helping my family yearn for the true bread that gives life.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

-Titus 2

Titus 2:3-5 is commonly used to describe how women ought to live and why: “so the word of God is not reviled.” Verses 11-14 expand on the why.

I often feel the works I preform throughout my day are meaningless…diapers, dinner, discipline, picking up the same toys every hour….Scripture tells me to preform my duties as a wife and mother with ZEAL! I am called to live out my days doing these things in love for my family and for my Lord, with my hope rooted in the appearing of Jesus and His glory. This means joyfully pardoning my husband (and holding my tongue) when he leaves his clothes scattered around, remembering how the Lord has greatly pardoned me. It means digging deep into the well of God’s patience during those nighttime feedings. It looks like having a conversation with my husband or playing with Jackson even though the dishes are still dirty, because my rest and peace comes from God, not from how controlled my surroundings are.

As I live this way to make the gospel beautiful and delight in Christ, my family will notice. Hopefully they will be drawn to adore and yearn for Christ! Thus, I get to join in God’s mission of creating a people for His own possession! Lord willing, I am ushering in the kingdom in my tiny apartment! What a high calling! I love how Gloria Furman puts in: “Feast your soul on the bread of life and do whatever you need to do in order to help people yearn for the true bread that gives life!” (Give them Grace).

on pleasure, displeasure, & steadfast love…

Tonight at dinner it was one of those rare moments when I was not hurried to clean up the dishes or get Jackson to bed, but instead we were all sitting around laughing. Jackson was minicing the crazy sounds Kevin was making and giggling so hard he was spitting applesauce…it was a good time. Then he got so excited he picked up his food and threw it off his tray (which he knows has been a no-no since 6 months old!) Kevin and my smiles immediately turned stern and we said “No-no” in a very direct way. Jackson knew what he did was wrong, in fact I think he was a little surprised he threw the food to begin with! He looked at our stern faces and his eyes started to well up. His lip was quivering, shifting his gaze from Kevin, to me, and back. And then after about 10 long seconds of the saddest face you could imagine, huge, silent, alligator tears rolled down his cheeks.

My heart sunk.

I immediately wrapped my arms around him which made him full-out cry, and it took a few minutes for him to calm down again. I’ll never forget that moment.

Jackson was finding so much joy in our company tonight. He saw the pleasure in our faces and knew we were enjoying him too. All was the way it was meant to be. But when our faces turned to displeasure because of his disobedience, he was grieved to the point of tears. What a powerful picture!

Because of Christ’s death on our behalf, our sin no longer separates us from God’s steadfast love. In the same way, nothing could EVER change my love for Jack. There is nothing that he could do that would lead me to turn my back on him or disown him. However, just as life with Jack is more enjoyable when he is obedient and we are able to laugh together instead of discipline him, life with God is more enjoyable when we are living godly lives and communing with Him the way we were created to. It saddens and displeases the heart of God to discipline us, even though it is for our good, in the same way we are saddened when Jackson disobeys.

The grief that Jackson displayed tonight when our pleasure turned to displeasure was a very dramatic, emotional experience for me. I long to feel that kind of grief when I see my sin and the way it hurts my Heavenly Father. I pray that I would only long to bring pleasure to the heart of God always. However, regardless of whether I’m at my worst or my best, I have assurance that I am loved, accepted, and kept forever by God. As Jackson grows, I hope that I can always communicate to him that even though I may have to discipline him, he is never outside of my love.

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Stop pouring out your wine.

Last week, Brad House, our community life pastor, preached on John 2:1-11 where Jesus turned water into wine. You can listen to the sermon here:

“Water into Wine,” Brad House, Sojourn Community Church

There were so many great points he preached on in this sermon, but for me, I was coming to church that Sunday with anger and bitterness. Kevin and I had gotten into an argument the night before which carried on to the morning– to be honest I can’t even remember what it was about now– and prior the that I had been feeling very closed off to Kevin and to the Lord. I was seeing my hard heart and it was condemning me, making me feel like I needed to muster up my affections for both God and Kevin. I was stuck and frustrated.

