Friday, April 21, 2017

I Have a Couch!

So, I've had this couch for a while now. I bought it when I got my apartment after I finished college. It's kinda a weird color somewhere in between dark gray and brown, and I'm pretty sure it's made out of carpet material. On one side it's shredded, like maybe a dog used to love the same couch. Did I mention it came from Goodwill?

My apartment has some other quirky decorations. Right above that couch is a beautiful clock, and it doesn't really match the couch. All around the ceiling is green Christmas garland left over from my wedding decorations. I count seven different shades of wood on as many other pieces of furniture (more than half of those pieces are bookcases - some six feet tall, one is only about three and a half feet). My kitchen is in the shared laundry room across the hall - ok, it's not a kitchen, but I leave my toaster oven and crockpot there.

I'm not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me. As I'm sitting on my queen sized bed (with a king sized blanket) I'm smiling. I love my home!

Why? Because this is the home God provided for me and Stephen. Most of our furniture was given to us, and looking at my wedding decorations always makes me think about my wonderful wedding and the people God has put in my life that made my wedding possible.

With all of that, there's a lot around me to make me feel inadequate. My favorite place to go hang out while Stephen and I were dating was IKEA. Everything there is beautiful, new, and matching. Nothing has been pre-loved.

Then I look at Facebook. I see cooking videos I cannot make with what I have right now (although I have tried some of them). I see lots of women my age, or younger, having babies. It makes me feel like something is wrong with me because I "waited" so long to get married. Then I look around my home again, and realize there is no room for a crib, so we're all good for now. 😉

Everywhere around me, I can see life from two different perspectives. The one that makes me feel like I am loved by God and the people around me. And the perspective that tells me I don't know how to love myself enough.

Does that seem like a leap to you? I'm not saying that having matching furniture or babies is a bad thing (trust me, I LOVE the cute pictures). But why? Changing my status in life is only a good thing when it is to continue to fulfill God's call on my life in His timing. If the changes are brought about to fulfill my own desires, or to make my life look better or more Facebook worthy, or to bring me more in step with my peers, these are not coming from God! This is wrong! Don't believe me? Look at 1 John 2:16.

Ladies, you don't have to have mismatched furniture or live in a hobbit hole to be spiritual. But you also don't have to follow a diet, have a birthing plan, or decorate your home based on a Pinterest color palette. Love God first, love others next, and smile at your perfect little home and life. It'll probably change when you're not looking.

Because of Him,


My husband and I in our beat up '95 Buick leaving on our honeymoon :)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Leaving My Love for Less

"Why" is my favorite question. The answer to it always tells so much about a person, if they answer it honestly and completely (although if they don't answer honestly, that also explains a lot). I routinely ask myself this question about various life issues.

For example, I am switching jobs next month. Why am I doing that? I have a couple of reasons. My old job was very stressful (I've heard my new job is too.....). I had a forever long commute - like, an hour. Each way. That plus a 1 hour lunch made my days 11 hours long - and I still had to find time to live, love, and serve. That's a pretty good reason. I'm not switching for the pay. Working for a lawyer vs. working for a pastor, enh, God will provide. I stopped trying to do the math in my finances a while ago. Some more reasons: saving on gas, free lunch, and a flexible schedule.

Those are all perks, and not bad things. But at the root of my decision to switch jobs, was simply because now my husband and I will be working at the same place (not in the same office, though. That could get awkward - for everyone else). And coming in a very close second is the opportunity to work full time for my church. Those are my reasons.

The reason I ask so many questions of others and myself is because I love to set goals. And I love to achieve them. I've wondered a few times if this is for my own personal glory and satisfaction, but most of the times the why answer is not inherently selfish. I set daily goals at work, and I feel good about reaching them, but in reality I set them so that I produce at the level expected of me at work. 

So, goals and why stopped my brain in the middle of my Sunday evening class (sorry, Pastor Todd). Lately, I've been struggling like nobody's business to be in my Bible (see above mentioned long work day). I've been convicted about it, and I try to set goals and work and plan and schedule - and I'm still failing. 

I've always been a failure to a certain degree in this area. But I've never really asked myself why. So here goes. 

