That Same Roller Coaster

So I’ve been doing a Beth Moore study on the book of James. It’s a really great study, and I went into it expecting more conviction than anything because it talks a lot about the works that your faith produces (faith without deeds is dead -James 2:26). What I didn’t expect was that God would use this book to show me his extravagant love in my life right now. 

We are currently in the second chapter of James, and Beth Moore did a seminar leading into it focusing entirely on the relationship between joy and anguish (sounds enticing, right?). I have always known that biblical joy is not the warm fuzzy feeling you get on your favorite fall day with a cup of coffee and a cute dog in tow. SO going into this seminar I’m thinking that I am going to hear all about how we have to decide to be joyful in our anguish like I have always heard. But the Holy Spirit wanted to say something else. Beth Moore made 3 points about what the Bible says regarding the relationship between joy and anguish. I will not rehash her seminar here for you, but here are her points:

1. Anguish and joy can coexist

2. Anguish and joy can trade places

3. The source of anguish can morph into joy

It was the third one that really jumped out at me. I am sure I have heard that truth before, because I know the verses that support it. Psalm 30:11 says “You have turned my wailing into dancing.” Beth pointed out that the Hebrew word used here is hapak which means “to convert, change; frequently used in connection with the acts of God.” Philippians 1:18b-19 says, “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” 

So I know that God is able to use all things in my life for my good (Romans 8:28), that was not news to me. What blew me out of the water was the next verse, Deuteronomy 23:5 However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you. 

Because He loves me. 

I have said a few different times, in all honesty, that I believe that God has turned our infertility from a curse in our lives into a blessing. I know that he has changed my heart in that way, and Jon’s too. Is it still painful at times? Yes, but I will not ask him to take it away. Why? Because He has turned my wailing into dancing. He has turned my curse into a blessing because He loves me. Anything that God does for me because he loves me, I want to keep. 

The greatest part about it is that God didn’t turn it into a proverbial blessing. I don’t write these words with a heart hopeful that joy will come. I write them with a joyful heart. Only a Redeemer can do that.

The Hebrew word used for anguish in Psalm 55:4 (My heart is in anguish within me) is the word hiyl and it basically means writhing in pain as with childbirth. This is where I will never be able to connect because I will never experience that. However, the beautiful thing is that David wrote that Psalm, and he never experienced birthing a child either. What he did experience was the birth of a life-changing trust in God. If you read through Psalm 55, you will see that. 

The thing is, God didn’t just rescue us from anguish. He is making something beautiful out of it. Beth Moore points out, “You can live with pain a while lot better than you can live with purposelessness.” I have never had a heart for adoption like I do now. And not just to bring our family together, but beyond that. We are excited about being a part of a new ministry at the vine for fostering and adoption. Our anguish has morphed into joy, real joy. And out of that joy we also get purpose in His kingdom.

As Beth Moore put it, the same roller coaster that caused the anguish is taking us right into joy. 

Why? Because He loves us. 

Advertisements
Published in: on October 3, 2012 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Never Thought I’d be a Couponer…

So I’m sitting at home watching Top Gear with my husband, and updating my Facebook status with my latest coupon kill at the grocery store. Then Jon suggests I blog. What a novel idea.

If there is anything I feel I can do via blogging about coupons, it’s to encourage you to not give up if you feel discouraged or overwhelmed.

I began couponing with the attitude that there are no coupons out there for things that I actually need. Then I thought I would buy the Sunday paper, cut out  e v e r y  s i n g l e  c o u p o n  inside, and take them ALL to the grocery store and try to match the sales with the coupons I had. That made for long Sunday afternoons with a pair of scissors, very long and frustrating trips to the grocery store , and all with only a 10-20% return in savings. Not worth my time.

And then Jenny from Southern Savers enlightened me. I had heard about Southern Savers, and had even been on the website a few times. I just didn’t understand how to use it. Then I went to a coupon seminar. Yes, I am 25 years old and I went to a seminar on coupons. BUT it was like a veil had been lifted, and the Sunday paper was no longer a $2 expense, it became a new source of income. Saying that, it takes some time to feel successful and see a really great return.

