord for His time and place, whatever and wherever that may be.  We have a new opportunity to rest in His grace and build the testimony of Who He is in our lives.

I have been soaking my heart in the book of Philippians.  I am encouraged because I desire so much for our family to truly mimic the heart of Christ and the New Testament church.  Paul writes profusely regarding how many live for their personal interests, not the interests of God.  He spurs us on to rejoice in all circumstances and live a life worthy of the calling we have been given as believers.  This is my prayer.  My hope.  This is the legacy I desire to leave for my children.

I want to live in such a way that in the unexpected and pruning times of life I am found worthy of the call.  I want to follow Jesus, my Guide.  I desire to live with awe at the beauty of what He gives at all times.  That the majesty, reverence and glory of this mountain of life may to cause me to worship.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

Teaching Kids to be the Church

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Oh, my!  It’s never good when the first thing you think logging onto a site is, “I hope I remember the password…” and this was my thought exactly this afternoon as I was coming to chat with you.  A month has passed by already.  Crazy.  I am definitely still learning how to juggle “life” and all that it entails.  Between cooking meals, prepping snacks, doing way more laundry than three people should ever produce, saving a toddler from death-defying jumps down slides, playing full-time entertainer, jumping full-swing back into ministry at our church plant, and all of the other lovely chaos that defines current life, some days I celebrate when I take a shower before 11 am.  Or at all, for that matter.  Thankfully, I have a pretty gracious husband.  I am hoping you are gracious too.

 

The adorable culprit to all my chaos.  I love this guy.

The adorable culprit to all my chaos. I love this boy!  Excuse me while I go kiss his cheeks some more…

I promise to be more faithful in the (near) future.  I don’t like to commit to anything more than three weeks out; otherwise I may have to eat my words, gravel, and start all over again.  It’s my own awful cycle.

I have so much to share!  Everything in good time, of course…  But a lot has been stirring in my mind, which I am excited to discuss with you.  Lots of good, wonderful stuff.

First of all, I want to share something I have been working on for a bit now for our Sunday school program at Journey!  It’s my own “curriculum!”  I have been working on this every Thursday (as my oh-so-fabulous mother watches Noah during the days for me.  Thank you, Momma!  Well, more like she watches him in the afternoons.  I typically spend the mornings socializing with her until I have only four or so hours to finish all I had planned.)  I’m not certain that I will always write our curriculum, but it seemed fitting for the young season we are in right now.   Besides, I wanted something deeper and more involved than a box curriculum.

At Journey, we have young families participating, leaving their home churches to help us plant.  And as we all have experienced in life, change is not easy.  Particularly for kids.  Especially when they may not understand what the implications are of what we are doing.  So I am writing a church planting series for children so that we can all be on the same page as a church family.

Because I have everything from kindergarten through 6th grade (or whoever else wants to join us) participating, much of what I am writing is geared to fit kids of all ages.  We’re covering great stuff, like how the church started, what the body of Christ is, how prayer affects what we accomplish, what kids can do to serve in the church, and telling people about Jesus!  My utmost desire is to establish a solid foundation for our young ministry and get the kids excited about what we’re doing together.

While working on this I began thinking about how essential it really is for all kids to be aware of this information.  Not simply during a church plant.  This truly is the calling of the universal body of Christ.  You and are I instructed to serve.  To fish.  As Ephesians 2:10 puts it, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  It’s not an option, it’s an expectation.  As such – as mothers, fathers, teachers, or simply disciples of Christ – it is our responsibility to represent this for all of the young eyes that are watching us.  Trust me, they are watching.  Closely.  It is also imperative that we teach this to them and involve them in our service.

Chris always talks about “doing life” together.  Really, that is what it’s all about.  It’s about following Christ, getting dirty, and letting others come alongside to learn and participate.  It’s about putting together props for VBS with a joyful attitude, allowing our children to observe and help (even if it’s not perfect).  It’s not shipping them off to a babysitter because they may get in the way, it’s allowing them to get in the way and get excited about what is at work and what God may (or rather, will) do.  It’s a testimony of life well-lived to our families.  Or sometimes it’s the same testimony to a young person who has no one else in their life who will stand in the gap and show what a God-glorifying life looks like.

