Life is in Creating

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This post has been inspired by one of my new favorite blogs: History in the Making with Ben Arment. Ben’s passion for the church and for creativity leaks all over his blog. It’s awesome.

Yesterday he wrote about how creating is worth all the potential consequences. He lists what those consequences might be and says to not create is simply…

the greatest tragedy.

This struck such a chord with me because all my life, all I’ve wanted to do was create. Whether it was through creating a photo book for my family for Christmas, an imaginary story while playing dolls or building forts with my friends, a short story in creative writing class, a scrapbook, photos in the darkroom, a non-fiction article from scratch… the list goes on.

For me to not create would be impossible because it’s part of who I am. It’s how God has designed and wired me. And this desire to create doesn’t make me better than someone who doesn’t particularly love to “create” or would say that being creative isn’t one of his or her gifts. It’s all about how God is best glorified through us, whether that’s working with numbers, performing surgeries, or writing scripts.

In a sense though, we all have the ability to create something. We’re made in the image of God, the Creator.

I don’t know if I’ve come to the place yet where I’m willing to risk it all though. I have a huge desire to craft a book proposal, but I wonder if it’s worth creating even if it gets rejected a thousand times. Is it worth writing if I have to rewrite it or if it never sees the light of day?

For some reason I think God would say yes. It’s just up to me to dive in and risk.

What about you… Can you live without creating? What are you currently creating or hoping to create in the future?

When faith has action

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For quite a while now, I’ve been praying for God to help me live out my faith on a day to day basis (in the mundane details of life). Sometimes I feel like I have a lot inside me, but I don’t know how to give it away. I’m impatient with the Lord and wonder why more opportunities don’t exist to be a light.

Well yesterday, Jeremiah and I went for a walk to the park with John. We put John in his favorite swing and noticed a young man walking our way with three kids. He positioned his twin toddlers in their swings next to us and his older daughter went off to play on the slide. He managed to have his eye on all of them, but he did look tired.

We introduced ourselves and started talking about random stuff. He lived in the lofts off in the distance. Jeremiah engaged with him more so I decided to go play with his kids on the slides. During that time, Jeremiah learned that he was divorced with a lot on his shoulders taking care of three kids and working a lucrative job. It was neat to see him really open up.

When it was time for him to go, I asked Jeremiah if we should give him our number if he ever needed someone to help out with his kids. He nodded, so I went up to him as he was getting his kids situated.

“Hey I know we just met and you don’t know us well, but we’d love to help watch your kids sometime.”

I was nervous about his reaction but his eyes lit up. “Really? That would be such a help. Thank you so much.”

He then asked us to text him our number. He told his kids to tell us goodbye- they were adorable. 30 minutes later, we got a text back saying how he would probably be spent by the end of the week. We told him we were available Saturday to help him out. I couldn’t believe how quickly we were going to be able to help!

Initially it was tempting to not act on the need we saw. This guy didn’t know us at all. But I think the issue wasn’t really him, but us. Would we extend a hand? Yesterday really helped me see that God uses us to help bring his love to people. And to me, that is just amazing that he would use us (in spite of our shortcomings).

I’m thankful that a Monday evening at the park is going to turn into more opportunities to serve…

About 3 weeks ago, we discovered…

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I am pregnant! On Saturday, Feb. 27 I had that feeling. My friend encouraged me to take a pregnancy test. It was positive. I cried and was overjoyed at the same time. Jeremiah was in San Antonio for a class so I waited all day long to tell him. I went to Whole Foods and got 4 chocolate covered strawberries to represent that we will now be 4 and a card to write down all the details that happened before and after finding out.

We celebrated that evening together, surprised, excited, and shocked.

Since then, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve had extreme nausea, cravings, morning sickness, fatigue, and feeling like a truck has hit me at about 8 every night. Since I often love to control things, this pregnancy is teaching me that I just can’t have control. Every day is something new. Every day I have to rely on God’s strength to help me love and respect my husband well and be there for John even when I feel like a mess.

