Author Archive

A Time for Every Season

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the Heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

Life ebbs and flows. Just when you get settled into a rhythm, think that you’ve found your sweet spot, your equilibrium, your routine, things change. Do you know what I’m talking about? This is the way it is for all of us. The green leaves of summer turn the golden hues of autumn, the fallen leaves of autumn are covered by the white flakes of winter, and then all of it nourishes the ground for the flowers of spring only to repeat itself again. Change bringing beauty. A shifting bringing blessings.

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From the beginning of time, this is how it has been. It seems that our Creator takes joy in refreshing, renewing, and changing the things that we are used to and we here at GLOW seem to be learning that right along with each other.

Through no small coincidence, these last few months have been ushering in newness for each and every one of us. From graduations, to babies, to new jobs, to moving from one state to another, our lives have mirrored the changing of seasons.

I wrote to you all a little while back about our surprise little blessing coming in October. It caught us completely unaware and our hearts, minds, and dreams have been caught up in this new life growing within me. My children can’t stop talking about their new baby brother. My husband has us settled with a new mini van. We are transforming into a family of five, leaning into the season that God has given us. But no season comes without the one before it changing.

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For me, a new baby means a singleness of mind that comes over me. I can’t seem to have an infant without it touching every aspect of me, taking over my thoughts and habits for a little while. I’m okay with this. I feel called to motherhood and this is how I manage to do it well. It’s why maternity leave is so vital. Because a mother should be able to be captivated and overtaken with her child. Because she should be able to settle into the new season, the new calling, the new physical, emotional, and mental state that she is in. With that single mindedness though, comes a pruning of other things.

This is not only the way it is when you have a baby. This pruning, stepping back, change can come with any life event. With a job change, a move, a new school schedule, or whatever it may be.

You’re going to hear a lot about those changes in the lives of our contributors in the coming days. You’re going to hear about the newness that the Lord is bringing and the blessings, lessons, and strengthening that’s coming through it. We hope that you’ll rejoice with us in it.

We also hope that you’ll understand the need for a changing of seasons with GLOW.

We have all sensed that the Lord has dropped these things into our lives for a purpose and we want to glean everything possible from them. We don’t want to shirk our duty in being good stewards of the season that we’ve been planted in and we also don’t want to offer GLOW our second best. We want to live well and learn much and, because of that, we feel led to take a sabbatical from GLOW.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Ecclesiastes 9: 10 NIV

We will be taking the time for each of our contributors to update you on the happenings in their lives and the plans that God has revealed to them through Friday, July 15th and then we will be saying “See you soon!” to you, our dear friends until January of next year.

We ask that you be praying for all of the adjustments coming up, that we would have ears to hear what it is the Lord is sharing in this time so that we can have more to offer you in January.

We will be praying for each of you and missing our weekly time together! Thank you for your feedback, support, likes, shares, comments, subscriptions, and submissions! They mean the world to us and we can’t wait for more of all of it in January!

I pray blessings over all of you until we talk again!

P.S. If you want to check in with me during our time away, I’ll be updating my personal blog, While We Mother, with what the Lord is doing and sharing with me! Hope to see you there!

Love, Kelsey

If My People

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Three out of four mornings in a row, I woke up to a new tragedy happening in Orlando. I would open up my Facebook app to see if any of my pregnant friends had their babies over night or if any new wedding pictures had been posted by those that just tied the knot and instead, disaster greeted me. A beautiful young singer, shot down after a show, 49 people killed out of nowhere, a little boy taken from the arms of his parents by a crocodile attack, and I’m sure so many other tragedies that I’m unaware of.

It has weighed heavily on my heart. I’ve cried tears and prayed prayers that I never wanted to and these weren’t even people that I knew. It’s just that all of these tragedies are too much for my heart to bear. They’re too much for me to understand or process or even accept because it could happen to anyone. Our world is so full of hurt and sadness and it’s heavy. Too heavy.

None of these things are new. There’s always been tragedy in this world. Parents have always buried their children. Violence has always plagued us. Hate has always contaminated our world. It doesn’t take a very discerning eye to see that humanity is a sorry lot when left to these devices and that’s where I’ve been at — a loss for words and explanations for the world that we live in — and all I can think to do is pray.

We say that all of the time. “All we can do is pray.” We throw it out there like a last resort or something that’s not good enough because, at that point when all we can do is pray, we’re at the end of our ropes and we can’t think of anything else within our power to do. We say it like it’s not good enough. Like all that we have left, prayer, is nothing better than crossing our fingers or wearing our lucky socks.

The fact of the matter though is that when we get to the point where all we can is pray, we are at our most effective place.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Are you at the same place that I am? One that’s full of discouragement for the state of our world? One that’s plagued with sadness and heart break for those that are hurting and hating? One that seems like you are powerless to do anything but pray?

Good.

That’s where we need to be. We need to be humble and contrite and ready to say, “I don’t know what else to do here except acknowledge that we are helpless apart from you Lord and we need you every second of every day to heal this land that’s so very broken.”

