Attention Moms!

Attention Moms!

Encouragement Inspiration

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. ~Ephesians 4:15-16

IMG_20160403_160308748_HDRHey moms, it’s time someone sucked it up and told you the cold hard truth:

YOU. ARE. AWESOME!!!!!

Please go ahead and print the last three words in large type font, then hang them in every room of your house. Please. Because here’s the deal- your children are listening to your self talk. When you were talking about that extra baby weight you’re still carrying around, your daughter was listening. When you said you were no good at making new friends, your son heard that. When you said you can’t cook well, drive well, keep up with all the latest trends- the kids were listening. When you called yourself a ‘freak,’ they heard that too. And even worse, they probably believed it.

Now do me a favor- I want you to think of your bestie. You know that lovely woman you wish you were having coffee with right now? Tell me three strengths of hers. Go ahead. List ‘em off. Done? Great. Now tell me three strengths of yours… ?

[crickets chirping]

I have seen in my friend circles the ability to praise each other to the skies, but a complete inability to come up with even one strength about ourselves.

I am the same. I see all my friends’ strengths. I am blown away. I always think, Why can’t I be more like her? I’m even inspired – to be a better mom, wife, woman, worker. These women-friends of mine really have it all together! But here is the big secret- that amazing friend, she’s not hanging out with you out of pity. She’s thinking the same thing about you. You inspire her in the same way.

So here is your homework (yes, a blogger is giving you homework): you go ask that friend, sister, mom, random woman at church- “What strengths do you think I have?” In fact, ask more than one friend- and then write them down. Put them on your nightstand, reflect on them, pray about them! And if the woman you ask pauses and thinks about it, that’s good– because they are thinking deeply about the question. (I know if there is a pause, some of you are gonna be all ‘Oh no! She couldn’t think of anything!’ No, no, no. No more of that kind of thinking! I mean it. I will come and write Ms. Awesome on your forehead in permanent marker!)

We all have strengths- different strengths, and we all have weaknesses. But we need to take time to focus on our strengths. To let our children see our confidence. To let our children see what that looks like, how you live it out. To be an example for them. We really need to let our daughters gain some self-confidence about how they look. So I am begging you- enough with the fat comments. You aren’t 16 anymore. The freshman 15, it’s just real life. No one can be a bouncy teenager forever. We age, we sag in certain areas, but oh my gosh are we better for the years- we are better at life, better at forgiveness, better at blessing others, better at handling awkward situations (…sorta…?), better at applying makeup, better at driving- the list could go on forever. Do you really want to go back to middle school and do it all over again? Do you????

Don’t covet that friend’s strengths, cultivate your own strengths.

I always have to comment about the other side of the horse. This is not a call to puff yourself up with false pride (though I seriously doubt that will be an issue for most of you). Nor is this an excuse to not work on your weaknesses. We are ever growing, changing, and working our way towards Jesus. This is just a reminder to not focus on those weaknesses 24/7.

So go ahead, flex those muscles you have in hospitality, administration, kindness, listening, humor, learning, teaching, nurturing, etc, etc, etc… Be confident in who you are in Christ. Be confident in the woman God has made you, and even more in the woman He is making you into. And speak forth those things over yourself, and over your children. So that as you step out into the world, you are walking in love, confidence, and as someone who builds others (including yourself) up in the body, and in love.

Lord, thank you for the gifts you have sewn into my life. Please bless me to be more and more the woman you have created me to be. Open my eyes to the talents you have given me, my husband, and children. Help me to speak forth your blessing over our family and to proclaim your truths over each one of us. Help us to grab hold of You and your good things. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

Emmanuel

Emmanuel

From the Authors

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,img_20151225_095924089_hdr and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” ~Matthew 1:23

Emmanuel; God is with us.

Matthew 1 is pretty great. I know I didn’t always have an appreciation of the genealogy of Jesus. I just really liked the end of the chapter; the name Emmanuel- the thought that God came down to be with us. I always liked that.

But the story isn’t just about that 1 night in Bethlehem. It’s not even about the next thirty some years of Jesus life. (Though without Jesus’ life, the story wouldn’t have any point at all.) But the story starts way back at the beginning before there was time. God has always always been preparing and making a way for us to be together with Him.