Last Friday we went to our doctor and he said everything looked great and that our baby’s due date is Oct. 26, exactly three days after our son John was born. It looks like they will be 2 years apart. I am currently about 9 weeks along.

I definitely have my concerns: How will I love this baby the same as I do my son? Can we really handle two? We live in an incredibly small apartment on campus at seminary- will we survive until school is done? Can I really go through natural labor again? Are we crazy for trusting the Lord to grow our family?

Even in the midst of it all, we are so grateful that God has chosen us to bring about new life once again. His grace is amazing. And this new life is His. We have to hold this baby with arms wide open. It’s funny, I kept running into these verses in Psalms before we found out:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
- Psalm 127:3-5

I think God was preparing me all along and I love how he does that.

Thanks so much for sharing in our joy today (I couldn’t wait to tell you)!

Heaven isn’t what you think

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Growing up, I heard that in heaven I would worship God all the time, throughout eternity, f-o-r-e-v-e-r… I pictured harps, angels, clouds and the ability to fly. I always wanted to fly as a little girl (still do).

My mom taught me that God was going to build a new city, a new Jerusalem for us here on earth one day. And I especially liked the part about there being streets of gold.

But I also know that there is so much more that my mind has never conceived about what heaven will be like. All throughout the Old and New Testament, God talks about a kingdom that he is building on earth. And I’m just now starting to grasp that he is, as we speak, preparing a real place for you and I- his people, his church- the bride of Christ.

There will be no need for the sun or moon to shine on this city because the glory of God gives it light. His glory will consume the new city and we will see it fully. We will finally be with the One we’ve been waiting for. He will wipe away our tears. There will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain. The former things will pass away and all things will be made new (see Revelation 21). The greatest sins we struggle with will be no more. We will partake in the ultimate wedding feast as sons and daughters of the King.

Hell too is a real place that is so awful, where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:36-42) because God’s presence will not be there. Those who reject his Son will be outside the gates of the holy city- unable to join in on the celebration. And to not be with God is the worst punishment anyone could ever receive. That’s why he desires that everyone would turn to him for life and salvation.

As believers, we have lots to look forward to in the future. No matter what frustration, hurt, or sorrow we face in daily life, we know that in the end, we will be with God in the new city- one that will be unlike anything we’ve ever tasted, touched, seen, heard, or read. Even our greatest imaginations of what we think heaven will be like, won’t even come close to its splendor.

I can’t wait for that city!

Books, Blogs, or Both?

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Over the past few years, I’ve started reading a lot of blogs. I read blogs more than actual magazines or ezines. In the season of life being a wife, mommy of a toddler, and working part-time, I’m having a harder time finishing books. I managed to sneak in Chapter 1 of  Chris Tomlinson’s book, Crave, a few weeks ago and now I’m waiting for the next moment to get to Chapter 2. I absolutely love curling up in a chair with a blanket, opening the clean, crisp pages of a book and allowing my heart to soak up every single word.

I’ve heard it said that you are the same person today as you will be in five years from now, except for the books you read and the people you meet.

I believe that and I’d have to add God’s word in there. Nothing can replace a good book or even more so a book that’s been inspired by God. I have a long list of books that have transformed my thinking and helped make me a better person. My dream is to write a book of my own one day.

What I appreciate about blogs is the ability to access bits of content right away, interact with the writer and other readers, and keep in touch with what some of my favorite writers and leaders are doing. I’ve learned a lot about things I probably would never know because of the ability to access so many blogs.

I don’t think I’d ever say I love blogs more than books, but I definitely appreciate them in my life right now.

What about you- Do you read blogs more than you do books or have a little mix of both? What do you love about them?

Oh me of little faith

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Heart’s racing. Knees weak. Stuttered words. What will they think of me? Will I be rejected? Laughed at?

Sharing my faith with other people isn’t always easy.

I fear and worry still today even when the last time I tried to get things going spiritually, everything went fine. My waiter was receptive. It was an awesome conversation. The last time I had the opportunity at my eye doctor’s office, I didn’t take it. I had a hard time transitioning into spiritual matters. I think most of all, I feared what the admin. assistant would think of me.

