Alleluia

He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Matthew 28:6

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White Space for Holy Week

The warmth of the first spring days seems to always push me into declutter mode. To declutter my things, calendar, habits, thoughts, everything. Because of this decluttering, I had the mental, physical, and emotional white space to meditate.

To meditate on Holy Week. To think about the Triumphant Entry, the washing of the feet, the Passover feast, the garden, the betrayal …. the cross.

I read the stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible* to my toddler with vision blurred by tears and voice shaky.  How do you read “Tears rolled down Jesus’ face. The face of the One who would wipe away every tear from every eye” without eyes filled? The emotions of the Hosannas, the washing away of dirt, the bread and the cup, the not my will but yours, the rooster crowing, they just kept flooding my eyes.

He asked if I was sad. Yes, Brooks, I am sad. This story is heartbreaking. But God** has a surprise ending…

*If you have the Jesus Storybook Bible, read The Servant King through God’s Wonderful Surprise. If not, listen to the stories here.

**Here’s the Holy But – thanks Ashley for this term

Obedience, Abundance, and Social Media

Two years ago, I was driving and going over the speed limit. As I saw a speed limit sign, I went to increase the cruise control yet a little higher and I heard “If you can’t obey me in the small things, how will you obey me in the large things?” I was so convicted and I decreased my speed to the speed limit. And then I started telling people this story and how God must have something big He wants me to do. I think I may have been a bit confused.

I’ve been on this obedience journey for two years, and I don’t think God has something big that He wants to prepare me for (although maybe He does, and I’ll be ready for it then). I think it’s not about obeying in one big moment but in a million small moments. In the moments where I want to feed my temptation to be disrespectful to my husband, impatient with my boys, and so on, He wants me to obey. (definition of temptation: invitation to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way)

Still the major topic of every nudge I hear from Jesus is “obey”. In sermons, Bible reading, worship music, and so on, I hear obedience again and again. The Bible study that was chosen for my mom’s group is Discerning The Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer and every nugget of truth I hear ties back to obedience for me. I bet someone else is doing the same study and everything is tying back to faith or hope or love or some other thing that God is trying to teach them. But for me, it’s obedience.

God wants me to live an abundant life (John 10:10) and He knows very clearly how that happens. He lays it out for us in the Bible and specifically, personally in our souls (the two will never contradict).

The Bible says that if we are living to please man, we are not living to please Him. And for each of us, we may struggle with that in a different way. My biggest stumbling block to pleasing God over others is social media. I am living to please others and not God on social media right now and God has been nudging me to take a social media hiatus.

You can still find me on Messenger and I will be popping on Facebook/Instagram to post to the Parent Life pages but more sporadically. I may be blogging more of what God is teaching me on this journey so follow along here.

Potty Training & Sanctification

Yes, potty training and sanctification. Who thinks I can make this leap? Haha. 🙂 I’m praying that God uses my writing to connect the two in your head, just like He connected them in my head.

We started potty training Brooks. And I started thinking why are we doing this? (Not in the “what are we getting ourselves into?” way [although I definitely had those thoughts], but in the way of the big WHY questions that my mind tends to ruminate on?)


I think this is the WHY. We introduce our kids to the potty (or the toddler bed, or language, or silverware, or manners), because using diapers (or a crib,  or crying, etc.) forever simply isn’t realistic or fitting over the long term and we as parents know that. We guide our children to grow to maturity.

In his New Testament letters, Paul uses the analogy that just like a child physically matures, we also spiritually mature through the process of sanctification (1 Corinthians 13:11, Ephesians 4:13-15, Hebrews 5:12-14). Sanctification is one of those complex and confusing words. I like to use the verse Philippians 1:6 to describe it: “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]”. Sanctification starts with His good work on the cross (salvation) and continues until we are perfect and complete on the day that Jesus returns.

It’s the work that God does in you, pruning you (John 15) and molding you (Isaiah 64:8). God reveals to us new ways of doing things or highlights that our former ways are not realistic or fitting or traits of maturity. Maybe He’s revealing to us new things, like regular prayer or tithing or serving. Maybe He’s highlighting our former ways, like people pleasing or an addiction or unforgiveness.

It can be so hard to let go of these old ways or create new ways, because our brain is ingrained with these “neural pathways”. Think of cutting a log with a saw, the first few cuts are difficult but once you have a divot, the saw can move easily back and forth! But what if you realize halfway through that you need the log a little bit shorter? Imagine trying to start a new cut that close to the old groove, your saw will likely keep falling into the original cut. That’s the same as in our brains, if we are trying to break this old habit or start this new habit, when we get close to our old pathway we can easily go back to it.

But, here’s the good news: Philippians 1:6 doesn’t say that we perfect and complete ourselves. It says that He who began the work completes it. God will perfect us and God will give us the tools we need in the process. We can ask God for the tools to overcome the difficulties of growth and development. We can ask for obedience. We can ask for conviction. We can ask God for His tools, His armor. We can put on His armor and step up to the challenge of letting God prune us and mold us into more mature people.

Father God, Thank you so much that you do not leave us to perfect ourselves. Thank you for the indwelling Holy Spirit that nudges us, convicts us, prunes us so that we more closely reflect Your glorious image. Reveal to us where we need to mature and give us clear direction on how to mature. Help us be remain steadfast when temptations are driving us to our old unfitting habits. We love you. Amen.


More Resources:

John Piper. God Sanctifies His People.

Bryan Clark. God’s Strategy for Presenting His People Complete in Christ.

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Lessons From My Son: Holding Hands

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalms‬ ‭37:23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In my MUMs Bible study a few weeks back, I meditated on these verses. Immediately, the words the LORD holds them by the hand stuck out to me. 


Lately, I’ve really clung to the truth that my relationship with God is intimate. He holds my hand, He is my shelter, He comforts me, He will help me. All of those truths have been very calming and encouraging to me as I wade through the new and challenging parenting season that is toddlerhood. 

I meditated on those verses again a few days later, and a different image popped into my head. An image of Brooks pouting at an intersection (usually more like flailing and screaming, but I don’t want to embarrass him on the internet)  because he didn’t want to hold my hand. 

And I thought, how often do I try to avoid holding God’s hand?
This life is so hard, and God offers to guide me and help me when I’m facing the busy traffic of life. He promises that He will. So why do I, like Brooks, throw a tantrum right in the line of imminent danger (traffic), instead of holding His hand?

Perhaps I, like Brooks, think I know better? Or I think that I have a fuller picture of what I’m going through than an all-knowing God? Or that God doesn’t tell the truth? Or that He isn’t as good as He says He is?

For me, I think it’s mainly retraining myself to stop trying to do things out of myself. It never works doing life on my own because I am limited. Because I am not Jesus, my patience, attention, and energy level is limited. But God promises that He will help me through this life. And He promises to equip me for what He is called me to. He says He will equip me to parent Brooks because He has called me to be his mother.

Our God longs to direct my path, to help me, keep me out of the dangers of oncoming traffic. He longs to do the same for you. 

He gave us free will and therefore, we have the choice to let Him hold our hand and guide us. I want to choose to let our God of love hold my hand and guide me because I trust that He tells the truth.

What I am Praying For After the Election

Today, I am praying for our country, its current leaders and its newly elected senators, governors, president, and other politicians. I am praying that God reveals Himself to each one and that they each come to have a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray that they come to realize what God means when He commanded that we “Love Him and Love People.” God is a God of transformations, just look at Paul, the author of many New Testament books. He was a killer of Christians before Damascus Road when God revealed himself to Paul and transformed Paul’s life.

I am praying for unity among believers. I think that perhaps God intended that despite our differences, we would chose unity. Not unity in political views, but unity in the belief that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Unity in the belief that our God is a God that can remove and raise up kings (Daniel 2:21). Unity in the belief that Jesus is the King over all, regardless of who is president of this nation.

I am praying that we can show those feeling hopeless today and those that feel hopeful today. I hope we all come to realize that true hope in Jesus Christ. “At some point, we as Christians have to come to grips with the fact that the answers are not in Washington, D.C. They are not and they will not be. Hope and change doesn’t come from the government; it comes from the gospel. … Government’s good and it’s important and we need to respect that, but government does not have the hope of the world.” -Bryan Clark, in this sermon

I am praying that we build bridges. This article is about mothering, but I think Ann Voskamp could easily be talking about politics when she reminds us that, as Christians, we should be building bridges instead of fences and the best way to do that is to answer kindly and to bless others.

And for the next month, I will be praying for Donald Trump, specifically. I commit to praying for three areas of his life each day and I will blog after 30ish days about every area that I prayed for.

What are you praying for?

Annie

 

MEMORIZE: February Bible Memory Verse

As one of my New Year’s Resolutions, I plan to memorize 12 Bible verses. I chose to pursue this goal, because it is so easy to focus on worldly thoughts over godly thoughts. It’s so easy to memorize the lyrics of the up and coming artist and sometimes those artists don’t reflect my beliefs. I want to the words of God to flow more freely than the words of the world, and what better way to achieve that goal than to fill my mind & heart with His words. Jesus explains how important this is in one of his many parables. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34 & Luke 6:45

This month I chose to memorize Psalm 91:4. “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

If you want to memorize alongside me, download the below for your computer wallpaper & your iPhone wallpaper!

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P.S. The last picture was my memory verse for January.