We need to pray like we’ve never prayed before. We need to pour out our hearts and our confessions and our desires and fears and let the Lord take them all and heal them. We need to surrender our actions and words to Him so that He can take them and redeem them and make them Holy and effective. So that He can heal our land.

Because it’s so very broken. You see it as clearly as I do, the help that we need. You can feel it and sense it and it’s that very shattered state that it’s in that turns us toward prayer.

So this week, let’s humble ourselves. Let’s search our hearts and find the sins therein. Let’s confess them and turn from them and instead of seeking out our own desires, let’s seek His face. Let’s seek it like we’ve never sought it before. And for all that’s broken in this world of ours, let’s pray. Pray without ceasing, pray without fear, pray without discouragement. And then the healing will come.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Turtle Soup

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My dad loves to do yard work. He’s always been this way. The yard is my Dad’s domain, his kingdom, and each blade of grass bows to him.

My childhood memories are littered with grass clippings. I can remember him out in the yard all summer long in his white t-shirt and baseball cap. I remember how he would push that loud machine in meticulous rows all along the grass, leaving a trail of straight lines behind him, like he was a colonel and the grass stood at attention in perfect formation as he passed. I can picture him stepping back to take a break and locking eyes with my mom as she walked out to meet him, pushing down the freshly shorn blades with her feet, and handing him a glass of Arizona Iced Tea.

It was his thing. It still is his thing. When he’s out in the yard, he’s like Adam in the Garden of Eden, taming and shaping and perfecting the nature that is his.

There’s a picture that I’ve seen often of my Dad and me. I’m just a baby and my dad is just a twenty-something and there we are, in the backyard. My dad is standing behind the lawn mower with a huge smile on his face and I’m there, strapped to his back in a baby carrier. The sun is bright but my dad’s joy is brighter. He was in his kingdom with his princess at his back.

I’m told that he mowed the lawn like this a lot. That his thing became our thing.

Once I got bigger, too big to fit in that baby carrier, he figured out another way to include me.

“Hey Kels, I’m gonna go mow the lawn.” He would say to me and I knew what it meant. His announcement was an invitation. A call to join him in the yard.

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I would follow him outside and sit next to the aluminum trash can that he dumped the grass clippings in, waiting patiently for the bag on the lawn mower to fill up. He would finish a portion of the lawn, stop and detach the bag that caught the grass clippings. He would carry that bag over to me and the trash can and dump in that heavy, wet, earthy, confetti.

“Here you go!” my dad would say to me.

“Thank you! Turtle Soup coming right up.” I would reply.

That’s what I called all of those tiny, discarded blades of grass. Turtle Soup. They were green ingredients for imagination. I pretended to stir the trash can full of grass, pretended to sprinkle in seasonings and smell the concoction as it cooked on my imaginary stove and every few minutes, my dad would come over and add more to the pot.

Turtle soup became our creation, the result of our shared interest. He had invited me in, made me a part and had given me space to create my own iteration of the thing he loved.

I loved making Turtle Soup. I loved the smell of the grass and the way it looked heavy and fluffy all at the same time. I loved pretending to make something yummy and filling and I loved sharing the sun’s rays with my Dad. Mostly I just loved that part; sharing something with my Dad.

The picture of my childhood summers is drawn with grass clippings all in a mound in that aluminum trash can. Each blade piled high affirmed my dad’s love for me, his desire to teach me and spend time with me. His hope that the stuff he loved could become the stuff that I loved just because we did it together and it’s fitting isn’t it? While he cultivated our yard and made wild things tame, he cultivated my heart, pruning away any doubt that he loved me and wanted to be with me no matter what.

My Dad invited me into the garden to work and cultivate and create treasures from waste. Our Heavenly Father does the very same thing.

“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.” John 15:1 NIV

He’s constantly at work in our lives and in the lives of others. He’s shaping and pruning and watering and fertilizing the seeds that are there, dreaming of what they will become. He knows the potential that’s wrapped up tight within the hearts of people just like he knows the color and shape of every petal that lies within a flower’s seed. He knows it all, could cultivate it all alone if He chose to but instead, He invites us in to join Him.

He comes to us daily just like my Dad did with an invitation to join Him in the garden, to find a part in what He’s doing and to wait for what He will pour into our barrel’s to work with.

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” Mark 16:15 ESV

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

So what has He given you? What has he asked you to do? What are you making with the portion of work that He’s poured out for you in the garden of His kingdom?

When I spent time with my Dad as a kid, I imagined that I was making turtle soup. I pretended that the smelly, wet grass could turn into something special, that the mess could be redeemed simply because the magic of a little girl’s imagination said it could. The thing about working in God’s garden though, with Him right along side you is that it actually can.

He’s in the business of pruning away the bad and transforming it into something good. He specializes in beautification and transformation just like any good gardener does. He makes all things new.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Set your hands to the work of His garden. Trust in what he’s pouring out for you. Make the most of it. Stir that mess, those hearts, those jobs, those opportunities, those people or trials or triumphs into Turtle Soup. Accept His invitation to join Him.

