Life with a toddler is always interesting. It’s the age where children are learning to express their thoughts and emotions, but don’t always understand how to reason through them. It’s the age where the wrong sippy cup can lead to a meltdown and every simple yes or no decision can take half an hour.
Last week my two-year-old told me she was starving, so I laid out a spread of her favorite foods: turkey, apples, cheese, sweet potatoes, peas, and blueberries. Naturally, the “starving” toddler took three blueberries and one piece of cheese and decided that was all she wanted. Not ten minutes later, she looked up and said, “Mommy, I’m still hungry.”
In this day and time, we have control over so many aspects of our identity: we choose what status updates we want to make online, we select (and edit) the photos we want to share with the world, and we actively construct the persona we want to portray on our social media platforms. But we have to keep in mind that while we can create our own highlight reels, we don’t get to write our own obituaries. Ultimately, we can’t control the way other people remember us.
I’m excited to announce that we welcomed our son, Jack, in August. I took a small break from blogging, but I’m excited to be back and share a few postpartum tips.
Keep in mind that living a healthy life is a spiritual pursuit! Being physically and emotionally healthy allows you to be a good witness and live the kind of life God has called you to. However, I also want to stress that being “healthy” doesn’t always look the same for different people.
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. – 3 John 1:2
I’ve heard some women say that their favorite part of a love story is seeing how a man can look at a woman and see the good things in her that she can’t see in herself. It’s appealing to us when someone takes time to get to know the girl behind the mask and falls in love with the crazy, honest version of herself that she’s usually too afraid to show the world. Who wouldn’t want someone who always sees past the mess, knows who we truly are, and loves us for it anyhow?
God looks at us like that every day! He sees through every mask we ever try to put on and loves us despite all our deepest, darkest secrets. He not only sees the potential and purpose in us, He also created it. He is constantly trying to remind us that we are worthy—not because of what we have or have not done, but because of who we are in Christ.
Two and a half years ago when our daughter was born, it was like my world collapsed. I assumed the extreme highs and lows were just part of being a new mother, and I had no idea that I was suffering from postpartum depression.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28
I have a tendency to look at verses like Romans 8:28 and see them as conditional: if I am called according to His purpose, then all things will work together for my good. My mind then immediately goes down the path of, “How do I know if I’m called? What if I’ve missed my calling and this verse no longer applies to me?”
Picture this: You’re watching someone prepare for a marathon. They are warming up, stretching, and maybe hopping from one foot to the other in anticipation. The atmosphere is electric. As they take one final deep breath, the gun goes off. Suddenly they bend their knees and leap as far as they can. After landing, they just squat down and jump again as other people run by them.
We would look ridiculous trying to leap our way through an entire marathon, so why do we assume that our faith journey should look that way? We want to experience these huge, defining leaps of faith without realizing that the small steps are just as important.
Too often, our relationships sink under the weight of our expectations. We could spend hours talking about why this is the case, but there’s a simple explanation: There is only one who can love us the way we are created to be loved.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – Jeremiah 31:3
No other love can reach the standard of God’s love. When we tie up our worth in the measure of anyone else’s love, we are selling ourselves short. Not only that, but we are putting a lot of pressure on someone who has no way of living up to who we need them to be.
Imagine a room filled with hundreds of people worshiping at God’s feet, with hands and voices raised in unison. As you watch, people begin vanishing one by one as though they were never there at all.
Several years ago, this was the vision God gave me to show what would happen if I wasn’t obedient to walk in the calling He had placed on my life. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the concept of ministry and I certainly didn’t see how I could be used to help bring people to Jesus. My life was messy and, even though I had been saved, I had no personal relationship with God besides waving hello on Sunday mornings.
All it takes is one glance at any of the news sites to know that our system doesn’t work and our policies need to change in regard to immigration.
My heart aches at the images of children being separated from their parents. I look at them and see my own little girl, who still clings to me when I drop her off at daycare. I can only imagine the fear and panic she would experience if she was forcibly taken away from us.
One of my favorite ways to make scripture come alive is to put myself in someone’s place so I can try to imagine what they were feeling and experiencing.
In Exodus 3, the Lord says He has seen the suffering of His people and that He is sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. All that Moses say in return is, “Who am I that I should go?” followed by, “But what if they ask who sent me?”
And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”
– Matthew 26:19-22
These verses record the conversation at the Last Supper. I’ve always found it interesting that when Jesus announces one of His disciples is going to betray Him, none of them deny the betrayal or try to protect Him from it. These men had been following Jesus for years at this point, and yet not one of them could confidently say, “I would never betray you!”
The concept of “face to face” plays a large role in our culture’s definition of intimacy. Text messages or emails are great, but we still crave that personal interaction; we want to be able to discern the feelings revealed by the face. When we are face to face with someone, we can see love, tenderness, shame, or pain in their expressions—emotions that don’t always come through in other forms of communication.
So how can we have an intimate relationship with our Father when we can never see Him face to face?
Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by this message. I can’t count the number of sermons I’ve heard warning against the dangers of being a “bad” Christian and how it could land you in Hell. I would go so far as to say that this type of sermon was one of the main reasons I grew up doubting my salvation (something I talk about in depth here).
A tithe is typically regarded as the first 10% of your income. The first tithe occurred in Genesis 14 when Abram responded to God’s blessing by giving Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a tenth of his possessions.
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” – Genesis 14:18-20
What does it mean to be a servant of God and a slave to righteousness? The idea sounds conflicting in nature to our understanding of freedom. Scripture tells us that we have been set free in Christ (Galatians 5:1) and that we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). Yet Romans continues on in verse 18-22 to say that we are slaves to righteousness and willing slaves or servants to God.
So what does it mean? Have we been set free or are we servants?
It only took one sentence to break my heart. I don’t mean that it just made me incredibly sad, or that it hurt for a few minutes—I mean that it literally shattered my heart. It made me stop and re-evaluate all of the things I was taking for granted in my own life.
I work for a Christian international relief organization, and some of the work we do is in countries that are closed to the Gospel. In several of these countries, Christians aren’t allowed to gather, they’re not allowed to own Bibles, and they’re not allowed to speak the name of Jesus. We had a guest visiting from one of these countries, and for the first time he was invited to church. After the service, he had tears streaming down his face as he said, “This must be what Heaven is like.”
In Greek, the word “Gospel” translates to “good news” or “a message of victory”. That is the definition I’ve heard most often: The Gospel is the good news that Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sin so that we might become children and heirs of God.
Even during His time on earth, Jesus was the living Good News. He took what others deserved and, in return, gave them healing, freedom, and right-standing with the Father.
“Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…”
– Hebrews 10:19 -22
Scripture tells us that we should have the confidence to enter into the presence of God because Jesus acts as our high priest. The purpose of the high priest in the Old Testament was to enter the Most Holy Place, stand before God, and make atonement for his people so that they could have right-standing. Christ secured our eternal redemption through His sacrifice, so we are forever in a position of complete right-standing with God. We are His heirs, and we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).