I started collecting the coupon inserts from Sunday’s paper in a large accordion file. I didn’t cut out a single coupon. Then, on Tuesday at noon, I go to SouthernSavers.com and look at the Publix weekly ad. (You read right, I typically only go to ONE store) The website takes all the work out because each sale item is matched with all the coupons in the universe that can apply. So all I have to do is see what I need from the sale list and either print or cut out the corresponding coupons. At first, I didn’t have all the coupons to get all the deals, but now that I’ve been collecting inserts for a few weeks, I don’t miss out on much.  I buy 2-3 of the items that are on sale, and then one item from a “needs list” (items that are not on sale). So I go to the grocery store with only the coupons I know I am going to use. SO much easier!!

Some key points to getting a good deal:

  • You can use one store coupon and one manufacturers coupon on one item.
  • Buy multiple Sunday papers. Multiple papers means multiple coupons, which means you can stock up on the sale items. (PS “stocking up” usually means 2-3 of one item. Don’t think you need a second pantry here).
  • B1G1 sales are the BEST for couponing. The item usually ends up being pretty close to free after coupons. PS you do not have to buy 2 items, but I recommend you buy multiple if its s good deal
  • Look at the front of the store (Publix) to grab their coupon booklets. It also doesn’t hurt to ask customer service if they have any additional coupon booklets that aren’t on the sales floor.
  • Keep in mind that items go on their best sale about once every 6 weeks, so buy enough to last. (If it’s listed on SouthernSavers, it’s at its best deal)
  • EVERYTHING you buy, with the exception of some produce, can (and probably does) have a coupon!
  • For your “needs list” of items that are not currently on their best sale, check out SouthernSaver’s coupon database. It can be accessed from the home page, and you can find out if there is a coupon out there for the things you need.
  • Keep a smaller accordion file for the coupons you are taking on your trip.
  • If the store is out of the item on sale, get a rain check!! Even if the coupon expires, you will usually be able to use it with the rain check when the item comes back in.

Now that I’ve done this for a few weeks, I am beginning to learn what to expect to pay for certain items. AND I generally expect to save at least 45% on my grocery bill. However, lately that number has been closer to 60%. This new adventure is fitting very well into my Financial Peace University experience.

 

SO

 

DON’T give up!! It’s rough in the beginning, but its worth it, and you’ll never spend as much on food AGAIN!!! 🙂

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 12:19 am  Leave a Comment  

New bloggy blog

For those of you who are just dying to know more about the newest set of Christersons, check out our family blog!! It’s gonna be pretty awesome.

Published in: on December 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why, hello there!

So I’ve been a bit MIA in the blog universe. Maybe it has something to do with getting married?? 😉

There are too many good things to say about our wedding preparations, wedding day, and our marriage. God is real, and he REALLY blesses!! It’s just incredible how He provided for us in our needs AND our wants. And the fact that He gave me a husband that I could never have even dreamed of. Jon is amazing and God is good.

Marriage has made me more aware of how selfish I am. Thats a good thing. We have been working through meshing our lives… our money, our stuff, our space… its such a cool invasion, but it requires a lot more thinking and preparation than I have ever put towards my own life. Its almost like running a business, and its so much fun despite the work it is.

The biggest challenge we have faced together is budgeting. The cool thing is that we are facing it together, instead of against each other… if that makes sense. We’ve been on the same page the whole time so far, thank you Jesus. We have started Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and cash budget system. We also incorporated a paperclip system for our cash thanks to my BFF Kylie Henry. This is the first full blown budget month. Meaning we had a budget before, but weren’t quite as serious about it. This month we have gone to the bank, taken out cash, and haven’t used our debit cards.

The challenges we have faced so far… 1) We realized that we can’t break everything into 4 even parts. For example, I thought we could divide the total food budget into 4 even weeks. However, we do one big grocery trip per month and the other 3 weeks we just run and get stuff as we run out. So the first week’s food allotment will have to be greater than the other three. 2) We HAVE to go to the bank and get specific bills. We tried going to the ATM and withdrawing a set amount, but we found that we were not able to divide the money into the categories as we budgeted. This created problems with “borrowing” because we needed to break a $20 here and there. We have managed to stay  within the actual budget, but its made everything more confusing.

We are using the gazelle budget program on My Total Money Makeover. It’s great because the percentages of each category are autmatically generated.  It also changes month to month because I look up the bills I need to pay and budget to the dime, so when the electricity bill goes up, our utility percentage goes up, etc. I’ll let you in on it… copying my twin. 😉

Figurative cash categories (keeping this money in the bank)

Tithe (10%)

Savings (12%) Our goal right now is to put $1000 into an emergency fund, and then cut down to about 5% on savings and attack our debt.