Accept what He’s given you and conquer that transformation well. While you do, don’t miss out on the knowledge that you are sharing in the work of your Father. That He has invited you out to work alongside him.

Don’t miss out on sharing something with your Dad. He could do it without you but instead, He’s waiting for you to join Him, the King with His Princess at His back.

It Is Well With My Soul

 

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I’m a planner through and through. When I wake up in the morning, before my feet hit the floor, I’ve run through a mental list of every single thing the day holds. I think through it all while I get ready and by the time I’m dressed, the day is fully and completely planned. It’s in my control, it’s under my jurisdiction.

I’m not just this way with the small things like the Birthday party we’re attending or the doctor’s appointment we need to keep. I’m this way with the long term stuff too. I have it all envisioned, all planned. The time lines are set for when we’ll take a certain vacation or how much we want to start putting away for the kids’ college funds. When I want to start writing more or what I’ll do when we’re empty nesters. All of it, I think of and I plan for and never, ever, ever, is there any space for something to come in and derail it.

Well, that happened a few months back in the form of a positive pregnancy test.

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 Look at that perfect foot! God does all things well!

We had thought we were done having kids, told everyone we were done, but then God decided that that wasn’t the case and He took things into His own hands. As well he should.

We had begun to envision our future with just two kids and had started to plan for that but, in classic life happens fashion, that was thrown out the window. That was back in February and our lives since then have been a journey from freak-out to peace to complete joy and excitement for baby number three to enter our lives as we’ve learned some beautiful lessons in surrender and the unexpected blessings in God changing our plans.

It’s a funny thing this need we have to plan and feel a sense of control. It makes complete sense to us but really, it goes against everything we say we believe as Christians. We say that we’re totally surrendered to the Lord, that we trust and want his plans for our lives but then we fight tooth and nail against the actual surrendering of them.

We are so careful with and attentive to our plans all while we say that we want His plans and not ours.

It’s like this.

My four-year-old son, Judah, loves to build things right now. Legos are his favorite but blocks work, too. He’s very particular about how the pieces are arranged and he usually ends up with a very well planned out, completely cool structure by the end of it. The other day though, he invited his sister to build a tower with him. She’s two and “particular” is not even on her radar. She builds with complete and utter lack of planning. Where Judah wanted the tower to be steady and tall, straight and strategic, Annabelle wanted it to be wobbly and whimsical. Judah was completely frustrated by the end of it because the vision he had kept getting derailed.

He invited her to play with him though. He couldn’t be mad if the structure changed and the plan was different if he invited her to be a part of the process.

Sometimes, we’re the same. We invite God into our lives, tell Him he has control and we want his will and then we just can’t handle it when He actually builds the thing He has planned. Our perfect towers begin to protrude and lean and bend and cut the most creative and eye-catching figure and we push against it.

We are rigid when He is creative. We hold our building blocks tight when he just wants us to open our hands so He can see what we are willing to offer.

There are plenty of examples of women who do this whole “surrendering their plan” thing well in the Bible.

Look at Rebekah, wife of Isaac, mother of Jacob and in turn, the nation of Israel. She was presented with the possibility of a brand new life far from home with a man she had never met. The prospect of marriage based solely on the fact that she was the immediate answer to the prayer of a servant-stranger. When she was asked if she wanted to tarry at home or to jump at God’s new plan, this is what she said: “I will Go.” Genesis 24:58 NIV

Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was in the midst of her engagement, of planning her whole life when an angel appeared and threw everything for a loop. Instead of clinging tightly to her plans, this was her response: “’I am the Lord’s servant.’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’” Luke 1: 38 NIV

Do you see? The women who do great things, who leave a legacy, who play a part in God’s plan are the women that are flexible. They are those that hold their blocks loosely and are willing and ready for the plan to change at any moment.

They are those that say, “Whatever you want Lord? It’s fine with me. It is well with my soul.”

“I’ll go.”

“I’m your servant.”

“May your words to me be fulfilled.”

Why? Because they know the one in whom they trust. They know the master builder, the one who is guiding it all and they know that He is good and wise and sovereign and loving.

“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NIV

They know that whatever He comes up with will be far more beautiful and lasting than what they’re hands would have built anyway.

Let’s throw our plans to the wind. Let’s hold them loosely. Let’s mean what we say and say what we mean when we utter the words “I surrender” and let’s watch those twisty beautiful towers that rise high carry the name of Jesus. Let’s quit building what we had in mind and start taking orders from the one with the master plans.

May it be well with our souls.

Paint & Passion

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If you walked into my parent’s house, the first thing you would notice would be an entryway table that was made to hold the pictures of maybe three grandkids but is actually holding the pictures of eleven. Then you would notice that no place in the world smells better than this one filled with the scent of food cooking and twenty different candles burning and then, you might turn your head just to the right and notice a hutch full of tea sets.

