My story, God’s story

A lot happened this weekend.

Went away with my hubby Thursday night to celebrate our 5th anniversary, Dodger game Friday night (which they won!) with fireworks commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, my niece’s 1st birthday party on Saturday, then I got baptized on Sunday.

Like I said, big weekend. Very fun and very full. Has made for a very sleepy Monday, which I am totally fine with.

Many people from my church came up to me after service saying how encouraged they were by my testimony. I always feel awkward when people thank me, but especially then because I didn’t really do anything. God did it all, I just showed up.

Here’s what I shared:

My Story – God’s Story

I was baptized once before, when I was 11, but I was not a believer at the time. It took a long time for me to admit that the testimony I thought I had wasn’t true. I believed my own lie.

The truth was, I was a really good Pharisee. I grew up in a Christian home, was taught about God, heard the gospel, and mentally assented to the truth about God. I told others about God, I behaved well, I sought to be “the good girl”, and prided myself in all these things. There was one problem, and that was me. I didn’t believe I needed Jesus. I didn’t believe I was that bad. I didn’t believe I was a sinner. 

It wasn’t until high school that this deadly belief in my own goodness, grew into something more serious: pride. I loved myself more than anyone. I wanted others to love me too. I sought favor from my peers, and affection from boys. I despised my church, my parents, and especially my siblings who knew the real me and all my flaws. I attacked or cut off anyone who confronted me, who tried to show me my sin, or who stood in my way of what I wanted.

By God’s grace, I was accepted to and received scholarships that enabled me to attend The Master’s College. In the first three months of being at college, I ignored all the warnings of my parents, and got in too deep with a boyfriend. I almost got myself kicked out of the school. I was then confronted with my sin, and I couldn’t escape it, or reason it away. I was confronted with the reality that God’s standard for my life is not Goodness, but Holiness. I can fake Goodness, but I cannot do Holiness. It broke me. 

I remember collapsing on the emergency stairwell of my dorm, where no one could find me, and just crying. Crying over my sin. I remember that being the very first time I prayed to God. I prayed, fully expecting to hear nothing, “God I can’t. I’m awful. I’m gross. I’m not holy.” In my heart an answer came, “And I love you anyway”.

That was the part about God that I didn’t understand for 18 years. That He is holy, and I am not. And He chose to love me anyways. This is where my faith in the Lord began, in repentance. Repenting of my pride, my selfishness, my self-righteousness, my godless goodness, all that mattered to me, because now none of it mattered to me without Christ. I was, and still am by God’s grace, like Paul in Philippians 3:7-9 

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the flesh, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-” 

God tested my faith at that time too. I came back to school after the Christmas break with no friends, and in a new department because I had switched majors. I spent the next year in complete dependence on God. I had lost it all for His sake, and He slowly revealed to me that blessed truth that He is worth it. 

God faithfully showed me his love. By His grace the trust with my parents that I had broken was restored, and by restoring, and continually growing the relationship with my siblings, blessing me with deep friendships with my family members. Almost exactly a year after I repented and my faith became true and real, God brought Mike into my life. 

I became a born again Christian almost 10 years ago. I am now married to a man who strives to show me Christ daily. I have three kids, entrusted to me and my husband to teach the things of God and be faithful parents. I want them to know that there is a God, that He is holy, that they are sinners, and that they desperately need Jesus. That is why I want to get baptized: to be an example, and to obey my loving Father.

Soli Deo Gloria!

A godly friend, like Paul

The women’s bible study at my church is going through Philippians right now, using Melissa Kruger’s book In All Things. It’s been such a blessing to have this reminder to rejoice in the Lord Jesus no matter what.

Why? Because he is greater, he is worthy, he is worth it, he is with us, he is the reason and the end of all things, he is good.

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.

– “The Love of God is Greater Far” by Fredrick M. Lehman (1917)

I read though the entire book of Philippians just to refresh myself of the whole context of the book, even as we study it verse by verse. As I read, I was receiving texts from two girls. I pray for both these girls on a regular basis, and with their texts in my mind this verse of Philippians really popped out at me:

“Therefore. my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” 
Philippians 4:1

Do you have friends you think of like this? Do you have friends who think of you in this way? Through out this little letter, Paul’s language shows that he really loved and cared for these people. 

It’s so interesting to note what Paul’s love for these people calls him to do, because it is so different from what the world says a true friend does. Paul encourages this church to stand firm in what they have believed about Jesus (that he is the only way of salvation), love one another, and rejoices even in their suffering.

Do we do this for our friends? Do we spur them on? Or do we pander them when they grumble? Do we actually talk with our friends about Jesus, about good theology, even in a casual way? Or do we “save” those conversations for the formal church setting?

Are we investing in the spiritual growth of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we allowing others to invest in us?