I’ve been really thinking though- what is the worse thing that could happen when we share our faith? The worse thing that has happened to me so far is that my husband was fired for sharing his faith on the job three months into our marriage. You can hear more about our story in this 3 minute video.

I remember in high school being called “religious” at times. I’ve had people change a spiritual conversation on me really fast. I’m guessing I’ve been made fun of for my facebook status updates that are about God. And I’m guessing someone may have chosen not to be around me because I love and talk about Jesus. But I can’t pinpoint anything (as of yet) where people cussed me out or just hated me after loving on them and sharing my story of grace.

And even if they did, that’s okay. I’ve been commanded not to be silent. Heaven and hell are at stake. I know, no one talks about hell anymore. But it’s the hard truth. It’s okay if our heart races a little and we feel like we’re going to fall over and die! Because God is the one who cultivates. Convicts. Redeems. Restores. He is the only one with the ability to raise a life up from the dead.

He just chooses to use us in his plan. I’m so thankful he does despite all my crazy, ridiculous fears.

Starting Celebrate Recovery

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My pastor Todd speaks regularly from the stage about how the healthiest people in our church body are those who’ve gone through Celebrate Recovery and have dealt with their “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” in light of Scripture.

I’ve held back from going to CR for a long time because I didn’t struggle with alcohol addiction or drugs or anything like that. I struggled with other “minor” things you know and I didn’t need a silly program to help me out. God and his Word could help me fine.

Well last Monday, after a long three months of my husband and I deciding to commit, we went to our first meeting. The first part of the night included corporate worship, a personal testimony of someone who’s gone through the 12-18 month program, and a separate introduction for newcomers. One guy on stage introduced himself and said, “I’m a believer in Christ who struggles with pornography.”

My eyes grew wide and I looked at Jeremiah, whispering, “That was really awkward.”

The guy went on to share more about the program.

It was rare to see people so open about their struggles publicly in a safe environment, but I knew God had taken them through a process- the process I was there for.

When it was time to go to our open group consisting of about 15 or so women (they split up men and women), we went around in the circle of complete strangers and shared what we think we struggle with. I was nervous, but when some of the women began to share I realized that none of us were alone. I couldn’t believe some of the stories I was hearing. Then it was my turn. I got a little teary eyed and pushed these words out:

“I don’t want to be here. It’s my pride. But I’m a believer in Christ who struggles at times with anxiety, anger, and control.”

To my surprise, after I confessed those struggles I felt like a balloon that had been popped with a needle! There was such relief and I was one step closer to freedom.

Reflecting on my time that night, I realized that my thinking was so evil and carnal regarding the “bigger” sins. Who was I to think that my sins were less damaging? Or that I was “above” CR? The hard truth is that we all struggle with something and sin is sin no matter what. Perhaps the reason we are Christians is because we don’t have it all together. We must depend on God alone.

I admit, I still have pride in my heart that God is working on and I know it’s going to be a humbling process. I didn’t even want to write this post or really let you know that I’m going through the program. I fought hard at telling you the truth.

But I want to be as authentic as I can with you about my faith and where I’m at.

Well, I probably won’t always write official posts about what’s going on in my life through CR but I’m sure you’ll see glimpses of what I’m learning through my writing. And I hope that whatever God decides to teach me that it will encourage you in your struggles.

Tonight is my second week (taking a deep breath). Maybe it won’t feel as awkward?! Hmm. Probably. not. Yet. We’ll see.

Being on Mission with Your Children- Part 2

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This is part two of the series, Being On Mission with Your Children. Part one consisted of Being a Mommy on Mission. This final part is about Being a Daddy on Mission. I encourage Mommy’s and Daddy’s (anyone) to read both.

In Being a Mommy on Mission, I addressed how the tiniest moments of slowing down will define the huge moments of how we meet our child’s physical and emotional needs. Slowing down is just one of the many ways that mommy’s can be on mission.

I appreciated Dan Browne’s comment from last week: “We made a decision to live each day with our child to the fullest. Even if that means Mickey Mouse Club House for a few hours because she wants to see the fish or dog or show us the flower on the screen, etc…”

Daddy’s don’t want to miss those moments either, and I’m convinced that Daddy’s role is equally important as Mommy’s, if not more important.

1 Corinthians 11:7 says that a man is the image and glory of God. I just love that. God has designed the man as the leader and head of the home. He has purposefully created men to cultivate and to build (Gen. 2:15), so I think the important issue with being a Daddy on Mission is that you have to fight in the Battle as you build.

God created Daddy’s to cultivate their children through discipline, love, encouragement, rebuke, and making sure there is steady progress in the family. But the reality is that since the fall where sin made its first ugly appearance, Daddy’s have to work hard at cultivating (Gen. 3:17-19). It doesn’t come natural and it doesn’t happen over night.

I sense the fight in our family. When my husband Jeremiah leads the three of us in prayer before bed time every night, searches out the deeper things in my heart, loves me and John well, and is being the spiritual leader he was created to be, there are all kinds of things that want to thwart that mission.

I can be a very difficult wife sometimes and an impatient mommy. John can be fussy, disobedient, and a handful. Jeremiah sometimes gives into his flesh and has a hard time leading. All of that coupled with the flesh, spiritual warfare, baggage, and Satan’s ultimate plan to destroy the family can’t be diminished.

But what I do see is that Jeremiah puts his armor on daily and is ready to fight back. He’s not perfect, but he works hard at loving us even when he doesn’t always get the response he wants. He strives to love me like Christ loved the church by being in the word, confessing sin, staying pure, and being held accountable to other guys. His love has encouraged me to be the person God created me to be. And honestly, I think he “gets” how to love much more than I do.

While he fights to cultivate well, I’m also learning that it’s my role to build him up and not tear him down when he has failed. I realize the implications of that are massive. Choosing to tear down could result in another casualty- a mere tragedy all together.

So why do you have to be in the war? How come it’s just so hard sometimes?

In our experience, we’re learning to expect the battle because we’re fallen. In our marriage and in raising John, we’re starting to appreciate the gospel even more. We treasure God’s constant grace on our failures and sin. We become more dependent on him to make it through each day because some days are just plain hard. We’re thankful he’s in the process of sanctifying us for his glory.

Daddy’s have such a high calling as cultivators of their marriage and their children and to love without conditions. And apart from the Holy Spirit’s transforming power in a man’s life, it’s impossible to be the cultivator God desires. But Daddy’s who are in Christ, have been given everything they need to stand strong and fight the battle against sin.

So build away, and continue to let God be your ultimate strength as you raise your family. We need you, Daddy, more than you could ever imagine!

Question: What challenges do you face in being on mission as a cultivator? What rewards? What do you want wives and mommy’s out there to know about “the fight”?

God’s Constant Pursuit

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I interviewed an extraordinary guy last night for a potential story in a project we’re doing with Max Lucado. Chris Skinner and his wife Suzie sat down with me for two hours sharing about God’s grace on Chris’ life. In college, after a night of partying with his frat brothers, Chris got in a severe car accident that left him with a broken neck, spinal chord injury, and in a coma for 13 days. He would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.

There is no way to do justice to his story in this post, but I left last night amazed at God’s continuous pursuit of Chris. Chris grew up in a Baptist church, God had put several Christians in his path throughout the years, but he never really knew Jesus. Eventually one evening at church through hearing God’s word, he came to the end of himself. He felt a deep remorse for his sin and he repented. He surrendered his life to Christ.

He told his buddies he gave up drinking. One of his roommates, so infuriated, poured vodka down his head. They forsook him, but in the midst of the persecution and pain, he pressed on and followed after God. He started speaking all over the country and sharing his story to help other people. He even got married to a godly woman. Now, in and out of speaking, he’s at Dallas Theological Seminary studying God’s word and raising twins.