Utilities (11%) This one is a little high this month because our inefficient AC doesn’t pair well with 100+ degree weather. Hopefully we’ll be able to get this one down closer to 6%

Housing (19%)

Debts (28%) Debt sucks.  This one is high this month because we are paying off two large amounts. That is refreshing, but its a huge reality check when you are putting nearly one third of your income into this. If all goes to plan we will be 100% debt FREE in 5 years. That includes credit cards (which we are hoping to be free of within the year), car, and student loans (thank you, Mercer, you private school you).

Literal cash categories (when the cash is out, the spending is over)

Food (9%) We are trying really hard to eat as much as possible from home, and we have been doing very well so far! I think we are actually going to be able to cut back on this percentage. The huge kicker here is COUPONS! It’s like a mini victory for us when we go to the grocery store and save about 30% on our bill because we took the time to cut coupons once a week. The biggest coupon help for us has been an accordion file. We have a small accordion file that is labeled into categories so we can easily find out if we have a coupon for a certain item. Every Sunday we get the paper, cut coupons, organize them, and throw away the expired ones. It takes about 20 minutes a week, and the payback is HUGE!

Transportation (5%) This doesn’t include our car payment, that is a debt. The biggest challenge in this category is the $1-2 a day we pay for tolls. I think we are going to get the toll meter in our car to track it better. It’s difficult to track 50 cents here and there. We are down to one car for the first time, so we aren’t sure about gas. I cut the previous budget for gas by about 40%, but we will have to wait and see if that is accurate.

Personal/recreation (6%) This includes toiletry needs, blow money, entertainment, etc. Anything that we might need for ourselves that doesn’t fall into a previous category.

So thats the plan this month! We will see how it goes. 10 days into it we are feeling pretty good! And we are really excited about sharing this journey with you (and specifically with the Henry’s) 🙂

LOVE to you!

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 10:26 am  Comments (1)  

Conversation is Dying

I was walking into work the other day, checking my twitter and facebook as usual, and a thought hit me: real relationships are dying in our culture.

The Holy Spirit has consistently brought to mind truth about relationships over the past few weeks. And as I thought about twitter/facebook and the effect its having on our my day to day life, I realized that a shift is occurring. All of us have a deep, motivating desire for relationships with other people. However, relationships are scary. They hurt. Friends betray, fail to meet expectations, don’t meet our level of commitment, fade away, etc. It takes extreme vulnerability to have a real relationship. Vulnerability is scary. Vulnerable means “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.” It comes from the Latin word vulnerare, which means to wound. It takes a lot of courage to open yourself up to that possibility. You have to overcome very real fear to do so. After all, if relationships are the only things that really matter, it would make sense that they can be the most wounding.

But ah, we have facebook/twitter/texting/etc.  Now here is an opportunity to have some of the benefits of relationship without the vulnerability. We have opened this whole realm of pseudo-relationship where we can say things we would never say in person. We can know things about other people, and tell people things about ourselves in a sort of protected exposure. Face to face conversation is dying. And even when we do get to that real face to face conversation, it’s getting harder to talk because I already know some of what you are going to say. I read it on twitter, or I saw it on your facebook status. So why ask? In all this, I think the next generation is suffering the most. We can at least remember what it’s like to be without all this (forgetting more and more everyday). But middle schoolers and high schoolers don’t. They are learning life this way.

We are so plugged in, we are losing the ability to look each other in the eye. Having an intimate conversation with someone opens you up to ridicule, rejection, judgement… But in that moment of vulnerability, you can be met with the same defenselessness. There is where real relationship begins to lay a solid foundation. There is nothing wrong with talking about movies, video games, other people (to a degree), tv shows, or the weather. However, when you open yourself up to someone else, you are telling them that you trust them and you value them. I think we are getting to a place, as a society, where we can’t even have those surface conversations, let alone the real ones.

