Going Home

HOMEAfter a long day of work, we love to come home.
When stuck in hours of traffic, we wish we could get home faster.
If gone during travels, we often miss home.

Built into each of us is an innate desire to be in the security of “home.”

Living away from home for the three years I have been in college has challenged me and grown me in important ways. I have become independent and self-sufficient. I have made friends and a built community. I have made a life for myself away from home.

But I still carry on my keychain, my house key. If I ever come home I have full access. I am welcomed. I am comforted. I am home.

Scripture talks a lot about home too. It is the eternal home to come for those who believe; and we have the front door key.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:2-3 (ESV)

As believers how many times do we forget about our true home? This hinders us from living for eternity in our temporary home here on earth.

The Greek word paroikos means foreigner, alien, or sojourner. These words are not the first that come to mind when describing followers of Christ, but this is how scripture refers to those of faith.

As Christians we are “temporary dwellers” with purpose.

John Piper says it well, “The promises of God are our real home and we have seen them from afar and have greeted them and tasted them and they have made us restless and uneasy. They have begun to shape our whole way of seeing and thinking and feeling. They have colored all our values and goals and desires. We have been put out of sync with this world because our treasure is in heaven.”

With faith we can see the world’s promises of satisfaction, and when compared to the promises of God and what they offer, desire God over the world.

“Beloved I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 (ESV)

We are not of this world, we were sent into this world for a purpose.

Before being crucified, Jesus prayed:

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” John 17:14–18 (ESV)

We must not be passively homesick for our eternal home, but this knowledge spurs us towards an eternal perspective.

As Paul says,

“I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 (ESV)

Women of God, we are not home yet. We are wanderers, nomads, and sojourners.

But we have a father who calls us “a chosen race, a royal priesthood a holy nation a people for his own possession” all so that we may “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

Our identity is in the promises of God, and our home is eternal. But may we be the taste and flavor of Christ to those around us in this temporary home here on earth.


About the Author

DSC_0772Brooke Biddle

Hello there! My name is Brooke Biddle, and I am currently a senior Public Relations and Journalism student at California Baptist University. I am an imperfect but avid follower of Jesus Christ

If you were to peek into my life on a weekday you would find me sipping a freshly brewed pot of loose leaf tea, while editing or writing stories for the Pursuit Magazine campus publication. Other days you may find me hosting events for the students I mentor as a FOCUS Intern.

Weekends include time with family, friends, exploring LA, and a yoga session or two.

Food for thought:
Meraki is a greek word meaning: to do something with soul, creativity, or love, to put something of yourself into your work.

For me, to work at something as working for the Lord not just people, is like meraki, it means pouring my full self into what I do to glorify God.

If I were to create a mission statement for myself it would be: “Selflessly serve others and relentlessly love God.”

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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.

Do You Believe You Are Not Enough?

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We live in a culture in which most of us fear being enough. There’s this fear among us that we will never be extraordinary enough to belong or to be loved. I see it everywhere in messages thrown around social media, that ordinary life isn’t good enough. I am a sucker for the reality show “The Bachelor” but this show is the perfect example of this mindset. Having men and women be flown off to exotic locations to have candlelit dinners on the beach and helicopter rides to private islands with champagne flowing and this is all to create “love.” When these men and women return to reality and quickly realize that love isn’t about these grand amazing gestures and butterflies they realize it wasn’t enough.

I believe, as women, this fear starts to control our lives. Are we good enough wives? Good enough mothers? Thin enough? Beautiful enough? Smart enough? Extraordinary enough? I didn’t get enough sleep, I don’t have enough money, there isn’t enough time, my child doesn’t eat enough vegetables, I don’t workout enough, I could seriously go on and on…
When does life start to become enough?

I believe life starts to become enough when we stop comparing it to others highlighted/edited lives. When we learn our true identity, passions, and goals. When we pursue the Lord in our daily lives and then choose to serve others before ourselves. I believe it becomes enough when we stop striving for perfection and learn the power of contentment. I believe life starts to become enough when we learn to work and fight for the things we believe in.

I want you to hear this today, you are enough. You are not a failure, no matter how many times you fail.