I want to study my Bible, memorize, and pray more because I studied ministry and that's what ministry people do. Because I know I should. Because I have people who ask me ministry/Bible questions, and I love people/counseling. Because I want to write more on this blog. Because I'm serving as a full time ministry person this summer. Because I feel like a failure. 

So, last week this is again on my heart as I'm in the morning service, and I begin to write down my plan. Every week, I will:

1. Translate 1 Chapter from the Greek
2. Memorize 1 Chapter
3. Write 1 Devotional Blog Post
4. Pray through every prayer card 1x
5. Do a Bio of God on 1 Chapter

Plus, I made a calendar of which books of the Bible I'm studying! Yay Goals! 


Yeah, I read through Galatians 2 or 3 times this week, and I found my Greek New Testament (took me like 2 whole minutes because it was on the bookcase where it belonged). And here I am working on the blog post! I actually wasn't planning on writing this until this evening, which was long after I had forgotten all of my goals. 

Because I have forgotten why. 

No, all the reasons above are still there, but I need to put them back in the perks category.

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,

I have lost focus on the one Who called me to Himself, and have created a different ideal of what a perfect life is, a different gospel or good news. 

A couple of things, this passage is addressed to Christians who are listening to teachers who insist on legalism as a requirement for salvation. Though I would not say that I have added to or taken away from the Gospel, I have distorted my view on what the Christian life is about. And Salvation is not a moment, though it happens in a moment, but a continuing status. 

And this happens quickly, like Paul says! One minute I am completely in love with Christ and His Word, and the next I'm making rules and disciplining myself to reach my goals. I've been told that when we don't feel like doing our devotions, we should do them anyway because we won't always want to love our spouse, but we have to anyway.

I have always thought that was a good reason! Now I'm reconsidering. If you don't want to do your devotions, maybe you should find out why. (There's that question again) Maybe you have been intentionally sinning. That'll kill your love for Christ quickly. Maybe, you're being selfish in your life, and would rather serve you than spend time with the lover of your soul. That would be a problem. Maybe you have allowed the cares of the day to burden you until you are exhausted and need more sleep. Yes, I said need. Cast your care on Him! Take His light burden. Life happens, and you may not have 45 minutes a day everyday - but it's not about the long chunks of time (even though you MUST get those) but about the moment-by-moment heart connection with God. 

Play-acting love is not healthy in a relationship, and it is not healthy in our spiritual life. Don't force it, unless you want to force it for the rest of your life. 

My life is not to be lived by a checklist or obligation, but rather by the answer to this question:


Because of Him.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Millenials, The Harvest Is For You

I'm in an interesting point in my life. College is done, I just got married, and I'm pretty sure I'm not quite in my career yet. Last year, I had just moved back from college, I was dating and pretty sure I was going to marry Stephen, but anything could happen. I got a good enough job to pay my rent in my own apartment. But I didn't know what was happening next. But I had God. He was taking care of me, providing for me, and He knew what was going to happen next. Sometimes adulting is scary, but I never had to worry because I had the God of the future doing my meal planning.

But my friends, my peers, what would it be like if you don't know God? Even if you have a bad relationship with God, you can always turn to Him. But there is a world that is lost who cannot turn to Him. They are lost! They don't know where to turn! 

I have a friend who is in this position. She isn't saved. She has no family out here. She is paying her rent on her own, and working 2 jobs to do it. I don't think she has a boyfriend, but she wants to get married someday. 

But she is lost. She has no hope in her life besides just making in through the week.
Millennials want transparency. They want to know the truth, whether they like it or not (they will also, in the spirit of transparency, tell you that they don't like it). Our parents grew up in a secular world of relativism, and a spiritual world of regulation. But our world cannot be like that. I have yet to meet a millennial who outright rejected me for my beliefs, but I have often met ones who were willing to listen and disagree with me. 

Stop thinking about yourself and being afraid of rejection. Use the culture for your advantage. But not for your advantage, for the goal of working as a field hand in the Master's harvest. 

We've been told as a generation that we can do whatever we want, which must mean being president or an astronaut or a lawyer. There is nothing wrong with any of those jobs, but if we can be what ever we want, why not choose to be a Spurgeon? Why not a Jim Elliot? Why not an Amy Charmichal? All that is required to serve is a submissive love for our good God. 