This opens up a whole new thought for me, about why people suffer. Well, not so much why, but why its beneficial. When I am in a place of hurt or brokenness, I need real people right there with me. If I was always in a state of elation, I wouldn’t really feel a need for others (and therefore, God). Even when I have overcome said disappointments, it puts me in a place of understanding. Or in a place where I can open up that old door to someone in an effort to be vulnerable and therefore create that foundation for a lasting friendship. Today my mom and dad were talking about suffering, and how its just a fact of life. And I hate that it is a fact of life, but when I step outside of it, I am so very very thankful for it. There is connectedness there when you are brought to the end of yourself and you need someone else. But anyways, thats my side-road.

Obviously, we cannot be vulnerable with every person we come in contact with. And vulnerability takes time. But it was already hard enough as it is, and I feel like our technology and “connectedness” is giving us a cop-out option. Loneliness is a motivation to cultivate relationships. And now we can be alone and “connected.” It has so many benefits, but in this respect I believe its dangerous.

It will be interesting to see how this “connected” generation grows up and functions later on (and us too).

Published in: on October 26, 2009 at 2:08 am  Comments (1)  

Let Your kingdom come in my world and in my life.

I just got home from a very, very good evening with Jon, J&L, and new friends from church. From start to finish, the whole evening was great. The minute I got in the car to drive home, Jon Foreman’s song Your Love Is Strong popped into my head.  I’ve mentioned before that music is the easiest way for me to express affection to (and receive it from) God…

So background on the thoughts I have…. Tonight Jon and I spent some time together, and then met another couple from church for dinner along with James and Lindsay.  It was great fellowship, getting to know new friends that are awesome and love the Lord. We left from there and met two others to watch Where the Wild Things Are. It was a great movie with so many undertones of the human heart. I’ll spare the details of the actual movie and move on to the thoughts that it, combined with the rest of the evening, left me.

It’s really incredible how we all have some degree of loneliness in our hearts. I would bet my life that every person that has lived has experienced feelings of despondence at the thought of possibly being accepted.  I know that when I see someone in a situation where they feel left out, alone, misunderstood, i resonate with that… And I know it’s not just me. And Satan plays at that. He gets it and that is often where he hits me the hardest, knocking down my confidence and security.

Foreman’s song is so full of Truth. I love the line: “Two things You told me: that You are strong and You love me.” That is so good. God presented Himself to us as a the Creator, Conqueror, Redeemer, Rescuer, Perfector, Warrior, King… then He says, “And I love you.” I love that. He knows I need that. I can’t see or feel him tangibly, but I know He is Good and He is Strong. Therefore, I can trust that His love is Perfect and perfects.  So I can live… not exist, not just do my thing, but LIVE! And part of living is ignoring the lies of fear. Fear of loneliness, fear of inadequacy, fear of mediocrity, etc…

C.S. Lewis got it right when he said, If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was not made for here.  We have not yet experienced God’s Kingdom in its entirety. However, He gave us each other, and although we are not perfect, we can experience the Kingdom through fellowship with each other. I really don’t see a point of anything outside of relationship. God said the two most important things were to have a relationship with him and to have a relationship with others. That is, after all, what love is, isn’t it? Spending quality time in fellowship, vulnerability, passion-sharing, edification, encouragement…. Love is sitting in a living room talking about good beer, getting a cup of coffee, eating dinner, worshiping together, girls-night-in with flannel PJs, watching a movie, serving together…. It’s the simple things , the deep things, and also going to the places where we hurt. Love is played out in so many stinking ways… And we do this stuff with each other (love), we experience God’s Kingdom.

The New Testament is full of this kind of love. Paul & /Timothy write letters to the people of different cities out of love for them because of their love for Christ. The letters are seeping with love for God and his work. And you can really hear the heart for these people too. The beginning and end of pretty much every letter just says, “Hey! God is amazing, and I love y’all!!” Just a bit more eloquently than that. 😉

Driving home, I was thinking about the abandon and vulnerability it takes to trust and therefore love. (The “churchy” answer would say that I trust God, but do I really? I wish I did, fully.) I know I just said it’s simple to love Him and each other, but it’s scary too.  But God didn’t call us to love safely. He called us to love.

So here’s to friends, love, and the Kingdom….

Heavenly Father
You always amaze me
Let your kingdom come
In my world and in my life
You give me the food I need
To live through the day
And forgive me as I forgive
The people that wronged me
Lead me far from temptation
Deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place
I look at the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day

So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

The kingdom of the heavens
Is now advancing
Invade my heart
Invade this broken town
The kingdom of the heavens
Is buried treasure
Will you sell yourself
To buy the one you’ve found?