Halfway through the sermon, Pastor House transitioned from teaching on Jesus’ miracle to reveal how we ought to respond to it: Receive the grace of Jesus. At the wedding, Jesus took the time to bless the guests when they ran out of wine. And just when we are about to run out of joy and hope, Jesus invites us into a life of joy with God. We don’t need to bring anything to the party, he supplies it all- our righteousness, justification, and our joy. He says, “Go, have fun, and enjoy what I’ve given you.”

But we have a tendency to revert back to earning the love of God. We want the stone jars God fills with 20 gallons of wine because it gives us something to pour out and fill back with water. We want to resist the blessings that God freely gives us, and try to purify ourselves. We need to acknowledge that we have nothing in our hands to bring, to put our trust in him, and celebrate the grace we’ve been given!

 

Ok, so how did I respond to this charge? I completely ignored it! My mind shifted to communion and how I didn’t feel like I could receive it that Sunday. I was still feeling bitterness toward Kevin and I wasn’t ready to let go of it and work through it. WHY?!? Why couldn’t I just accept the forgiveness of sin I’ve been given? Why couldn’t I acknowledge the righteousness Jesus gave me? Why couldn’t I trust in the ways Jesus was working in my marriage and in my hopeless heart? Instead, I poured out my wine! I didn’t feel free to just enjoy the grace of God and enter into communion with him.

So my reminder to myself, and you, today is to receive the free, undeserved grace of God and enjoy it. Jesus has justified you by his death, and has given you his righteousness. Drink your wine.

 

at the end of myself: a reflection on my sin.

Recently I have been finding myself at the end of myself. In this stage of life, I have tried every scheme in the book to follow Jesus. I have tried rigid quiet times, I have tried no quiet times, I have tried studying theology, I have tried only reading Psalms, I have tried serving in multiple ways at church, I have tried being a faithful wife and mommy. With every effort, I come to a dead end. It does not bring the magical, passionate change of heart I hoped it would. If God judged me on who I am and what I have to offer, I would be dead. And I fear that if I continue trying to follow Jesus by a system or equation, I will die.

Yesterday I just had the realization that I need Jesus to stay close to me. I need him to cover me with his life so that I can live. Apart from him, I am incapable of following him into my thirties. This awareness of my depravity takes me back to my college years. I felt unable to move apart from Christ and the holy spirit empowering me. I saw so much wickedness in my heart and the capacity to flee from God, I knew my only hope was to hide my whole identity in Christ. Today in this normal, ordinary stage of life, I find myself suffocating under my own independence and search for right standing with God. I need the full, grace upon grace that Jesus brings. I need the grace that atones for my failed attempts at standing right before God. I know that this grace is final and certain for me forever, but if I don’t confess my need for dependence on Christ everyday, I fear that I will be one whispered of when I’m 45, “remember when she was following the Lord?” It makes me shutter. So Lord, stay near to me, because I do not know how to stay near to you on my own.

My prayer is that we would all return to the end of ourselves, and see our desperate need for a God who saves and carries us til the end.

when life is flat, it’s testing ground!

Before I had a baby, I pictured stay-at-home-mom-life as a season where I would joyfully nurture my children with undivided attention, meanwhile preparing them nutritious kid-sized lunches cut into little shapes, keeping my home clean, and sitting down with my bible during naptime everyday. I would use my other naptime creatively–discipling a younger girl, for example. Honestly, I didn’t, and still don’t, think this picture was too unattainable. But I’ll be honest… this is nowhere close to what my days look like.

Most days I fail to have a quiet time. I give Jack whatever food that I can find in the fridge that seems semi-nutritious. And most of his naptimes are spent watching a show on netflix. Even when he is awake and playing, I’m checking Instagram as I watch him scoot around. The only thing that is pretty consistent with my former vision of motherhood is the clean house–and that’s just because I’m a psycho.

Most days, my failed expectations of myself make me feel so hopeless that I feel stuck and unable to be with the Lord. I look back on my glory days of Mcdonald’s quiet times where I dug through the Word and books. Even on days when I think, “today is the day I will begin a routine!” I feel like I’m too far gone.