And His Plan to rescue little ol’ us, proves his sovereignty. Look at that genealogy in Matthew 1! Was there ever a better list of screw ups and nobodies? And God chose them to bring about Jesus’ entrance into the world. He chose them, so He could rescue us. It was His great plan. If you go back and read through the stories, you begin to really fathom the grace and love of God.

One of my favorites in all the stories is Jacob’s dream. Not so much because of the dream, as amazing as that is. Mostly I’m always interested in the beginning of the story where he lays down and puts his head on a rock? Why a rock? Wouldn’t the dirt ground be more comfortable? Then he has his amazing dream and…

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” ~Genesis 28:16

I think that will be us towards the end of our lives. We will look back at all that God has done and finally realize He was with us the whole time. And we will say, “Surely the Lord has been with us- and we did not even know it!”

Because the Lords’ love is greater than we could ever fathom:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

So go to your Christmas Eve service, and hear the story again. And may you be blessed to find something new and fresh about who God is and what He is doing in your life!

Merry Christmas!

Lord God, help us to see you at work in our lives right now. We don’t want to be like Jacob, realizing you were with us only after the fact. Help us to stand before you open-handed and with open hearts, ready to receive all the gifts you have for us. We thank you so much for the most awesome gift you’ve given of Jesus. At this time of year we remember how good you are and rejoice. But we also know that Easter will come, and that there was a sacrifice that had to be made on our behalf. Help us to truly treasure the gift you have given- Yourself, and Your Love. Thank you, Jesus. Amen!

The Lost Art of Waiting

The Lost Art of Waiting

Inspiration

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 27:14

The next morning, after decorating the tree. These two like to play musical chairs with the ornaments.
The next morning, after decorating the tree. These two like to play musical chairs with the ornaments.

We got our Christmas tree up! And as soon as the tree was up, the kids were asking every five minutes when we could decorate the tree. I explained how we had to wait. When asked why, I wasn’t really sure. I just remember Dad always saying something about letting the branches settle. My daughter watched the tree intently for a few minutes and then said, “The branches aren’t doing anything. Can we decorate the tree now??”

The next day (unable to take the pestering any longer) we decorated the tree. As soon as the tree was decorated, the kids ran to their rooms and disappeared for quite a bit- only reappearing from time to time asking for paper, a box, and some tape. My eldest was the first to emerge from his room with presents wrapped in printer paper that he’d colored on. A few minutes later and my daughter followed suit. They just couldn’t wait to put presents under the tree.

If you are a parent, you can already guess where this is going. “When can we open the presents!?” I was peppered with similar questions like a goose on waterfowl opener. I kept responding with, “We have to wait.” So of course they wanted to know why we wait, and I didn’t have a really good answer. I am just as bad, as soon as we put the presents under the tree I want to let the kids open them. I want to see those delighted little faces.

By the time my husband came home, I’m pretty sure I looked like I’d crawled through a bush backwards. The words, “Why do we have to wait?” were echoing in my head and I might have been drooling a little.

Why do we have to wait?

And maybe more importantly, why are we so terrible at waiting?

I don’t have to look far for an answer. My cell phone is sitting on the desk next to me while I type this. I don’t really think we wait anymore. Even if I’m at the DMV and need to wait for a half hour, I can email and make phone calls and get things done. I could even watch a movie or play a game. There is no waiting. No quiet time for reflection. Our society is a get-it-now, fix-it-fast society. It seems like a good idea… but…

If you want concrete proof that knowing how to wait is good, then google “The Marshmallow Test.” There was a study done in the late 60s, early 70s. Kids were given a marshmallow and told they could have that marshmallow now, but the adult would leave the room and if they waited until the adult returned, then they could have two marshmallows. Hilarity ensued. But the kids who were able to wait (“to delay gratification”) later in life did better on SATs and more. Interesting…

So partly because of these reflections, and also just because I need a little help- I’ve been making my kids wait (bwahahaha!)*. Instead of dragging them all out the door and into the car, I send them out first where they wait for me to gather the last of our supplies and then come out composed and happy (compared to the old version of yelling and frazzled). Just little things that help them work out what it is to wait for someone or something.