Two things you told me
That you are strong
And you love me
Yes, you love me

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

Our God in heaven
Hallowed be
Thy name above all names
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us wicked sinners
Lead us far away from our vices
And deliver us from these prisons

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 5:59 am  Leave a Comment  

The Communion of Saints

I had coffee this weekend with a very, very cool person. Her name is Emily . We talked about a lot of wonderful things, and one topic in particular welled up something in me that continued on into church this morning. It’s Communion.

Growing up I never really thought about it much. Sometimes I was afraid I wasn’t right to take it (which, at the time was based entirely on legalism), and other times I probably should have let it pass and didn’t. But communion itself I think has become a passive thing. This was our topic on Saturday.

It’s just too easy to do without a second thought. It isn’t sufficiently guarded. I think it was Martin Luther that protected the communion table with his life from those who were not worthy to take it. It’s a big deal. He did write about how it should be:

(Excerpted from An Order of Mass and communion for the Church at Wittenberg, 1523; LW, 53, 32f.)

Here one should follow the same usage as with baptism, namely, that the bishop [pastor] be informed of those who want to commune. They should request in person to receive the Lord’s Supper so that he may be able to know both their names and manner of life. And let him not admit the applicants unless they can give a reason for their faith and can answer questions about what the Lord’s Supper is, what its benefits are, and what they expect to derive from it. In other words, they should be able to repeat the Words of Institution from memory and to explain that they are coming because they are troubled by the consciousness of their sin, the fear of death, or some other evil, such as temptation of the flesh, the world, or the devil, and now hunger and thirst to receive the word and sign of grace and salvation from the Lord himself through the ministry of the bishop [pastor], so that they may be consoled and comforted; this was Christ’s purpose, when he in priceless love gave and instituted this Supper, and said, “Take and eat,” etc.

But I think it enough for the applicants for communion to be examined or explored once a year. Indeed, a man may be so understanding that he needs to be questioned only once in his lifetime or not at all. For, by this practice, we want to guard lest the worthy and unworthy alike rush to the Lord’s Supper, as we have hitherto seen done in the Roman church. There they seek only to communicate; but the faith, the comfort, the use and benefit of the Supper are not even mentioned or considered. Nay, they have taken pains to hide the Words of Institution, which are the bread of life itself, and have furiously tried to make the communicants perform a work, supposedly good in itself, instead of letting their faith be nourished and strengthened by the goodness of Christ. Those, therefore, who are not able to answer in the manner described above should be completely excluded and banished from the communion of the Supper, since they are without the wedding garment (Matthew 22.11-12).

When the bishop [pastor] has convinced himself that they understand all these things, he should also observe whether they prove their faith and understanding in their life and conduct. For Satan, too, understands and can talk about all these things. Thus if the pastor should see a fornicator, adulterer, drunkard, gambler, usurer, slanderer, or anyone else disgraced by a manifest vice, he should absolutely exclude such person from the Supper – unless he can give good evidence that his life has been changed. For the Supper need not be denied to those who sometimes fall and rise again, but grieve over their lapse. Indeed, we must realize that it was instituted just for such people so that they may be refreshed and strengthened. “For in many things we offend all” (James 3.2). And we “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6.2), since we are burdening one another. But I was speaking of arrogant people who sin brazenly and without fear while they boast glorious things about the gospel.

And not that it should be a legalistic thing, but the reverence is gone.

Emily and I were talking about how cool it would be to have communion as an invitation only event. Something that you have to be intentional about. It would be so great to have a real communion supper in small groups were people know each other intimately enough to know the table is being protected. I would love to be a part of that. I think it’s completely feasible too. I think Perimeter’s gym service and The Vine do a good job with communion on Sunday with the elders serving us and calling us by name as they give the sacraments. BUT in a more perfect world, communion in the former would be amazing.

John Calvin has an essay on communion that I recommend everyone read. I think we all just grew up taking communion without ever really taking a minute to study the facets of the gift. It makes you realize (a little more) how precious it is.