Today was not one of those days. We had to leave Sojourn after serving at the 9am because Jack was having a meltdown. I was determined to have “church” myself during naptime. The time was so refreshing. While I read, I came across this in 1 Peter:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

All along I have felt like I am in a “flat” season. But in fact, this season is a trial! My walk with the Lord does not look like it used to, and it can not! It must evolve. I have to push though the temptation to have “me” time when my baby is finally sleeping. I have to pray though the same ol’ miniscule needs that I pray everyday. I have to remind myself that the disaster zone of a house can wait til later. I need to sit down and go to my God! And only then, will my faith prove genuine. This is not a “flat” season–this is a TESTING SEASON! And when I come out on the other side, my life will be found to result in praise and glory and honor in knowing my Jesus.

 

On an end note, as I was praying for the Lord to transform my walk with Him in this particular season, I came across this from Steph’s blog:

I know that my time with the Lord is going to continue to evolve. I have to learn to embrace the fact that my time with Him isn’t just part of a checklist that I can use to feel better about myself and that there’s no formula for it. If I take that approach, I’ll always fail. The Lord desires for me to find justification in Him alone. It’s rarely convenient to carve out that time and it will look different in all stages of life, but it’s worth fighting for because as John Piper says, “Knowing God is the key to being happy in God.”

Amen! That’s a good word right there, Steph!

day 3: sleepy jack

day three:

Tonight I am so thankful that Jackson went to bed early! Usually I put him down at 11, and tonight 10:30! I practically had to keep him awake most of the evening so that he would (hopefully) sleep through the night. It is definitely a blessing when I get to spend most of the evening with a drowsy baby on my chest rather than pacing and bouncing all around my apartment to help him calm down.

Now I get some down time to eat homemade popcorn and drink a diet coke and listen to Mumford (yeah…I’m a month behind on the craze y’all) and finish watching all the Wednesday night shows…all things I am also thankful for!

Day 2: steph!

Today I have been alert, looking for things to be thankful for! Even now, as I sit up with baby jack during an unusual restlessness at bedtime, I am thankful for this blog post I call to mind from this morning, reminding me to cherish times like this while he is still young. All the nights he needs extra rocking and nursing to fall asleep will not last long. In fact, my days with Jackson are numbered (Psalm 90) so I must “thank God for the gift of being his mom today.”

 

day 2:

But today, I am also thankful for Steph Holcomb. What a faithful friend she is! Since I moved to Louisville over a year and a half ago, Steph has never gone more than a few days to a week without calling me, usually spending an hour or two sharing life and struggles together. Today she called me and I got to share with her some depression I have been experiencing now that I am a mom. My life feels a little out of my control, and since I am at home all day, I get extremely anxious when my apartment is messy or I can’t get to my “to-do” list. She was a great listener, encouraged me in my walk with the Lord, and helped me search my heart a little bit in terms of where my true peace comes from. Again, the topic of “inviting the Lord into my day” came up.

Later, I had community group and during our girl time, I confessed the same issue. They were all so sweet and encouraged me not to set unrealistic expectations on myself in this season. Right now, the most important thing on my to-do list is to care for Jackson, and they praised me for keeping him healthy and growing. They came up with the idea of all writing out a few verses on notecards for me to tape around my house to meditate on while I am doing chores.

I just feel very cared for today. Thank you Lord for community that walks through hard seasons alongside me.

Day 1 of Thankfulness

I’m piggybacking off of Jackie Lopina and others and blogging “10 days of Thankfulness” until Thanksgiving. Sometimes, I just need SOMETHING to write about. It’s hard to blog when I feel like very little goes through my mind each day. I have gotten into a rut where I do not read my bible. I wake up tired, have my arms full all day (literally), and go to bed cherishing each second of sleep that Jackson will give me. This, combined with closed blinds, very few plans, and long quiet days has been wearing on me. I remember a sermon a long while ago when I was at the Oaks that basically said, “thankfulness will flee us from pride and lead us to deeper joy in the Lord.” I think I need this refreshment that gratitude brings.

