Saturday, December 21, 2013

Who He Says He Is...

During this Advent season, I have been reading through a short devotional thing I got for free on Kindle, Make Him Room, Advent Devotions by Kirsten Oliphant.  The passage a few days ago was this familiar one from Isaiah 9:2-6---
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

"Jesus carries weighty names because He is very God made flesh and born of a virgin. His works reveal His character just as His names point to His identity. When we were far from the Lord, the Prince of Peace reconciled us, and He provides peace now even in the midst of our circumstances. We are assured that His Word and promises are true because He is the Mighty God to carry them out." -Make Him Room, Kirsten Olphant
I have been challenged by what she said that Jesus was truly God in the flesh as He came and His identity has and continues to fulfill names in every way... Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. My problem comes when I don't believe that He is who He says He is. Every time you see a name of God listed in Scripture, that is Who He Is. His Word and His identity show us who He is. My lack of faith comes in when I don't believe that God is mighty and desiring to bring glory to Himself through what He deems good for His children. When I don't believe that God can bring about peace in my heart and life, He has not failed to live up to who He says He is, I have failed to trust God fully. This Christmas, I am rejoicing and more mindful of the God of Scripture being who He says He is, because through the challenges of this year, He has shown His identity. He is the Faithful God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, and so much more.

My challenge and prayer for myself and others this Christmas season is to trust God for Who He Says He Is. Not in a what He can do for me kind of way, but that the God who is clearly seen on the pages of Scripture is everything He promised to be to a world lost in darkness. The great Redeemer came in the form of a newborn babe to save His people from sin. All of Scripture points to Him and tells us who He is. May your faith be strengthened and encouraged this Christmas as you see Him for who He truly is.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Blame Game

Welcome to the story of my life... I would like to think that I invented the Blame Game, but when you look in the pages of Scripture, you find it with the first man and woman, "The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12-13). If you are guilty of this like I am, you see very quickly that Adam and Eve started playing this "game" a long time ago. Adam blamed God for giving him the woman and Eve blamed the serpent. Seems typical to how things are even today.

If you remember correctly, I think the Israelites were professionals at this. When something didn't happen according to their plans, they blamed God, or Moses, or whoever was their particular leader at the time. The Pharisees of the New Testaments seemed to be big advocates of this game. The scary thing was that they blamed Jesus when he performed a miracle or broke one of their religious traditions.

Looking closely, I'm pretty awesome at finding people to blame. My circumstances, something that happened as a child, a loss in my life, the people around me, friends, my husband, the stranger at Target, and the list could go on and on. I like to make excuses for my sin, like I didn't mess up here it was really because of him or her. Maybe you are like me and know all the rules and how to best get out of the situation. When I was a teenager and young adult, to play the blame game, I added some lying in there. Why I thought it was good idea to compound one sin with another, I have no idea. The worst thing about the blame game is the more you play, the easier it gets.

In the middle of all this craziness, my overwhelming desire is to say STOP!!!! Stop doing this to yourself and other people around you. Accept that you are at fault, repent and move on. It sounds sooooo easy to say and often so hard to practice - this is me preaching to myself.

Small rabbit trail... Adam and I were talking the other day about the richness of Scripture. If you don't believe it's power and practicality for life, then you are truly missing out. I've been so challenged by God's Word in the last few days and what it means to follow Jesus. In the book of Mark, Jesus gave some big responsibilities for those who were going to follow Him..... “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. (Mark 8:34-35). We talked about whether people want to know what it says and live by it or are more comfortable with not reading it, cause then I am not convicted to repent and change my ways. The Bible is rich whether you believe and accept its truth or not. One of the greatest things the Bible is rich on is GRACE.

Yes, I believe that Grace is the solution and end of the blame game. If anyone is qualified to play the blame game, it should be Jesus. He could cry out, "Because of you, I took on sin and the wrath of God." He could, but He didn't. Instead the book of Isaiah gives these words,
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:3-5.

Because Jesus didn't play the blame game, according to these verse I receive peace, healing, and grace instead of being punishmed for the sin I committed. That's why grace is so beautiful and gives me the strength to stop playing the blame game. As Paul David Tripp says so eloquently, "Grace is for the willing, and we only become willing when we confess not only the gravity of our sin, but our inability to deliver ourselves from it. Then our willingness opens to us all the sustenance of heart that can only be found in the Son. So today, may you confess your weakness and seek after the abundant grace made new every morning." One of my weaknesses is blaming others, so I will seek grace today. May God be so good to you today that you see your weakness and rest in His grace to overcome. 

Friday, July 05, 2013

All You Need in Christ

A few weeks ago, Adam and I went to a Marriage Conference. I was super excited because a guy named Paul David Tripp was leading it. He wrote a few books that Adam and I have read, but the conference was really more on his book, What Did You Expect? I was kinda starstruck cause he was sitting in the row right in front of me. He's a bit of an interesting guy, dresses a little odd, and has a fantastic mustache. In the Christian counseling realm, he is one of the best and I was overjoyed to learn from him. He gave the best definition of marriage I may have ever heard... Marriage is two flawed people living in a fallen world with a faithful God. Here some notes on what I learned.

He did not use any "popular marriage passages", but brought to light that all Scripture is applicable for life. He started in Luke 6:43-45, "For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." He began with the heart, which he called the core of my personhood. Everything that we do begins in the heart. The fruit of our lives are our words and behavior, which proceed from the heart. One of the things that stood out to me was as he was talking about the last verse of this passage, 'out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.' What we really thinks comes from our mouth, and it begins in the heart. He talked about often we say to someone "I didn't mean to say that..." When truthfully, we should say, "Please forgive me for saying what I really meant." The heart is the issue. We learned three applications from this passage: a) All marriage problems are heart problems, b) Lasting change in marriage will always travel through the pathway of the heart, c) I am my biggest marriage problem--it is me. 

The second part he really honed in on was concerning two kingdoms. Either I am living for the kingdom of myself or the Kingdom of God. I loved these words, "Jesus gave His grace not for my kingdom, but to be a part of a much better Kingdom." He spoke concerning this passage, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33). Everyone lives for some kind of treasure, and in marriage we are all seeking for some treasure. However what rules and the heart and satisfies the heart becomes our functional treasure. 

During this time, what would strike me the most was how he presented, 2 Peter 1:3, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellence," Simple, but so true. I have all I need in Christ. He spoke that we could talk about how we "need" certain things. I could say that I need a husband, then when I get a husband, I could say I need certain things from him. Within our culture, it has become popular to say that men need respect and women need love. Paul Tripp pointed out that this idea went against what Scripture has to say. We have all we need in Christ. We can pray for a husband that loves or a wife that respects, but these are not truly needs. The power of Christ has granted all I need for life and godliness. I am thankful to rest in that truth.

His definition of love-- Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving. It is truly the way God loves, "We love because He first loved us."1 John 4:19.  He is way more eloquent than I could ever say it. 


Needless to say, it was an awesome, challenging weekend. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn, to be reminded of how all Scripture is important for marriage, challenged to seek God's kingdom in marriage, and to recognize and receive His grace in marriage.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


It is no secret that I married Adam for his awesome musical skills. Truthfully, that is not the real reason, but it is more like something on the list of reasons. For 7 years he has been working at our church as a Music Associate - this included participating in the Sunday morning praise band and leading all the youth music. He has done this faithfully for many years and I would say that he has enjoyed this ministry.

About 2 months ago, Adam got a phone call from a pastor in our area asking if he could recommend someone that could lead music at their church. He told the pastor that he could not think of anyone, but if he did, he would call him back. About 30 minutes after I got home from work that day, we started talking about this church and just if we knew anyone. The longer the conversation went on, we began to question if maybe Adam should pursue this opportunity. For the next few days, this is all we talked about and we prayed about it a lot. I just remember praying at random places and times questioning whether this is what God would want us to do. Adam decided to send an email to the pastor with his resume. The pastor never got the email. About a week later the pastor called Adam back and asked if he would be interested in the position. Adam told him that he may be interested and they set up a time to meet together.

One meeting lead to another then another and so on. We met with the search committee for the position, and Adam led at the church two times. Between the two of us, I think we asked each other over and over, "Do you have peace about this? Any reason why we should not do this?" The prayers about this situation continued and actually still do, just have changed a bit. On June 16, the church voted for Adam to be their Music Pastor. Crazy. Scary. Awesome. Exciting.

As the wife to this super talented dude, I am thrilled and soooo excited about this opportunity for him. As a non-super talented person, I'm bummed for me, cause I bring no musical ability to the situation. I got asked if I played the flute, sadly I do not.

In 2 short weeks, we have said good-bye to our sweet church family. Last Wednesday night was especially hard as we were loved-on by the Student Ministry here at our church. They really are some special teenagers and leaders, God has great things ahead for them. This past Sunday night, our church licensed Adam and had a bit of a celebration. It involved some sweet words of encouragement from many individuals and lots of hugs. To say that the goodbyes has been bittersweet would be an understatement.
David praying for us. (Please excuse the VBS decorations).

Adam has already been working in the office at the new church and this Sunday will be our first. I'm thrilled that he is getting to do something he enjoys so much. I know he is going do great and I am thankful that God has given me the opportunity to walk beside him through this new ministry.

"I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me." -Psalm 13:6 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Unknown by Us, but Known to God.

One of the greatest things about the Author of Life is that if you are alive, He is continuing to unveil your story. God showed us a small part of our story at the beginning of this year. This part of our story will forever impact our life.

On February 15, 2013, we confirmed the exciting news that we were pregnant. I'm pretty sure I have never seen Adam so overjoyed at such wonderful news. We had believed it to be true, but something about the Doctor or Nurse saying it to you, just makes it so much better! Adam was overjoyed. I was excited and freaked out all at the same time. It was a few days of telling our family and close friends of the exciting news.

In the early morning hours of February 22, our excited hearts were broken as I miscarried our sweet child. I remember waking up after a horrible night of trying to rest and hoping that this was just a terrible dream. It was not. Our day was spent in grief and tears... I could not control the crying. Yes, my body hurt, but the pain of my heart was far worse.

At the Doctor that day, I was overwhelmed by the compassion and kindness of each medical person we encountered. I know they see this kind of thing often, and it is part of their job, but it was like they shared in our grief and understood how our hearts hurt. I'm truly thankful for that and want to follow their example when God places people in my life who need compassion.

My heart immediately went to the book of Psalms. It seems to be the place where I turn for comfort. God's Servant, David, experienced great loss and grief during his life. I know that all the Psalms are not written by him, but a majority of them are. "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Ps. 34:18). That was me. I was brokenhearted and my spirit was crushed, but the Lord was definitely near.

I have this awesome resource that I use often called a journaling Bible. It has lines on the outside of both pages for journaling. I love it and use it often, just as I read Scripture. One of my favorite things to do is look back on things that I wrote a year ago or even a few years ago just to see how God was using His Word to speak to my heart.

Psalm 77 spoke to my heart like it had never before...
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

This is what I wrote in my journaling Bible... "Day after our miscarriage. Verse 13 reminded me that the Lord knows what is best. 'What God is great like our God?' reminded that there is no one like Him. He is above all things and knows all things. For that I will praise Him, even during this time when my heart hurts. He has not forgotten and He has not forsaken. His steadfast love has been felt and continues to be displayed."

Chapter 77 ends with showing how the Lord worked in the life of His people in the Old Testament and Chapter 78 continues to show this picture with how God responded when His people rebelled against him and how He continued to work in their lives. It encourages us to "tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done." (v. 4)

As my heart grieves over what has been lost in our life. I am reminded of the great things that God has done, whether in the past that I can see in Scripture or in my own personal life. I'm thankful for the short time God blessed us with our unborn child. Even though we were not able to see this precious child outside the womb, we did a see heartbeat and know that God had blessed us with a little life. While he or she was unknown to us, he or she is perfectly known by God. The glorious deeds of the Lord have been displayed, because of His work, I can and will rejoice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pride-My Struggle.

Things have been a little crazy the past month or two and when I am able to think a little more clearly, I may blog about some things, until then... hang tight.

My past couple months have been filled with some different medical issues. In the process, I have seen how much I fear and worry over things that are completely out of my control. I have been reminded a few times that the opposite of faith is fear. That's statement has rung true over and over in my mind and heart. How often I have allowed fear to override my faith and what I know to be truth! During my times of fear, I would often look to Scripture. It has such great things to say and for a moment would seem to override my fear, but then my mind would wander back to being fearful. It has seemed like a constant back and forth battle. Thankfully, the Lord hasn't given up on me in my struggle and what the Scripture says about fear has captured my mind and continues to be a place where I turn to, even when I feel somewhat defeated.

1 Peter 5:7 has been mentioned and read so many times during this struggle, "casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." It is truly a great verse and one that provides so much comfort, but do you know what the verse before it says? "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you," For some reason last week, I decided to read my study Bible notes for these verses, "the participle 'casting' modifies the main verbal phrase 'humble yourselves' from v. 6. Worry is a form of pride because it involves taking concerns upon oneself instead of entrusting them to God. Believers can trust God because, as their Father, He cares for them." (ESV Study Bible). At that moment, I was aware of my ugly sin, pride, thinking I could handle it on my own. Why would I not entrust my cares and concerns to a perfect, sovereign Heavenly Father? In my own mind and strength I thought I could handle things on my own, surely not. My time of confession and repentance that morning was very sweet as I realized just how much I had struggled to do things on my own. There has been times of confession since then and I am sure they will continue. I do know that I don't want to live a life of pride.

Adam challenged me with this blog concerning the same subject about a month ago, and I have read it many times. Ed Welch is a counselor, but also one that deals anxiety attacks as well. His words of how to pray through Scripture is soooo practical. He ends the blog with this exhortation:
 The secret is to
   …pause before you head into your favorite passage on fear,
   …consider the greatness of God,
   …add some of your own confession and repentance as a way to drive the message of humility home, and then
   …remember some of those sweet words of God to fearful people.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Memories

Meet Rita Cornelius. She was my Valentine's Day Gift when I was 8 or 9 years old. I begged and begged my parents to adopt an African-American sister for me. I can't tell you how much I begged. Needless to say, my parents thought they would get me a "substitute." My mind had no idea how much adoption really cost, that maybe my parents could not afford it, and whole list of other things that may be a factor. Rita is probably my favorite Valentine's Day Gift. I was super excited about her, and she is still a beloved possession! 

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about my mom and how she made Valentine's Day so special for our family. She would cook a favorite meal, usually make Jim's favorite dessert (Cherry Cheesecake), and just go out of her way to make us feel loved and extra special on that day. It was the holiday for her to lavish love on her family and she did it so wonderfully! 

This was my last Valentine's gift before Mom passed away, my first ESV Bible. She usually sent flowers and a goody box of stuff, but this year, I told her there was just one thing I would really like to have. She truly loved the Word of God, and so it is quite fitting that this was her last gift of "love."

I like to think that the way Mom showed love on this special day was just a tiny glimpse of how the Heavenly Father loves His children. As I think about Valentine's Day, my mind jumps to 1 John 3 and these verses at the beginning of the chapter, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is." Perfect love lavished upon us by the Heavenly Father that He would call us His own. Hope that as God's children we will be made complete and like Christ.

May Valentine's Day be a day filled with making memories with those you love! Perfect love is truly found in a relationship with Christ, may that be a reason for celebration on this special day and everyday!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Schedule Idol

The Lord has been dealing with me in a particularly strong way about the "idols" in my life. I decided the other day if they were actual "idols" I would feel the need to hide them in the deepest and darkest part of my closest, because they are so hideously ugly. How ugly is pride and selfishness and.... I could go on and on. For me personally for the last year or so, God has been slowly tearing down the idol of my schedule in my life. Sounds crazy that a schedule would be an idol, but it is the truth.

I love things to fit in a certain time frame and things to just go smoothly (aka my way) the entire day. What would happen when there were interruptions or disruptions in my schedule? My first response would normally be anger. Impatience is pretty high on the list as well. The sad thing is that this flows over into how I interact with people, like if I think we had talked long enough, I would just kinda stop listening or make an excuse to leave the conversation. You know what is almost as ugly as the idol? When Godly people bring to light your sin, it is messy and hard to deal, but in order to be like Christ, I must deal. Thankfully, I am not on my own when having to deal with sin.

My eyes jumped out at this verse the other day and I'm sure it is one I had read many times, but it was brought to light at the right time for me! "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2 ESV) The Spirit of Christ in me is greater than the sin and idols in my life, no matter how ugly they seem to me. The Spirit gives what is needed. Truly, I hate battling with this idol in my life, but I am thankful that I am not on my own. In my own strength, I know I will fail and the anger and impatience would overide.

This week I was challenged by this article...Life's Interruptions. Especially theses words,
"Interruptions are not obstacles to our plan; they are opportunities for us to embrace God’s plan.

So, the next time real life comes crashing into your idea that you are “in control,” look for the opportunity to show Christ’s compassion. Instead of being frustrated at the presence of other people, look for the opportunity to reflect the compassion of the Savior."

Father, forgive me when I try so hard to be in control that I miss your plan. May you continue to tear down my schedule idol and help me to share the compassion of the Savior with those you put in my life. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

12 Days of Christmas

So, it wasn't a surprise to me that I have married a pretty fantastic man, but I was surprised on Christmas day to open up a card and see that Adam was going to do the 12 days of Christmas for me. The card was Day 1 and each morning there would be something special! I love surprises and I was so excited to see what Adam had up his sleeve!

Coffee - Yum!
One of our wedding pics!

Day 12 - Tulips! One of my absolute favorites!

I have absolutely loved each and every surprise! Adam definitely knows some fun things that I like and enjoy! Who knew the 12 Days of Christmas would be so much fun! So very thankful for my sweet hubby!