Here are some points from that excerpt that I especially liked:

Our Lord, therefore, instituted the Supper, first, in order to sign and seal in our consciences the promises contained in his gospel concerning our being made partakers of his body and blood, and to give us certainty and assurance that therein lies our trio spiritual nourishment, and that having such an earnest, we may entertain a right reliance on salvation. Secondly, in order to exercise us in recognising his great goodness toward us, and thus lead us to laud and magnify him more fully. Thirdly, in order to exhort us to all holiness and innocence, inasmuch as we are members of Jesus Christ; and specially to exhort us to union and brotherly charity, as we are expressly commanded.

It is very true that we have an evidence of his paternal goodness in maintaining our bodies, seeing that we partake in all the good things which he gives us with his blessing. But as the life into which he has begotten us again is spiritual, so must the food, in order to preserve and strengthen us, be spiritual also.

For we must not imagine that there is life any where than in God. But just as God has placed all fulness of life in Jesus, in order to communicate it to us by his means, so he ordained his word as the instrument by which Jesus Christ, with all his graces, is dispensed to us. Still it always remains true, that our souls have no other pasture than Jesus Christ. Our heavenly Father, therefore, in his care to nourish us, gives us no other, but rather recommends us to take our fill there, as a refreshment amply sufficient, with which we cannot dispense, and beyond which no other can be found.

For seeing we are so weak that we cannot receive him with true heartfelt trust, when he is presented to us by simple doctrine and preaching, the Father of mercy, disdaining not to condescend in this matter to our infirmity, has been pleased to add to his word a visible sign, by which he might represent the substance of his promises, to confirm and fortify us by delivering us from all doubt and uncertainty. Since, then, there is something so mysterious and incomprehensible in saying that we have communion with the body and the blood of Jesus Christ, and we on our part are so rude and gross that we cannot understand the least things of God, it was of importance that we should be given to understand it as far as our capacity could admit.

Here, then, is the singular consolation which we derive from the Supper. It directs and leads us to the cross of Jesus Christ and to his resurrection, to certify us that whatever iniquity there may be in us, the Lord nevertheless recognises and accepts us as righteous—whatever materials of death may be in us, he nevertheless gives us life— whatever misery. may be in us, he nevertheless fills us with all felicity. Or to explain the matter more simply—as in ourselves we are devoid of all good, and have not one particle of what might help to procure salvation, the Supper is an attestation that, having been made partakers of the death and passion of Jesus Christ, we have every thing that is useful and salutary to us.

For in ourselves we are so negligent that we rarely think of the goodness of God, if he do not arouse us from our indolence, and urge us to our duty. Now there cannot be a spur which can pierce us more to the quick than when he makes us, so to speak, see with the eye, touch with the hand, and distinctly perceive this inestimable blessing of feeding on his own substance. This he means to intimate when he commands us to show forth his death till he come. (1 Cor. xi. 26.) If it is then so essential to salvation not to overlook the gifts which God has given us, but diligently to keep them in mind, and extol them to others for mutual edification; we see another singular advantage of the Supper in this, that it draws us off from ingratitude, and allows us not to forget the benefit which our Lord Jesus bestowed upon us in dying for us, but induces us to render him thanks, and, as it were, publicly protest how much we are indebted to him.

For seeing we have been made members of Jesus Christ, being incorporated into him, and united with him as our head, it is most reasonable that we should become conformable to him in purity and innocence, and especially that we should cultivate charity and concord together as becomes members of the same body. But to understand this advantage properly, we must not suppose that our Lord warns, incites, and inflames our hearts by the external sign merely; for the principal point is, that he operates in us inwardly by his Holy Spirit, in order to give efficacy to his ordinance, which he has destined for that purpose, as an instrument by which he wishes to do his work in us. Wherefore, inasmuch as the virtue of the Holy Spirit is conjoined with the sacraments when we duly receive them, we have reason to hope they will prove a good mean and aid to make us grow and advance in holiness of life, and specially in charity.

Published in: on October 12, 2009 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  

“What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

I am so thankful that God laid it on my heart in February of 2008 to journal.  If you know me at all, you know that this is a huge soapbox thing in my life. And God has used it to reveal Truth to me every single day.

I was reading John Piper’s blog this morning about living by faith in future grace and another by Jon Bloom called What I am doing you do not understand now. In Bloom’s blog, he noted the story of Jesus washing Peters feet. He gave a little bit of a background behind the culture’s perspective on feet, and it brought to life the magnitude of what Jesus was doing. Feet were a lot more gross then apparently. Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet, and Jesus basically told him, “Look, I know you dont get it right now, but you will. Trust me.” And we get to read the journal of the Bible and see where Jesus was taking the disciples. But I completely understand Peter, being in the moment, not getting it.