All of this to say, I think it is absolutely important that all kids understand these concepts.  If they can grasp it at a young age, understanding all that God did in the Bible to allow us to accomplish what we do now, they will be leaps ahead of most adults.  We are a body.  Rather, we are the body of Christ.  We were established by God, called by the Spirit, and are equipped to do absolutely fabulous,astounding things.  Together.  As a family.  This is exciting stuff!

So with all of that laid out, I would like to offer my curriculum to you.  I’m sure it needs some tweaking, however I want to give it to you as a general outline (it’s linked below).  Of course, it’s intended for a Sunday school group, but there’s no reason it can’t be used with your own children at home as a small Bible lesson.  Or possibly an after-school children’s group for latch-key kids needing something to do with their time.  There are lots of opportunities when it comes to kids.

I’ll post a lesson every week or so (I’m still working on it, so I don’t want this to get ahead of me).  The lessons begin with Pentecost (perfect for this time of year – we’re almost there) and work forward from there.  I hope you and your family, Sunday school, or kids group enjoy studying this together!  I’m excited as we work together to sow seeds in our kids and help build heroes of the faith for our generation! (Or the next one).

Church Planting Series – 1. Pentecost

Exquisite Life

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We are aware of people who suddenly have a heart attack.  Out of nowhere.  It’s a terrible thing to happen to anyone, however it is even wilder is when the person isn’t someone we would stereotype as high-risk based on their appearance.

Most of us do our best to appear lovely and attractive.   We put on nice clothes, pull up our hair, apply makeup and make sure to touch our noses to our toes at least five times just to add to the acrobatic craziness.  But no one knows what’s really going on under the skin.  Do we eat well?  Exercise regularly?  These are all extremely important questions because when it’s all laid out a stylish haircut won’t help our arteries.  We need to pay much closer attention to the true workings of our body.

While this is on your mind, consider the Church.  The Body of Christ.

I believe a great deal of effort is placed on the appearance of the Body.  We put money and effort into buildings and programs.  We don’t want to support anything if it’s not going to booster either our attendance number or attractiveness.  We place a ton of attention on our appearance while ignoring the blood, bones and muscles.

Let’s face it: Much of the American Church is a pretty heart attack waiting to happen.

This topic (not in the exact terms I’m using here) has been the center of much discussion in our home lately.  We’re asking ourselves: When we truly look at the New Testament Church, as Christ instructed it to work and the apostles described from the early centuries, what is it?  How does it function?  What are we doing well and where are we failing miserably as the Body?

These are important questions to ask when planting a church.  Actually, these are imperative questions.  We recognize the absolute necessity to build the characteristics we wish to emulate into the DNA of who we are as a Body.  In Colossians, Paul refers to keeping (or losing) “Connection with the Head [Christ], from Whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows and God causes it to grow,” (2:19).  We are the heartbeat and muscle of the church.  We must be healthy, relying on God to exist and grow properly.

We are also asking these exact questions of our family and personal lives.  If we are going to strive to request true godly living of our church family, we must be willing to embrace it ourselves.  We don’t want to be hypocrites.  We want to experience the fullness of Christ in our lives and home.

This is heavy because it is in no way easy or comfortable.  Personally, I much prefer comfort and ease.  In our effort, however, we are offered the amazing opportunity to live life to the fullest.  Life that has meaning.  Life that glorifies the Father and loves one another.

I want to extend an offer to you.  Join us.  Take the plunge.  Embrace the ability to live with absolute abandon to the heart of Jesus.  It may not be glamorous.  It will simultaneously wrench your heart and satisfy your soul.  We are called to something more – to much more.  We have before us the most exquisite opportunity.

It is worth it.

Two paths diverged on a road...

Two paths diverged on a road…

 

The In-Between Times

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“Praise Him in the morning when you see the sun arisin’;

Praise Him in the evening ‘cause He took you through the day;

And in the in-between times when you feel the pressure’s comin’;

Remember that He loves you and He promises to stay.”

