I don’t know how many hours I have spent praying for my children. Those hours began long before they were born, and it is a mantle of prayer that will be one of my greatest joys all my days. I love my children, fiercely, with the deepest love. There isn’t a moment on any day that I will not choose to lay down my life for them. I love them, but in that I still have to remember that’s not my highest calling.
It’s hard to see isn’t it. It’s hard to see that we aren’t called to be mommas first. We aren’t called to be wives first. We are called first and foremost to be the daughters of God, and everything about how we love our families flows from that place. If we can see this, we will approach everything differently.
I am so guilty of taking my eyes off of this. I am so guilty of forgetting that I am chosen and loved so deeply that it is a joy to just sit with the Lord and read my Bible and pray. Being wife and momma are such huge, demanding callings, but God didn’t chiefly save me for them. He saved me for Himself that I might know and enjoy Him forever (mostly quoting John Piper here). Everything that comes in life after that moment of His choosing and my knowing God is affected by how I walk with Him.
There’s a reason for that. In the midst of ease or difficulty, I have to press into Him so that I may walk in the ministries He has given in me as someone who deeply loves the Lord the most. It is almost counterintuitive and definitely countercultural to live with your eyes fixed on Jesus and to remember to love Him most, but if we don’t we’ll lose who we are in Him and things will begin to win our affections more than Him.
I can say without a doubt the person that I was before the Lord was not patient enough for kids and all the crazy ups and downs of motherhood. Most often when I get impatient it’s because I’ve taken my eyes off of Him. When I stop looking at Him, I start being more like my flesh. He teaches me patience and every other fruit of the Spirit that sustains me and allows me to walk out these ministries with grace and a love like His. If I’m not looking to Him and clinging to Him with deepest affection, I will not do any of these things well. I will get frustrated and bogged down. I will feel defeated at times. He made me to know I need Him to do it His way, and the more I am satisfied in Him the more I experience joy in everything else.
Know that you are not just momma or wife. You are a daughter of a Father who loves and lifts you up. Know that you will be given many ministries and callings in your life, but none are more important than being near to the Lord that He might sustain and fill you. I do everything else better when I am pursuing the heart of God. I need Him in all things, at all times.
Today, celebrate the life God brought forth from you. Celebrate the ministry of motherhood. It is a beautiful day to remember what the Lord has done in making us mommas, but also never forget that you are still a daughter. Never forget who you are in Him is who you were always most meant to be.
When I began this journey at Graduate school, I knew it was a calling. I knew I would carry the name of Jesus with me everywhere I went on any campus I worked on when that day came.
What I didn’t see until the last few days was a reason why I’m studying what I’m studying is important; I did, but not in relationship to the current state of the world. I’m going receive degrees in Communication Studies and Conflict and Dispute Resolution. Have you watched the news lately? I can’t think of a better thing to be involved in than teaching people how to use their voices effectively and well along with teaching them to deal with conflict in healthy ways.
As I come to the end of my time as a student, I am incredibly grateful for this call that put me on this path on the way to making a difference in this world for the glory and renown of Christ.
On my graduation cap, I will paint the quote, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I am changing the things I cannot accept…” – Angela Davis
What would the world look like if we all did something about the things we couldn’t accept? Genocide. Human trafficking. Rape culture. Bullying. Corporations owning politicians. Injustice. Clean water for all. Racism. The list is much longer than this, and I don’t think that I am at the end of this journey; I am content to wait and pray and move when called.
What does that thing look like for you? What can you no longer accept? Get in the fight. Stop waiting for someone else to get it done. Get yourself up and get it done! Find your voice and use it. Nothing will ever be better or different unless we shout down and fight against what is unacceptable.
If you think it’ll be scary, you’re probably right. If you think it’ll be hard to do, it probably will be. Don’t let any of that stop you from chasing down that thing by equipping yourself and making a difference. The difficulty is easy to see upfront, but that doesn’t mean the it won’t be worth it. Changing the world by ridding it of what is unacceptable in it is something we can all aspire to.
God is a God of justice. You were not set free for just you. You were set free to release His call in you by listening to and following Him. Go for it. If He is calling you, He will see you through. I say this as a wife and mom of three who was completely unsure of where the time or energy to do anything outside of my regular day to day would come from. It isn’t easy, but I’ll never doubt that every step of this journey has been worth it!
Go make a difference. Change is seldom easy, but is often worth it. If we all begin to change the unacceptable things, they will eventually be defeated. Stay in the fight. Be about your call completely. Never give up.