These are the things that my mom collects. Her people, her candles, and her tea sets. Her love of candles was passed down to me and my sisters by osmosis. Scent is an addicting thing and when your childhood home smells as wonderful as mine did, you want to keep that good thing going for your kids. And as far as her people go, well they’re my people too and we tend to that collection together.

The tea sets were a little different though. I can pinpoint when she passed that appreciation on.

I was thirteen and smack dab in the middle of misery.

My seventh grade basketball picture should come up when you google “awkward phase.” I was skinny as a stick, had braces, a unibrow, and a super short haircut that would have been cute on a grown woman with confidence and sass but just made me look like a boy.

I think my mom knew just how bad things had gotten and any girl can tell you that the way to cure a bad day is with some girl time. So, one day, my mom let me skip school for the afternoon and took me to a pottery painting shop that had just opened.

“Let’s paint a tea set!” she said to me, eyes smiling. And we did.

For weeks, we would go to the shop for an hour or so and paint one tea cup, one saucer, one sugar dish at a time. We decided to do it in Mary Engelbreit fashion — a bright yellow base with black polka dots and hot pink swirls. It became our project and every time we finished a piece of the set, we would paint our initials on the bottom in solid black paint.

I would watch my mom swirl on her “SDF” and thought that there had never been prettier letters anywhere. I would try to match my “KEF” with her letters and I could swear that each cup’s initials looked better than the last. I wanted them too anyway. I wanted my handwriting to look like her’s, my painting to look like her’s, my life to look like her’s because there we were in a bright little pottery shop surrounded by paint and dirty brushes and she was choosing to stay. She wanted to be with me, an awkward nobody who had to safety pin my pants because I was tall enough to shop in the junior’s section but certainly not curvy enough.

We visited that shop for weeks until our tea set was done. We brought it home and I helped my mom put it into her tea set hutch. We stacked our bright polka dotted cups and tea pot right next to her fine Austrian China. She let our oversized pottery edge out the delicate, floral patterns and gold leaf swirling that had been her’s for decades.

She let the set that we made take center stage. All because it was ours.

That tea set isn’t valuable. It certainly shouldn’t even be in the same category as some of her beautiful pieces, but it’s still there in that hutch, our loud, swirly, polka dotted set is what grabs your attention.

That set is the product of a bunch of ordinary afternoons where my confidence was built and my self worth was affirmed. That set says, “My Mom chose me and she wants you to know it.”

That time that she spent with me, sharing her stories and her art and her moments, resulted in a shared love. She invested the time in our relationship and because of that, a passion was passed on to me.

Of course, I’m not crafty like she is but I certainly love and appreciate the beauty in the swirl of a teacup and the joy that comes from holding something so pretty in your hands. She gave me that by investing in our relationship, just like she passed on her love for prayer and for studying the Bible, her love of worshiping and her love of investing in people.

You see, that tea set taught me more than how pretty a tea cup can look or how relaxing painting can be. It taught me the key to passing along passion and love; it’s time, consistency, and relationship.

This is important. Pastor and commentator R. Kent Hughes says, “While [Genesis 2:18] relates directly to the creation of Eve, it is also a primary ontological statement about the nature of man, who is, whether he admits it or not, a relational being. His growth and significance are worked out in relationships.”

As Christians, our growth and significance comes through investing in and building God’s Kingdom by investing in and building people. Look at how the early church did this in the book of Acts.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” Acts 2:46-47 NIV

They spent quality time with each other consistently, and together, through relationships, they built the Kingdom of God.

Just like my mom was always consistent in sharing her love and her passions with us, the early church did the same. And the results were the same; the passing on of passion. The building of relationships between both people and those people and God.

Sometimes, a lot of times, passing on our passion for our faith and love for the Lord can be boiled down to investing time, love, and energy in a relationship. Whether it’s through shared interests, shared situations, or some tea in a pretty little cup, let your relationships dig deep and long and let the moments add up. Whether it’s through painting or praying, let that passion travel.

Power of Marriage

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Confession time. This week, I had a moment. Now, if you don’t know what I mean by “a moment,” you might once I’m done describing it. You know, those times when logic gets the boot and we just let emotion run the show. Where the tears seem to flow freely even when we don’t want them to and the reasons for it are as lost to you as a needle in a haystack.

Well, actually, when my “moment” came over me this week, the reason was not very hard to find. It was all over the bathtub and the carpet outside of the bathroom. It was all over the bath toys and the porcelain and the smell of it was all up in my nose. If you haven’t guessed it, it was poop.

My daughter, who we have finished potty training and who has pretty much mastered the art of using the porcelain throne had some tummy troubles, threw caution to the wind and pooped all over the tub during bath time. And then she had the same troubles again right outside the bathroom door while she waited for me to clean out the tub. It was terrible. It was nasty. It was apocalypse now all up in the bathroom. And all this came after a day that had been spent fighting the typical battles that come from the terrible two’s and my own frustrations.

I held it together for the most part, cleaning and sanitizing everything and then drawing a new bath for the kids. The rest of the day went on and bedtime came as usual and then, when we were lying in bed, my sweet, unsuspecting husband opened the door for the freak out.

“Are you ok babe?” he asked me.

“Sure. What do you mean?” I said.

“Well, you just seem a little overwhelmed today. Not completely your self.”

That was it. He had opened the hatch and the crazy, cuckoo birds were free. Cue the hysterical “moment” I’ve been leading up to. Declarations of how my day was, “Nothing but poop!” and how, “Everything is a battle.” Tears came over a day that, in my head, had seemed so awful and my wonderful husband offered solution after solution, and encouragement after encouragement all while I shot them down. It finally ended with my mentioning that it was late and I had to be up at 6:30 to get our son to school. I hadn’t meant it to be sassy but I’m sure it came across like it and thus ended my drama and selfishness for the night.

He had only meant to help me talk it out, to encourage me and to touch base but instead, he got to have a front row seat to my complaining and selfish pessimism. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he never tried to touch the subject again. I hadn’t been open to the (very good) solutions he had offered to our terrible two’s struggles or how he had validated my frustrations. I had just wanted to be mad and wallow and to choose to see the negative. Who would want to open that can of worms again, huh?

My wonderful husband. That’s who. The next morning, he made the kids breakfast and helped me get them dressed. He made sure that I got to shower and get ready in complete, uninterrupted peace. He checked in with me throughout the day and jumped at every opportunity to lighten my load. Why? Because we’re married that’s why.

I had my moment, the one that revealed where I was struggling to walk well in my calling of motherhood. He saw as the walls cracked and selfishness and anger were creeping in. He heard it all but instead of judging me or resenting me or taking a step back so I could figure out my heart issues on my own, he pushed in close and decided to serve and love and help me. Instead of letting my struggles be my struggles, he made them ours and he did all that he could to create a space for me to be refreshed and find the place that I needed to be in.

I know this is not a monumental struggle. I know that it might seem small, but the message and the action that was demonstrated in these ordinary circumstances is not small at all. My husband saw the worst of me. He sees it all the time actually but what I have in our marriage is a place where the worst of me can come out and then be worked out with a helpmate.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

Within the space of a marriage, our worst selves are safe to be revealed not so we can dwell with them, be comfortable with them or embrace them, but so we can find our way away from them towards righteousness with the help of someone who loves us unconditionally. Nothing on this earth mirrors our walk with Christ better than that.

Love, the bedrock, the motivation, the heart, and the soul of marriage and of Jesus sacrifice for us as well, is the reason for this. Why? Because 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6 says that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth”

The very feeling and action and power that is synonymous with marriage is something that has selflessness and servanthood and safety at it’s core. It takes no pleasure in evil but pushes and perseveres until the truth of who we are in Christ is revealed. And then it rejoices.

That is marriage. The ever present, ever persevering force of love that propels us towards our goals of righteousness.

As if his actions didn’t speak it clearly enough this week, my husband said something today that was beautiful and profound.

“You’re supposed to do everything you can to help your spouse achieve their goals.”

That doesn’t just go for getting a promotion or running a marathon. That applies to spiritual things too. Things like helping your wife, the crazy, frazzled stay at home mom, find peace and power and provision from Christ to mother in grace and joy.

This week, I’m praying about ways that I can do that for Scott. Will you join me in seeking the Lord about how we can help our husbands grab hold of the things that God is doing in their hearts? Will you pray about how to make your marriage one that better mirrors the love and safety and motivation that we find in Christ? Because I promise you that the “moments” are going to come where the not so good sides of ourselves or our spouse will be revealed but within them, we get to make room for God to use us and our promise to each other to propel us towards righteousness.

The Wonders of His Word

Every night, we read a story to our son, Judah, from the YouVersion Kids Bible App. If you have kids and a smart phone, I would highly recommend downloading this app. It’s wonderfully interactive, bright, and colorful, and explains the Bible stories in a way that is powerful yet simple.

Every night, my husband or myself open it up and let the story come to life for him. Stories about the world taking shape from a formless void all at the sound of God’s voice. Stories of man’s efforts to touch Heaven with a tower that was built on a foundation of pride only to be foiled by humility and a God with a greater plan for His people. Stories of floods and famines and plagues and promises. Stories of bushes burning with the voice of Yahweh and of a people stepping into freedom. Stories of shepherd boys and prophets and queens and kings, of loyal friends and devoted family members and of the God, the only, one true God that breathed life and love into all of it.

It started as a bedtime routine, but very quickly it has become something that permeates our day. Judah asks for a Bible story in the morning, before his nap, and yes, at bedtime. The goodness of God and the power of His word is fascinating my son.

It’s been amazing to watch. I’ve marveled anew at the power of our Lord and at the works of His hands as I’ve watched it all take root in my son’s mind and heart. I see it there, in his eyes, in his reactions to the things that broke the Lord’s heart, in his understanding of what disobedience brings and his joy when the Lord’s justice prevails. I see it when his eyes grow wide, as the heart of a lion within him roars with praise at the victories of our God and as the soft places there too are quieted by the gentleness of Jesus. I see the wonder and the devotion.

