Pursued

Pursued

From the Authors

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” ~Exodus 33:14

I grew up loving princess stories. Now I have a daughter who loves princess stories, so it got me thinking. What do I love about these stories? Why do I still like them so much?*

My little princess.
My little princess.

First I looked at my daughter. What does she like about these stories? I’m pretty sure she likes the dresses. My little girl is all about pink, glitter, bows, and big skirts. However, pink and frilly aren’t really my kinda thing. So why do I still like a good princess story? Do I like the girl who can overcome adversity? No, sadly I realized I like the happily ever after love story.

Why is it sad to like the happily ever after love story? Because those stories always end at the beginning of the marriage. Which, as we all know, is not happily ever after. Don’t get me wrong! I love my husband! I think he is smart, hardworking, amazing, and really really cute. But after ten years of marriage, I feel like we finally starting to figure out what we are doing- what marriage really is. Something those princess stories never told us was that marriage requires work. Work to understand each other, and work to grow together as well as individually.

But I continued to ponder my love of the princess stories, and a word popped into my mind. Pursued. I think I love the idea of being pursued. That someone would think so highly of me, they would chase after me. A prince so in love with who I am,** that he would come after me- again and again if he had to, no mater the cost. And of course, I realized there is only one Prince who gave his all for me. Who died for me, who lovingly and kindly pursues me- no mater what I do or where I am. Of course, Jesus is so gentle in his pursuit, that maybe we sometimes miss it. But we have a God who has relentlessly pursued his people.

And the flip side is, that we are to pursue God. We are to chase after His Good Things and to love him, choose him. I suppose that a good princess, when finding her True Prince, would do almost anything to be with Him. If we are loved so completely and unconditionally, how should we react?

God bless you to be filled with His Love. To know that His unconditional love is surrounding you, and that no mater where you are or what you do- He will always love you, and always come after you. In Jesus Name, Amen

~Lindsay

*I still like most princess stories, but I have some beef with The Little Mermaid. Watching the Disney version as an adult, I feel like she was very self centered, only thinking about what she wanted (yes her dad was a bit bossy… but he’s her dad, and he had his reasons). And if you read the older versions of the Little Mermaid, they are terribly sad. NOT my idea of a fairy tail.

**Let me stress the “in love with who I am,” and not in love with how I look.***

***But let me also add that pink, glitter, bows, and big skirts are great too.

A Father’s Love

A Father’s Love

Encouragement From the Authors

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
~Philippians 4:8

Recently, my eldest son had a really, great day. He went fishing with lots of snacks and treats- just him, his daddy, and his uncle. Then when he got home, he lead exploratory expeditions outdoors, and (again) his daddy and his uncle played along. They did whatever he asked. It was such a great day for him.

Then Uncle left. We told my eldest son the plans for the rest of the evening. They did IMG_20150502_185424848_HDRnot line up with the plans he had made in his head. So he became a little miffed. We took a family walk (or in my son’s case, a forced march) down to the beach. He walked in front of us, scowling and a bit grumpy, and determined to show us how unhappy he was. My husband commented on how our son had just had the best day ever, but now…? And we followed him, all the way to the beach. And I was smiling a bit, because I love that boy. And I almost remember the feelings that a seven-year-old has. Almost.

But I was thinking- that’s me. I’m the scowling slightly grumpy kid. I’m the one who quickly forgets all of the gifts of the day, and focuses on the negative. And then I realized, that just like my little boy, I have a Father who is right behind me, smiling and loving me. Even when I am a grump! And I knew that once we got to the beach, the scowl would disappear. Which is like my Heavenly Father knowing what good things are coming for me.

So I guess it was just a good reminder. Not to focus on the negative, but to remember the gifts of each day. And that God is always with me, loving me and watching over me.

Lord, thank you for your unconditional love. Bless us to recognize the gifts that are all around us, and to focus on the good. In Jesus Name, Amen.

~Lindsay

It’s coming…

It’s coming…

Book 1 Children From the Authors Our Story

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,9-14***

This picture summarizes kids- whether we are at home, or in public.
This picture summarizes kids- whether we are at home, or in public.

Let me (very quickly) comment on the last line, and the ‘fear of the Lord.‘ I used to struggle with this. If Jesus is my friend, why would I be afraid of him?

