Dreams: Death to Life

Dreams: Death to Life

My life for the last two years has been a season of dreams coming true. I’ve just set one book to rest on the coffee table, and have eagerly picked up the next. From Bible School to marriage, it’s a train of roses and thorns. It’s a beautiful path that I had only ever imagined I would experience, and now here it is, right in front of my eyes.

There were plenty of moments before where I was convinced my dreams had died, suffocated under the wrath of life. But by the grace of our Lord Jesus, He helped me to come to terms with allowing Him to play His part in my life, unclenching my sore fingers around a future diploma and marriage license. God pried my fingers open and said, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” He said, “In your heart, you’ve planned your course, but I, the LORD, have established your steps.” He is sovereign over my plans. He is sovereign over my dreams. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

I thought I had this life planned out to the T. God blessed the desires in my heart, but the dreams needed to be His before He could work with them. If they had been all mine, what a mess I would have made.

Bible School was such a real experience. I was led to invest in Truth constantly, and Truth was poured into my soul. The devil did his very best to fill me with lies, but what a great God to have surrounded me with a blanket of community, others who were seeking His Truth beside me. And that book is done. A treasured book, a book to put where I can see it always and be reminded of the Truth with which God had flooded my life.

The next book: marriage.
The proposal was just the most romantic thing and more than I could have ever dreamed. His plans are better. His ways are higher. I am so very loved, and He sure picked a wonderful guy to love me more than I thought I could ever be loved. And to think God loves me even more than this. In September, this couple God ordained to be one, despite myself, will be lawfully together forever.

So He ordains it. He makes a way. Sometimes our dreams need to die so that He has the reigns.

Thank You, Jesus.

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I Was Homeschooled By a Superhero

I Was Homeschooled By a Superhero

I have in my mind a 3-book series of novels dedicated to my mom’s amazingness. But for a Mother’s Day blog post, I think I can manage to squish it into a novella for now. I recently had the opportunity to interview a mom who had homeschooled her boys for a time, and I was in awe of the effort she had put into ensuring that her children had the best education possible. This brought me to a state of nostalgia, and I recalled how much my dear mom had also invested in me and my siblings during our homeschooling years. I would love for this post to inspire you too to recall how much your mom has invested in your life as well. Moms are such underrated superheroes.

I want to dedicate some time and a big piece of my heart to reminiscing about some of the amazing things my mom did during those years.

So without further adieu: my mom.

To start, my beautiful mother has a deep-rooted passion for the Bible and the value of memorizing the priceless Word of God. To this effect, she chose to homeschool her six children. I, being the oldest, got to experience this to its full extent. Up until I had finished my eighth-grade year, I spent every morning reviewing memory verses, singing hymns, and studying the Bible with my siblings, and if anyone asked I would tell them that I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else. This was my life, and it was perfect for me.

Mom dedicated countless hours to ensuring that each of her six children had God’s Word in their hearts, even to the extent of reviewing scripture with us on our way to different schools. Her precious free time had been spent putting verses to music and occasionally hand motions.

Not only was her focus on scripture, but she also focused on making sure we knew several hymns by heart, successfully taught us to be great readers, developed and experimented with creative learning techniques, and delved into numerous curriculums to see which ones worked the best for us, resulting in each of us having a variety of different publishing companies represented in our home.

I exceeding in spelling because I used food to create words, and Mom organized The Mommy Store, where she helped us to use wisdom and discernment through kindness and chore coupons to purchase little trinkets she’d picked up from thrift stores for us. She put together Kingdom Kids, a children’s choir, where I got to build relationships with the kids at my church and got to practice scripture and song memory skills. She gave us several years of memorable alternatives to Halloween, even involving the entire church in Harvest Festivals which brought in people all over the community to participate in games, candy, costumes, and crafts. My mom was the one who took us to Awana every Wednesday and the homeschool group every other Friday. She made sure we all got several years of park district swimming lessons and made our victories something to be proud of. She put the boys through Cub Scouts, and we even tried out gymnastics. She involved us in as many sports as she could get her hands on, like Tennis, baseball, and soccer, and she took us on field trips to see how things worked. The most pleasant smelling memory was the cheese factory, where we’d get push-up popsicles and watch the apron-clad employees make cheese.

