Heart Renovations {Good Friday Reflections}

our kitchen in progress

We’re in the middle of a major renovating project in the new house we’re set to move into at the end of the month. With the help of very generous friends in our church, my parents, and my husband and his friends, the ugly 60s style carpet in our living and dining room has been ripped out. The kitchen tile has been smashed out and new hardwood floors will be installed soon.

As you can imagine, the downstairs is a wreck. And on this Good Friday while I have just a few minutes to reflect on it, I can’t help but take a look inside the condition of my soul, apart from Jesus.

Apart from Jesus, it’s an absolute disaster. There is nothing good that exists (I wish there was).

I’m a sinful being and my sin is so disgusting and offensive that a price had to be paid to cover it.

Jesus’ death on the cross paid the massive debt I owed. A debt which I could never actually pay on my own accord. On the cross, Jesus said “It is finished.” Wholly. Completely. Not in part- but in full. Because of the pain, suffering, and anguish he endured and the spilling of his blood, I’ve been set free from the chains of sin. And no one else could do it, but Jesus.

Because of his death, grace washes over all our sin. Amazing grace for you and for me. A most precious gift.

But the cross can’t be left by itself, displayed on a church building, or worn around our neck as pretty jewelry. The cross, which showed his great love for us, demands an answer from us. A choice that we must make. Will we accept Jesus’ gift of grace and surrender our lives to Him? Will we turn from our sin and cling to Him? Will we allow him to renovate the ugliest, shameful parts of our heart so we can be restored again?

He is more than willing if we let Him.

The beauty of the cross and his grace is that He removes the junk and debris. He changes us and makes us new. It is all an act of His grace- a profound mystery.

Today, let’s not forget just how awful our sin is and how disgraceful Jesus’ death on the cross was. But let us also not forget…

Sunday’s coming.

Check out this video.

They Just Keep Growing…

As much as I want time to stand still at times, I’m thankful for the process of spiritual, emotional, and physical growth similar to the growth and development I see in my children on a daily basis.

Growth is necessary so that we can become all that God wants us to be and so that we can refresh the lives of others.

Growth requires us to take the next step, no matter how painful or difficult so that we can become mature and perfect in Christ.

Growth isn’t a comparison game. It’s individual as God is the One who grows all things. Growth happens at different times and in different ways for different people.

And the best part about growth is that we have all we could ever need to live a life of godliness and continued growth until our time is finished on earth.

Are you growing?

When You Long for Transformation

Sometimes I wonder why God chooses to use me. While I follow Christ and aim to surrender my life to Him daily, I still struggle at times with pride, control, selfishness, anger, anxiety, fear, and more.

I often fear sharing my story and who God is to others because well, I don’t feel worthy because of my struggles. I try to carry unnecessary burdens and I’ve told God a few times:

“I’m so weak! Why do you need me anyway, God?”

In her book, Faith That Does Not Falter, Elisabeth Elliot says:

Jesus does not by any means disregard the sort of person we are when He calls us to do His will. He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He knows the weaknesses and strengths, the tastes and fears and prejudices and ignorance and experience of each of us. What He wants to make of us, if we are willing to be made over, is sure to bear a relationship to what we are when we first come to Him. It is within His power to transform. It is for us to submit to the transformation.

I feel so far from what I desire to be, but I’m so encouraged that if I’m willing to be transformed, God is more than ready to do His work through me. He can transform the anger and pride and anxiety into gentleness, humility, and trust. He can do so much more than what I ask. He already knows what I can’t even express.

He knows my weaknesses and still loves me. He believes I’m worthy because of his Son. He lifts the heavy burdens off my back.

So today, I believe the greatest stumbling block to me living a full, abundant, Christ-exalting life is myself. And nothing else. My prayer is that God would help me give up the rights to myself.

And no matter what it takes, I submit to the transformation.

What areas in your life need real transformation?

Making Your Home a Haven

a fun little wreath we ordered off Etsy. Click the image to see the shop.