2013 January-1

This is one of my favorite songs from my childhood.  The lyrics and the tune are both simple, yet the message is profound.  Praise God.  Period.  When times are wonderful, hectic, stressful, relaxing, and so on we are to keep our mind on the Lord and thank Him.

Well, I’ll be very forthright with you.  Today was very definitely one of the “in-between times.”  Noah woke up and went to bed an extremely emotional little boy.  I think it has something to do with the fact that in the last three weeks he has been cutting all four of his incisor teeth.  Two weeks ago the top ones popped right through without any issue.  The bottom ones are another story, protruding like mini mountains.  Those suckers are taking their sweet time and sadly, I have a feeling that they’re also giving him quite a bit of pain right now.

Noah’s emotional instability proved to completely drain me throughout the duration of the day.  I was excited to start the day by make our first-ever fort this morning.  I had great intentions however it ended (before it was even finished) with the sheets being torn down by Noah while he was crying angry tears.  Fail.  Then there was more crying, frustration, and hitting than I’ve experienced in a very long time – perhaps ever.  Of course, his less-than-one-hour-nap-all-day did not help circumstances.  By the end of the afternoon I was absolutely exhausted and at the end of my rope, worn by breakdown after breakdown.

Around five, I was preparing dinner, counting down to bedtime.  Noah was standing on a chair at the counter eating a snack I had set in one of his little bowls.  While I was pulling out veggies and chicken Noah’s spoon fell on the floor and I glanced over to see his bowl tipped on its side.  Noah was playing with the snack as it started falling off the counter.  I wouldn’t say I snapped… but I snapped.  I raised my voice and told him, “Noah, no!  You can’t do that.  Stop it!”  My frustration started pouring out.  But as I said this and bent down to pick up the snack I happened to look up at my half-naked baby.  He stood there looking down at his diaper and twiddling his hands, unsure what to do on his broken little pedestal.  Defeated.  I had just broken my child’s spirit.

My heart crumbled.  I picked Noah up and did what I should have done from the get-go.  I hugged him.  I told him I loved him and that it was okay because it was a mistake.  He laid his head on my shoulder, wrapped his sweet body around mine, and cuddled into me.  He stayed there for a few minutes, resting in the love and grace that affirmed who he is.  The love and grace we all need – especially in the middle of rough days.

As I’ve reflected on today I have realized a couple things I hope to be aware of from this point forward.  Although I knew I needed to have time with the Lord, all of the hecticness got the best of me.  I didn’t take the opportunity to lay everything out and ask for wisdom.  After all, I’m sure Noah’s Maker has much better intuition on how to handle his discouraged days.  Also, I want to be constantly aware that my mood isn’t dictated by his.  I am Noah’s mommy and I have the ability to choose how I respond when tough moments arise.  I want to model for him how to display self-control and to go to God when life is discouraging.  I want to set Noah up for success in living life triumphantly.

Singing our “Praise Him” song together helped me refocus on what is important.  As Chris reminded me in the middle of our day, I have been abundantly blessed with everything I could ever want.  I possess a beautiful little boy, the opportunity to stay home with him, a wonderful family, and a lovely home.  I have every reason to praise.

 

My Beautiful Boy

My Beautiful Boy

Simple Wonders

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Water.  It’s such a sweet, simple thing.  It falls from the sky.  It pours out of our faucets to fill up our tubs, pans, and glasses.  We see water all of the time, every day.  We take it for granted.

Truth be told, I am finding out how little I appreciate so many of the small things in life.  How little I take the time to marvel.  Wonder.  Sit in amazement.  My son, though…  He was born with an innate ability to appreciate the art of simple things.  Things like water.

2013 January-23

Noah loves water.  Whenever we go outside after the rain (or lately, snowmelt) he immediately walks to the broken crevices in our walkway.  He squats or sits and looks.  Then he lightly touches the water with his fingers or gloves. He doesn’t mind if it’s freezing or dirty or if his mittens need washing all over again.  Sometimes he tastes the rainwater.  Water from concrete tastes different than water in a sippy, I suppose.