My mom got me involved in summer drama camps and art classes, horseback riding lessons and ballet, piano lessons, and eventually flute lessons for the band at the local school; I even took an art class and art club at the Christian academy several miles away. The whole family got involved in a puppet ministry that started out through a puppet boot camp, and the resulting ministry lasted for years while we performed at more nursing homes and churches than I can remember.

All this, and she continued her professional cake-decorating career from home and personally invested in each of her six children very close in age. She was a superhero in so many ways, and she deserves so much more credit than I ever gave her.

No, she did not love good math or science, so she let my grandparents take us on numerous visits to the children’s museums where we got our fill on why and how things worked and what electricity does and how to take apart a machine. Her major was not in history, so she took us to libraries where I discovered a passionate adoration for historical novels, and we traveled to a dozen various reenactment sites to discover what life was like during the time of the various wars in history.

I learned to cook, bake and clean thoroughly, how to design the best scrapbook, and I definitely learned the right ways to potty train babies, create the best mix of baby food, and set up the most elegant tea parties.

All of this. My mom. God blessed her with a major in Superwoman and a minor in Practically Perfect in Every Way. She did all this and more, and to this day, as the rest of her kids fly through high school, she still invests in us and ensures that we have the best that she can offer.

I am so proud of my mom and everything she has done for us. I am so honored that God placed me in her arms. What a wonderful woman to celebrate.

You Are Enough

You Are Enough

It’s so unfair of us to treat ourselves like we believe what the world says about us.

The world is a liar, a suffocator or Truth, and yet we believe every word it weaves into our hearts. As believers in Christ Jesus God has claimed us as His own, we are His children, made in the image of God, bought with a price, we are redeemed and yet…. we believe the world.

The world says you are not enough. The world says you are insignificant. The world says you can’t do anything right. Do you really believe that?

Choose to believe the One who made you! He calls you His masterpiece! He says you are forgiven, He says you are an heir with Christ, He says YOU ARE fearfully and wonderfully made! Do you believe that?

Do you believe that He conquered death only to have you believe that you are not not significant?

YOU ARE SIGNIFICANT.
You are enough!

He is righteous and holy and He adores you more than the stars. You are intentionally created, purposefully ransomed.
Stand tall, and know that you are His and the world has no claim on who you are.

“But now, this is what the LORD says– He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.'”
Isaiah 43:1

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God with your body.”
1 Corinthians 6:19

“I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are My son; today I have become your Father.'”
Psalm 2:7

Here’s the Truth

Here’s the Truth
[In my super clever, just-getting-over-influenza brain tonight I felt like taking a selfie. .. ? And not doctoring it up… ????? It’s midnight. I’m insane. So I found this picture of me and my really adorable sister instead, in my book she makes it 10x better.]

Ok so this is not the point entirely, but it’s been a seriously long time since I’ve felt I could actually take a selfie of just me cause I’m a typical person who has issues. I don’t need to list them because you know we all have them to one degree or other. But what’s been on the forefront of my thoughts in the midst of all that is God is always there in the midst of it. He is THE refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust. Yeah I feel pretty insecure and hopeless sometimes, but even though this world is a mess and it just seems to be getting worse, God promised He will never leave us or forsake us.

This place is full of bad stuff, but He’ll never stop being our refuge. There is real actual peace that is in that fortress. It’s hard sometimes; just being honest, it’s super difficult to find that peace when your heart is overwhelmed and you feel like there’s no way to repair the damage. But while it’s the hardest time ever to open your heart to trusting anything or anyone, it’s the most vital time to give it over to Him. Losing that control is hard. So hard. But it’s so worth it. He died for you. And then He lived again for you. He’s more powerful than even death. He’s so tender that He invites in the worst and cares for them, and so mighty that it took a mere “Peace! Be still” spoken to the waves, and they submitted to Him.  He’s the One who saved Peter from drowning when he lost his focus, He walked on waters, healed the blind, and forgave those who tortured killed Him. And the coolest thing is that in spite of how ridiculously awful we actually are, He asks us to be with Him forever. He’s giving you that chance today. And tomorrow. He’s giving you the chance every day. It’s hard to open your heart when it’s been scarred and bruised with so much of this world’s tumultuous strains, but opening your heart to Him and letting go will be the best decision you will ever make. You’ll still be a bit crazy and you’ll still have weirdo issues, but with God on your side and in control those issues get different; you learn about His grace, you learn about forgiving others and forgiving yourself and asking for forgiveness. Your heart changes, because that’s what He does when you allow Him to do His work in you. It’s a fantastic process. You know that He’s Your refuge and fortress through it all, the One you can cling to when your world is falling apart. It’s hard, but really worth it. Give your heart to Him, and you get to be in eternity’s paradise forever with Him.