Since we moved into a bigger apartment in seminary housing a few weeks ago, John has loved all the space. Often, when we’re out and about, he says to me:

“I wanna go home, Momma.”

And this desire for him to go home has got me thinking a lot about the duty and delight I have as a wife and momma to make my home all that it can be.

I’ve been a stay-at-home Mom for almost a full year now and I’m just now getting the hang of it. I’m not naturally well organized and I have to work hard at cleaning. I’ve had to find a good balance with being in the home and going out so I don’t go crazy.

But what I’m finding that has been so key is that my home should be a place of refuge and rest. It should be a place my husband and children want to come home to, where they find safety and comfort away from the world.

Rebekah- 7 mos. John- 2 yrs.

Practically for me it has come down to creating a warm atmosphere with color schemes and decor, keeping it clean and clutter-free as best I can each day (of course some days it just doesn’t happen!), and putting toys and other things in there proper place. But most of all, it has come down to the attitude and heart I want to create in my home.

And that starts with me.

I kept my friend’s two girls last week and it made my day when the oldest one looked at me while we were walking down the hall and said, “I like you.” Her comment made me smile and it was a big deal to me that she liked coming over and spending her time with us.

I want the attitude in my home to be that my husband, children, and our guests feel welcomed, loved, and taken care of. I want those who walk through our door to be refreshed with good food and drinks and conversation, but also refreshed spiritually and emotionally.

our new view of downtown Dallas

The best example I have of this is my mom who growing up, opened our door to our neighbors, watched their children, shared Christ’s love, listened to life stories, and nourished bellies with her amazing cooking. Her gift was hospitality at the highest level and still is today.

While I don’t consider my #1 gift hospitality, I know as a Christ follower that I’m called to be hospitable to all those who walk through my door and to do my best at it even on the really tough days.

I also realize that my behavior and actions in the home will have huge implications on my marriage and my children’s security and emotional stability in the future. And this is a great responsibility.

Creating a home that is a haven and a place of refuge is hard work because well, I’m imperfect and I have a sinful nature to battle every day. I had to work through some of my own issues this morning with my husband. And sometimes (a lot of times) I’m just so stinkin’ selfish.

But with God’s help and His abundant grace, He gives me the ability to create an atmosphere in the home that is everything I long for it to be so that ultimately, He is glorified and His name is made famous first in my family and then throughout the world.

What do you love about your role in the home?

What if Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops


Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I heard the lyrics to this song “Blessings” by Laura Story, writer of the worship hit “Indescribable,” for the first time on my way home the other day and it was as if the world stopped and God spoke straight into my heart.

I often pray for comfort, peace, blessing, and for suffering to cease but as I reflect on my life, it’s been the trials and struggles that have humbled me, shaped who I am today, and drawn me closer to Jesus. When I think of “raindrops” that were blessings in disguise, I think of just a few:

  • Dating relationships that never worked out… the unbelievable blessing in God giving me Jeremiah
  • My dad’s two surgeries on a brain tumor… teaching me reliance on the Lord and how to pray
  • Jeremiah’s job loss 3 months into our marriage… leading us to a better place geographically, emotionally and spiritually as newlyweds
  • Broken sleep, postpartum symptoms, and the daily sacrifices as a mother… so I can learn to die to myself and help other moms who also struggle
  • Dealing and wrestling through my hurts, habits, and hangups… so that God can continue to heal the sinful parts in me so I can best glorify him as a wife and mother
  • The excruciating pain, tears and suffering in having two natural births… and the reward of staring into the eyes and holding my precious children

The difficulties in life have also taught me and will continue to teach me how to serve and have compassion on other people because you never fully understand the shoes of another person. Above all, they have taught me to continue to hope for something more.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ]

Read the story behind the song

When Love Happens

Photo: Shades of Grey Photography

In the sermon at church on Sunday, our pastor talked about 1 Corinthians 16:14: “Let all that you do, be done in love.” I felt challenged by it, knowing I have areas in my life where I’m not living a life of genuine love. Little did I know what God would show me the very next day.