I had a conversation with someone who was really stressed and heartbroken over one thing: her in-laws saw it as a full-frontal assault when their advice was not taken or demands weren’t met.
I’m going to say this plainly: no matter the role you play in anyone else’s life, YOU ARE NOT OWED WITH HAVING THINGS DONE YOUR WAY!
No one should have to walk around with the weight of the world on their shoulders because their choices are different than yours. There are only a few reasons why someone would burden someone else with this expectation:
1. They see it as a judgement on their choices if you make one that is different from them. If you have this problem, you need to deal with whatever insecurities you have that trap you into being so controlling that you can’t accept someone not choosing what you did.
2. It is a control issue. In the cases of parenting choices, YOUR KIDS DO NOT HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU DID THEY WAY YOU DID IT. Every parent is entitled to the right to find their own way. Even if what they are doing is completely different than what you did, THEY DO NOT OWE YOU AN EXPLANATION, AND THAT SHOULD NOT CAUSE A FIGHT.
3. This is a fight not worth having. If you’re going to insist on your own way above all, you are going to see division between you and whoever you operate like this with. Does love insist on its own way as the highest priority? No. Seriously consider how selfish you are if you can’t be in relationship with someone without everything having to go your way.
4. If you have something to say, be mature enough to address it with the person directly. This friend was deeply hurt by her father-in-law starting an argument on Facebook with her. Really? Facebook? That’s pitiable behavior, but it’s also maddening. It’s not ever okay. If you care so much about your way that you’re willing to throw an either aggressive or passive-aggressive tantrum on social media, you are not only going to make a fool of yourself, you are surely not going to get the result you want.
Here’s what it comes down to: the world isn’t about you. People don’t owe you giving you your way so that you are appeased. You can’t love people while only giving affection or time and approval when your will has been satisfied. Even if others cater to this and give in so they won’t have to fight, your relationships are superficial at best, and at worst, those around you are just constantly swallowing the resentment and anger they feel.
Who wants to make anyone feel this way? Who can live with that? Wouldn’t it be better just to love without stipulation? Wouldn’t it be better to give not as a means to get?
If you love people, insist on that. Insist on expressing that through ways that count. Insist on honoring their feelings and the relationships you want to have. Let go. Let them find their way. Even if they end up in a different place than you, that’s okay. Even if they fail, that’s okay. If you’ve loved them well, they’ll know it’s okay too.
“He took our nature in Bethlehem to die our death in Jerusalem.”
I saw this for the first time a few years ago, and it has shaped my view of Christmas. At this time of year it’s so easy to get distracted.
We get busy with plans. We get busy with shopping. We get busy with decorating. We are just busy, and I think it’s to our detriment.
I sat in Christmas Eve service yesterday and this quote was all I could think. I know this is the time of year to celebrate the coming of our King. I know that. I love Christmas, but sometimes I love things about it more than I love the reason for it.
When I think about the reason for it, I have to pause and see that I needed Jesus and He came to save me. He had to come. He had to live blamelessly, and I needed that sweet babe born in a manger to die for me.
This quote pushed me to realize how much Christmas is less about everything we make it about and more about Easter. He had to come, and oh my heart celebrates this day and season; I also have to remember to look down the road to see the debt He paid.
If I can do that, I can know that He came knowing that there would be Easter, and He came anyway. God knew when He sent His Son there would be a time He would be separated from Him while the world was cloaked in darkness. He still sent Him though. He still came. For me. He still came for you.
When I look at Christmas that way, I think it becomes more beautiful. I think we have to get beyond the distractions and remember that He didn’t just come so we could celebrate His birth; He came so He could die our death.
My heart is beyond grateful for knowing this. My voice couldn’t sing all the words in worship yesterday as my soul cried out in a bigger way in gratitude for Christ who came and God who sent Him; they always knew there would be a cross in Jerusalem, and they always knew there would be a me who would someday look up and see what that cross accomplished.
I am beyond gratitude this Christmas, and I have a new depth of reverence and joy for this season. I hope that joy fills and warms you too!
I am struggling with how to start this post. I have so much to say that I can’t fathom where to begin. This weekend I had the honor to be a part of celebrating the life of one of the most special people I’ll ever know. I got to be there to encourage and support two friends I love dearly, all while snuggling their sweet tiny boy who I love so much I could burst. Even with all the sweetness shared in that love, I walked in dreading the thought of goodbye.
I wasn’t alone. There was a church filled with people who loved Ma Mac fiercely. There was a church filled with people sad for their loss but ever so thankful to have been loved by her. Whether you knew her for a minute or your whole life, she loved you.
It was just who she was. Maybe that came from years of delivering babies as a nurse. How could you hold a sweet newborn and not love them right away? God called her to be a nurse, and the training she received in her calling blessed the world because she loved so deeply immediately and you knew it. You felt it.
As I sat in the church service I couldn’t help but think back on precious memories. She has known me my whole life. Ma Mac delivered my mom and two of my siblings! She delivered hundreds of babies in my hometown.
I’ll never forget her granddaughter Cheryl moving to town. We became instant friends. The first time I ever went over to their house Ma Mac opened the door for me. She had a hug and a kiss ready for me, questions about how everyone in my family was doing, and a gigantic piece of chocolate cake she baked from scratch!
When I graduated high school, people were able to buy bibles for everyone in the youth group who was a senior. Another lady at church, who was also precious to me, signed up to give me my bible. When Ma Mac found this out, she called the pastor Tim and told him that wouldn’t do! She then called the sweet lady who had signed up to give me my Bible, and after they arm wrestled over the phone, she convinced her! On that senior day, Ma Mac and Cheryl presented me with my bible.
On Cheryl’s wedding day, I sat reading the program before the ceremony got started. As I was reading it, I was trying to figure out who Rose was. It took her walking in to know that Ma Mac had a real first name! When I told her that at the reception, she laughed and laughed! I only ever knew her as Ma Mac. She was my Ma Mac too, but really, she belonged to everyone!
This Thanksgiving, I called Cheryl to say hi and got to visit with her. She asked me about my family while Cheryl showed pictures of my babies. She told me how beautiful they were and wanted to know all about them. She told me she was proud of me. She told me to keep working hard at school. She told me to always be a good friend to Cheryl. She told us to always be there for each other and to be sure to always call. She told me she loved me.
Last Tuesday I got a message that read she was gone. I was thankful it wasn’t a phone call because I wanted to be strong for Cheryl. I wanted to be able to encourage her with truth. I wanted her to know I was there for her. I also needed to weep.
That’s a good thing. We can weep knowing that our loss is heaven’s gain. We can weep knowing death was swallowed up in victory. We can weep knowing with certainty that someone is receiving their crown and finally seeing Jesus face to face. We can weep knowing that someday we’ll be there too.
When you hear about the life of one person and how much difference they made, it makes you want to be better. It makes you want to have the humility to love, no matter the cost. No cost was too high for Ma Mac to put others above herself. She gave and gave until she got to go home and receive her treasure and her Savior.
For adopting a whole city to the point that you had more children and grandchildren than the world will probably ever know; for always loving like Christ; for always being the rising tide that raised everyone around you, and for always being the very, very best, thank you Ma Mac.
There is not a politician now nor will there ever be, who can save or redeem any aspect of our lives.
The evangelical community seems so willing to sacrifice the tenants of scripture in their blind allegiance to a person or political party, and that is idolatry at its worst. When you can’t acknowledge the fault in something and refuse even factual information that undermines what you want to believe, you are bowing to an idol.
At the time of year where we celebrate the coming of Christ, it seems like a good idea to pause and rightly acknowledge the one who came to give redeeming grace. It seems insane to hold others up in a position they don’t belong in as we shout down the war on Christmas (which isn’t a thing), all while praising those who said they saved it. They have never saved anything or anyone.
I hate that meme where Jesus is telling Santa He’s sad because Christmas is all about Santa. I think it’s ridiculous. I do however think that if anything would devastate the heart of Christ, it’s not a pretend figure getting attention and adoration, but one who is flesh and blood for whom people will push down what Christ has called wrong to justify and explain and excuse their words and actions.
So let’s be clear:
- Slavery was and is still wrong. Unquestionably. Don’t argue for anything around it and include it.
- Touching, molesting, or having sexual contact with children is wrong. The inability to admit that it is wrong, no matter when it happened, is detestable.
- White supremacy or any other radical group based on being racially superiority which also seeks to destroy others because of race, religion, or ethnicity are from hell.
- It’s not okay to lie for convenience.
- It’s not okay to grope or touch someone sexually because of your position in anything.
- Racial profiling is wrong.
It’s 2017, and I just typed that list. It’s 2017 and those things have to be said. That’s appalling, and that should make us all truly, deeply sad.
As I begin to prepare my home for Christmas, I want to hope rightly in the Christ who came to save and redeem the world. I want to remember that I am to make much of Him here and then go and enjoy Him forever. I won’t accomplish that if I hope in anything or anyone else.
To hope rightly means to hope all things in the person of Christ. It also means to be willing to call out things done in His name that are not a reflection of His heart; things that make a mockery of that hope.
I’ve most often known that people who don’t want to call out wrong won’t because they don’t want to have to do that with people they love or themselves. You can’t accept everything. The Bible calls us to sober judgement, and if you can excuse anything I mentioned above, I’d challenge you to examine why you can’t say things which are wrong are wrong.
Christ has come. Hope in that. That hope, in Him, is all you need.
There’s a chasm happening that is alarming. Somewhere there’s been a separation and divide that pushes everyone from common ground and empathy and onto “sides.” This breach has split and divided, and the yawning chasm between is growing.
Whatever the issue is, there is an “us and them” mentality that is spreading like a cancer and is killing our ability to love people more than “our side.” There is an inability to consider or hear anything that doesn’t confirm our preconceived notions and beliefs.
At what point did humanity as a whole begin to matter less than position on issues? How can we be inundated with so much information that we forget that real people are in these facts and figures? Real people who are hurting. Real people who are dying. Real people. Whether or not someone agrees with you does not eliminate their humanity.
We get one shot. We get one life to impact this world. We get to display the glory of God in what is a fleeting few years in comparison to eternity, and that either means we get passed ourselves and onto the business of loving others or WE WASTE IT ALL!
We have to stop wasting the hope we have. We have to bridge this breach that created a chasm of vicious words and loveless actions. We have to carry the name of Jesus and His heart for people in all we do. His story is what matters. Jesus Christ is who saves, not a political party or news article or meme!
I’ll close by sharing a poem that has shaped so much about what I think about the world. One. We all only get one life. May we not waste it.
“Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way; Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, soon will its fleeting hours be done; Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears; Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score; When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn; Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, ‘Thy will be done’; And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say ’twas worth it all’;
Only one life,’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
I can’t believe I’m alone in this so I have to write about it. I would be okay with being alone is this, but life has taught me that speaking out in your struggle gives others the freedom to be honest about theirs. We were liberated through the Cross to walk in freedom, and sometimes I’m really bad at it because I don’t look there in chaos.
When things get too busy. When life becomes overwhelming. When the list of extras is just as long as the every day have-tos, all I see is the chaos. That’s when it pummels me, and as of this morning, I know why.
I fixed my eyes there. I get caught up in it and it topples over and I get pinned down. It’s all I can see. In the fight for peace to stand in and rest in and be still in, I struggle out from under the pile of “everything,” and that doesn’t bring my soul rest. If anything it makes me more worn than doing the lists would. Do you see it?
I fix my eyes on the doing. This isn’t to say life isn’t full of stuff that needs to and has to be done, but that’s not where I need to look.
If my eyes are ever-fixed on Jesus, I see He is my rest. I see He, through the in dwelling of His very spirit, has given me what I need to abide and rest in Him- no matter how chaotic life is. It doesn’t even have to be “bad stuff” for the chaos to become a distraction from this bigger truth.
In all seasons, at all times I can step into this if I choose to not get so drawn into everything else and let those things become what my life is about. Seasons roll on and on, and there will always be somewhere to go, something to clean, laundry to wash, and on and on. The difference is knowing that those things being knocked out of the park or left unfinished for another day don’t define who I am. Who I am is not changed by the chaos.
That’s the real sting in it. We see ourselves and measure our success in how much we do when who you are has been established and is unshakable in Christ. There will always be more, but find your room to rest in it. Find a space for your mind to ease. Find a place for your heart to mend if it needs to.
No matter how chaotic it all may seem right now, the only real way through it is to lean into the One who calls you to rest and abide in Him. Cast the chaos aside and see the depth of love poured out for you. Dwell in it. Soak it in. Abide in it.
It was costly and a blessing that was purchased through Christ accomplishing everything on the Cross that needed to be done so that you can have this available at every moment. Don’t be blinded by the ever evolving list like I am sometimes. I hope to walk in this truth that landed in my heart yesterday in a sustained way. It is surely a blessing to know it, and it will be an even bigger one to rest in.
Beautiful. I recently wrote a post about how marriage can be very hard. On the other side of hard, there is a beauty and joy that make the hard more than worth it.