That’s the Truth.

I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.‘”
Psalm 91:2

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
Mark 4:39

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

 

Bow the Knee

Bow the Knee

Bow The Knee – (Lyrics) Ron Hamilton

Within this song is a glimpse of 8-year-old Elizabeth.

In room 809 of the old, 13-story training center in Indianapolis I woke up to what my little heart was convinced was angels. I was in a romantic daze from it’s effect on my soul the rest of the day. Through “Bow the Knee”, little Elizabeth Joy experienced a gentle whisper of heaven and God’s peace that would guide her for the rest of her life.

Since then, verses and songs have clung to my heart in similar ways, and I’ve found it to be one of the most wonderful gifts God has made available to His precious creation. There have been far too many times throughout my life that I’ve forgotten the great things God has done through Scripture and music in my daily wanderings, and I have had seasons of doubt, fear, and even anger towards God. But I was recently touched by a verse that reminded me the vitality of remembering His works in our lives:

“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things!”
(Joel 2:21, ESV)

Remember. Recall those little miracles, every morning you woke up and were joyful, every moment you learned of a new birth. The feeling of springtime and the smell of fall, and knowing who has control over even the snowflakes, and puts inspiration in the hearts of people to spend time helping to mend broken hearts and homes. That child who smiled at you when you during a rotten afternoon; the lady on your way to work who complemented you on your hair; the unexpected gift card; that moment when a song spoke to you and gave you hope when you thought there was none.

Never forget how He has provided for you in the wilderness.

He is so faithful to provide.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.”
Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)

One October 31st

There are a lot of October 31sts in history. I don’t remember what I did October 31st last year, but everyone remembers what happened 500 years ago today: Martin Luther, a man on the pursuit of what it meant to be a Christ-follower, felt compelled to make a stand. He brought to light what had been in darkness and boldly presented these things before higher authorities. He did what God had called him to do. On October 31st, many people have risen and fallen. On countless October 31st’s the unpopular and unnoticed followed God’s calling in their lives and made significant impacts that most of us may take for granted. Martin Luther made the choice to do something big in his life. And we’ve remembered it. But what is big to this world is like a breath of wind to God.

Jesus witnessed a poor widow giving all she had, and it may not have seemed to her as though it would make much of a difference in the ultimate financial need if she inserted the only two coins she had into the offering box at the synagogue. But it touched the heart of Jesus in a very meaningful way. That offering she gave was big in her perspective. That was her step of faith. It was kind of a big deal. Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door. That was his step of faith. And we remember the exact date to this day.

On October 31st, 2017, what is your step of faith? On the very next day, will you answer God’s call? Will you choose to do something for Jesus that is out of your comfort zone? Perhaps your calling is to reach out in friendship to the next Billy Graham who has yet to hear the Gospel. Perhaps it’s to share what God has laid on your heart recently with a random friend. Perhaps your duty at this moment is to benefit God’s Kingdom by being faithful in this season in which God has purposefully placed you, or your calling could even include traveling to China for missions work, nail the next 95, or give your next paycheck to Jesus.

Martin Luther and the poor widow both did great things, though they may have seemed small in the world’s perspective at the time. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith, out of your own comfort zone as God’s treasured child; you could make a bigger impact than you know.

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.

Mark 12:41-44

God Is In Control

God Is In Control

If you don’t read anything else in this post, read this. I don’t care that it’s cliche: GOD’S ACTUALLY IN CONTROL.
He is beyond huge enough to deeply care about your problems.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
-Matthew 10:29-31

When you experience a crisis, what is your go-to solution?
Are you going to try and fix it yourself?
Are you going to blame God for it?
**or**
Will you drop to your knees and seek God as your number one solution?
Will you praise God for another situation that could strengthen your character for God’s Kingdom?
My heart has been CHANGED by the One who has set me free and opened my eyes to see that He is HERE. He is with me at every moment, and He cares, because I am His child, and He grieves when I stumble and lose my way and reject His hand which extends me grace and joy beyond human comprehension.
Abandon the idea that you’ve got this and adopt the mindset that God’s got this.
Because He DOES.
I believe this with all my heart.
Choose to open your eyes and see that He has got everything under control.

“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you? My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” -Psalm 73:22-26