John and Rebekah had been off-schedule since our move to a bigger apartment where we live on Friday. It was a lot of change for them. On Monday, they were constipated all afternoon (yep, both of them). They were in so much pain that I had to run out to try and find pediatric suppositories. I finally found some at Target.

When I got home the suppositories took about an hour to work. I had to put my fingers in places they’ve never been before. I think I changed 8 diapers. I won’t give you any more details, but needless to say, it was not a glorious day in motherhood!

I was tempted to get frustrated by the circumstances and the fact that all afternoon I was tending to my children’s needs and doing a job I’d prefer my husband, who is an R.N. could do and do better! I’d rather be swimming in the pool with them (which was what  we’d planned) or hanging out with our friends. But not this! Then I remembered that verse again.

Let all that you do, be done in love.

I had been looking for ways to love better and the opportunity was right in my home. It was my time to apply that truth to my life.

I relied on God for help and I was patient when they were screaming from discomfort. I was able to laugh a little to myself at the whole situation when normally I don’t do well in high stress situations.

I held them and told them it would be okay and that I loved them.  I realized they needed their Momma and no one else could do the job the way I could. I was encouraged to keep persevering because this was how to show them love.

A lot of times I get really inspired by God’s word, a sermon, or song to do great things and to serve others, but when it comes down to the everyday details in life, I get lazy and I’m selfish. I realize quickly that it’s hard work and I throw in the towel.

But I’m slowly learning that love is best shown in the mundane, ordinary, even messier details in life. It’s not about waiting for the perfect moment, mountain top experience, loving when I “feel” like it, or when it’s amazingly beautiful.

Love requires action and before it can spill over into the lives of others and into the world, it must first begin in my home with my husband and children, where it matters most.

Well the day ended well, thankfully. John and Rebekah felt better and went to bed early. When Jeremiah got home from a late night at work, we were able to connect with each other and laugh about the craziness of my day and his busy workday. We laughed about how “there’s always something” when you have kids. I laid my head down, thankful for the teaching moment I desperately needed (and need more of.)

Have you stumbled upon “love” in a unique way this week?

Getting off the Island

If there is anything I’ve learned over the past few years in my journey of faith, it’s that knowing others and being known is absolutely essential as a follower of Christ.

Knowing others in the sense that I know what makes a person tick, their passions, hurts, habits, sin struggles, fears, joys, quirks, flaws, victories, achievements, and more.

Being known in the sense that those close to me know really know me- my insecurities, fears, sin struggles, passions, worries, victories, issues, dreams, and more. And they still accept, love, and spur me on without rejecting those weaknesses or rejecting me alltogether.

I’ve seen this lived out among my community group at church. My husband and I have done life with our group for four years now. The girls in our group- Julia, Jen, Ashley, and Ashley- have seen most of what there is to know about me. The good, bad, and ugly!

Over the years a trust has been built among us. Because authentic community is stressed so much at our church, we’ve been accountable to that and have lived by that standard even when it’s difficult. It’s been life-changing and life-giving for each of us.

John Donne penned the famous quote, “No man is an island.”

I know this, yet my pride often keeps me in isolation and from wanting to be fully known by others. I’d rather hide my weaknesses or do life on my own apart from anyone’s help. I’d prefer they not see any “yuckiness.” But God knows what happens when I’m left to deal with life by myself- it’s never good.

God created us to live in authentic community with other believers, where we are fully known and accepted. Yet where our friends won’t allow us to remain where we are.

We were created to step out of the shallow pool water and plunge into the depths of the ocean. There is no other way to do life.

Will you join me?

Finding My Way

Yesterday, I walked to our local Starbucks with my little ones to try a mocha coconut latte. A few minutes into our walk, I noticed a man following close behind me. I pulled off into the grass with my stroller so he could pass us.

“Oh, thank you. I’m just trying to find my way!” he said in a long, drawn-out voice.

He glanced down at a piece of paper and had a pencil in his hand. He asked me where Worth Street was and I guided him to it.

He went on his way and I immediately thought about how much I related to his words. In life I often feel like I’m trying to find my way. I wonder if God is taking me down the right path. Does he really know my deepest dreams and desires for the future? Is He with me?

My prayers in college were to marry a godly man, have children, be involved in ministry/be on mission, and write. And I’m so thankful that at 28 years old, God has brought all of those to me and so much more. I’ve been living those dreams for several years now, day in and day out.

But often in the back of my mind I still think I need to “arrive” in life.

The truth is that I have all I need right now, and God is finding the way for me. He’s finding those dreams in the deepest recesses of my heart and he’s fulfilling them. I don’t have to figure them out or manipulate them to come true. He’s working even when I don’t see it.

He’s answering prayers according to His will, even if his ways aren’t exactly what I planned. He always knows best. He’s proved his faithfulness in the past and will continue to prove his future grace.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. – Prov. 3:5-6

Do you ever feel like you have to “arrive”?

Who is your God?

Recently I took John to Barnes & Noble to play with the Thomas Train table in the children’s section and on our way out after playing trains, I saw the book god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens as one of the featured sellers.

I haven’t read the book. I’m familiar with the author from Apologetics classes I took in seminary. But the title got my mind thinking and when I got home, I decided to write down who God really is…

My God is Great.

He is Creator. Redeemer. Healer.

He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

He is all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere.

He understands suffering because He suffered on the cross.

He is Father to the fatherless and near to the brokenhearted.

He is Living Water to the prostitute.

He is full of compassion, mercy, and will judge sin.

He is a God of grace.

He forgives all sins.

He is a rock to those who take refuge in Him.

He formed the mountains. He knit me together in my mother’s womb.

He is able to keep us from failing.

He is to be feared.

He is mighty to save. He is King.

He is our song. He is our light. He is Life.

He proved His love by dying on the cross.

He is Savior of the World.

He is the way, the truth, and the life.

He is deliverer. He has washed us clean of our sins.

He searches the heart.

He is our hope. He makes all things new.

He turns ashes into beauty.

He is coming back for his own.

He loves you, and me, and Christopher Hitchens.

That is our God. And He is Great. And I have not even scratched the surface.


Take Heart (He has overcome the world)

My heart has been heavy since hearing about the death of 28-year-old pastor, Clint Dobson, who was killed in his church office last week. It happened about 30 min. away from where I live. Yesterday while I was walking my kids around campus of the seminary my husband attends, I kept thinking about Clint and the brevity of life.

As a believer in Christ living in a fallen world, I’m not guaranteed that good things will happen or that I will live to see the next day. This truth has humbled me and last night I was encouraged by Jesus’ words in John:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Jesus’ body was about to be broken and his blood would be poured out for all the world to see, but he would soon defeat sin and death once and for all. He prepares the disciples ahead of time to take heart. His death and resurrection would change the world so much that they would have to scatter because their very lives would be in danger as followers of Christ.

John MacArthur says, “Through His impending death, He rendered the world’s opposition null and void. While the world continues to attack His people, such attacks fall harmlessly, for Christ’s victory has already accomplished a smashing defeat of the whole evil rebellious system.”

Trials, tribulation, pain and suffering would surely come the disciples’ way, but it would be okay because God had already won. Even though they would be scattered from persecution and other forms of evil, Jesus would be with them. Their hope was that they could persevere and endure until the end.

And this is our same hope today.

Although I wish we could, we can’t escape trouble in our lives and in this world. But we can trust that God has already overcome the world and will continue to overcome it. He isn’t sitting idle on his throne. He will bring justice in his perfect timing.

While my heart still breaks for Clint Dobson and his wife Laura and his family, I have found a peace knowing that he died faithfully serving the Lord and he’s finally where he was created to be, where pain and suffering does not exist.

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