I see the roots growing down deep and, oh how it makes my heart sing! It’s the answer to all of my prayers, the embodiment of all of my dreams for him, the joy of my heart. And I remember too, what it felt like to walk where he is walking. I remember how those stories fascinated me as a child and how I took them at their word with not a trace of doubt or skepticism. How I simply trusted that the God of all of those stories could and would do things like that just for me and that He very much loved me indeed.

It’s a cozy feeling, childlike faith. It wraps you up tight like a blanket on a cold night leaving no inch of you uncovered or touched by cold doubt. It’s a good feeling. It’s safe and powerful and confident and that’s what my son is covered in right now.

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17 NIV

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I walked downstairs after putting Him to bed and watching his heart get hooked once again and this verse burst into my heart.

“ Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;

his greatness no one can fathom.

One generation commends your works to another;

they tell of your mighty acts. 

They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty —

and I will meditate on your wonderful works.” Psalm 145: 3-5 NIV

I thought to myself that it all seemed so right. That it only makes sense that Judah would be captivated by a God who can quiet storms and give the strength of a warrior to a shepherd boy. It’s only right that he would feel comfortable learning about a God who judges us not by what we look like but by what’s in our heart. It’s all so logical and easy to understand because when you step back and look at it all, at the stories and the promises and the actions of God and His people, there’s something there that’s compelling and easy to get on board with. It’s as simple as one generation telling the next and then together, taking Him at His Word.

My son is falling in love with God because he is seeking Him. He’s captivated by His word because he’s spending time getting to know the heart behind it. He’s hooked on it all because it’s becoming the voice behind comfort and confidence and adventure and promise in his heart and that’s exactly the way I want it.

And it was as simple as letting the word of God speak to him.

I asked Judah today what his favorite story has been so far. He said, “God talking in the burning bush.” He said it in the way that little boys do, accompanied with climbing and wiggling, energy buzzing through him, but the room grew still for me all the same and something snagged my attention.

“Yeah!” I said. “That’s pretty cool how God spoke to Moses isn’t it buddy? How does God speak to you?” I threw it out there, not sure if he would bite, if he was ready to engage in a serious conversation or if he would change the subject to Ninja Turtles with a swing of verbal nun-chucks.

“He speaks in my heart,” Judah said.

“What has he told you, buddy?” I asked.

“That he loves me,” Judah said with a smile.

That right there is the crux of it all. All of the seeking and wondering and learning and loving that Judah has done over the last few weeks is summed up in that. That perhaps the best and most powerful story that we can pull out, even more precious and awe inspiring than the parting of the Red Sea or the sending of bread from heaven, more special than a staff turning into a snake or loaves and fishes multiplying, is that the God that did all of that speaks. To us.

He’s done it in so many ways, both quiet and flashy, miraculous and simple, but he’s always done it and the heart of every word has always been the same.

He loves us.

I know you aren’t a child, that believing in the word isn’t as simple as it maybe once was, that we have questions and doubts about God’s plan at times, and that our hearts and minds aren’t as easily captivated but would you try it with me this week? Would you try seeking Him in his word anew? Try to read the stories of His miracles and His plans and the way that he moved heaven and earth and started history anew just to be with His people and teach them righteousness and love. Try to seek His wondrous works and to let them captivate your heart once more because, if you’re willing, it won’t take much.

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Above all though, would you try to hear his voice? It’s steady and constant and firm and soft all at once, speaking the words that are as old as the sunrise and as familiar to those lips as water is to ours.

“I love you.” He says. Through all of it, then and now, that’s what he says and that is the most powerful part of it all.

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3 NLT

Love Poured Out

“Now one of the Pharisee’s invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:36-38 NIV

There she was, the outcast in the home of the Pharisee. The sinner in the home of the religious. The imperfect, transparent, woman in the home of the pompous, man with hidden things in his heart. But none of that mattered to her.

She was there to see Jesus.

Can’t you just picture her? Sneaking her way into the home that she was probably unwelcome in. Everyone in town knew who she was. They all knew her sin and judged her harshly for it. They all probably saw the alabaster jar that she carried and scoffed, mumbling under their breath to each other about how she had “earned” the money to pay for it. I’m sure that Simon, the Pharisee who’s home they were all in noticed her approach and his feathers ruffled, but her eyes were focused. Her heart was resolute.

I don’t know what had compelled her to come, what she had heard about Jesus or what had made her heart catch at his name, but come she did with her treasure and tears in tow. It must have taken so much bravery to enter that house, the one filled with her neighbors and those who judged her but she knew that grace lay inside those walls and she had to be near it.

It seems that all of her confidence and bravado faded as soon as she was near Jesus though because the Bible tells us that she simply stood behind him. She was overcome with humility, overcome by the fact that she and her sin were in his presence and she faltered. She didn’t announce her presence or tap him on the shoulder. She didn’t introduce herself or say a simple “excuse me Jesus.” Instead, she stood behind him, staring at his feet that would hold the nails and his back that would take the lashes and she began to weep uncontrollably.