Do you ever stop to think about how unstoppable you would be if you really believed in who you were created to be? Daughters of the highest king, conquerors through Jesus, we were given the gift of an abundant life. That my friend, is extremely powerful. Our lives are meant to be more than just ‘enough’.


About the Author

1 year anniversary - CopyJENNIFER ERICKSON

My name is Jennifer Erickson and I’m the blogger behind The Happy Mama Life!  I live in a small town outside Denver with my husband of 8 years, our 2 1/2 year old toddler Charlotte and our 9 year old rescue pup Maverick! I am a stay at home mom that loves Jesus, loves to make healthy recipes, fun crafts and exercise!

Blessed to Be a Blessing

Misty Water

This week, another group of women from my University in Texas came to Zambia on a very similar trip to the one that I went on to Kenya almost five years ago. Of course, there will always be a special place in my heart for memories of when I was first introduced to Africa. The goal of these trips is to promote women’s leadership in Africa, little did I know that a short term trip would eventually open a door to where I am today — living and working in Zambia to promote cross-cultural experiences for young adults, while my husband studies theology at an African University.

Although our time here has been more difficult than I would have imagined as well, I am so thankful for the way God has woven my story here, and I was honored to share a bit with these young Baylor women and the Zambian women they came alongside during their time in this beautiful country. God has plans for all of us that are much better than we can imagine. He places dreams inside our hearts and gifts upon our hands and weaves it together with whimsy and perfection that can only come from the amazing Author of the universe. He designs every good and perfect thing we can experience in this life.

My story starts in Oaxaca, Mexico on my first international mission trip right before my freshman year of high school. Although I was committed to following Jesus before the trip, it was here that God opened up my eyes to his heart for the nations as I came face to face with a completely different culture for the first time. I fell in love with people’s stories and God began developing desire and skills to communicate and live cross culturally. I will never forget the message one of the missionaries shared with us as he went through the entire Bible and recounted God’s pattern of blessing people so that they could be a blessing to others, and in turn, glorify God and fulfill our overall purpose in life.

In the same way, our lives should also be shaped in such a way that we look to God with open hands, asking what he would have us do with our talents, dreams and any other gift he has given us. As I went on to University, I tried to keep my hands as wide open as possible and chose to pursue a degree in International Studies. You really can’t get broader than that, I wanted to study the whole world! One of the only requirements for my degree was to study a foreign language for two years. As I considered where God was leading me, I chose to study Arabic as I was told it was the 3rd most widely spoken language. I felt a call to reach out to the Muslims in my classes and at my school, and figured that God would call me somewhere in the Middle East.

Out of nowhere, my now dear friend, Melanie, spoke about this women’s leadership mission trip to Kenya. I felt like Africa was just the trendy place for young adults to go, so I wasn’t particularly interested in that aspect of the trip, but I loved the idea of empowering local women to take leadership and make the changes they wanted to make in their community rather than someone else making change for them. I figured I would just apply for the trip and see what would happen. Melanie selected a small team of women to join her on the trip and I ended up being one of them.

Our trip was amazing, Melanie’s heart for Kenya was contagious, and much to my surprise, I fell in love with Africa. I loved the colors, the people, the culture, the smells, everything! When I took my first breath every day, I was so amazed to be waking up in AFRICA. Ten days just wasn’t enough, and I had this deep sense that I was supposed to come back. I didn’t know exactly where or how, but I knew that I wanted to come back to this continent somehow some way.

The following year I asked Melanie if I could help her lead the trip to Kenya with her, and she was so excited to train me to lead University women to Africa. We went around announcing the trip to people in different clubs and recruited an amazing team of young women. We starting fundraising and dreaming about our trip, but all of the sudden, my peace about the trip was gone. It just didn’t feel right. I began getting this sense that this was not what God was calling me to at this time, and so I finally told Melanie that I didn’t think I was supposed to go. We were both heart-broken, but couldn’t argue with this feeling I had.

Melanie ended up having an amazing trip with the young women, and I spent my summer leading mission trips near my home town in Denver. I ended up working alongside my, now husband, Drew who felt a similar call to return to Africa one day. We fell in love, got married and God opened up the door for Drew to study in Zambia. We packed up the few things we owned and 4 months after we got married, we started a new life in a country I had never been to before. God continued weaving in such amazing ways and though I had to navigate through complicated immigration processes for the first time, I got experience working for an international nonprofit and then landed my dream job helping young people in Zambia and other countries spend a year learning and serving abroad in the name of Jesus.

These are just a few of the twists and turns God brought my way, but I am so thankful for the ways he used my story and my open hands for His glory. I am so thankful he didn’t allow me to be content with just leading another short-term trip, but instead fulfilled my even deeper longings of living cross-culturally and introducing others to the beauty of serving in another culture for an entire year. I still can’t believe it when I think about it too much, and the best part is that this is just the beginning. This is the amazing part I get to play right now, but God is doing even more.

Where has God blessed you, and how can you use that to be a blessing? I want God to show me more of that every day, and in turn I know he is taking me to the best place that I can be to display His glory. My prayer is that he will teach me to open myself up to the magnificent plans he has, not only for my life, but for our entire universe. I love Paul’s words in 1 Timothy,

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16

May we lean in to this promise. God took me beyond my expectations on taking just one short-term trip to Africa and paved the way for me to meet and amazing man and serve alongside him for at least the next four years in Zambia. And this verse promises so much more than that. God is going to take us for who we are, in our deeply sinful state, and use that to show others the amazing gift of eternal life. How is God using your story? May we open ourselves up more to be used by him and see each blessing in our life as an opportunity to overflow those blessings onto those around us.

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.

Defining Discipleship

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Photo by Lauren Koski

Throughout college I wondered why my eyes would tear up when the word “discipleship” was mentioned. I wondered why I cringed at the term “D-group.” I wondered why I felt like such a loser when I saw two ladies from my congregation or student leadership team huddled over coffee without me.

I have been hurt by not being chosen for a specific discipleship group, but I never even asked to join. I have been engulfed by jealously at the faithful friendships I can’t seem to find with older women. I have felt sick to my stomach when asked, “Who’s discipling you?” I have asked someone to be my mentor and they have never followed through.

I secretly struggled with this throughout college because before college, I was never introduced to the practice of discipleship. Feeling like the oddball, I never broached the topic to anyone for fear of judgment. I felt very alone and, honestly, I was alone.

Discipleship can be defined as the act of molding one’s life to reflect the teachings of Christ, or it can be for the actual process of teaching Christ followers one step behind you while following those one step ahead of you. As Christ followers, we are all disciples of Christ — He is our Teacher, we are the pupil. All of this terminology is growing obsolete. As I type this out on a Word Doc, red scribbles appear indicating our dictionary’s confusion over the different forms of the word. But, I’m also afraid the practice of discipleship will soon be obsolete as well.

I see two main problems here:

  1. We are all too busy for relationship.
  2. We have allowed structure to compromise intimacy.

Now, I may not be the best voice for this argument — frankly, I know I need more discipleship from both Christ and sisters in Christ before making many arguments — but I have to believe I’m not the only Christian woman who has felt disheartened by the pressures of discipleship.

I am a huge believer in the practice of discipleship — Christ Himself literally commands it (Matt. 28:18-20) — and I have seen how encouraging, uplifting and beautiful it is.

But, with all these “life groups” and Bible studies and women’s retreats and, finally, “D-groups,” what is it that truly defines discipleship apart from all the other spiritual relationships we have out there?

Here are 3 thoughts I have about reconsidering the way we do discipleship:

  1. Go where the disciples are.

Where the boys are… If you want a boyfriend, go where the boys are, right? So if you want discipleship, go where you will find it.

Fellow younger women, don’t spend all your time with your own generation and expect to find yourself a mentor. Reach out to women who are in different seasons of life.

Older women, contrary to popular belief, we do have a desire to be challenged and spurred on in our faith — I just think my generation needs a bit of help getting there.

Maybe I’m speaking just to my own generation here, but we must be willing to enter into life with other believers — and not just believers who are the same age, like the same things or, dare I say it, have the same exact doctrine.

The times I was lonely throughout college were, in large part, due to the fact that I was too shy to reach out and ask for help. When encouraged to find a mentor, I simply retreated back into hiding. I was fearful of being raw with someone about my sin and I was fearful they would let me down.

  1. It’s not all about coffee.

Phew. That was difficult for me, a self-proclaimed coffee addict, to say but am I right? Aren’t we all just sipping coffee, talking about attractive hipster worship leaders and maybe breaking open the Word once in a while? Or, maybe we are too concerned with memorizing the “Bridge” diagram or moving on to the next event scheduled in our busy day?

Okay, I know that’s a little exaggerated, but discipleship is becoming so routine. Amid the coffee stains, various Gospel diagrams, prayer requests and checklists, I wonder where real life is able to come into play.

Maybe discipleship is as simple as spending an hour holding your mentor’s crying baby while she does laundry. Maybe it’s cooking a homemade meal for a college student. Maybe it’s playing Bingo with the lonely woman across the road in the retirement home. Maybe we ought to live life with others and allow spiritual conversations to arise with the different tides of life.

  1. We all have the same Teacher.

Our greatest Teacher is Christ Himself. As His followers, He has bestowed upon us the title of His disciples. This is our greatest and most important relationship, and out of that relationship is where discipleship with others comes alive.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15: 4-8

God has given us to one another. As we all plug into the Vine individually to receive the nutrients we need to produce fruit, we grow together as well.

It was last week that I felt as if I finally saw a glimpse of raw discipleship. With greasy hair and no makeup on, I was deep in prayer with three of my closest family-friends. It was 4 A.M. and I had slept on a cot in their living room that night. They had opened their busy home to me as a resting place before I had to drive the length of California back to my parents’ house. In the middle of life itself is where they met me and where I was able to meet them.

Early that morning, we clasped hands and, through tears, prayed over one another. For that moment, our chests seemed to be cracked open wide to reveal our hearts and the reality of life’s pain and joy was exposed. Together, we beckoned one another further down this road called discipleship and worshipped the God who sacrificed of Himself to even give us that opportunity.


About the Author

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLauren Koski

Hello! My name is Lauren and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. As a journalist, I believe in harnessing the media’s influence for the Gospel and believe that storytelling will be a strategic tool used for the growth of His Kingdom. I am excited to be interning with GLOW and look forward to the ways Jesus will use this platform for His glory.

Where’s Your Heart At?

image1Tears were streaming down her face as she let out her frustration in the form of screeches. She took every pillow and fiercely threw each one with all her might onto the floor. She forcefully yanked the comforter and sheets off of the bed.

We were in the middle of a huge melt down.

Doing what sisters do best, I calmly entered the now massacred and disastrous room with a big smile on my face in an attempt to calmly talk about the choices that were being made.

I sweetly said, “Friend, it looks to me like our heart isn’t in the right place. What do you think? Maybe we need to take a look at it.”

And with a red face full of frustration and tear streaks she looked right into my eyes and said, “My heart is in the right place. It is right here,” as she annoyingly pointed to her chest.

And with that, I walked out of the room and shut the door behind me.

In time, after pouting in the bathtub, she decided to come out and join the family. She sat in her seat at the dinner table and began eating like nothing had happened. She was back to her spirited and joy-filled self.

Although the situation was over, the words exchanged between her and me stuck.

Here I was asking her to look at where her heart was. Truly, I was asking what the condition of her heart was. What Fruits of the Spirit it was reflecting. If it resembled her Heavenly Father’s heart.

And out of complete annoyance she took my question and answered it without thought. She gave me the easy and obvious answer. Clearly ignoring my actual intentions. Knowing her actual answer to my question would be far from acceptable.

Let’s be real, who wants to answer that question honestly: Is your heart in the right place?

Two weeks ago I walked across the stage and received my college diploma. In a blur full of hugs, smiling for pictures, and packing my college career ended.

As I was sitting in the Tennessee sun waiting for the graduation speeches to end, I was struck at how ugly my heart had been so many times in the last three years. In that moment it became so obvious to me how wonderful Lee University had been and how richly blessed I was all throughout my college career. And then I thought about the words I spoke, the thoughts I thought, and the attitudes I had throughout the experience and was taken aback.

In so many moments of frustration, homesickness, and anxiety my heart turned cold and dark. Full of negative thoughts, I would complain about everything. I complained about the Lee bubble, which in essence was the safety net that allowed me to safely grow. I would complain about the classes, which in essence were the avenue through which I would receive my teaching license. I would complain about being away from home, which in turn was the reason for my extreme amount of growth.

More times than I want to admit, I chose to look at my life through the eyes of me without Jesus. And looking back, me without Jesus, His saving grace, and His everlasting love, is not a pretty sight.

The negative thoughts only polluted my soul more, and in time I reeked of selfishness and ungratefulness.

And in many moments when my Father would whisper to me, “Daughter, is your heart in the right place?” my answer was far from acceptable.

With pride standing in my way knowing my honest answer was far from acceptable I would roll my eyes and think, “Of course it is. I mean I can’t be perfect.”

And just like that I would turn down the opportunity to fall on my knees and let it all go. Let all the heightened emotions go to instead be flooded with His grace, peace, and joy.

All too often I let myself get away with this. I allow my heart to fester in the ways of the world while the Fruits of the Spirit and the ways of my Father evaporate into thin air.

Knowing I am not perfect, knowing I am forgiven, and knowing my Father loves me tends to be my excuse for not ridding of my rotten attitude. When I don’t feel like doing the right thing, I excuse myself from His expectations knowing He still loves me.

And as we all can assume, this leads to nothing good.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

You see, the condition of our heart determines just about everything. It determines how we interact with others. How our day goes. What we get accomplished. How our words are spoken. How we prioritize things.

From the moment our eyes open until the time they close, our focus should be on our hearts. Nurturing them. Cleansing them. Growing them. Filling them with goodness and love. Making them become ones that resemble our Father’s. This is the key to life.

In order to further His Kingdom, we must be people that resemble the God we are representing. We are His hands and feet. He chose us to be a part of His mission. And it all starts with our heart.

So let me ask you: Is your heart in the right place?

Right now you might say “yes” and in an hour you might say “no”. As imperfect humans in an imperfect world we are prone and guaranteed to fail. But in those moments where the negativity, anger, pride, and jealousy come rushing in, listen to His soft whisper that says, “Child, is your heart in the right place?”

And without missing the opportunity, fall to your knees and let it all go. Admit to your sinful heart and let your Father fill you with mercy, peace, and love. It is with this act of surrendering, you can be a part of His mission. You can truthfully and gracefully represent the God we serve and the Father we so greatly love.


About the Author

IMG_5862MORGAN COLANDER

Hi! My name is Morgan Colander. I am a senior at Lee University in Tennessee studying to be an elementary teacher. I am attempting to survive these college years as I learn to rely more on God and less on myself while being surrounded by new opportunities and decisions. College has presented itself with its difficulties- college budget, college dorms, college food, an endless list of things to do, and plenty of homesickness- but through it all, I have never been more dependent on God and realized how incapable I am to do life without Him. God, family, and friends are all I need to survive in life but some junior mints, a hike up a mountain, laughter, and some sarcasm definitely add some joy to the journey.

My will or His will?

Walk in His Will

Do I take the job? Do I pursue the relationship? Do I go? Do I stay?

Questions swirl our minds as we throw our hands in the air and say: “Lord, I just want your will!”

When big decisions come our way, we desperately want to know the will of God. But often, we only seek the will of God on our terms, with our decisions, and it becomes all about us.

When we want to do the will of God, we must turn to scripture and find the spelled out, known will of God and walk in it.

For how can we be faithful with the big decisions in life, if we are not faithful with the aspects God tells us are of His will in scripture?

Women of God, here are some questions to ask yourself and dive deeper into God’s know will:

Am I boldly declaring God’s name and goodness in every circumstance?

His will is for Christ’s name to be glorified.

“That at the name of Jesus every knee will bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” Philippians 2:10-11 (ESV)

Am I living in a way that unbelievers see a difference in my life?

His will is for His followers to be sanctified, holy, and set apart.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor… For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” 1 Thessalonians 4: 3-4, 7 (ESV)

Am I relying on works to feel adequate in my faith?

His will is for us to embrace the gift of grace. Our works cannot ever earn grace.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

This is not to say we should not lay our decisions before God and seek His wisdom. For scripture tells us:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5 (ESV)

God’s will is sovereign and we can be sure of Him for he is faithful even when we are not faithful. He is infinite and we are finite in our understanding.

The Word tells us that no matter the questions of life to be made, focusing on God’s steadfast love will directs us.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God’s will is not always a direct path; it is about being faithful in the known parts of his will and walking in it.


About the Author

DSC_0772Brooke Biddle

Hello there! My name is Brooke Biddle, and I am currently a senior Public Relations and Journalism student at California Baptist University. I am an imperfect but avid follower of Jesus Christ

If you were to peek into my life on a weekday you would find me sipping a freshly brewed pot of loose leaf tea, while editing or writing stories for the Pursuit Magazine campus publication. Other days you may find me hosting events for the students I mentor as a FOCUS Intern.

Weekends include time with family, friends, exploring LA, and a yoga session or two.

Food for thought:
Meraki is a greek word meaning: to do something with soul, creativity, or love, to put something of yourself into your work.

For me, to work at something as working for the Lord not just people, is like meraki, it means pouring my full self into what I do to glorify God.

If I were to create a mission statement for myself it would be: “Selflessly serve others and relentlessly love God.”

Zealous for Good Works

Vic Falls

Is it sad that living in this beautiful of a place can start to feel routine?

I’m kidding, this was a gorgeous view from a little get-away my hubby and I took on our way home from a recent work trip, and it was anything but routine. Seeing the beauty of Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, was breathtaking. After taking this photo we followed the path and got SOAKED on a nearby bridge just from all the mist the falls produce. These are the kinds of things Disneyland and Water World try to emulate, but we get to experience the real deal. And let me tell you, it is awesome! God’s creation is amazing, and I pray for more moments where I can do nothing but stand in awe and experience His creation up close and personal.

Sadly, now that I have been home for a few weeks, I feel settled into the office part of my job, no traveling or anything special to look forward to in the next couple of months, and I can go from the on-top-of-the-world-in-awe attitude to the stuck-in-routine-mundane kind of place just like that. It’s probably a symptom of my short attention span and craving for spontaneity as much as anything, but I can so easily forget the awesomeness of God and the privilege of living for Him when I go back to “normal life.” My weekdays become bogged down with a few classes, making dinner, and collapsing after spending a day in an office and reaching for any little bit of margin I can find in my routine-stricken life.

I have found myself asking God, what is the point in all of this? What should I be reaching for? Where do I want to be, and why am I not there right now? How can I keep from feeling so bored?

All of the answers seem on the tip of my tongue, but overall I was feeling a lack of zeal for where I am lately. It feels crazy to complain because everything in my life is just okay. There’s nothing too major, nothing totally out of hand, but nothing over the top either. How do I just be?

God has been seeming to answer in an equally subtle way, and has been revealing life means so much more when I shift my focus from the mundane, and look up for opportunity. He has done amazing things for me, and I get to walk in that every day of my life. Some days I get to walk through a waterfall, other days I’m stuck with a pile of dishes, but beyond the task at hand, there is so much more He wants for me.

Our small group has been reading through the book of Titus, picked for its convenient length of three chapters, and it has been helpful to dig in deep during my season of boredom to discover part of the vision God has for me through Paul’s words to the church through his co-worker, Titus. Titus was sent to what some would consider a challenging community in Crete, known for lawlessness and reckless living. He was asked to appoint leaders in the churches there, and to me this letter is calling Titus to help the churches wake up and remember the lives God has created for them. In turn, it’s helping me to wake up and remember the intentions God has for me and how I sell it short when I get stuck in boredom and the mundane.

After describing different ways the kingdom of God can manifest itself in different circumstances and life stages, Paul reminds Titus to remind the believers the meaning behind it all,

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing for the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus, Christ who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14

In other words, wake up! Jesus came to reveal to us the grace and forgiveness of God to redeem us from the sinful ways we wanted to live, and instead He saved us and is redeeming us and showing us the ways we were meant to live right now. He is making us into a pure people, set apart for His glory, eager to proclaim who He is through our good works.

I found myself thinking, wow, well when you put it that way, it’s pretty lame I have been choosing to look at the boring and mundane parts of my life instead of the amazing ways God is using my normal, everyday, life to point to who He is. He does not have a boring routine planned for my life, he is purifying me, giving me opportunities to share in His mission and carry out His good works. This needs to motivate me, not only when I am staring Him in the face at Victoria Falls, but also when I have the opportunity to be faithful in the everyday, in loving my husband, in being a kind person at the grocery store, in caring for my friends, enemies, and anyone else I come into contact with, remembering we are all made in the image of God.

I am doing myself and my God a disservice when I see my life as just mundane.

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing, regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit, who he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7

Look at the where we have come from, and look at where His extravagant love has intended for us instead. May we walk in the self-controlled, upright and godly ways He has called us toward a life where death cannot separate us from God. He is making us pure. Let us be present with Him today.

Wherever you are, whether it feels mundane like mine has this week, or maybe you are barely hanging on, or perhaps you’re on top of the world, remember the life that God has called us to this day. Seek His face and His intentions for your day, rather than getting distracted with the busyness of this life. Let us spur one another on to the good works he has for us to tell about his great love to those that haven’t yet tasted and seen His glory.

The Vine and the Branches

fruit2

I was reading John 15 this week and stumbled upon a passage I’ve heard a thousand times over. I even know a song I learned in middle school that has some of this scripture in it, and I can sing it to you word for word! But this particular day, these words hit me in a different way. A way I understood more than ever before. You are probably familiar with this passage too…. the vine and the branches. Take a look with me at John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (verses 1-5).

This is Jesus talking to His disciples at the last supper. Jesus is the vine. God the Father is the vinedresser; the one who prunes, trains, and cultivates the vine. We are the branches Jesus is talking about in this passage. If we don’t bear fruit, we are taken away, but if we do bear fruit, God continues to prune us to get rid of all the dead places in us that we may become healthy fruit-bearing branches once again. So how in the world do we go about bearing fruit? We must abide in the vine-Jesus Christ. He says,” the branch cannot bear fruit by itself.” He doesn’t say “it WILL not” bear fruit, as if it had a choice. He says, it literally CANNOT. The branch has no capability of bearing fruit on its’ own. Therefore, we cannot bear good fruits apart from Christ. Apart from Him we can do nothing, the Scripture tells us. We are worthless!

The passage continues:

“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (verses 6-11).

How do people know we are followers of Jesus? They know by our fruits! So, this “fruit talk” is pretty important, after all! Our mission here on earth is to take the Gospel to the nations and show Christ’s love to the whole world. So, I say bearing fruit is absolutely vital! This is the way others know we love Christ! Not to mention, these verses say God is glorified when we bear much fruit. Our purpose is to BRING God GLORY!

Matthew Henry’s commentary says this about bearing fruit:

“We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes and from a Christian we look for Christianity; this is the fruit, a Christian temper and disposition, a Christian life and conversation, Christian devotions and Christian designs. We must honour God, and do good, and exemplify the purity and power of the religion we profess; and this is bearing fruit.”

When we bear fruit, we bear the image and disposition of Christ. We begin to look more like Him!

As I thought about all this throughout my day, I tried to evaluate myself a bit. How am I doing bearing fruit? If I’m honest, I’ve felt like a slacker lately. I can make excuses all I want…toward the end of both my pregnancies so far, I’ve gotten super lazy, So I haven’t been abiding in God’s word. I’ve noticed myself losing patience with Liam more quickly than I normally do. Not to mention, I’ve been snapping at my husband lately. So, how’s my fruit production? I’m going to go with pretty lousy! Moody, losing patience, being lazy…none of these sound like Christ.

So, here I am at a crossroads. I can remain complacent or fight this urge to be lazy with all that’s in me. I can pray through the seeming silence. And I can accept the grace God pours over me. I can place myself in the vine and rely on Him to produce the fruit through me. Who’s with me sisters? How’s your fruit production?

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