As I sat on their couch, I couldn’t help but think of the times in my life when I was in rebellion and sin, but God kept pursuing me. I would willfully disobey God’s word in the evening, and then in the morning I would “do my devotions.” I struggled to love God through obedience and not just words. But eventually, I too, came to the end of myself and surrendered everything to Christ. My struggles didn’t disappear, but I chose to make choices that would help me love God better.

Fast forward to today, and sometimes I take for granted his constant pursuit. While the sins I struggle with are different than what they were 10 years ago, I’m amazed that He has always been there, loving me as his child. Patient in my disobedience. I sense his love today greater than ever before and I just can’t escape it.

To be able to sit down with Chris and Suzie gave me a whole different perspective in how God works in the lives of other people. How he is always on the move to redeem and save what has been lost. My time with them has strengthened my faith and has given me a greater trust in the Lord.

I think when we experience times when our relationship with God is stagnant and we just don’t see him working in our own lives, he gives us the body of Christ to wake us up and to see that God is doing so much more than we could ever imagine.

In what ways do you feel God’s pursuit in your life? Has he used anyone lately to remind you of his love and faithfulness?

Being on Mission with Your Children- Part 1

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This is part one of a two-part series called “Being on Mission with Your Children.” Part one will consist of being a Mommy on Mission and part two will deal with being a Daddy on Mission. I encourage you to read both parts.

Kelly Sauer‘s Twitter bio caught my attention the other day. It read: I dream big and change diapers.

I just love that and it made me think of a little mission statement that’s been ringing in my head since I’ve been re-reading a book I had to read for my Child Developmental Psychology class in college called The Power of Mother Love.

My new-found mission is: I want to change the world, one diaper at a time.

To tell you the truth, however, I didn’t know this would be my desire until God gave me my son John.

I’m learning that he is my mission. He is 15 months old so of course he doesn’t know it yet, but how I give my love away to him now will profoundly influence and shape his life and character and ultimately, who he will become one day.

Many of you know that I’m fresh into being a mommy so I’m not a pro, but I’ve found a little secret that’s helping me to be “on mission” with him each day and to value, above anything else, the importance of who I am to my child.

This might seem way too obvious, but it starts with Slowing Down.

It requires a lot of intentionality on my part to see the world how John is seeing it, to get off my computer or i-Phone, to stop doing the dishes or the laundry, or worrying about this or that, but to really be all there with him. He invites me in to his world every time and his world is already at a much slower pace than mine. The choice is if I will choose to be still, within my own spirit, and embrace his world with him.

I’ve found that when I’m still and engage with him, I’m able to meet his deepest emotional needs by letting him know I hear his words and see each little step he makes. We’re able to capture moments together like when he first says “t-e-n-k you” or learns how to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on his own. Or when he’s offering to kiss me on the cheek or give me “that look” when he needs something. I can sense his needs easier and I’m there to nurture him whenever he needs it. And he always has a way of knowing whether I’m fully there or not.

My love is more available when I slow down.

Being on Mission as Mommy’s starts with slowing down, to where we are meeting our children’s deepest emotional needs, but that is not the end, it’s the means to the end where we’re slowing down so that we can best live out our faith and instill biblical truth into their lives.

In a hectic, over-worked, disorganized schedule it’s difficult to be all there and live out our faith in front of our children. Nine times out of ten, over commitment results in frustration, anger, restlessness, impatience, depleting quiet times and prayer and we end up not being who we want to be. I’ve been there and it has affected my home. I’m convinced that the tiniest moments of slowing down will help define the huge moments of how our children will grow and come to salvation in the Lord later on.

Of course, their salvation is an act only by God, but we have a huge part to play in how they view and love God for the rest of their lives. What a challenge and responsibility, but what a joy and privilege to help lead them to the cross and have them join us in God’s mission.

If you’re a mommy, and like me, have been wondering where your ministry is and how you can best serve God, remember that you are on mission right where you are, the best place you could ever be…

In your home.

The place where you were meant to help change the world, one diaper at a time.

Will you join me in this mission?

Question: What are some other ways you’re giving your love away and being “on mission” in your home?

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