Millennials, our parents and grandparents look at us and do not understand how to reach us through our world of technology. But we do. We can reach our peers. We understand the hipster coffee scene. We understand the minimalist lifestyle. We understand the importance of accumulating experience as opposed to accumulating stuff. 

But we have to push to get out of our group. That is hard. We as Christians have to invest time with one person at a time. Millennials like groups. Introverts have Facebook groups and extroverts have Friday night groups. And we are all very good at group communication. We can send out a tweet, or post on Instagram. But the pretty Bible verse or awesome ambiguous quote is not going to change anyone's mind. It's the conversation you have, one on one. 

~Matthew 9:36-38~
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Our lifestyle has become one of the most meaningless forms of existence in history. We have traded relationships for Facebook friends. Our generation has been taught that anything is acceptable and what is not acceptable should be thrown away. When all truth has been erased and morals are reduced to what we feel, there are no answers for the evil in this world that we have suddenly arrived in as adults. 

I would like to add that as of right now, this story does not have a happy ending. My friend has been to my church's property, but has yet to attend a service. I have also not yet been able to have more than a few brief conversations, but I am confident that God is pursuing her. 

Because of Him,

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Change, Not Work

A Christian is not someone who does Christian things, a Christian is someone who is changed.
It's so hard to explain a Christian to someone who is not. There seem to be so many rules, but we teach grace. There is so much to do, but we teach that God has done everything. There is so much for us to change, but everyday we fail, and we all know Christians who do not act like Christians.
What in the world???
How can anyone do everything right the whole time???

How can anyone be a Christian, when so much is required?

What if nothing is required to be a Christian?

I love being married. I love having a husband, someone I know is there every night, no matter what. A lot changed, though, when I got married. My schedule changed. I now live somewhere else, so my commute to work is different. When I get off work, I can't just stop on my way home if I want to, because his class schedule is such that if we want to see each other, I have to come right back. I used to work out almost every night, and call him while I was at the gym. Now, he prefers me to either be with him or to go to the gym together. It used to not matter what or if I ate dinner (or any other meal). If I was meeting with a friend for the evening, I could eat at midnight or not at all.

But why did I change? Not because I'm required to, but because I'm requested to. Or even not requested to, but because I'm so in love with my husband, that I want to do what would make him happiest. I'm his wife because I vowed to be, not because of what I do.

Another thing I would like to add, everyone's relationship with their spouse looks a little different. Not everyone has their spouse taking night classes. Maybe both or neither are. Maybe you're not working, but your husband is. That's OK. What's important is that you love your spouse the way that is best for them.
You should spend time with God every day! Read your Bible! Pray! Why? Because it's what all Christians do? No! Because this God who loves you and died for you wrote down all this information about Who He is! Listen to Him! Talk to Him! Just like I would tell a wife to spend time with her husband, it's not legalism or required performance, it just makes sense.
Now let's think about this in relation to our relationship with God. When you get saved, you should change. Your schedule should change. What you do should change. How you live should change. Not because God requires it, but because He loves you and you love Him.

You should also be going to church regularly. You should be involved in your church too. Why? Because in Hebrews we are told to not forsake assembling together with other believers because it helps us to encourage each other to love and serve others.

So... What if what we do is because we were changed and we want to love God, because He first loved us and gave Himself for us. We will not do what Christians do, we will be what Christians are.


Because of Him,


Monday, January 2, 2017

Thoughts on Love from a Marriage Expert

Yes, I am a marriage expert. I have been married for 12 whole days now (give or take a few hours).

No, I don't expect anyone to take me seriously.

2.5 years ago, my darling first told me he liked me. 9 months later, he told me he loved me. And some days I feel like that is all I know about him.

But that's all I need to know.

Oh, I can give you details about his favorite food, hobbies, and what he's studying in college - but you could probably get that out of him too. That's the kind of stuff you find out in a getting to know you conversation.

Maybe the next time you talk, you would ask his dreams and aspirations. He's got them.

But I am his wife. I know he loves me. And he doesn't love you the same way.

I'm very skittish about relationships (I've been burned a few times), and I don't believe people when they tell me they like me. Much less love me. You can say that, but I will immediately build a wall to keep from getting hurt again. And it's not that I like you any less or care about you any less, but I still won't trust you. That's my problem. Not yours. And frankly, I don't expect you to make me trust you. Like I said, my problem.