Being on night shift has given me a special opportunity (did i just say that??) to take time and read more than one entry of my old journal.  I’ve literally read the story of my life day by day over months at a time. Most of the time I was kicking and screaming. It goes by so quickly when each day is a few pages long. (And really, isn’t that what each day is? But a breath taken for granted? thats a whole other topic) I see my unfaithfulness to trust that God knows what he is doing with my life, and His inexhaustible faithfulness to fulfill his promises to me. It reminds me that in current situations… when I feel like I’ve been thrown in the deep end of a pool and I’m flinging all my limbs around trying just to get a breath… Jesus is right there. He knows I don’t get it right now, but I will.

John Piper talked about Living in future grace, and how that produces radical love. The more I think about life, the more I realize that everything is a byproduct of love.  The Bible says that all the commandments given to us will fall into place if we only hold to the greatest commandment: Love God; and the second, Love People.

Knowing the future grace promised to us is a lot easier when you can look back and see the grace He has already lavished on you. Our humanity causes us to forget, and we need to be reminded. I am so thankful for my journal because I am humbled by how quickly I forget what the Lord has done for me. And then when I remember, the overwhelming joy sustains me and helps me trust in future grace.

I was recently talking to a group of girls about whether or not they believed God really would give them what they wanted in life. When they thought about it and honestly answered, not a single one believed that God would give them things according to their individual heart’s desire. I think the majority all of us would say the same thing if we were honest.  But that isn’t the Truth. Ephesians 3 tells us that God will give us more than we even dare ask for. And His infinite wisdom knows what we really would want and need, even when our finite perspective doesn’t. What a great God!!!

So this is an encouragement urge to you… just take 15 minutes and write down what your heart is honestly feeling. Write about what you are going through. Don’t hold anything back. Be embarrassed to read your own thoughts.We are imperfect people in a fallen world  with a story that God is perfectly molding in his unfathomable love. And read through the Bible. Get a big-picture understanding of God’s faithfulness and redemption… It’s so amazing.

Know that God loves you deeply and intimately. Consider the impact it has had on your life. Present your response to His love as intensely as you would to someone you love on earth. What would that look like??

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

“”Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3

Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 9:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Adventures in Ellijay

Last Saturday Jon & I drove up to Ellijay with Dudley to pick some apples.

Ellijay is apparently the best place for apple picking, and Google told us about this great orchard where we could pick tons of varieties of apples, watch pig races, and milk a cow. We were sold. We headed up 575 to the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack with a cloudless sky over us. Couldn’t get any better…

IMG_0812

Luckily, dogs were allowed when we got there, and Duds did SO well with all the people. However, he didn’t like the cows so much. And apples do a great job of covering up puppy poo when you don’t have a bag. 🙂 Dudley retired to the car when our apple bag was full, and we explored the rest of Hillcrest. The milking supervisor man was super grumpy, and actually pushed Jon away from the cow as we were taking a picture. Apparently that’s a first line of defense rather than just asking us to not get so close. Oh well! The experience was complete with cloggers, pig racing, little redneck families, and the smell of funnel cake. Jon and I found a chair swing and took a moment to soak it all in and people watch under the shade of an apple tree.

IMG_0764IMG_0786IMG_0783

After we left the orchards we were both starving, and luckily just down the street was a great BBQ place owned by an old patient of mine. He had invited Jon and I (“you come and bring that youth pastor boyfriend of yours!”) when I took care of him in the hospital. I never actually thought we would be able to go, but I’m glad we did!

When we arrived, Col. Poole’s son directed us to the room where he and his wife were sitting with friends. We were greeted so warmly, treated to lunch, and got to soak in some old-man wisdom. Col. Poole read to us from his personal journal on conservatism, and about how the Holy Spirit is in everything. Its so cool to listen to a man well into his years, that has experienced a lot, pass on some of his wisdom. We had to take the good with the bad though and listen to a lot of conversation we didn’t care about from other people, and actually drove us pretty crazy. One in particular that didn’t know much vocabulary outside of “I, me, mine, etc.” But it was worth it, and Jon was so patient!! All in all, we enjoyed ourselves. 🙂

IMG_0798IMG_0799IMG_0801

I couldn’t have asked for better weather, a better trip, or better company.  🙂

Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Collect the Moments, One by One

Its a b-e-a-utiful night!! I’m sitting outside of the Duluth Starbucks enjoying 58 degrees of awesome. Night-shifters are uniting. There are a couple of cops here hanging out on their shift… that must be nice. They are talking about how many calories are in their Starbucks drinks. Ha… We have been exchanging stories. I think public health and safety service workers like cops, nurses, fireman, etc should have mixers. I would go to every single one. In fact, I’d plan them.