Perhaps she was embarrassed. Perhaps she was overcome and all she could think to do was to bend down, to bow down and to let her tears fall on Jesus’ feet. Her vision must have clouded, blurred by her own tears but she grabbed for her alabaster jar, opened it and poured its contents out, all over Jesus’ feet. And then, in a gesture that is so heart-breakingly beautiful, she takes her hair — her long, beautiful hair — and wipes Jesus’ feet, her tears, the perfume, all of it, with it and then tenderly, through her sobs, she kisses them.

We’ve heard the story before. We know about this woman but have you ever thought about how awkward this moment must have been? How uncomfortable for people like that to be around a person like her, to watch a woman come in and weep and clean Jesus feet with tears and hair and perfume that was worth as much as a year’s worth of wages (Mark 14:4)? Everyone must have wondered what was going on, must have suppressed insults or laughter or disgust but not Jesus. In my mind, he sat there with his eyes closed, smiling in pleasure. In my mind, he takes a deep breath, inhaling the scent of beautiful perfume and salty tears and exhales while he feels her love. The sound of her weeping is precious to Him and He wouldn’t dare to stop her. To hinder her worship and adoration and love.

“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7: 44-47 NIV

“For she loved much.” That’s what Jesus saw. In the home of the religious elite, the thing that stood out as noteworthy and righteous was the love of this sinful woman. Love that was pure and fragrant and powerful. Love like perfume that saturated the room with it’s presence, that’s overtook the dirt and grime and stench of whatever was in her life before, love that compelled her to humility and sacrifice and the baring of her very heart. That’s what Jesus saw and it was precious to him.

That’s what He asks of us. To love much. To love deeply with all that’s within us. With our tears and our treasure. With our past and our future. With our egos and our reputations and our vanity and our image. To love much.

The Bible tells us, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) and I think this story is a perfect example of that. Here is a woman who’s heart was in just the right place. She knew where she had been and what she had done. She knew heart ache and embarrassment and desperation and she knew that she needed Jesus. She was willing to make herself small in the eyes of people so that her love for him could eclipse it all.

Do we do that? Do we love him with all we have to offer? She took everything she had of worth; her treasure, her beauty, her pride, her reputation, her very emotions and poured them out for Jesus. What would happen if we did the same?

What if we gave it all, everything our hearts had to offer and we just kept pouring it out for Him? We kept offering it to the dirty and forgotten parts of this world, offering our love and sacrifice to them like she did to His feet? What if we didn’t care if serving Him was messy and required sacrifice and heartache? What if our pride and vanity were forgotten and we let it all get saturated, dripping, sopping wet with the stuff of loving and serving him?

Because it’s not supposed to be all easy, all fun and games, all clean and tidy and simple. Sometimes — a lot of times — loving Jesus much means giving whatever we have and looking like fools while we do it. It means offering our best for Him, pouring ourselves out for him, letting our hearts break for the things that He loves because His grace has washed over us and His love has overtaken us and we’ve seen and felt and known His goodness and we know that even our best is nothing compared to even His feet.

Because Christ’s love, the love that took him to the cross, to the nails, to the whipping and spitting, and thorns for us, compels us. It deserves much from us.

So what will we give? What will we pour out for Him and His Kingdom? We all have something and He wants to use it for His purposes. Let’s search our hearts and find the thing that we can offer. Let’s find where we can love Him more, where we can sacrifice bigger, feel deeper, and love harder. Let’s give it all like the sinful woman in the Bible and let the fragrance of our love fill the earth like perfume.

Let us love much.

Showers of Blessing

I went to a bridal shower this weekend. I was in a room full of women, food, beautiful decorations, and anticipation so, yeah, I was happy!

There’s just something so unique and special about showers isn’t there? Women do big events in life well. Whether you’re getting married, having a baby, moving away, or moving in, we just know how to press in and do it together. We see those milestones coming from a mile away and the first thing that we think to do is to get all the girls together, generations at a time, and have them bring blessings with them.

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We bring gifts and we write down advice. We share food and we share life and all of it kind of surrounds the woman that’s embarking on this new chapter in her life like a coat. A really cute, beautiful, expensive, meaningful coat, that keeps her safe and warm and reminds her that she is doing this with the support of her tribe.

There are all of the traditions too. The bouquet for the wedding rehearsal made out of the bows from the bridal shower gifts, the lining of the baby dresser drawers with wrapping paper from the baby shower, the counting how many ribbons are broken to guess how many children the bride to be will have and on and on it goes. All of it, all of it, makes me a little teary eyed.

I well up thinking about it because I just think that there’s something so very moving about a bride practicing her walk down the aisle with a bouquet full of reminders that she is loved and supported and prayed for and wished well. I think the idea of a woman, heavily pregnant with hopes and fears and a baby, tucking teeny tiny clothes away on top of wrapping paper that was touched and trimmed by the hands of those that love her, those that will hold and love her baby, is so special.