But for the past 2.5 years, my darling has been proving to me how much he liked me. And how much he loved me. When we first started dating, he couldn't wait to hear from me.We were on other sides of the country writing emails at least every day, if not more. Phone calls often didn't work out because of logistics and timing. I remember being a little uncomfortable with this. He actually wanted to know what I was doing every day. He cared about my classes, my friends, whether I was getting enough sleep. He and I discussed philosophy and our relationship with God.

I already liked him, but now I was falling in love with him. He was wonderful, Godly, sweet, and he cared about me.

But I didn't believe him when after 9 months of 1000+ word emails daily, he told me he loved me. It wasn't my picture perfect moment (but I've come to realize that those really only come in Disney movies). We were Skyping, and I actually didn't understand him when he said it, so I had to ask him to repeat himself, just because that was the last thing I was expecting him to say.

Even though I knew that I loved him, there was a part of me that didn't completely believe what he was saying.

Now, we are 22 months later, and I believe him. The poor guy went through a lot trying to convince me. He repeated himself, wrote letters to me, and just stayed  me. When a lesser man would have gotten frustrated because I was still pushing back, he kept pulling me in.

I considered breaking up with him so many times, but I never once heard that he ever seriously thought about it. He loves me. He wanted me to be the woman who is by his side every single day.

He listened when my day was hard, bought me chocolate to make me fat (jk, but some days are just perfect for a bite or 2 of dark chocolate), and never backed away until he knew that I knew he loved me.

And then he proposed.

But I learned something about him yesterday. He is a very busy man.

We were in between family events and it was a long day after a very long night, when his phone rang. It was something else for him to take care of. Another problem for him to fix.

I knew he was tired, and I was frustrated at the people who were making him tired.

But this is the man I married. A man who will sacrificially serve others. A man who is always busy, but doesn't look like it.

Now, I really know what it took, all those times I just needed to hear his voice say "I love you". All of the times I asked him to go out of his way to spend time with me. All of dating and the long process to marry me.

Now all I know of my husband, is that he loves me.

This reminds me of Christ, our heavenly bridegroom (see Ephesian 5:25) who loved us sacrificially. He died, and gave himself for us, shouting to all ages His love for us. And here we are 2,000 years later, still pushing back. Doubting Him, demanding He cater to our needs, and pushing back on spending time with Him because we don't understand His love. We have pages upon pages of His letter to us.

How have we made it this long without seeing Him for Who He truly is? The One Person Who above and beyond all earthly companions has proved His love for us? Romans 5:8 tells how the love of Christ compelled Him to die for us while we were still sinners and rejecting Him. (See also John 3:16). He died for all, and He specifically loves you.

Seeing this and allowing it to permeate our lives are completely different things. Just like I could hear the words "I love you", and not allow it to affect me. I needed to trust Stephen that his love for me was real. And live my life like it was. I had to say yes to his proposal.

How does Christ's love change our lives? It should change us into His image. We should become like Him.

We should love Him. And respect Him. And give our lives, pledging ourselves only unto Him, till death do us unite.

Because of Him,


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Walk by Faith

I wasn't planning on a theme, but faith comes up once again in my personal devotions and thoughts. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we have at least one iteration of the phrase "we walk by faith and not by sight." Our eternal existence is based entirely on faith that what we read in a Book written 2000 years ago is true. The way we act displays (or it should) our eternal destination. To put it another way, if this life isn't all there is, then Christians use their time on earth in a different way than unbelievers.

So, assuming the above is true, and everyone reading this is a Christian.... why don't we act like it? No, I am not talking about manners or mannerisms. I am talking about living a life that acts like the God in the Bible is real. He has given so many promises! Matthew 6 talks about how He knows you need food and clothing, and He will take care of you! Deuteronomy 31 says that God will never leave us. This is in the context of fighting a battle! If God is on your side in any battle, you know the outcome. The same concept of His presence is also in Hebrews 13:5. This promise is to reassure us as His children, and to turn our eyes away from lusting and coveting.