2013 January-36

Or take bath time.  He loves staring at the faucet, watching the water slowly drip into the bath.  He will sit there for minutes on end, enraptured.  He giggles when the drops hit the water.  He thinks it’s amazing.

2013 January-37

It’s beautiful to watch him.  As I observe Noah, I feel like him in awe of the water.  I am transported into his world of magic.  I giggle when drip-drops fall from the faucet to meet the tub.  Water becomes sensational, a work of majesty.

My child daily gifts me with the precious opportunity to see the world through different eyes.  Through new eyes.  He sees the miracle in simple things.  He sees the reason to wonder and praise.

 

“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
He provides rain for the earth;
He sends water on the countryside.”

Job 5:9-10

More than Conquerors, Leaving a Legacy {4}

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With a child, everyday is an adventure, full of opportunity to discover something new.  This is at least as equally true for me as it is for Noah.  I am constantly trying, re-trying, and altering anything and everything I/we do throughout the day.  As soon as you are certain you have naptime nailed the baby talks through it for the next week, or when you think they know a particular word it suddenly disappears from the vocabulary.

I am constantly thinking about what I should teach Noah next: colors, the alphabet, animals and their sounds, how to keep his fingers out of the toilet, and so it goes…  At some point as a mom you can get absolutely caught up in this.  They learn SO quickly!  I’m also continually assessing what my attitude, speech, conduct, and body language are teaching and communicating to Noah.  I realize that every moment we are together he is studying me and learning how to view the world.  We got a quick lesson in this when Noah was only about 12 months old.  One day Chevy (our dog) was in the kitchen while we had food out (he knows this is not allowed) and Chris chased him out with a loud, deep voice.  Suddenly our sweet little boy bristled up as big as he could get and started running after the dog, all while shaking his little fists and shouting out at Chevy with every ounce of force that his babbling could muster.  It is shocking to see some of your traits come out in your child.

They really do love each other.
They really do love each other.

With this in mind, I believe there is an essential reason we need to seriously exemplify a victorious lifestyle.  We are setting a legacy for our children.  They see us at our best as well as our most frazzled.  As we engage in their lives they will learn what to value, why they believe what they believe, how to cope in rough times, whether character is important, and so much more about life.  While they are young, we are the lens through which they process the world.  Numbers and colors are important, but I desire most that he learn to love the Lord deeply and passionately.  I want him to be Kingdom-focused in life, able to discern what is of true and pure value and what is going to pass away like the flowers with this world.

A few days ago I initially wrote on conquering because of what I have been learning personally through my study of the Old Testament as well as through life experiences as we prepare to plant our church.  There is so much wonderfulness ahead.  There are also a whole lot of unknown giants.  We discussed the verses given throughout Deuteronomy and Joshua commanding the Israelites to take courage.  There is another set of verses that are repeated over and over again throughout Deuteronomy that resonate deep within me as a mother.

Most specifically, in Deuteronomy 11:18-21 the Lord tells the Israelites, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

When I read these verses I am convicted that God is telling me that it is pertinent that I use every single opportunity to educate my children in the teaching of Scripture.  It needs to be visible.  Of course, this visibility will come as I put up posters with verses or read Bible storybooks to Noah.  What will speak loudest, though, will be the way I live my life.  It will be how I handle personal triumph and loss.  It will be the way I react when I am disappointed or angry.  It will be how easily I incorporate the Word in my daily conversation.  It will be him seeing me studying the Bible throughout the day, with joy.  It will be a content and thankful heart.  It will be trusting God when things look harried.  It will be the respect I give my husband.  It will be a victorious life displayed because of something Christ did for me and the Holy Spirit is currently working in me.

As parents we have a heavy responsibility.  As believers, whether parents or not, we have a heavy responsibility, because I am learning that little eyes are always watching and whether or not we choose to, we are leaving a legacy to be lived out through those young lives.  My prayer is that through our lives our children will be exposed to the joy and delight that is experienced as true champions and will carry on our legacy of salvation and victory.

joy