Sunday Currently… AKA giving my brain a break

reading: Deuteronomy! But I’m almost done 1-2 more days and I’ll be done I think! Read Deuteronomy 28 where Moses lists out the curses for disobedience. Y’all it was bad. It for sure would make me want to obey… Well maybe. I probably would be exactly like the Israelite’s. Because how often do I disobey God now…

watching: Um… The shows I’m keeping up with- NCIS, The Bachelor (I think Vanessa wins, and there have been some awesome moments that have made for good TV this season), This is us (although I don’t actually like this show, but it is written well and makes me want to come back and see what happens to the characters. Mainly to see how and when Jack dies, I think it’s getting close)

cooking: I made breakfast for the girls this morning. Scrambled eggs and sausage.

dreaming: I legit dreamed I was working at Jack in the Box last night and Nick, the bachelor, happened to be working there too. The other night I dreamed I was attached by a baby cow.

loving: chocolate (duh), chips or fries as well. Basically all things unhealthy. But I’ve also loved the salads I’ve had recently… Things not food related- #thenext100days reading scripture, journaling about it, and praying

frustrated by: the fact that I feel so tired lately even though I’ve gotten lots of sleep.

listening to: Creekside bible church live from their app. So currently Matt is preaching

making: to-do lists.

missing: both my best friends!

planning: The youth retreat next weekend, the youth event next month, my trip to cali soon, maybe a trip to Washington in April, Sunday school lessons, the list goes on… I have anywhere from 3-6 meetings this week that will involve lots of planning as well… Going to try to make the verse about we plan but God directs our steps in mind during all this planning.

sniffing: my freshly washed hair. The macaroni and cheese my girl is making herself for lunch. The chips I was just snacking on.

30 day challenge

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:1-3

 

These verses come right after Peter was telling the people to be holy because God is holy, and that because they are born again they need to love one another. It’s like Peter knew the people were going to ask, “How do we do that?” So he explained how.

First they are supposed to put away ALL malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. He could have just said all once and then put the words. But he chose to repeat all several times therefore drawing emphasis to the seriousness of getting rid of all of it. He is saying there is no place for these things in people who want to be holy as God is holy, and who want to love one another because they are born again.

Second they are to long for the spiritual milk, so that they may grow. He likens this to how newborns long for milk. The only way newborns grow is if they get milk from their mom or formula. But they need the milk to grow. So for us to grow in Christ we have to long for the spiritual milk.

Then Peter basically says if you are truly born again then you will do these things. If you have tasted that the Lord is good, these things will be a desire of yours. If you really believe then this will be something you long for.

After reading these verses and studying them, my question then becomes “What does this look like practically?” For me what it looks like is making time every day to spend with the Lord, in prayer, in bible study, meditating on scripture, etc. The more time I spend with the Lord the more I long for more, the more I know I need time with him to grow. And I also know for myself when I’m daily spending time with him I’m less likely to be envious of others, to slander others, to lie, etc. Because the more time I spend with Him, and the more I learn, the more that I want to share with others. The more time I spend with Him the more He comes out in my words and actions. I’m a better parent, friend, sister, daughter, etc. the more time I spend with Him. The more I taste of the Lord the more I see how good He really is.

I know this is not true for just me. I know it’s true for anyone who spends time with Him. So I have a challenge for us in this tidbit, because it’s easy to hear God’s word and then not put it into practice, I’m guilty of it a lot. Let’s not do that this time, let’s put these verses into practice. Let’s taste and see that the Lord is good. For the next 30 days let’s commit to daily spending time with him, whether it’s 5 minutes, or an hour, doesn’t matter. But will you commit with me to making it a priority to spend some time with the Lord every day for the next 30 days?

Tidbit # I lost count

So I know I said I would post the tidbit’s I send out at work here.. But I’ve been a little behind the eight ball with it… So I’ll slowly but surely catch up.. Here is this weeks though!

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:19-25

I wish I could just put the entire book of Hebrews in this tidbit, but that would be too long. So for those of you who have not read Hebrews, I challenge you to do it! It is a book all about who Jesus is and then what that means for us. It’s so good!

The above verses are kind of the shifting point in the book. Anytime you see a sentence that starts with the word therefore you should go back and see what it’s there for. This therefore is a big therefore in my opinion. I think it’s the writer taking a big breath after describing Jesus in depth and says because of everything I just said about who Jesus is this is what you should do.

Since I can’t put the whole book of Hebrews in this tidbit I’ll summarize a little of what the writer has said about Jesus. He starts out the book explaining that Jesus is his son, and is fully God. It states that Jesus is higher than everyone, or thing because it was created through Him. It talks about how God chose to speak through the prophets in the old days but in these days he chose to speak through His son. And because He chose to speak through his son, we better listen a little more carefully because Jesus is better than the prophets, better than Moses, and Joshua. Then he goes into how Jesus is a High Priest. And not a high priest from the line of Levi, but a high priest from a better order. It goes into how Jesus’ sacrifice was better than the rams and the bulls because those continually had to be offered for sins and Jesus’ sacrifice of his own body was once for all! The writer basically describes how Jesus is better in every respect than everything that has come before, and that the new covenant he established with his death and resurrection is so much better.

The writer says because of all that let us draw near to God with confidence, let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, and make sure we meet together and keep encouraging others.

So how do we do this? How do we practically live this out? I think we make sure we are spending time with the Lord, and when we pray we pray in confidence that He hears our prayers, and that He answers prayers. We remember that God is still in control, even when things seem like they are out of control, when things are so uncertain.

Instead of focusing on each other’s faults, or weaknesses, or the latest gossip, we focus on how to stir one another up to love and good works. Elsewhere in Hebrews it talks about how we should exhort one another every day, and that doesn’t leave much room for non-edifying talk. When we meet together let’s keep all the negativity out and lets focus on Jesus, and how to be more like him. Instead of tearing each other down let’s encourage each other.

My challenge this week is for us to pick two people a day and intentionally encourage them, or show them love, in some way. Whether you send an email, shoot a text, make a phone call, or say it face to face.

Jesus is better, so let’s strive to be like Him!

The 40 days before Easter

I have been participating in Lent since I was in junior high, maybe even before that. But in the last few years it’s taken on a new meaning for me. I’ve put more thought into what I wanted to give up or add-on. I really wanted whatever it was to remind me of Christ death on the cross, to draw me closer to him, to make it about him and not about what I could do. You can read here and here about the things I gave up the last two years and how they drew me closer to the Lord.

This year as I was talking about what to give up or add-on with my friend Jamie. She mentioned that we needed to think outside the box. And I agreed. I wasn’t feeling led to give up any food, and after becoming gluten intolerant after giving up bread last year I wasn’t keen on doing anything food related anyway. I wasn’t feeling led to give up anything really.

So I started thinking about what I could add-on. Jamie and I talked some more and we decided we would memorize some scripture together. And here is what I learned:

  1. When you repeat scripture over and over out-loud to yourself you can have “aha” moments. You know moments where a piece of scripture comes together and you really understand it. Had I not been repeating the verse over and over I wouldn’t fully understand those sections.
  2. You can’t memorize scripture on your own strength. There were a few times where I would read the verse and my brain would say “nope, no more, I’m done.” or “Nope, I’m tired, not doing it.” These moments were really good reminders that my flesh is weak, but God’s strength is immeasurable.
  3. The more time you spend in the scripture the more you see correlations between books of the Bible, the more you understand certain topics, and the more you learn. This doesn’t have to come from memorization, certainly just studying the Bible helps you do this. But because I was memorizing certain verses, those were on my mind and when I would hear a sermon, a song, or have a conversation about the Lord with someone, it would relate somehow or it would expound upon a verse or something.
  4. I’ve wasted a lot of time in the last year and a half… Say what? Well I did most of my memorizing while I was walking my dog in the mornings. I walk her forty-five minutes to an hour most mornings. And while I’ve tried to use that time for the Lord before, I’ve always been distracted or not disciplined, and it hasn’t worked out. But I see now that I can focus and be disciplined with that time. So here’s not wasting that precious time but to start using it for God’s glory!

 

When God loves you enough

A year ago tomorrow I went on a date. A date I didn’t admit to being a date till after it was over. A date that led to a kind of relationship. A relationship that, as I look back on now, God used to “wreck my ship,” to use the words of my friend Bryce. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

In November and December of 2014 I started wanting to go on dates. I didn’t want anything serious and was still content being single, so I thought. I just wanted to go on out and have fun. At first it was just passing thoughts. But the more passing thoughts I had the more it grew into a desire. It didn’t change the fact that I still thought I was content with being single.

And of course while the thought of wanting to go on a date was becoming a desire I met a guy I thought I might be interested in going on dates with. We start talking every time we saw each other, and then eventually we started texting between the times we saw each other a bit. Then came the aforementioned date; the aforementioned kind of relationship.

Did it last? No. Did it end well? No. Did I ignore red flags? Yes. Did it cause unnecessary pain and heartache? Yes. Despite all this did I try it all again with him? Yes.

What I failed to see during it all was that I had become discontent with being single. Discontent in my relationship with the Lord. I had started to seek fulfillment from others instead of Him. I lied to myself about it all. I thought I could just date to date. Tried to convince myself that I could do that. And of course, it failed.

After the second time when it ended before it began the Lord opened my eyes to my sin. He opened my eyes to see that I was seeking fulfillment from others instead of Him. That I had stopped believing He was enough. He knew I was fooled into believing lies and He wanted my eyes open to the truth.

God loved me enough to give me what I thought I wanted. A date. Even though He knew it was Himself that I really wanted. And through the date and the wreckage that followed, He patiently drew me back to himself and saved me from my sin yet again.

 

The Hard Moments

If you follow me on Instagram you see a lot of the fun moments, the crazy moments, the silly moments of my job. But you don’t see a lot of the hard moments. And believe me there are lots of hard moments. I’m not saying this to complain, but as a reminder to mostly myself that while it’s my job, its real life for my kids.

Parenting is a blessing. Parenting is hard. Parenting is fun. Parenting is exhilarating. Parenting is exhausting. It’s joyous, heart breaking. Every emotion can be used to describe parenting. And this last month I’ve felt every single one. There have been times of great fun, like Canadian Thanksgiving, playing outside, bedtime stories, etc. But there have also been moments where I felt like I was putting a band-aid on a bullet hole knowing more needed to be done but it was all I could do.

So what is there to do in those moments? In the nitty-gritty hard moments where there is no magic answer. When you see your kid beating themselves up because they keep making the same mistake, when your kid is aching for a love they don’t even know how to accept. When the disrespect is at an all time high and it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their real families drama. What do you do?

It’s easy for me in these moments to lose hope a bit. Easy for me to start doubting my ability to do this job. Easy for me to give in to the lies of the devil. But God is bigger. Yes I have no idea what I’m doing in these moments most of the time. But I know that I have a God who does. I have a God who cares about these kids and knows every part of them. I have a God that I can go to in prayer and petition for these kids. I have a God who is going to use these hard moments for His glory and for His good!

Please join me in prayer for my kids, as the holidays are coming and emotions are running high. It’s a hard time for them and they are already feeling it.

 

Adults Throw Temper Tantrums Too

I’ve heard it said that the Lord uses your kids to teach you about Himself. I’ve always believed it just because people I’ve been close to have said it. But now I can believe it because it happened to me the other night.

I’ve kind of been in a funk with my relationship with the Lord lately and not been spending much time with him. As a result I’ve been down in the dumps, discontent, and really negative. A few days ago I reached bottom I guess you can say. I knew the Lord was patiently pursuing me, and waiting for me to repent, surrender and turn back to Him. And I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t turning back to Him. So of course I asked the Lord for help. To show me where my sin was, so I could turn away from it. And like always, He did, but He used one of my kids to do it.

On Saturday while one of my kids was in the midst of a fit they screamed “You guys don’t love me because you don’t let me do what I want, I never get to do what I want, You let all the others do whatever they want but I always get no answers!” My first thought was “I hate the devil.” I was thinking that because this kid, like so many in this generation, has a distorted view of love. They think that love is getting whatever they want regardless of their behavior. The devil just keeps on spinning that lie.

As I was thinking about that the Lord just knocked me to my knees. He brought me to the realization that I was acting toward Him just like my kid was acting toward me. I was mad at the Him because He wasn’t giving me the yes answer I wanted. And I threw a fit just like my kid. I stopped spending time with Him and started trying to fill the place in my heart that only He can fill with human things. I was exchanging the creator for the creation. Which only led to heartache and pain, which caused more anger at the Lord, just like the consequences my kid earned made her more mad at me.

What is there to do in that moment other than to repent, and praise Him answering prayers even when we don’t deserve it?

 

 

 

The story of tattoo #2

Since yesterday was the 6 year anniversary of getting my first tattoo I decided it was finally time to share the story of tattoo number 2. I have multiple blog drafts saved about this topic and haven’t been able to finish any of them… Why you ask? Well because the story of this tattoo involves a lot of hurt, and I just haven’t been able to share that hurt honestly and in a way that is edifying. But I think I can do it now… So here goes
11102625_10100562751508571_5011736061697326537_nThis tattoo is about five years in the making. I knew I wanted a tattoo on my left wrist but I couldn’t ever find a design that fit. I searched and searched, then would let go of the idea of getting one. Only to start searching again a few months later. I wanted it to encompass the two ways I try to live my life for the Lord. Love Deeply and Take Big Risks. Last November I finally found a picture of a tattoo I could get on board with. I sent it to Lydia and asked if she could draw it out with the changes I wanted. She did! So then started my waiting period. I always wait a few months after finding a design to see if I really want it. And this one stuck through those few months. So in March while I was in California for Normy’s bridal shower I got it.

Now you may be thinking man there isn’t any hurt in that story, minus the pain of getting the tattoo… And I would say you are right… But the story of this tattoo doesn’t end there. Where the hurt comes in is when I got back to Texas and the months that followed….

Many of you know I work at a Christian group home for kids from families in crisis. I am one of many teaching parents. We all love Jesus, but have different convictions, traditions, and things like that. Totally fine, the Holy Spirit guides us in our own. But we are to remain one as a body as it says in most of Paul’s Epistles. That idea is where the issue arose.

The night before I got my tattoo one of the married couple teaching parents that I worked closely with sent me a text stating their conviction against tattoos. I did not have a problem with receiving that text or the conversation we had following it about our different convictions. It was good dialog and stayed edifying for the most part. Having that conversation didn’t change my mind about getting the tattoo. I figured we would be able to stay unified as a body in Christ through our different convictions.

When I got back to Texas with my tattoo, there was major tension between this couple and I. And I wasn’t sure how to fix it. They did not approve of the decision I had made and it caused a rift in our team. I wanted to stay unified, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like, or how to do it on my part.

I had gotten called into managements office to discuss my tattoo, which was not against policy, but that had caused a rift in our team. They wanted to find a way to keep our team together for the kids in the cottages sake. And while this is what I wanted, I felt like I was the one being made to do everything to get rid of the rift. Granted I was the one who got the tattoo, but short of getting it removed I wasn’t sure how I could change the feelings of other people. So why was I the only one being asked to change anything?

I began to feel very hurt, and very bitter at the entire situation. I started to question whether I should have gotten the tattoo when I did. Maybe I should have waited. I found it hard to love my tattoo when it caused all this drama. I let bitterness have a foothold in my heart, and it took over. Especially when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to stay in the cottage. I threw a major fit in my heart. I didn’t want to leave that cottage, and I was mad at not getting my way. And I sat in this for way longer than I’d like to admit.

In the midst of my inner tantrum I chose to change cottages. Because despite what I felt I knew the Lord was working and leading. He was closing the door to being in the cottage whether I liked it or not and opening the door to work in the other cottage. I followed His leading, even though I was kicking and screaming the whole way.

Since switching cottages I’ve been trying to work on my attitude, on letting go of bitterness, on forgiving, and on trusting in the Lord’s plan. You see I am 100% sure that even if I hadn’t of gotten my tattoo I still wouldn’t be working in that cottage anymore. There were other issues within our team that would have torn it apart.

More importantly I know the Lord was leading me to this other cottage. I have seen traces of this throughout the summer working in there. None more clear than through the text I got two days ago stating that the couple who works in there is leaving. This cottage has been through so much change in staff in the past year that it breaks my heart. But I am so humbled that the Lord led me to that cottage to walk with these kids through yet another abandonment and to love them through it.

 

 

Lent 2015

As Ash Wednesday was approaching this year I was unsure what I was going to give up. Last year I gave up naps and it drew me closer to the Lord more than anything I had ever given up before. I knew this year I wanted something that would do the same thing. I wanted to do social media, but it wasn’t something that I was feeling led to do, I just knew I was wasting a lot of time on it for no reason and wanted to break my habit.

As I was praying about it and thinking on it a lot I realized I didn’t really feel “led” to give anything up. I thought it was strange. So I decided to give up social media. Then in a conversation with a co-worker about what we were giving up we decided to give up bread.

Today after celebrating Jesus’ resurrection at church I was hanging with the girls in the cottage and reflecting on what I learned through the season of Lent, and how giving up bread and social media drew me closer to the Lord. To be honest… They didn’t really… dun dun dun…. But here’s the thing… Through the last two months the Lord has been teaching me, growing me, and opening up so many good conversations with friends about Him.

Yes giving up social media made it easier to use my time during the days wisely, yes when I went through bread withdrawals I needed to rely on Him for strength, but that wasn’t what drew me closer to him. What drew me closer was the choice to spend time with him daily and to be in His word, and to read good books that fed me spiritually.

So as I look back I realize why I didn’t feel led to give anything up. Turns out it wasn’t strange. It was just that the Lord was using other ways to draw me to Himself. He was using other ways to grow me, challenge me, and allow me to fall deeper in love with Him.

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Music

This song has been on repeat in my head and on my phone pretty much all day today. And I just feel like I need to share it with all of you.

The second verse and the bridge are my favorite… So good!!

Don’t think you need to settle for a substitute
When I’m the only love that changes you

Open your heart
It’s time that we start again