These are tough questions! They require messiness, uncomfortable conversations, personal sacrifice, and more! That’s hard friend, but that is what Jesus did for us (and more!), and that is what we, as believers, are called to. 

Let us, in the confidence we have in our savior Jesus Christ, Rejoice! Standing firm, united in love, and growing ever more like Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Anxiety, the gospel, and potty training

Today is Day One of potty training for me and my son. He’s 3 and 1/2. He’s plenty ready, but I’m a nervous wreck.

Why am I so anxious about potty training? I have 3 kids: a 3-and-1/2-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 2-month-old. All are (obviously) in diapers. You’d think I’d be ecstatic about getting one if them out of diapers!
But I’m not.
I’ve been dragging my feet.
I’m forcing myself to do this.

You wouldn’t guess it looking at me! (Unless you’re my mom, or my hubby, or my sister 😉) I grew up performing, so I know how to “fake it ’til you make it”! On the outside: I’m excited, motivated, encouraging, and confident. All for my son’s sake!

On the inside: I’m nervous that I’ll fail. I’m afraid my son will have a bad experience, and be upset with me. I’m sad my baby is growing up! I’m also excited my baby is growing up! (The inner turmoil of a mom, right?!)

He’s my only son (so far 😉). He’s my first born. He’s the spitting image of my husband. I’m in a constant struggle between wanting him to become a grown, godly man, just like his daddy, and wanting to hold him forever. 💜

I think he’s barely a year old in this, maybe not even a year yet! Oh, be still my heart!

Potty training is just bringing all my anxieties and fears to the surface, I think. They were there the whole time, but didn’t have a chance to really show themselves. The heat is bearing down now!

I see my heart’s tendency, to be anxious, so today I am clinging (with all my might) to God’s grace, because I need it!

These are the Truths I am holding fast to:

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:13

This should be the theme verse for all of babyhood and toddlerhood. So much of parenting at this stage is preparing ourselves for intense action! Midnight feedings, continual diaper changes, tantrums, potty training… the list goes on. These are all activities that require immediate action and continual readiness to jump right in! I love that this verse points to the future, to what is ultimate: Christ’s return, when all things will be made right. I need this reminder when I’m in the thick of things with my little ones. Especially today with our new adventure in potty training.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

This is my go-to verse in my current stage of life. What a comfort this verse is! The promises here are so rich!

  • God’s love is steadfast.
  • God mercy is renewed for us each dawn.
  • God’s mercy is never ending.
  • God is always faithful.

These promises also highlight the reality that we are broken people and are none of these things.

  • Our love is fickle and short lived.
  • Our patience wears thin, and we are harsh rather than merciful.
  • Our mercy ends, or fails to even show up.
  • Our short term memory, and frail frame make us a faithless people.

BUT GOD!

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved-“
Ephesians 2:4-5

I am holding fast to the gospel!

Mommies need the gospel. We need it in our hearts and minds everyday. It’s incredibly practical! Because it puts every diaper change into perspective.

Let me say it again, not just for you, reader, but mostly for my own heart:

The Good News that we are sinners saved from punishment and death through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, paying an eternal debt to an eternal God that we cannot pay, and saved to life “together with Christ” as Ephesians puts it, now in this earthly life by the ministry of the Spirit, and forever for eternity in heaven through Jesus with God the Father, makes the mundane tasks of each day not just worth it, but I am also able to glorify God in them because his Spirit enables me to serve others and God rather than my sinful self.

Read that again. and again. and again.

Remind yourself (and myself) everyday of this reality, believer. This is your reality. This is your life. This is why you can say “no” to being anxious, and “yes” to trusting in God in all things.

But before you or I begin to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, or wash our face and put on the make-up of self-righteousness, let’s take a look at Scripture verses that tell us how we say “no” to anxiety, and “yes” to trusting God.

1. God is, powerfully, at work in us

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:6

2. God has given us instructions

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17

3. God has given us a family. Don’t go it alone.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-26

Reading to his 2-month-old baby sister. He loves his sisters sooooo much!

Let me conclude with this:
I am anxious about potty training. It is a challenge!
Parenting is hard! Having three kids as young and as close in age as I do, IS HARD!
But! God is in control. God is good. God is faithful. And, God is with me.

Deep breath.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.”
Psalm 28:7

Soli Deo Gloria

Looking back and looking forward

For our family, 2017 began with many uncertainties.
We had just welcomed our second baby into the world a few weeks before the year began, and we were looking at the chaos of having two under two, in a one bedroom apartment, with a very limited income. We began the year thinking: “how are we going to do this?”

We did it, but not alone.
2017 is the year God taught me that He provides, time and time again, and usually when we don’t expect it, in ways we could never imagine.

Enough.
That’s my word for 2017.

We don’t have much. We lived 2017 on a paycheck to paycheck basis. We often had to ask for help. Money for car repairs. Diapers. Groceries. Rent. God provided enough for us to live.

He gave us parents who love us. He provided obstacles to keep us from moving away from our parents (something we strongly considered twice in the past year). We can always ask them for help, babysitting, a ride, counsel, even a bath or shower when our plumbing goes out.

We love them very much.

 

We have fantastic friends who join with us in prayer and support.
Our church is awesome. We get so excited to go to church. Sunday school is amazing, rich teaching and solid believers building one another up. It’s so depressing for me when I have to skip church. So much so, that my loving hubby usually is the one to stay home if one of our kids is sick on a Sunday.

Our nursery through pre-school program is also awesome (my vocabulary is insufficient, I know). It is headed by a beautiful woman, who loves these kids, and loves us parents. She is creative, caring, and so so godly. She is such a blessing.

The “Timothy Tots Mom text group”. We all have kids about the same age, and we are all in this group text (and now there are more pregnant mommies who will be joining it I’m sure). It’s our help line. It’s our mommy prayer chain. It’s our source for practical help, prayer, health updates, picture sharing, and social outlet.

Women’s Bible study, i.e. “Thursday morning brunch” with women you would never otherwise talk to, but you find so much in common with them, so much to learn from them, and you all learn so much together it’s unlike any other fellowship with other believers I’ve ever experienced. It’s wonderful.

I’m forgetting things, people, and opportunities. When you start listing the ways God has blessed you, that tends to happen. “My cup overflows”.

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More than enough. That’s really what happened in 2017.

When my husband and I looked at each other wondering “how will we have enough?” God surprised us above and beyond our expectations. We have been so blessed. How can another year compare to the blessings we have experienced?

Here we are! 2018. Looking forward I want to stop looking at what I think is lacking in my life. Instead, I pray for God to change my heart, see my overflowing cup of blessings, and pour that cup into another’s. Serve one another and glorify God. That is my goal for 2018.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

What I see at Christmas – a poem

I see it on the Christmas tree shining in the dark.
I see it in the rosy cheeks of children playing in the park.
I see it in my son’s eyes when Daddy comes home at night.
I see it in my Father’s smile when all his children are in his sight.

Light. It’s what I see,
In the decorations,
In the lights on the tree.
In the faces all around,
In being with friends and family.

Why now at Christmas and not all the year?
Why is it now that we fight off our fear?

Perhaps there is more than just feelings of joy.
Perhaps there is something to this tale of a boy,
Born as a nobody,
But born for everybody.

His story just begins that first Christmas night!
So, don’t forget that feeling of light.
His name is Jesus,
He came to save us.
He was born to die,
But not stay where he lie.
Christ is risen!
He sits now in heaven,
For his work is complete.
And one day all will bow at his feet;
Bowing and declaring that Jesus is king,
Just as now, at Christmas time we sing.

So as we remember that night the Light came,
We also look forward to when we’ll forever sing his name.

Merry Christmas

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday Reminders – the importance of prayer

Quote from Jerry Bridges’ book, True Community

So much emphasis is put on service, love, and community these days that we often forget about prayer.

The importance of prayer is made evident through the example of Jesus Christ himself.
Christ taught his followers how to pray in the sermon on the mount. (Matthew 6:5-15)
He sacrificed sleep in order to spend time praying to the Father. (Mark 1:35)
He even prayed for his disciples, and for future believers, instead of himself just hours before he knew he would die a horrible death on the cross. (John 17:1-27)

Clearly, prayer is important. Those who claim the name of Jesus Christ should, therefore, follow in the example of their Lord, Jesus Christ, and pray!
When we have a high value for prayer, we will pray. So, logically, the opposite must also be true. If we do not pray, we do not value the intimate, instantaneous, unhindered, communication link with the Almighty, Sovereign, Creator, and Savior of the world.

Let’s renew our discipline for prayer to our Father!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday Reminders – The Chief End Of Man

I will attribute this quote to my pastor from his sermon yesterday, since that’s where I heard it.

Such a beautiful, and simple reminder, especially as we head into the Christmas season. It’s all about God.

If your understanding of God, His Ways, His Word, and His World doesn’t lead you to glorify God, then your understanding is wrong (either completely or partially).

Even more importantly, the glory belongs to God alone. If any of that glory is attributed to man or nature, it’s in the wrong place. Nothing man does and nothing that happens in nature is outside of God’s control, plan, and purpose. What is that purpose? His own glory!

Romans 11:33-36
“Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
‘For who has known the mind of the Lord,
Or who has been his counselor?’
‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’
For from him and through him and yo him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

 

Soli Deo Gloria!