It’s special because it proves that life is better when we aren’t doing it alone. Actually, it’s not only better, it’s beautiful.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

I love this verse in Ecclesiastes because it’s clear about the benefit and necessity of friendship. You see, life will come. It will come gently at times with joy and excitement ushering it in. Those are the times that we throw showers for. But it will also come hard and fast and unexpectedly too and in all of it, friends are needed.

We need them to celebrate with us when things are great and to hold us when things are bad.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 NIV

We need them to “toil” with us as Ecclesiastes talks about, as we raise our kids, invest in our marriages, build our careers, or traverse through the storms of life. We need them because on our own, the return is minimal but with friends, the return will be good.

So, in view of these things, of supporting and loving and working alongside each other as friends in life, I thought I would put together a little list of a few blessings from scripture that you can pray over your friends. These are for the good times and bad. The “shower” moments and the terrible moments. Find one of these scriptures and pray them over the people in your life and situations they’re walking through. Write it down for them and send it on some pretty stationary or in an email. Let it sink in and bless them. It’ll be as good as any gift at a bridal shower!

“May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.” Psalm 20:4-5 NLT

“Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance” Jude 1:2 NIV

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2 NIV

“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear!” Luke 1:42 NIV

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”  Prov. 3:3-4 NIV

“May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” Psalm 122:7 NIV

“Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” John 1: 16 NIV

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Ephesians 3: 16 NIV

He Stood on the Waves

“Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.” Matthew 14: 22-23 NLT

Have you ever felt like there was something in your life that Jesus was insisting you do? Have you ever felt like there was just this one thing that you couldn’t really get off of your mind, this one task, this one person, this one investment or trip or change? That’s what insistence feels like.

In this chunk of scripture, we find the disciples coming off of the high of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes. They had just witnessed Him do yet another impossible miracle and I’m sure they’re faith had been built up substantially. Following this miracle, Jesus insists they do something and, after what they had just seen, they were probably eager to obey; get on a boat. He gave them an assignment. It didn’t seem like they were signing on for a whole lot. They were taking a simple trip across the lake to Capernaum while he hung back behind to pray. No big deal.

The problem was that it kind of was a big deal. You see, when they had been out on the water for a while, trouble struck.

“Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” Matthew 14: 24 NLT

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A storm stuck right in the middle of their peaceful assignment! They had probably obeyed with calm waters in mind, with a straight shot to their destination, but other things happened. The waters rose up against them and tossed them to and fro. Storm winds blew and they were met with resistance and difficulty. They were stuck there, in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the storm, in the middle of their incomplete assignment and they were scared.

Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever felt like you set out on the road that Jesus insisted you take, the one where you knew your purpose and calling and effectiveness lay only to be met with a giant storm? Maybe you thought that it would be straightforward, easy even, that you would reach the place that Jesus had sent you to, whether it’s physical or emotional or spiritual, quickly and without struggle, but boy were you ever wrong!

There, in the middle of your there-and-back-again assignment that you were sure Jesus insisted you take, you are being pelted with rain and blown back and forth by the wind and you are scared.

That’s where the disciples were at.

Mark’s account of this story reads like this,

“He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard against the wind and waves.” Mark 6: 48a NLT

So Jesus, the one who sent them, saw them in their trouble and, in a response that is so completely in Jesus’ character, he does this,

“Jesus came toward them walking on the water.” Mark 6: 48b NLT

And He says this,

“’Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here!’” Mark 6: 50b NLT

Jesus defied the laws of nature and logic and every other thing that the disciples thought was immovable to come to them in their distress. He saw them there, rowing hard in their obedience, rowing hard and fighting to do what he sent them to do, fighting against fear and rain and his immediate response was to go to them. Not just to be there with them, though.

No, he walked on water, on the very thing that they were sent to cross, the very thing that was keeping them from the place that He wanted them to be, to tell them not to be afraid. To tell them that He was there.

He got on the boat with them then and rode the rest of the way to Capernaum. They arrived at the end goal together, the disciples and Jesus, but only after they had witnessed the miraculous.

Jesus had insisted that they go, and despite storms and fear and stalling out, He made sure that they got there.

He will do the same for you.

If He walked on water to make sure that His disciples did not despair and give up in a wet, wind-blown, fearful mess, He will do the same for you. If you feel like you are in a storm in the middle of your obedience and you feel like Jesus doesn’t see, I have to tell you that He does. If you are facing opposition to the assignment that He sent you on and you’re worried that He isn’t near, I have to tell you that He is.

This is the One who walked on water and calmed storms to make sure that His friends got to where they were going. This is the One who did it all just to tell them not to fear because He was near! What makes you think he won’t do the same for you?

So today, picture Jesus, standing on that water, perfectly balanced atop the waves. Picture him saying, “Don’t be afraid.” And see the insistence in his eyes that you keep on going with the thing that He asked you to do.

Take courage! He is near! He hasn’t abandoned you and He will get you to the place that He insisted you go.

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