Earlier in Hebrews, God gives us a list of people who lived by faith. They acted out and spoke about what they knew to be true about God. And what they did was pretty crazy. Noah built an ark for 100 years, and no one outside his family believed him enough to even get on the boat just in case. Abraham left the protection of his family clan to travel to a place that he didn't know. And God didn't tell him where he was going, He just told him to walk. Imagine trying to explain that to your relatives.

But God knew what He was doing. He had a plan that was bigger than what made sense. He wanted to redeem all of mankind.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't plan for the future (you can look at Proverbs if you want verses on that), but I would like to say that maybe it's not our future to plan. You can go to school and learn a lot, and end up working for McDonalds the rest of your life because you can't find another job. You can work hard and move up to the top of the corporate ladder, if you want to.

Maybe instead of looking at what makes the most sense financially, it's time to look at what God wants you to do. Work hard, but only as unto God (Colossians 3:22 ff). Decide how to spend your time and resources by faith. Yeah, I mean that we should be praying about everything. And we need to follow Him on whatever path He directs us whenever He directs us.

I've heard some stories about people who were called to be missionaries, and then they never made it for one reason or another, and disaster struck their family. I know that God does chasten His children to get us to where we need to be, but I don't think that happens in every situation. I think we can decide to not follow God's leading, but we will miss out on a reward that is eternal in heaven. Maybe that means that our 401k is not as big as our financial adviser would like it to be. Maybe we don't ever get to have a new car or a big home. This world is not all there is.

Has God asked you to walk?

Because of Him,

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pray in Faith

Maybe you've seen the movie War Room, maybe every message you've heard lately has reminded you to pray, maybe the state of the country has you turning to God with more questions than He seems to be answering right now. I don't know. For me, though, I have been reminded to pray nearly every day for the past six weeks. Would you believe I still forget all the time?

The reason I forget is because I have requests on my list that are still unanswered. Requests I have been praying about for 4-5 years. I know I'm young, and that might not seem like a lot of time to some of the women who read this, but some of these requests deal with situations that affect me all day every day.

The reason I forget is because I can always find something else that needs to be done now, and I'll make sure to have my quiet time later. I need to make dinner so that it will be ready when my roommate gets back. I need to do laundry because I've been putting it off for too long. I need to spend time with my boyfriend since we've been long distance for a year and a half, and now we are finally living in the same state again.

The reason I forget is because my schedule has been too crazy since I finished school, moved across the country, and started a new job. I haven't even been able to figure out a way to make sure I text everyone I want to stay in touch with on a regular basis.

The reason I forget is because I forget how weak I am. My life doesn't work without God.

I have seen God answer prayer before. Once, when I was 13 or 14, I wanted to go to camp so badly. My parents had sent us when we were in 6th grade to Jr camp and that was all that we could expect. We didn't spend a lot of time away from home without them. I remember asking God to please let me go to camp and provide the money somehow. I had enough to pay for half, and the babysitting business had been slow. I never told my parents about that prayer. I never told anyone. The night before we had to sign up for camp, my mom told me, out of the blue, that they would be willing to pay for half, if I wanted to go to camp that year. That's what God does for a kid!

Three and a half years ago, I wanted to go to college, and I had been asking God for some way to be able to go. He provided a job that allowed me to be able to go.

Last year, I was struggling to get enough to pay my school bill by just working on campus, so I applied for a job off campus. After three tries to get to the interview (we had some beautiful snow days!) I was offered the position at twice what I had been making at BJU. But I didn't have a car, and I knew my friends couldn't drive me to work all the time. I had $1000 and 2 days. God provided a car off of craigslist that actually ran, had low mileage, and still has not needed a major repair.

This past month, I had a roommate set up, but I didn't have a job. God provided a job within 36 hours of arriving in town. With enough to pay my bills and have left overs for fun extra stuff too. And they'll pay for me to get my master's degree. Still thinking about that one ;)

Why don't I pray? Because I forget. God not only provides for me as His beloved child, but He always listens to me. He is the reason I have life! He is the reason I have a purpose. I'm not saying that everything I've ever wanted I got... But everything I have ever needed, I have.

Yes, I sometimes wonder how God will answer those old requests of mine, but I pray in faith knowing that His timing is best, His plan is perfect, and He loves me more than anyone else possibly could.

Because of Him,