There is joy in deciding to be fully known by someone. In being fully known, you are given this wonderful freedom. You are free to be vulnerable. You are free to need your husband or wife. You are free to be forgiven. You are free to be loved, whatever comes.
This person has seen you at your worst and decided to love you anyway. There’s also a lot of responsibility in that. There’s responsibility to always be working to be better. To be more considerate. To pay attention to how they need to be affirmed. To pray for them. To work on your own heart and to own your walk with the Lord so you are continually being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
There’s a weight and an importance in seeing the heart of Christ as the goal for your life in knowing that pursuing Him is how you become like Him. I recently was talking with a friend and they said that trying to be like Jesus seemed like too high a goal to attain. I want to say this plainly: if you want your marriage to work and display Christ and His love for His bride, there’s no one else to try to be like. You don’t need to try to be like your parents (or not like them) or like a pastor you admire or like some famous blogger. If you want to make your marriage work, you have to ever-fix your eyes on Jesus as the goal of your life. That’s also bigger than marriage. If you want to be who He has called you to be, look to Him.
There is joy in this work. The fruit that develops between a husband and wife who are constantly doing the hard yards of walking with Jesus while loving each other produces a depth of love and appreciation that is sustaining. It’s sustaining for when you do hurt each other’s feelings, because you will. It’s sustaining for when one of you messes up and pride keeps you from owning it. It’s sustaining to know that you will be forgiven when you seek it. It’s sustaining for a day that may come when you want out.
Marriage has been filled with beautiful things I would have never known without my husband. I was twenty when we were married so we always say we grew up together as a joke, but when I look back on it, we did in a lot of ways. The truly funny thing is for a lot of my life I thought I would maybe never want to be married, and I knew without a doubt that I would never get married young. We all have ideas like this, but it’s always fantastic how what God has for us is always better. The minute that blue-eyed boy with the great hair and smile started teaching me guitar I was done for!
We came into adulthood like people who don’t get married at the age we did, but we did it having nothing to hold onto but the covenant we made with God and each other. We knew we were young, but we also knew that any seconds we spent not being husband and wife would be wasted. We didn’t do that without caution or without knowing it would be hard.
Even the hard stuff had joy in it. If we had gas in our cars, stuff for dinner, and more than $5 the day before one of us got paid, we always celebrated with a $0.99 movie rental at Hastings. I remember not having cable and reading and doing homework together. I remember the nights of dinner being whatever we had. That led to great discoveries like THE potatoes. I remember moving to our first “us” apartment, and being thrilled to have two bedrooms so all of Rob’s guitars had a place while knowing we were going to have to really stick to our budget if we were going to be able to pay $600 a month to live there (bills included).
I remember working and going to school and having days where we didn’t get to see each other a lot, but knowing that finishing school with excellence would make those days worth it. We cared about each other’s dreams.
In those times where all we had was each other, we began to build appreciation for each other. Sometimes it was learned through messing that up and knowing really fast that’s not who we wanted to be for each other. Out of every misstep and mess up, we each learned something, but the bigger thing we learned was that we really were all in, no matter what.
With my husband one of the most beautiful things is seeing who we’ve risen up to become. I know without a single doubt that God blesses me through Rob every day. There is this way that under his love I can feel strength and grace being drawn out of me. That is a blessing to me and our children. I am a better person all the time because of Rob. He prays for me. He prays over me. He holds me when I hurt. He laughs with me. He encourages and supports me. He is for me. It is a beautiful thing for me to know I am loved in this way. It instills a confidence in me to know that there’s always someone who will never stop loving me. I am free more and more all the time under his love.
We’ve walked through so much together. College graduations, first “real” jobs, disappointments, moving apartments, traveling, late night concerts and road trips, Valentine’s Day and anniversary surprises, losing loved ones, finding out we were pregnant each time, buying homes, buying cars, going back to school, difficult pregnancies, babies who never slept, moving across the country, longing for a church home, date nights, new experiences, learning to parent, literally 10 million loads of laundry by now, and looking back I know my life could have been different if I would have stuck to my “plan.” I never would want it to be now.
Rob, thank you for ten beautiful years. I know that because God was with us in all the good and all the mess, we didn’t just survive the last decade, but we thrived individually and in our marriage. I am thankful for everyday since the one that you pretended you wanted to teach me guitar! I will forever be thankful for being your girl. I will forever be thankful for the man you are. I am thrilled looking back at how far we’ve come, and I’m excited for whatever God has in front of us. Thank you for the beautiful life I have filled with love and fun and joy! I love you deeply. Always. No matter what.