Now, skip to my most recent shopping adventure with three young children, where I am out in public. One child is screaming and throwing My Little Pony umbrellas on the ground, while the other two are playing a very rowdie game of hide-and-seek. I try to act like a better mom, getting down to their level and talking quietly to them. (All the while wanting to shout and tell them to knock it off.) Why not shout?* Because I don’t want people to think I’m a terrible mom. That is the kind of ‘fear’ we are talking about. I’m so worried about other people’s opinions, I change my behavior.

Now God sees us all the time. What if I worried about His opinions more? What if I cared about other people’s opinions less and instead trusted in who I am in Christ?

Fear of God is reverence and esteem for Him. It is doing what He would want you to do. Partially because He is so holy and awesome and mighty and powerful, but also because we should be so in love with Him, we want to do things His Way.**

That being said…

You may have not realized this, but this web site is part of our journey relating to the ins and outs, and ups and downs associated with writing a series of books. This blog, while not always about the books, highlights our thoughts along the way. Which is its own story.

I am excited to report, that our book team has met. We have made our final edits. We have divided up the last of the work… and… all I can say is, “It’s coming!”

May the Lord, who made you unique among all people, bless you today. May He show you the way, illuminate your path, and give you the strength you need for one more day. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*In this example, fear of the Lord lined up with worrying about other people’s opinions. God doesn’t want me to be a tyrannical mother. But my point is, I was not worried about what God would think. I was worried what people would think.

**Ta-da! The fear of the Lord! This is an abbreviated version of all my thoughts on this subject. Mostly, I want to encourage you to let God’s opinions of you determine your worth, not other people’s. Because He thinks you’re pretty amazing!

***Ecclesiastes 3**** is something to read! The whole thing, not just the above, abbreviated version.

****Ecclesiastes is also nearly impossible for me to spell.

It’s All God’s Anyways

It’s All God’s Anyways

From the Authors Our Story

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
Psalm 24:1 (NIV)

Can't you see him asking, "Seriously, Mom? Those curtains right behind me? Those are the curtains you can't live without?"
Can’t you see him asking, “Seriously, Mom? Those curtains right behind me? Those are the curtains you can’t live without?”

We recently moved, which involved selling our house. When we read the offer for the house, it stated that they wanted to keep all of the curtains. I sat up a bit at that, and may have thrown a small scale tantrum. “Those are my curtains!” I obstinately told my husband. And it was true. I’d sewn most of the curtains in that house (or found them clearanced and had a coupon…). My husband gave me a look, and then patiently asked me if I wanted to keep the curtains. And I thought about that. “Well… no, not really. But they are my curtains!” And then he patiently informed me that we could ask to keep the curtains, to which I scoffed, “What would we even do with those curtains? They’re not even that nice.”  I was already thinking of how they weren’t that great of quality (homemade, in my case, sometimes translates to thrown-together-as-quickly-as-possible while using the cheapest fabric I could find). Then I was thinking that we don’t even know where we will end up, and what kind of curtains we will need. And then I remembered something my husband always says, but had (wisely) not said yet.

“It’s all God’s anyways.”

It’s funny how those words change the attitude of my heart so quickly. Sometimes I forget that God is the one who owns everything. Even us. And when I say, “Well, it’s your house God, so I guess you better find someone to buy it so we can move.” Then I can also say, “Well, those are your curtains, and I guess I don’t really need them.” My selfishness sort of slowly fizzles when I stand before God openhanded and say, “All that I have, it’s not really mine, it’s Yours. All that I am, it’s not mine to boast in. It is Yours.”

So we (me, Mom, Uncle Bob, Cousin Adam) are prepping to get our first (of several) children’s books published. And it’s intimidating in it’s own way. We are standing open handed before our Lord, our God, our Savior, our Friend.

It’s all Yours anyways.

My favorite part of the Lord’s prayer is, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Not the easiest part, not by a long shot. But my favorite part, because I trust that His ways are infinitely better than mine.

And my husband and I now laugh at my moment of curtain-insanity. And it amazes me that I was so adamant about keeping ugly curtains!* But we live, we learn, and hopefully we can always find ways to laugh at ourselves.

May the Lord, protect you and keep you. May He make his face to shine on you, and fill you with peace. And may you stand before your Father in Heaven with hands opened toward him, freely giving and freely receiving. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I also have a new way of sewing curtains that is infinitely cuter… and I may have learned my lesson about just buying the cheapest fabric. Not very fun to look at everyday.

 

Where God Wants You

Where God Wants You

Encouragement From the Authors

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
~Isaiah 55:8

We moved recently. Everything is up in the air (or stuffed away in a box). Trying to find anything is difficult. And that’s just the stuff. We have to find a new church, the kids need schooling, my husband has a new job, we need to meet strangers and somehow make them into friends… the list goes on and on.

We are in the middle of change.

So I started praying more. Because that’s what happens when you struggle. And all the devotionals, Christian books, and scripture I’ve read, point me right to God’s Will. So, as hard as it is, I have been trying to surrender up my will, and ask simply for His Will. And in my prayers, I usually remind God that, while I know He doesn’t usually send out five-year-itineraries, I would very much appreciate one.

Because I am lost. I don’t know what to do or where to go… lost.

So then, to make a long story short, I got a random phone call. Which was odd enough. Even odder, was that she was calling about carpooling to a meeting, but I didn’t know her. And the most odd of all, was that I actually talked to her*. And do you know what she said to me?

“You are right where God wants you to be.”

sets
My friend and I have three children each. All of our children were born within a few months of each other. Can you tell which ones are siblings?

 

It was right after this, that God did some major connecting the dots for me. There was a time, about nine years ago, when I was a little confused about what was going on. Feeling disappointed, and like nothing was going my way. Enter the new youth pastor at our church. He was pretty cool, but it was his wife who caught my attention. She was amazing! And somehow we became friends. And then we had children at the same time, who could be friends with each other. She also brought into my life her sister-in-law, more friends! And the list goes on and on. (The list really does go on and on, but it would just confuse you and make for a really long blog post. So trust me, God did some amazing stuff!)

But all this to say, that in one blinding moment of clarity, God made something very clear. Nine years ago, I was praying, and feeling very similar to how I do now. Unbeknownst to me, my husband was also praying, and praying for me to find friends (really good ones, apparently). And while I was lost and looking for God’s Will, He was saying, “Just wait! Just wait! If only you knew what I was sending you! Just wait!”

I am right where God wants me to be**.

Thank you, Lord, that you have a will and a plan. Bless us not to run ahead of You, or lag behind. Help us to trust in You more each day. Help us to connect the dots, and see the good You have already done in our lives. We thank You, we praise You, we trust You! In Jesus name, Amen

~Lindsay

*New people, and phones are two of my bigger phobias.

**And in about ten years, I will probably be able to connect the dots and write a follow up blog for you. Stay tuned!***

***That was sort of tongue-in-cheek.

The Mundane

The Mundane

Children Encouragement From the Authors

 Now if we are children, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:17 (NIV)

"Cinderella"
“Cinderella”

This is one of my mom’s favorite pictures of her granddaughter*. We call it the ‘Cinderella’ photo. We were at the children’s science museum. And what does a 3-year-old wear to the science museum? The same thing she insists on wearing everywhere else- her princess dress. And what does a little girl want to do at the science museum? Well, everything. Which includes washing the dishes and sweeping the floor. So- ‘Cinderella’, because she is a princess doing the dishes.

Isn’t it a cute picture? Is your cute-o-meter on overload? Or am I just biased?

Now here is something I tend to forget while I am doing the dishes and sweeping the floor. I’m a coheir with Christ.

Do you know what that means? I am a sister to the prince, a daughter to the king. I. Am. A. Princess! I might not rock a lot of Disney Playwear like my daughter, but whether I look the part or not, I am a princess. Not the snooty kind, but the beloved princess. The apple of her Father’s eye. Yep. That’s me.

And that’s you too!!**

I don’t know if you have a daily devotional (I would recommend getting one, though). But I tend to get my ten minutes in the morning, and then I’m like, “Thanks, God. You’re the best. Help me today!” and I’m off to the races. The dishes, laundry, feed children, wash something, get to work, is the curling iron still on?, overdue books, when was that bill last paid?… and on we go. Drowning in the mundane.

You are a princess. Nothing you do is mundane.

God is not in the background all day. He is with you. Every moment you draw breath is shrouded in glory and holiness because God is dwelling with you, and you are his princess. The trick is pulling God past the morning devotional, and into the rest of the day with you. No, that’s not quite it, because He is always with you. So, I suppose, it is becoming aware that He is with you. It is making your meetings with God more than just a moment in the morning, but a continual conversation throughout the day.

When I see this picture, I don’t see a silly little girl. I see my princess. I know her strengths, I have plans for her future, I want to be there with her in that moment, and I want her to know how very much I love her.

And that’s how God is looking at us.

He wants to be a part of everything. The amazing, the hard, the mundane.

Jesus came as Emmanuel, God with us. And He still is today. The God who was, and is, and is to come with us!

Thank you, God, for adopting us. Thank you that you want us in your family, and that you have a purpose for us. Thank you that you love us so much, and that You just want to be with us. Open our eyes again to how You are in every circumstance, big or small, easy or hard. Bless us to feel You along side us throughout the day. And help us to trust more in Your Love. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Let’s be honest, EVERY picture of a grandchild is a grandmother’s favorite picture!

**Unless you’re a guy… then, you are, obviously, a prince. Swords. Dragons. Still very cool.

Comparison

Comparison

From the Authors Inspiration

 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Luke 10:40 (NIV)

Do you ever compare yourself to someone else? Do you find you compare your life to the lives of people in the movies? Compare the amount of work you do, to the amount of work your spouse does?* Do you compare how you look with how someone else looks? Do you compare the way you are raising your kids, to someone else? When you compare do you feel inferior? Do you feel superior?

Comparison is a killer. It kills our joy, steals our peace, and ruins our humility. When we compare ourselves and feel lacking, we are missing the strengths we do have. When we compare and feel like we are better, we are deluding ourselves into thinking we can do this on our own. And we are missing the way God can work in our weakness.

Comparison leads to bitterness, brokenness, and death.
And comparison is not God’s way.

Do you ever look at your children and wonder at how they can be so different? And aren't we thankful for those differences, that make them each so amazing and special?
Do you ever look at your children and wonder at how they can be so different? And aren’t we thankful for those differences, that make them each so amazing and special?

God made each of us for a purpose. We were created in His image. We were created by love and for love. When God looks at us, his focus is not our faults. He looks at us, and amazing God that he is, He sees all our potential. He sees his creation, and He is so in love with each of us.

If the world compares, then God covers us. He is a safe harbor. He has set us apart as a Holy People. He is not picking and choosing favorites among us. Instead He wants to be with each of us, somehow we are all his favorite. And He is so infinite, that He can be totally alone with you in any moment.

Choose to ditch the comparisons of this world, and to embrace the acceptance and encouragement of your Heavenly Father.

Father, I thank you for your love and acceptance. I thank you, that I do not have to prove myself to you. I do not have to, in my own strength, strive for something better. But that I can come to You, just as I am, and be loved, just as I am. You are so good, and we praise you for that goodness! In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Guilty! Oh so guilty! And what do you do when you recognize the thing that is killing your joy? You pray! I cannot be better in my own strength… well, at least not for very long. But when I pray, that is when amazing things happen. Even amazing things inside of me. God is so ready to help us, to change our hearts, if we will only ask Him and trust Him.

Presence

Children From the Authors

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
~Psalm 89:15 (NIV)

It happened again.

I got the giggles in church.*

Whenever we sing a song about the goodness of God’s presence I get the giggles. Don’t get me wrong- God’s presence is beyond good. It’s just I always remember something my older son once said.

Elder son's birthday a few years back. Playing the ever-epic marshmallow game.
Elder son’s birthday a few years back. Playing the ever-epic marshmallow game.

He was younger, and we had just gone through a time where he got lots of gifts. Either his birthday or Christmas? I can’t exactly remember. But I was praying with him before bed, and I said, “Thank you, Lord, for your presence-” And this little pajama clad child leapt out of bed, bouncing up and down, and joyfully yelled, “WHERE ARE THE PRESENTS!?!?”

And I can’t sing about the goodness of God’s presence, without remembering that wonderful parenting moment.

And I can’t sing about the goodness of God’s presence, without remembering that it really is one of His best presents to us.

Thank you God, for all your presents, but especially for your presence. And for children, and the joy and laughter they bring. Amen!

~Lindsay

*This probably happens more often than it should

Book Update

Book Update

Book 1 From the Authors

proclaim

I want to give you an update on our children’s book. We are formatting the text and images for print. When I say ‘we’, I mean ‘my mom’. It is on mom’s shoulders right now. She is our tech wizard. She makes computers do things, and explains them to me… and while I nod and smile as if I understand, half of what she says sounds like gibberish. So the short version is: Mom has to convert our images into a higher resolution to make sure every page follows a certain set of criteria so our book actually looks like a book rather than a blurry, pixelated mess.

It’s a lot of work. But she is a positive worker. She said she only needs to find the ‘key,’ and then everything she has learned will fall into place. She also smiles and says she’s learning a lot.

This is a better attitude than mine. I recently went through ‘a series of unfortunate events.’ Each event alone would be bearable. But all together, they became too much for a young mother of three to handle. My life had become a crazy sitcom episode! But thankfully I have Jesus. Because at my low point, when I was driving and trying not to lose my cool, I leaned on God in prayer. And in my prayer I felt as if God was waiting for me to throw back my head and laugh at the ridiculousness of life. Not that he was belittling my life, or my circumstances, rather, to laugh with joy because of who He is. Because He is with me. Because none of the ‘stuff’ in life is ever going to be bigger than He is. As the words of my prayer winged to God, I turned on the radio and, I kid you not, these were the words I heard.

I just wanna make you laugh
I just wanna see that smile
We’re only here for a little while*

Now, I know. Coincidence, right? I think not, for I was awed in that moment. I was comforted in that moment. I felt unexplainable joy in that moment. And when you have these ‘moments’ often enough, you learn to listen for His voice. Remember the story of Elijah**? God was not in the fire, He was not in the earthquake, or the rushing wind. He was in the gentle whisper. All I’m saying is that if we are in relationship with Him, and waiting for a gigantic sign from heaven, we might have to wait a very long time. But if we are listening for that gentle voice, we will receive the comfort we need in countless moments.

My prayer for you this week is that you would receive comfort from the One who made you. That you would be blessed to feel His Presence when you draw near to Him. That whatever you are working on would find success. That you would be renewed to do the work set before you. And that you would bless others as you work. In Jesus’ strong name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*These lyrics are from a band called O.A.R the song is titled “Peace.” It is currently a pretty popular song on the radio.

**1 Kings 19, you should check it out

 

 

The Boat

From the Authors Inspiration

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Genesis 6:9 (NIV)

I have two stories for you involving floods and boats.

Building the boat
Building the boat

When my son was four-years-old, we were on a lakeshore where piles of driftwood had washed ashore following a flood caused by a severe rainstorm. Now the adults were content to start a bonfire, sit in their camp chairs, and relax after a long day of running around. But my son saw all that wood, saw all that water and thought… I could build a boat. Thus began a very exhausting and unproductive evening for him. No matter how hard he tried, he could not get his boat to stick together. He hefted driftwood, and worked and worked… but the pieces kept falling apart. And all the while, the adults watched, thinking, “Oh, that’s so cute.” But no one helped.

The next day, we returned to the lakeshore, and my four-year-old started all over again. Undeterred by the previous day’s failure, he collected and assembled driftwood. This time the little boy’s determination got the attention of one uncle. When the adults saw the boy and his uncle working so hard, they sighed, put down their marshmallow sticks, and began to help. We found vines and weeds to tie the driftwood together. In the end the boat only made one trip, but my four-year-old rode alongside his uncle laughing triumphantly. He had succeeded!

The second story is about another boat. An ark, actually. The story of Noah, the only righteous man in a wicked world. And the one who God decides to save. He sends Noah directions to build the ark, tells Noah to collect the animals… I think you probably know the rest.

Something you may not have thought about when you read this story: Noah did not sit in his living room, watching television while God built the ark for him. (Glad I could clarify that for you) Noah had to build the boat. If he’d given up after smashing his thumb with a hammer for the fifth time, well… the Bible would have been a lot shorter.

My son could not build his boat. He needed help. But if he had asked for help that first night, we wouldn’t have helped. We were tired, we wanted s’mores (just being honest), and boat building on the lakeshore seemed impossible. We didn’t have the tools or materials we thought we needed. And if my son had lost interest that second day and walked away to inspect sea shells, the adults would have forgotten all about that boat building dream. So, why did we help my son?

Because he was persistent.

Now the Bible is not specific about what it means when it calls Noah a ‘righteous man.’ But I’m guessing he didn’t easily give up. He had to build a giant ark, and then gather up two of every kind of animal. Have you ever tried herding cats? Anteaters? Hyenas? Squirrels? Can you even imagine? That man’s middle name must have been Persistent.

And here is my (long awaited) point: persistence pays off. God rewards it. People reward it.

the one-and-only time that boat made it out into open water
the one-and-only time that boat made it out into open water

Jesus tells a parable about the persistent widow (Luke 18). She gets what she wants, even from an unjust judge. My son got what he wanted, even from a bunch of tired and hungry (or at least s’more craving) adults.

I know one thing I need to be persistent about. Prayer. The Bible tells us to be persistent in prayer (Colossians 4). And since I am talking about things I need to be more persistent about, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But it’s enough to get me started.

So what do you need to be more persistent about?

May God bless you to be persistent in the pursuit of Him. And may He open your eyes to the good that He is accomplishing in your life. Amen

~Lindsay