 

day one:

Today I am thankful for some alone time at Mcdonalds. I guess that makes me doubly thankful for my husband who watched our baby Jack while I got away. I’m pretty sure it has been weeks since this happened. I got to blog random thoughts, skip around in the bible, soak in good words, and press into Jesus with a few Valley of Vision prayers. In this season, I have not forgotten God as my Father– I certainly cry out for his help with every ounce of my being– but Jesus died for much more than meeting my needs, Amen?! There is a friendship deep and full of joy that I am missing out on! I have forgotten him as my friend who I share my joys and struggles with, who I long to hear from, and who sits with me even as I nurse a baby and watch Keeping up with the Kardashians on Netflix. So I read the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and renamed it the “Prodigal Friend” for today. I long to have that sweet friendship with Jesus as I once did. A few weeks ago Pastor Daniel recounted a conversation with a women in our church who is a recent convert. He tells how excited she was about the scriptures that she literally SLEPT with her bible. That used to be me! My waking thought was with the Lord and as night I fell asleep warmed by His words. And now, even though my life is crazy and monotonous, I want to invite God into my days. This parable was so comforting to know that my friendship with the Lord is not based on how faithful I am to Him or how much I have taken advantage of Him. Instead, He runs to hug me, quickly answers my plead for reconciliation, and is glad to be my company all my days. What a friend we have in Jesus, guys! This brings me much joy today.

due date longings…

September 14th has come and almost left. I can’t say I am surprised, but I can’t say I am not disappointed either. Everyday I am anxious not knowing when he will come…sometimes I don’t really believe he will EVER come! It is hard to keep myself busy, comfortable, and calm. I am not afraid of the roller coaster (labor), I just want to get on it! You know what I mean?!

All of this not knowing, reminds me of Jesus’ promise that he WILL come, but no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36). As I am completely consumed with thoughts about Baby Jack’s arrival, I pray that I would have an even GREATER preoccupation with the return of Christ. Romans 8:18-25 even compares our longing for the revelation of Jesus to that of a laboring women. Wouldn’t our lives look so different if we waited with the same kind of eager expectation for the kingdom of God, groaning inwardly for our redemption?

Just some thoughts as I enter into week 41.

thoughts from a friend on submission in the midst of conflict:

I am thankful for the fellowship of my friend Abbie, who recently moved to Louisville. Not only is there something comforting about having years of history with someone, but the ability to be raw and honest without fear of judgement or misunderstanding. What a breath of fresh air this women has been!

Since she is also married, it has been nice to challenge one another in our pursuits of Christ and our husbands. She brought up an interesting question the other day: In conflict, can a women submit to her husband without the indwelling holy spirit and the help of Jesus?

In the world, women respond to conflict or failed expectations in a multitude of ways: Some endlessly serve and put on a smile with a desperate and longed-for hope of change. Others hold in frustration until they simply “can’t take it anymore” and blow up, throwing a dish or a bowl of salad on the ground (sound familiar?). Others threaten, leave the house, continuously nag, or even take control of the situation independently (“I don’t need him…”). Obviously the godly way, and probably the most effective way, to communicate an issue with our husbands would be to wait until our emotions have settled and approach the conversation in a calm, respectful, forgiving, and loving manner. But can all women in the world respond in this way? And even as a Christian women is it really possible to respond in this way? And are you sure throwing a bowl of salad on the ground or being a nag wouldn’t be more effective?

Through that conversation with Abbie, the Lord has been teaching me that we cannot crucify our fleshly responses or desires unless we are first made new in Christ and relying on Him alone. Even though many women in the world die to themselves to serve their idol of marriage or husband, they are still living, in a sense, to themselves and their idealistic, “if only” hopes. Therefore true submission in the hard moments of marriage, the kind that takes extending love and patience instead of bitterness and anger, requires us to lay down our lives and die, only to raise to new life in Christ. In Christ, we don’t have to draw from the well of bitterness, disunity, or pride. Instead, we can draw strength from the Holy Spirit who is ready to change us. Instead of overwhelming our husbands with sorrow and heaping guilt when they sin against us, we can ask Jesus to help us reaffirm our love to them (2 Cor. 2:7-11)! Forgiveness is the greatest picture of the gospel that we could ever show our husbands. When we go to Jesus and forgive them first in our hearts and then express our hurt or conflict, we are not only submitting to them in love, but we are allowing the true agent of change, the gospel, to work in their hearts. This is where lasting change will occur in our marriages.

But lasting change in us begins when we listen to Jesus’ sweet words to “come” and to “die.”