So, again I ask, is it important to know how to wait?

What does this look like for us, for our children? Is it important to know how to choose to be joyful instead of impatient? Is it important to know how to react kindly instead of selfishly? Is it important to know how to sit quietly instead of loudly complaining?

Because we can easily forget that we are a waiting people. Yes, Jesus already came and rescued the world, but we are waiting for his return. Our friends and neighbors are looking at us as an example of Christ. And we are walking through a world full of hurt and pain, and we are waiting for that promised future. So how do we want to show our friends and neighbors that we are a waiting and hopeful people? That we are trusting that God is who he says he is. That we believe in His Word.

How do we show that we are waiting, and full of hope and love?

Lord, this is not the season of presents and busy. This is a season for quiet reflection for what you have done. This is the season for hope and peace. The lights and noise can distract, the busy schedules can almost crush us at times. Forgive us for not having our priorities in order. And for those of us hurting through this season, who are grieving the loss of a loved one and missing those who are no longer on this earth- bring your comfort and joy afresh. Help us to seek out the only One who is going to really be able to heal and fill our hearts. I pray that our relationship with you would be like new, and we would be in awe of who you are and what you have done. In Jesus name, Amen

~Lindsay

*Yes, I laugh like that from time to time. Mostly when my parenting becomes ridiculous.**

**So pretty much daily.

 

This Moment

This Moment

Encouragement

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” ~Luke 8:49

Simg_20161011_160202o I recently read this story from Luke 8 to my kids. The story is in the midst of a very busy chapter. In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, and the lamp on the stand. Then he gets a visit from his mother and brothers, after that he calms the storm on the lake (no big deal), and heals a demon-possessed man. And still Luke 8 is NOT finished yet.

Do you begin to get the sense of what Jesus’ ministry was like at this point in the story?

When I read the last story in Luke 8, I had to pause. It’s the story of a father, desperate to save his daughter. I’m a mother; I can sympathize with those feelings. So this father runs to get Jesus, and they are trying to hurry back to his house before it is too late. And meanwhile the crowds are crushing Jesus. They want some of this Jesus too. I’m sure if I was that father, I would be shoving back and (probably) yelling for people to get out of the way. I can almost feel his anxiety, his desire to hurry- hurry!

And then Jesus stops and is like, “Someone touched me.” And all the disciples (and I’m sure this father too) are like, “Of course someone touched you! You’re in a huge crowd of people and they are pressing up against you!”

Now at this point in the story, I have always focused on the woman who believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ robe, she would be healed. The woman who was not supposed to be in the midst of that crowd- if she was bleeding (for 12 years) she had been “unclean” for twelve years. Unable to attend church, to be in society, to be touched… Yet she risks all just to touch Jesus.

That’s a great story of faith.

However, this time while I read the story, I remembered the father. Standing there, probably fidgeting with anxiety and worry. I hate to say it, but if my child was next to death’s door, I would not have cared at all about some random woman in the street. I would have probably thrown Jesus over my shoulder at this point and started running.

But in all the anxiety and worry, in the business and the crowd, Jesus is not anxious. Jesus is not rushed, or panicked. Instead Jesus makes time for the moment he is in. He probably got up extra early that morning and had spent time with God. And more than anything, during his time with God, he had probably been filled up with all those good things that come from God- peace, joy, love, and (dare I say it) PATIENCE! Jesus did not need to rush to the next thing, he did not have to rush to the rescue- because he fully trusted in God, and God’s timing, and God’s plan.

For the first time, as I read this story, I heard the words in Luke 8:49, and felt my heart break along with that father’s heart. “Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” What hopelessness the world can bring us. What utter defeat. What heartbreak.

And what is Jesus’ response to these words that must have shattered that father’s heart?

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

If I were the father in this story, I wonder how I would have reacted? Would I have been angry at the crowd? At the sick woman? At Jesus for not hurrying, for not meeting my time table? Or would those words have caused those shattered pieces of my heart to start to join together again? Would the look in Jesus’ eyes have filled me anew with hope?

This story hit me because of the business. I confess- I’ve been sucked in yet again! We are told to run, run, run! Strive harder, do better, be more! Almost daily I feel the old lie creeping in: You aren’t enough! And I become afraid that those words are true. That I am not enough, that I am unworthy. And so I run around trying to prove myself worth. I worry, and I work, and I worry, and I become so busy…

And Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”

img_20161022_133800And, of course, since this is Jesus we’re talking about- that little girl lives. She lives! He raises the dead to life! And I think this story might be hard for parents with sick children. But I hope you can let Jesus’ words raise your heart back to life. There is no fear in Christ. There is love, hope, joy, and peace! And yes, His answers to our prayers don’t always look like what we think is best. But we do not need to believe the lies, we do not need to be afraid, and we do not need to run on ahead in our own strength- striving to prove we are able or worthy.

I want to be more like Jesus in about a million and two ways, but this story highlights for me the need to be in this moment. This moment. It will not come again. I have this day with my children as they are. They are growing and changing. The world around us is always changing, but we have one constant hope that we can hold on to. One rock that we can cling to. One life preserving raft that will not sink or fail.

We can believe in Jesus. And then we can be brave.*

Lord, sorry for believing the lies of this world. Sorry that I have not trusted in your love, in your ability to see me. Help me to turn my eyes again back to You. Increase my faith, like the woman who was willing to risk all just to touch your robe. Bless me to be the kind of parent who enjoys this moment I have with my children. And bless and protect our family, point our feet towards you and help us to walk forward bravely and in faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*when I looked up an antonym for afraid, I was given the word brave. So if the opposite of being afraid, is being brave- if, when we believe in Jesus, we were to become brave– what would that look like?

 

 

What is the Question?

What is the Question?

Children From the Authors

img_20160918_154053For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~Matthew 7:2

A trap that I find all too easy to fall into is judgement. I’m not sure why we are so quick to give opinions and to even criticize others, but I see it happening all the time. It’s even worse on the internet, because there is an anonymity that might makes us feel safe and secure in quickly spouting off our opinions. Those kinds of statements- that are quickly and perhaps thoughtlessly given- are usually not our best statements. Especially if they are judgmental statements.*

So my eldest was playing with friends. And one friend wanted to play a certain way, and no one else did. So Friend huffed off to the side, and crossing his arms over his chest loudly and peevishly proclaimed, “You aren’t being any fun! I’m not playing anymore!” Mothers were there, and the situation was dealt with promptly and Friend is not the focus of this story- my eldest is. He, having very clear ideas of right and wrong, had some comments about Friend when we were on our own. Something along the lines of, “He’s not very fun, is he?” Part of me wanted to agree and leave it alone, but that is lazy mothering- so I dove right into the deep end and began another parenting marathon. I reminded my child that he’d said those exact same words not so long ago. He tried to argue that his case was different, and on and on we went…

until I finally asked him, “What can you learn from this?”

Because when we refuse to sit in a seat of judgement over others, and instead choose to look at ourselves and where we have been and what we can do- well it seems a lot more productive to me than stating our opinions. We ended up talking about how he could have helped Friend, and apply that knowledge to how my son plays with his friends in the future.

I’ve been applying this question almost daily in my own life.

“What can I learn from this?” has led to other questions like: What could I have done differently? How can I help? Was I kind and considerate? Is the other person hurting?**

Most of us don’t walk around openly advertising the struggles we are facing every day, so it makes it easy for others to make judgmental statements. For example, you might have recently met a woman at the grocery store whose children were apparently doing their best to reenact Tarzan (the woman may or may not have looked like me, but I will plead the 5th). It would be easy to make a few judgmental statements about that mother. However, if you knew she’d only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, and had just come from a funeral, and that the kids (being kids) were simply acting out the emotions they couldn’t understand that were surrounding them and their family… Well, if you looked at that woman through those lenses, what would you do then?

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. ~James 4:12

We have only one Judge. And He sees all those things that we, as people, cannot see. He sees our hearts, and knows what we are walking through. He is a good and capable judge. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say, “Let’s stop judging each other.” But I did like the idea of having a way to stop those thoughts from fully forming- to instead ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”

Lord God, you alone see the hearts of men. You know our inner struggles, and hurts, and you also know our strengths and gifts. Help us to call out the best in others. Help us to work through our shortcomings first, and to commit to becoming better disciples of Jesus. Help us to react in love and kindness. Thank you for being a good and just judge, and for your many, many mercies to us. Bless us to extend those mercies to others. In Jesus’ Name, amen!

~Lindsay

*This is not meant to be a condemning post, and I am so very sorry if it came across that way! It is more that I wanted to share the idea of how to talk with our kids about processing situations where making a judgement about someone might be the easy thing to do.

**Really these questions work in many situations- not just when you’re tempted to judge others. They work for when we are nervous, scared, when we feel like something didn’t go quite right, or if we are sad, lonely… anything really. You could even ask them if things are going well. I think it’s called being self-reflective. Which is apparently a new idea for me… [insert sheepish looking emoji here]

When adults try to playground...
When adults try to playground…
Carrots!

Carrots!

Inspiration

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” ~Matthew 13:23

A long time ago, I saw a cute quote and wrote it in the cover of my bible.  I didn’t really think too much about it beyond that it was cute… I’ve grown a lot since then. And I’ve grown a lot of vegetables since then*.

Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I recently headed out to our garden (which could more accurately be called a glorified weed patch) and picked a carrot! Yes, you read that right: I grew a carrot!! You can’t even begin to understand my shock, joy, and childlike glee at picking a carrot! We have tried growing carrots for years. Our carrot success rate was… well, nothing edible. Carrots are apparently hard to grow. I could have done research, I suppose. But that stubborn gene in me, just kept insisting that I could put that tiny little seed in the ground and out would pop a carrot. This is not a highly successful gardening method. Well, new home, new soil, same seeds… and TA-DA! A Carrot!

IMG_20160809_170629644

And I just held that carrot and stared at it (seriously, our neighbors are probably very concerned about me). Because FINALLY a carrot grew! And that Browning quote popped back into my mind. And then the idea of good soil, and Matthew 13 popped into mind. I remembered that tiny little seed, and looked at that fat carrot and was astounded. The glory of God really does fill the earth, it’s just we’re so busy we miss it! Daily we miss it! We go to the grocery store and pick up a bag of already washed and cut carrots, not knowing that they were tiny seeds at one point. Not seeing how they grow underground, hidden from view. This quote, or this idea, would probably mean nothing to me- except that I did grow the carrot. I did have failures, and I did try and try again. And then when it finally worked- it was ridiculous how exciting it was. It really was laughable how excited I was. But God is not calling us to be excited about just the really really big stuff, but to rejoice in the small, the everyday, the mundane.

The full quote is actually:

Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit round and pluck blackberries. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

And of course the bigger connection here is the seeds we sew with our words and deeds. We were commissioned to go to the ends of the earth and tell the Good News. That is NOT an easy job, not by a long shot. And just like the parable of the sower**** in Matthew 13, some people are not ready for the Good News. But some people are so thirsty for Jesus, that it is worth the risk (I’m talking mostly to myself here).

And the excitement is contagious. So contagious that as I was rejoicing over my carrot, a little someone came behind me and started plucking carrots and beets- regardless of size- but even more excited than his mother. Because we want to be a part of that excitement, we want to share in the glory and awe, we want to see it and touch it. So I thought I would share my carrot enthusiasm with everyone and took some pictures of the little stubby carrots my kids** enthusiastically picked while I wasn’t looking- all in the hopes that it might encourage someone today.

Lord, you are truly awesome. Your creation is full of the truth about who you are. Help us to see you in our daily lives, to rejoice in who you are, and to share that excitement with others. I pray that you would prepare the hearts around us to receive you truth and love, and that you would embolden us to speak your truth and love. And thank you for carrots! Amen!

~Lindsay

*And I’ve grown even more weeds.

**And FYI- how do you type a blog with 2 children who want to spend time with you? You let them do your hair, of course. I think I have about 50+ bows on my head right now. Also, I got my hair brushed. Pretty sure I might be bald now. So no, you aren’t getting any pictures of that. Sorry. Use your imagination.***

***and as I typed that I heard a little snip. Yep. The little one found a pair of scissors. So this is really the end now.

****I had to come back and edit the post, because my hubby was kind enough to tell me I’d written “the parable of the sewer” instead of the “sower.” Feeling all kinds of embarrassment here.

cabbage is so monstrously big, and somehow beautiful! (Even when the tomato plants fall over on it)
cabbage is so monstrously big, and somehow beautiful! (Even when the tomato plants fall over on it)
Rabbit’s Foot

Rabbit’s Foot

Encouragement From the Authors

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
     because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
~Isaiah 61:1-3

You want to talk about walking up a mountain the hard way...
You want to talk about walking up a mountain the hard way…

Here is something I have found to be true about God- He does not leave us alone. He will not leave us alone. He cannot seem to help reaching out to us. This might sound delightful, to have a God who cares so much about us that He will not leave us alone. If being alone is lonely and not fun, then having God in your corner is great! You’ve always got a friend! And it is great. God loves you, God wants to be with you- hallelujah!

The flip side of all this is… He is also a parent. And just like I can’t leave my children alone to try and discover the rights and wrongs of their actions, neither can God the Father leave me alone.

I heard this somewhere, and often repeat it:

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

Today I am talking about the fact that this can’t-leave-you-alone-God keeps working on me. I had some definite plans on what the next few years of my life would look like. They seemed sensical to me. And possibly they were on the easy-to-achieve side of things. But I really saw the future ahead all lined up nice and neat… but God, He had a different plan. You can find lots of “but God”s in the Bible. Lots. And if you think back, I’m sure you can find plenty in your life.

So I am (once again) thrust out of my comfort zone and into new and uncharted territory. I think of it as growing-pains. I worry that maybe I have a bit too much on my plate this time. I begin to think I might not have what it takes. But (even though it’s hard to really grasp that I am an adult*) I have some years behind me now. And when I look back at those years, time and time again I see that God really does bring the best out of every situation. Even when I’ve thought “WHAT IS GOD THINKING!!” When I trust in Him, and lean on His mercy and grace- that’s when I see really amazing fruit in my life. In my own strength I often stumble and fall, but His grace is unending and unfailing. All too often I treat God like a lucky charm- like those rabbit’s foots that were so popular back in elementary school. I keep thinking that if I pray just the right prayer, then everything will go my way. But that’s not what is best for me. God is not content with just the good, He wants the best for us. Our good plans (even our best plans) are peanuts compared to the awesome future God is planning for us.

We live in a forested area of snow and ice. So when you take a trip to the desert and go on a hike... the last thing you expect to find is beauty in God's creation. The desert is supposed to be dead, hot, and not fun to walk in. But in the dead of winter it's breathtaking and amazing. Proof that God is soooooo much more creative and brilliant than yours truly.
We live in a forested area of snow and ice. So when you take a trip to the desert and go on a hike… the last thing you expect to find is beauty in God’s creation. The desert is supposed to be dead, hot, and not fun to walk in. But in the dead of winter it’s breathtaking and amazing. Proof that God is soooooo much more creative and brilliant than yours truly.

If you are standing in one of those situations where everything seems upside down and backwards of what you were expecting. If you are (like me) waving a despondent goodbye to your plans for the future, I have good news for you! You can trust in Him who made you. Not to make light of the horrific things that can happen in life, but just to know- you have a God who cannot leave you alone. He will come after you again and again, He will bring fruit out of misery. Beauty out of ashes. Joy for mourning, and praise out of your despair. Somehow. Somehow He does that. It’s what makes him good, awesome, amazing. It’s what makes him God! You might not see that fruit for years, and if that’s the case I’m truly sorry. But maybe you can take a step back right now and begin to realize, “Oh… I see. He has a better plan. It’s better than my plan. This might be hard, but in the long run, I can see- this could be the making of me.”

So thank you, Lord! You do not leave us. You are working in our lives. You have plans we can’t even fathom. Plans to build us into the people you created us to be. Plans to bring Your Kingdom here to earth. Plans for good. Plans for hope. Plans for love! We are sorry that we cannot always trust in Your Plans. We are so sorry that we often fall to anxiety and fear. Renew our hearts to trust in You and to chase after You. In these times of confusion, sorrow, fear, and anxiety- help us to turn our faces fully towards You. I ask for friends and other believers who will come along side us and confirm the work that You are doing in us. Thank you Jesus! Amen.

~Lindsay

*I tend to think of adults as my parents’ generation. I forget to categorize myself in the adult group… just from time to time.

three saguaro cactuses?
three saguaro cactuses?
Worship

Worship

Music

 

At my sister's wedding.
At my sister’s wedding.

 Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
~Psalm 100:2

We went to a beautiful wedding this weekend. It was in a small country church on the edge of the prairie. One of those places where farmland seems to stretch on forever before meeting the sky. One of those little white churches with a cemetery right next to it. The kind of country church you can find almost anywhere. The church was so full, there was hardly any room left to sit, and that pleased me. I’ve been to country church services, and there is always plenty of room. To see a church so full, filled my heart with happiness. The bride and groom were beautiful and happy. The families were all smiling and dressed up. The ceremony was wonderful, the message perfect… but what put me over the moon was the music. It was a beautifully simple wedding, and so was the music. A piano, a guitar, and one low voice leading the entire group of family and friends in familiar hymns.

Worship.

I just keep remembering those songs, and thinking how simple it was- but how it filled my heart so completely. Worship is for God, and for us. I love that God never purposes things for just one use. When He is at work, the good is multifaceted. He can use a wedding ceremony to bless a couple, a family, and a random cousin who was so excited about a full church and beautiful music. He uses everything for good. He uses the things we love, and even the hurts we suffer, for His Good. And so, He is worthy of our worship. And worship is good for our souls. So we should worship Him!

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe ~Hebrews 12:28

IMG_20150822_145250292
Why, oh why, didn’t I take a picture of the beautiful church!?* Instead all I have is these three stooges, dancing along the edge of the pews while waiting to greet the bride and groom. Never knew such goofy guys!

And now for a brief history lesson (because these things always interest me): One of the hymns we sang was All Creatures of Our God and King. The words were originally written by St Francis in the 1200s- that old! In the early 1900s, William Draper arranged the music and translated the words into English, making the song we know today.

All Creatures of Our God and King

All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him, O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

May your heart lead you to truly worship the God who saves, the God who loves you, your Creator God. May your worship bring honor and glory to God, and may your heart be filled and healed as you worship the King of Kings! In Jesus name, Amen

~Lindsay

 *Why didn’t I take a picture of the church? Because I’m really not a professional blogger. I don’t think that far in advance. But what fun is a blog without pictures? (Answer: none.)

I Sing Because I’m Happy!

I Sing Because I’m Happy!

Encouragement Music

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~Matthew 10:29-31

this is obviously a microphone
this is obviously a microphone

Our neighbor recently had surgery, so he has been home in the middle of the day. I forgot about this when I walked outside loudly (very loudly) singing, “I sing because I’m happy! I sing because I’m free!”* Spotting him on his back deck, I froze in surprise. And embarrassment. So of course I did the adult thing… I pretended like I hadn’t seen him, and quickly high tailed it back into the house where I could snicker to myself.

My mom tells me that she can always tell if her children are doing well because we sing when we are happy. We really do. I want to get my brother the t-shirt that reads “I burst out into show tunes” for Christmas. (Don’t tell him, just our little secret) I can tell my daughter is happy because she sings and dances when she is in a good mood. My younger son is also a dancer, and starting to sing a bit. But my older son, while he sings sometimes, he’s not so much a singer. He can be very serious. But the other day one of my favorite songs came on the radio and he hollered, “Mom! Mom! It’s your song!” And then he turned up the radio and we had an impromptu dance party in the kitchen that surely would have won America’s Funniest Home Videos if we had taped ourselves. But I was so surprised that he was the one to start dancing. And I realized that he was happy. And with being in a new community and worrying about if the kids are okay, I felt really reassured.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.*

The song is a good reminder of our response to Jesus’ teachings.  When things aren’t going well, to remember that God sees us. Even when no one else sees us, He does. When we are sad, lonely, hurt, and even happy- God sees us. And He watches over us and cares  for us. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV) So He sings too! He sings over us- some versions say he sings loudly over us. He must be happy too.

I encourage you today to sing a song of praise to the God who loves you- even if the neighbors hear you! And if you don’t want to sing, then maybe try a dance party? But make sure to get that on video for us (hee hee hee).

IMG_20150714_185505613

Thank you, God, that you watch over us, and that you sing over us. Thank you that you do not leave us or forsake us. Thank you that you find value in who we are. Thank you that Jesus has made a way straight to your throne room for us, and that we can come before you day or night, happy or sad. You are good, worthy, holy, and happy! We praise you for who you are, and thank you for all that you have done for us. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*This is the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow” by Cillvia D. Martin. You should listen to it. I don’t think you could find a bad version.

 

Light

Light

Encouragement From the Authors Inspiration

because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
~1 John 2:8

Little Boy Swimming
Little Boy Swimming

So I saw this verse this week*. And it was one of those moments where a scripture sort of stops you in your tracks. Even if you’ve heard it a million times before, something about that bit of scripture on that particular day grabs hold of you and… I thought to myself, the darkness is already passing? How did I miss that? Because sometimes I forget that I am living in victory. That Christ has already handed me a victory, but I need to choose how to live in it. And if the true light is already shining, aren’t I a part of that?

It’s summer. We are covered in sunscreen and bug spray, and running a million miles an hour. We have visited every water source within our vicinity as we have traveled around, trying to have fun and keep cool. We’ve already managed to see most of our family, and I’m pretty sure we have plans to meet with the rest in the next few weeks. I’m on full-throttle-mom-mode (sounds like something I should hash tag?). So how do I take into perspective the idea that “the darkness is passing, and the true light is already shining.” How? Because I’m not big on theological debates. I don’t have the brain power for them, I’m just trying to keep meal planning and budgets under control. I’m all about practical application.

Epic Slip-N-Slide
Epic Slip-N-Slide

Not having all the answers, here is what I thought. Can we stop complaining? Even just a little bit? It’s okay to be genuine and honest with others. It is good to share our struggles and weaknesses (don’t fall off the other side of the horse here!). BUT (and it’s a big but**), can we stop complaining? Can we find something to be thankful for? Can we share what was GOOD about our day, before going to the negative? I know when my husband comes home I tend to share all that  went wrong with my day. (Oops)

I got this idea from a family member. I asked them a question, fully prepared for a negative answer. And guess what they said? “Fantastic!” And they meant it! Instead of focusing on what was or could go wrong, they were focusing on the positive. And I found that was absolutely delightful to be around! And I thought, wouldn’t we all be more enjoyable if we answered more questions with a genuinely happy, “Fantastic!” because we were able to focus on the little things that were going well instead of the little things that were not.

Seriously. Think of how the Church would look if we were that kind of people! Think of how attractive we would be to nonbelievers!

And yes, putting it into practice is a lot easier said than done. But at least we can choose to try. We can choose to grab hold of the victory Christ has handed us, and to start living like true sons and daughters of God.***

Now as a last little bit- the entire time I’ve been typing this, there is a little chirping sound every now and then in the background. Belatedly I am realizing the battery on a fire alarm must be running low. So here is my first practice of NOT complaining (I know, baby steps!!): Isn’t it FANTASTIC that fire alarms tell you when to change their batteries!?

Thank you Jesus for the victory you have given! Please help us to live in the reality of that victory. Help us to be thankful, praiseful, and positive. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Where did I see this verse? Click Here!

Slip-N-Slide Feet
Slip-N-Slide Feet

**ha ha

***Latest favorite song:
Praise Nation by Nate Sabin.****
First little bit says:
We are all heirs to an infinite fortune
With all the privileges of royal blood
Used to be outcasts, rejects, orphans
Now we are the sons and daughter of God

****Want to hear his music? Click Here! (Praise Nation, #8 is my favorite)