I’m really starting trying to have a better attitude about working nights. It’s hard when you wake up at 4:00pm on your day off and by the time you’re ready to go out the door, its pretty much night. I had about a million things I wanted/needed to do today and noooone of them got done.

But tonight was better than usual cause I did get to see my BFF Kylie Lynn… I could not be more thankful for that girl. She is my female soulmate. 🙂 I got to see her new house that is SO cute and I can’t wait to see what they do to it. It’s already so homey and with her creative mind it’ll be so nice in no time. She and Jeff have already done a lot to it. I am so proud of my twin 🙂

kylica jylie IMG_1039

She still has our mascot from our freshman college dorm. Room 2006! That was 6 years ago now… crazy! I blindfolded him when Ky got married, for his sake. He has remained blindfolded ever since. That was almost 2 years ago. Can’t believe it!!

We went to target and found some great hats, scarves, and GLOVES that we are both very excited about. And we found gloves that have removable index finger and thumbs so you can text…. never thought I would see that.

In other news:

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating… I really love how the Holy Spirit reveals Truth bit by bit. He is so wise (duh) because there is no way we could handle it all at once. I am so so thankful that He gives me these tiny little pieces to chew on. And the fact that I know there is so much more than I could ever imagine is amazing…. Learning something new about my God every day makes me fall in love more and more. I know I will never perfectly understand, but He gives me His perfect love and wisdom and peace and strength… I can’t even begin to express how great that is… Anyways I like to talk through these truths as He reveals them. Cause even the “littlest” thing still blows my mind.

I have been thinking a lot lateley about the journey.  I recently had a quote on Facebook that Randy Pope used in his sermon. It’s a quote from Fenelon’s On the Advantages of the Cross.

But God, who has power to save us without the cross, has not willed it so, in like manner as he has willed that men should arrive at maturity by degrees, and first pass through all the weaknesses of childhood, rather than be born in the full strength of riper years. In this He is the Master; our part is to be silent, and adore His profound wisdom, although we do not comprehend it.

I think so often I live for the goal and not for the journey. It’s been a constant challenge to remember to savor what I have right now. I think this is why I have started (read: started) to be ok with my current schedule. Because this is life. It’s a gift… I think everyone should journal. I really had to try to jot stuff down everyday when I started, but now I get to look back a year ago and read my own story. It has made me so much more thankful for every single day. I can see God shaping my story, and the story of the people around me.

Jon recently talked about being “in the now” and that was another reminder that I shouldn’t be so focused on “getting to where I’m going.” There is so much right now that I do enjoy and needs to be savoured.

And then there are those parts of the journey that no one would say they enjoy. The weakness of childhood is such a good analogy. Looking back over the last few years of my life, I have had my “fair share” of really tough stuff. I have kicked and screamed through a lot of it too. This is one of the reasons why I love journaling so much… I see my mindset over a span of days, weeks, months, and how scared I was not knowing what was ahead of me… But when I come out on the other side of a struggle, I am so very thankful that God, in His infinite wisdom, did not immediately give me what I wanted/needed. Patience is a virtue that is learned. Furthermore, I feel like the waiting, the struggles, the uncertainty… it causes me to TRUST that God really will fulfill his promises for me. It also makes the end so much sweeter. So simple a truth, but I need to remind myself of that when stuff just hurts sometimes.

I love the story of the refiner…

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. He not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”
He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy—when I see my image in it”

God uses this analogy a lot.

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.” Malachi 3:3

8Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:8-12

Hosea 2 is another beautiful picture of God leading us through tough stuff to get to a place that is infinitely better than where we were in the first place.

Knowing all this, why would anyone really want to just arrive at the end?

We’ll collect the moments one by one. I guess that’s how the future’s done.

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment