11 years of marriage {and why I need my husband less}

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This weekend, my husband and I celebrated 11 years of wedded bliss.

As usual, I became a bit reflective and sentimental on our special day. Eleven years is a long marriage by many current standards, and during that time we have both morphed into slightly different versions of ourselves.

My hair is at least 6-8 inches shorter and his is completely gone. Our faces show a few extra wrinkles and our waistlines have slightly expanded. I stay up a little later and he goes to bed a little earlier.

Marriage has changed us. The gospel has changed us.

Actually, the gospel has changed me.

Understanding that the death and resurrection of Christ affects every minute of my life has given me a different perspective on the qualities I strive for in our marriage.

11 years of marriage {and why I need my husband less}

For instance, I want to be a humble wife. I want to respectfully submit to my husband’s authority for our family. My default as a human being is the complete opposite though. My immediate reactions are usually tainted with pride. I see in the gospel an example of humility in Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion, but if I simply try to copy His meekness on my own, I will become hopelessly frustrated. It is not until I submit myself to the Father and ask for the Spirit’s empowerment that I can ever humbly defer to my husband.

I want to be a forgiving wife. I don’t want to hold grudges especially over silly things like piles of commentaries or empty coffee cups (just examples, of course). When my heart is overwhelmed with the depth of my own depravity and the abundance of God’s forgiveness toward me, I find my heart naturally overflowing with grace to my husband.

I want to be a loving wife. I want to offer both affection and sacrifice freely to my spouse. If I am going to effectively follow the command to love one another found in I John 4:7-8, I have to realize that love does not originate with me. My natural heart will always choose the complete opposite of love. God’s love was completely undeserved and unreciprocated. While we were broken and unlovely, God pursued us with His perfect love. I love my husband with the love that I have been given through Christ.

The point is, I can’t “wife” effectively without the gospel. Our marriage has no hope of survival without the hope of Christ at its center. The longer we’re married, I’m discovering I actually need my husband less and depend on Christ’s faithfulness more.

I pray that the next eleven years of our marriage will be saturated with the good news of Jesus. It is only in that framework that any relationship can hope to survive.

P.S. I love you Adam!

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**Scheduling note: As a homeschooling family, we’re enjoying our summer break right now. We will be doing some traveling, soaking in the sun, and catching up on some reading. Because of that, I will be taking a short hiatus from blogging/podcasting for the next month or so! I’ll be posting some of our summer fun over on Instagram though! Join me there?

 

 

 

Clinging to the Pillars of the Gospel in the Waves of Life

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The good news of our redemption in Christ is beautifully deep. In fact, no human will ever be able to comprehend every facet of the gospel. Because of its richness and complexity it can often be intimidating to figure out how it applies to the brokenness, pain, and doubt surrounding us every day.

It is in those moments (or weeks) of weakness, I am learning to cling to some of the gigantic pillars of the gospel. If I have no idea how to counsel a struggling friend, I point her to these truths. They are so overarching – so huge that I have something to hold onto until some of the waves of life calm down.

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1. The work is done.

I certainly don’t mean to be repetitive. After all, I recently wrote an entire post on the rest we have in Christ’s finished work. However, I hear messages and voices daily pressuring me to do more and do it better. Do you hear them too? It can be so tempting to buy into the idea that the quality of my life solely depends on how hard I work. That the approval from my community will increase as I spend myself more. If I really dig deep, I can climb out of this uncomfortable situation. I can focus on finding and fitting the pieces together of this Puzzle of Life. It’s up to me!

The truth of the gospel says that the suffering I’m experiencing is part of God’s refining work in my life (James 1:2-4).

I can’t be more approved in God’s eyes through better living because He sees me as complete and pure through His Son’s Sacrifice.(Romans 8:1)

My life is no puzzle to my Father. (Proverbs 20:24)

Because of Jesus, the burden of perfect work has been finished. Rest in Him.

2. God never changes.

Our feelings can change drastically in a matter of minutes. Have you ever experienced the cry/laugh? What a perfect example of conflicting emotions!

We can parent out of sweet sentiment and exasperated anger in shockingly short amounts of time.

When I realize my terrible inconsistencies, I am made grateful for passages that point to his immutability or unchanging nature.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33:11

The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. Psalm 138:8

My failures and meltdowns don’t affect His steadfast nature. He will not revoke my salvation or the redemptive work He is constantly accomplishing in my life.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Because of Jesus, I have a permanent position as a rescued daughter of God.

3. He never lets go of me.

Sometimes the undertow of life’s waves seem desperately perilous. We wonder if we will make it out alive. We gasp for air and look to cling to the nearest rock or branch available. In the back of our mind, we know that those apparent rescuers will fail. The rocks will crumble and the branches will break. We still try, however, hoping that this time it will be different.

The beauty of the gospel is that while we are desperately gripping these temporary things, God is still faithfully holding onto us.

Isaiah 41:13 says,
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.

Because of Jesus, I am firmly grasped in God’s omnipotent hand.

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In its simplicity, the gospel is complex enough to answer any of this world’s crashing waves. The work of Christ is perfect enough, full enough, and eternal enough to stand up to the tumultuous sea of your life.

 

Frolic Series {a review}

I love diving boards.

Strangely though, I actually never dive correctly off of them. Instead I walk to the very end and jump feet first into the pool. I can vividly remember swimming at the olympic size pool at my college. I loved the way time seemed to stand still as I fell from the high board. I would allow gravity to take me deep into the water hopefully to feel the cement bottom with my toes.

As parents, we have the special privilege of sharing the depths of Scripture and the gospel with our children as they grow. We will be their swim vest during the early years, keeping them afloat with core doctrines and beliefs of our faith. We offer them the diving board to know God through Jesus in an intimate personal way. Our ultimate goal is their ability to navigate the waves of theology with their own grasp of biblical truth.

These “swimming lessons” must start very early in life. Even when a little one’s language is just forming, he can learn truths about God, our sin, and our Savior. It is never too early to begin.

Recently, I was asked to review the brand new Frolic Series from Sparkhouse Family. Because of my role as a pastor’s wife, I am asked often about resources for children so I was eager to explore these books.

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Frolic Board Books (Ages 0-3)

Appearance:

My daughter who is almost two, wanted to read these books right away. As she flipped through the pages, she pointed out small details like a butterfly or flower. This age is naturally enamored with animals so the use of a sheep, dog, hedgehog, dove, and goat for the main characters is a fun touch.

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Content:

These books introduced initial concepts about God and faith in a gentle way. For instance God’s Wonderful World uses the five senses to introduce Creation and Pray to God focuses on praying to God anytime and anywhere.

Conclusion:

These books are a good fit for its target ages. Babies and toddlers can easily begin to understand very basic tenets of our faith. The topics and pictures help them learn about the world around them in a gentle way. I would label these books as good “diving boards” to deeper topics as they get to age 3 and above.

 

Frolic Friends (ages 3-5)

Appearance:

Again, I loved the illustrations in this set of four books. My four year old begged to read them as soon as I opened the box. The size of the books is perfect for little hands to hold and their hardback cover is definitely a plus for busy little ones.

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Content:

These books cover a variety of character building topics such as patience, anger, friendship, and sharing. When each character struggles with those respective qualities, he stops to pray to ask God for help resulting in an answer to prayer and change in the situation. The last page of each book includes verses, discussion, and prayer for the parents to use with the child.

Conclusion:

It’s important for children at this age to realize that being a good person will never come naturally because of our sin nature. I appreciate the prayer in each of these books pointing to a need that can be solved only outside of ourselves. However, I do think these prayers could have been written to more specifically point to the answer which is Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Because he was perfectly patient, giving, etc…. we have hope to show those same qualities. This is an extremely important age for beginning to truly comprehend the gospel and our desperate need for a Rescuer. I would hate to short circuit that understanding by focusing mainly on outward behavior.

 

Frolic First Bible (ages 0-3)

Appearance:

I was impressed with the quality of this little Bible. It’s binding looks like it would hold up well with toddler use. The illustrations are bright and colorful which would definitely interest little ones.

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Content:

This Bible includes 20 of the most well-known stories from both the Old and New Testaments. Each story is two pages with simply written text and a short application at the end.

Conclusion:

I have mixed feelings about this Bible. While, it is geared for very small children who cannot read and will mainly be interested in the pictures, I was disappointed in the faith message at the end of each page. Even at two years old, I want my my children to understand theological truth on their level. For example, one story concluded with “God is pleased with me.” When in reality, God is only pleased with me through the blood of His Son. The story of David & Goliath goes beyond bravery and ultimately shows us the One who defeated the giant of sin. On an age-appropriate level, even the smallest of children can begin understanding these truths.

If these books are a part of your family library, I think they could act as great beginning diving boards for your child’s faith.

Thank you to Sparkhouse Family for the opportunity to review these materials! Check out these and other Sparkhouse products at their website or the Sparkhouse blog.

Praying Together {a review}

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I don’t recall the first time I prayed.

Since I was born to two believers who pray often, I’m sure it was around the age when my language started developing in other ways. I can remember taking time to pray as a family each Sunday morning over homemade cinnamon rolls. In high school, I joined a group of students each morning before the 1st period bell to pray for our teachers and classes. In college, I attended a prayer meeting each Tuesday night focused on the needs of missionaries around the globe. As a pastor’s wife, I continue to pray regularly with my church family.

I guess I could say that prayer has become second-nature to me. I easily volunteer to pray out loud in social situations. My husband and I share times of prayer with both each other and our children. It has become natural thing to take my concerns and praises before the throne of God.

Praying Together{a review}In my comfort, though, I have lost my awe of the privilege and calling of prayer. That’s why I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to have recently read, Praying Together, by Megan Hill. She beautifully reminds us of the foundation of praying together, the fruit of corporate prayer, and the practical outworking of the first two in our churches and homes.

She begins by emphasizing the fact that prayer is all about relationship. Many of us have heard teaching and preaching on the need to go beyond lists of requests and complaints in our prayer times remembering that we are participating in a two-way conversation with our Heavenly Father. I was especially struck, however, with Megan’s point that we are never alone in our praying because we are interacting with the entire Godhead – the Trinity. This removes the pressure of praying perfectly because “the one-in-three in whom we trust lovingly takes all our prayers, cleanses them of sin, and reorients them to match his holy will.” What a reassuring point!

Many look at the modern Church and see strife and discord among her members. Could it be that many of our local congregations have forgotten the importance of joining together with a common Savior and an common cause? We have forgotten the rewards of praying together. Megan spends time discussing the sweet unity and deep bond that develops when people from different backgrounds take time to approach the throne of grace with one another. The result can only be a unified relationship which allows us to truly share in both the joys and burdens of our brothers in Christ.

The final third of Praying Together focuses on the how-to of corporate prayer. What does prayer look like in our church services, with our best friend, or with our dinner guests? I especially loved the section on praying with your children. According to the book, “As Christian parents, our first responsibility to our children is to pray in front of them and on their behalf“. It is from our prayers as a family that our children learn both how to pray and key theological truths that will deepen their knowledge of God. When praying, both the parent and the child approach the God of the universe on equal footing (through the blood of Jesus) and with the same neediness.

This book is packed with both theological truth and practical points for all believers. It could be used for a small group study using the discussion/reflection questions at the end of the book. She reminds all of us (whether we’ve been praying for 3 days or 30 years) that praying together is a treasure worth cherishing. Personally, it filled my heart with a renewed passion to value this privilege and use it often with my brothers and sisters.

Purchase your own copy at Crossway or Amazon.

**I received a free digital copy of this book from Crossway for review. 

 

 

Three Political Thoughts from a Non-political Mom

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I wouldn’t consider myself incredibly politically active.

I was a part of the Young Patriots Club of America in high school mainly so I could take a field trip to the capitol in Tallahassee each Spring. I’ve voted in elections in Florida, Virginia, and now Pennsylvania. I pray (though not as consistently as I ought) for our country’s leaders and for God’s protection and grace for this country I love.

This is about the extent of my involvement in civics, however. I’ve never found myself in a heated argument over candidates or policy and I don’t usually lose sleep over those in leadership.

That has changed in 2016 though. I have stayed up late glued to ridiculously heated debates and refreshing the election results page on CNN. Suddenly, I have become very interested in this ongoing drama called an election.

With this added interest also comes added worry. Our country seems to be in a state of disarray. Are we losing our God-centered heritage? Are we as Christians losing our freedoms? Should we move to Canada?

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In spite of my concerns, I keep returning to three main thoughts that bring comfort in the political chaos.

  1. As the Church, we are exiles.
    An exile is a person who has been removed from their homeland. He has been transplanted to a new land or country either by an authoritative decree or a voluntary move. He is a refugee with no place to call home. He is different from the culture in which he finds himself.Until we find ourselves at home in the presence of Jesus, we are refugees in the this world. We will never feel completely “at home” here.A few days ago, I turned on the morning news to find coverage of a controversial teaching from a well-known Christian speaker. He was promoting ideas which required women to submit to their husbands. The news reporters were incredulous. Who could actually follow this crazy logic?

    At first, I became defensive. It frustrated me that they were being so liberal minded. They were twisting scripture for their own purposes. Then I suddenly realized that this reaction from media should be no surprise. Of course, they don’t understand. The things of Christ are insanity to them.

    The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. I Corinthians 2:14

    Because we are exiles, it is natural to feel uncomfortable with the decisions made by our government or uneasy at the direction of our country. We will be disappointed at the outpouring of support for ungodly leaders. We must remember that this is not our home and we shouldn’t fit in with the culture surrounding us.

  2. As the Church, we should support a Savior not a candidate.It always makes me chuckle when I see a bumper sticker still proudly supporting a candidate that lost the race long ago. The owner of that car was so sure of their future president that they wanted to declare their support permanently. Even in defeat, they can’t deny their backing of that individual.I have no issue with supporting the campaign of a particular candidate especially if he or she plans to use the presidential influence to enforce religious liberties and defend our land. However, many Christians are known more for their favorite office-seeker than for their relationship with Christ.

    As believers, our King is eternal.  His term is not limited to four or eight years. He has already run the race and defeated the evil opponent. May our energy be spent promoting the good news of our rescue from our own destruction. May we spend our time proclaiming His beauty and wisdom.

  3. As the Church, our hope rests in our eternal citizenship.With the impending outcome of the national conventions, many conservative Christians are alarmed. A quick scroll through my social media feed shows fear, discouragement, and anger. We can’t seem to wrap our minds around the possibility of an anti-Christian nation.I wonder, however, if this upheaval is actually a good thing for the body of Christ.
    Could it be that in the loss of some of our political freedoms, we will cherish even more our freedom in Christ?
    Could the discomfort of our exile drive us to find our comfort in our Savior?
    Could the dismal outlook for our nation cause us to cling to the true hope we have in our eternal destiny?

    Peter wrote similar encouragement to the the believers undergoing persecution for their new faith.

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    Friends, the best is yet to come for the Church. Though persecution and hardship may soon come from our government, our hope is still full and alive in the finished work of Jesus. May the outcome of this year’s election purify Christ’s bride that we may be ready for the revelation of our eternal inheritance.

Spiritual Sticky Notes

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When I was in Jr. High my Sunday School teacher helped us make little prayer journals to use in our quiet time with God. It had sections for new requests, ongoing requests, and then one for answered prayer.

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I didn’t think about it much at the time (I was a 13 year old girl after all), but that “answered prayer” section and what it represents could be vital to my relationship with the Lord.

Why? Because I’m ridiculously forgetful. I’m not just talking about the “Where are my keys?” and “Why did I walk into this room?” kind of forgetfulness. This is a mindset that plagues my walk with Christ by feeding insecurities and doubts of His faithfulness.
I’ve had conversation after conversation with my much wiser husband about my frustrations with answered prayer. I complain that my prayers feel like they’re hitting the so-called ceiling. These are the kind of talks that you wouldn’t expect to hear from your pastor’s wife.

“God just NEVER clearly answers me.”
“I just wish God would write His plans in the sky for me to follow!” 
“I feel like God is so far away!”

Those ideas can spin out of control quickly leading to some pretty depressing and self-focused thoughts. That’s why it’s so important to document even the smallest answers from my Father.

One day, I was in the middle of cooking dinner when I decided to thank God for a small leading in my life and to ask for His continued blessing in a couple specific areas. It was a prayer lasting maybe two minutes before my thoughts went back to the food before me.
Later in the evening, I hopped on Twitter and found a direct message from an old blogging friend confirming EXACTLY what I had asked God for at EXACTLY the time I was praying in the kitchen! I couldn’t believe it!

My smallest and most insignificant requests are heard and answered specifically by a sovereign God!

I love what Colossians 4:2 says,
 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Paul reminds us to be watchful for God’s smallest answers with a spirit of thankfulness. I know I can’t be completely alone in my spiritual forgetfulness. Why else would we find verses like I Corinthians 15:1?
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand…….

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It’s critical to leave ourselves spiritual sticky notes as a reminder of the deep riches we have in Christ and the answers our Heavenly Father readily gives to our prayers. Without them we will forget the goodness of our God and step quickly into a realm of amnesia-induced distrust. 

Do you keep a journal, blog, or other source to keep track of even the smallest answers to prayer? I’m attempting to be more consistent in “remembering” the small things and I’d love to hear your experiences with praying and receiving answers! Share in the comments section below!

No Time for Quiet Time

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Shortly after the birth of one of my children, I was commiserating with a few friends at small group. Two of them had newborns and one had three small foster children. We discussed the difficulty that we seem to face as mothers when it comes to our time with God.

When moms are sleep deprived and off-schedule, it can be extremely difficult to find a steady quiet time with God. The cycle continues when we go several days (or even weeks) without that communion causing us to feel even more discouraged and malnourished spiritually.

I’ve noticed that this same thing can happen even without newborns in the house. A bad night’s sleep, a busy week, or poor time-management can throw us off schedule more often than we’d like.

No time for quiet time
So! What’s a mommy to do? Here’s a few ideas that may help:

1. As soon as possible, create a daily schedule. 
During the first few weeks after a sweet baby arrives, it’s virtually impossible to plan out a day. An exploding diaper or colicky little one can wreak havoc on a schedule.
After a couple months, though, it becomes a little easier to get into a routine. I’ve found that it helps me to write out a daily schedule and post it on the fridge until it becomes a habit. (Yes, my dear husband makes fun of me for this OCD move).
Start by scheduling a 15-20 minute time exclusively for your time with God. Hopefully, this time can grow later on, but at least you have it carved out of your day.
Stick to your schedule as closely as possible remembering that flexibility is necessary on certain days. What seems a little forced at first, soon becomes a regular, special part of your day.

2. Spend time with God wherever and whenever possible. 

Unfortunately, I find that my quiet prayer time can get interrupted quickly so I have some backup quiet spots: the shower (not foolproof) and the kitchen sink.
In the 10 minutes or so I spend in each respective location God and I can catch up a little bit.
I’ve been surprised at the things He’s spoken to my heart during these short conversations.

3. Use technology.

I love technology. I use my laptop, iPad, and phone regularly to strengthen my faith. I have used several Bible reading plans on the YouVersion app. If I get behind, I can easily adjust my reading to catch up.
I also listen to sermons and podcasts on my phone or iPad while I do other housekeeping duties. It’s a great way to preach grace to myself while also checking things off my to-do list. Find some of my favorite podcasts on the Resources page.

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Whatever you find works for you in the craziness of motherhood, remember this:

Our God isn’t limited to a living room recliner and a 1 hour minimum to speak to our hearts. You may be surprised at what He uses to comfort, encourage, and challenge you.
Please don’t feel guilty for not reaching certain standards in your devotion time with Him.

Christ completed a perfect relationship with His Father for us so we can enjoy the freedom to approach God even in imperfect circumstances.

Where to turn when you’re out of strength…

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“Just keep moving, Rachel….”

My sister had dragged me into exercising with her once again. While she still energetically ran in place, I begged her to let me sit down. My legs felt like jelly and I was sure I must be ready to pass out! I thought I might die!

“It’s okay if you don’t do the jumping jacks. Just walk in place instead. Whatever you do, don’t stop moving.”

Obviously, I survived that tortuous workout and several others over the years. I have followed the advice of many fitness gurus to “find my why” in working out. I know that my health is important to my family, so I never exercise because I really want to, but because I know it’s good for me.

Other than shaking quads and burning biceps, one of the biggest deterrents to regular exercise is the inevitable loss of energy. I usually start off determined and strong, but it never lasts. Shortly into the workout, my jumps are lower and my squats are higher. I want to be toned and healthy, but I convince myself, that I’m not strong enough to finish. I don’t have the power to push through the pain.

I know I’m not be alone in this stamina issue. Fitness companies offer pre-workout drinks and Pinterest is packed with links to pre-workout snacks. We all want to be able to push through and finish our workouts so we can experience the post-sweat high of accomplishment.

WhenYou'reOutofStrength

In the Bible, our call as believers to live both holy and loving lives is equated with physical strain too. The author of Hebrews penned these famous words, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”

Perseverance.

Stamina.

Resolution.

We are told in Scripture to run lives committed to Christ and free from unnecessary burdens or wrongdoing, but where do we find the energy to complete such a task? Any effort dependent on our own fortitude will never last. Our spiritual legs weaken and we struggle to catch a breath in between all the serving, giving, reading,and praying. We simply lack the energy to even jog on our own. We need nourishment for our exhausted spiritual muscles.

Now, this is only a short blog post and many have written entire commentaries on the book of Hebrews, but it is interesting to note that this well-known and much quoted verse in Hebrews comes after eleven chapters outlining the beauty and sufficiency of our Savior. The author takes his readers on a journey through Hebrew history, pointing to the innumerable ways that Jesus is better that the traditions and commandments they held so dear. Each chapter is full of doctrinal truths such as redemption, substitution, and sacrifice. In other words, it is the endurance of Christ that offers us sustaining hope as we run.

This is why the study of theology is so vitally important. Truly grasping the truths of the gospel and God’s story of redemption throughout time never stops with head knowledge. It always translates into the motivation to press on in our walk.

Consider these passages written by Paul.

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God,who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” I Timothy 4:10

“For this I toil, struggling with all HIS energy that he powerfully works within me.” Colossians 1:28

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Christ is both the motivation and the strength for the work we are called to do. When I am enamored with Christ and His work, I am empowered to live a life that reflects Him to those around me.

In other words, Scriptural knowledge is of no help when we simply become spiritually obese. When we allow theological truth to do its work in our hearts (even when it’s painful), it becomes the fuel we need to continue steadfastly in the faith.

 

 

Blotch {a giveaway}…

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She shook her tiny toddler finger in my face and scowled. “Stop,” she commanded with all the authority she could muster. My mouth fell open. How had she learned to be so bossy, so demanding?

The truth is that I shouldn’t have been the least surprised. After three children, I’ve clearly seen how early and naturally sin manifests itself.  As my husband said while holding each of our newborn babies for the first time, “What a cute little sinner”.

In order to correctly teach the doctrine of sin to our kids, we must reinforce the fact that we are inherently or naturally sinners from the time of our conception. It is that original sin that then reveals itself in wrong behaviors and attitudes. In other words, we fail to meet God’s perfect standards before we have officially committed our first misdeed.

Just like when we teach about the eternal punishment for sin, it’s this bad news that makes the good news so wonderful! Jesus took the separation and consequences of our evil choices on himself to offer us a way out of the horrible mess we all find ourselves in from birth.

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It can be intimidating to explain these concepts to our kids and we fear that we might explain it incorrectly or somehow confuse their little minds. That’s why it can be so helpful to have resources like the brand new book, Blotch by Andy Addis.

This 5-chapter parable, follows the story of Blotch who is a boy who lives in a kingdom where everyone is born with one mark on their skin. Each time they act or think wrongly, a new blotch appears. He is determined to find out a way to get rid of these embarrassing spots, so he sets out on a journey. Along the way, he meets different people dealing with this blotch problem in different ways (hiding them, ignoring them, etc…). He finally finds the answer to this pressing dilemma when he meets a kind stranger who is willing to offer himself in a sacrificial way.

I won’t spoil the end for you, but I will say that this book explained the gospel in a gentle, yet clear way. It’s illustrations perfectly fit the story and my boys couldn’t wait for me to turn the page. It also includes notes for parents and a discussion guide to accompany each chapter. It worked well for us during our homeschool Bible time, but it would also be a great tool for family worship in the evenings as well.

I would encourage you to add this tool to your family library as you seek to share the simple yet profound story of the gospel with your children. You may even find yourself gripped once again with the beauty of the King who offers to remove your stains too!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have one copy of Blotch to giveaway. Enter below. U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen on April 16, 2016 and contacted via email.

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To the weary mom….

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A man, he works from sun till sun, but a woman’s work is never done.

I can hear my mom sighing at the end of another long day. She quotes this little saying while putting away one more load of laundry or packing one more lunch. As a mom now myself, these words have so much more meaning to me. The work is never done. There always one more dish in the sink or one more toy to put away.

As our family has grown, my homemaking standards have lowered. I can leave those clothes in the dryer and fold them tomorrow. I guess the floor could be swept after breakfast in the morning. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to live in a perfectly clean, model home, but with three small children, that dream is far from reality. At the end of the day, my body and mind just want to rest. I long to sit down with the work completely done.

That feeling of incompleteness doesn’t just stop with dust bunnies and piles of superhero figures though. I find myself longing for rest in many areas of my life. When will I stop wrestling with the sin of discontentment? Will I ever stop struggling with my identity? Why do I find myself clinging to the same idols over and over again? When will Jesus come back so my soul can finally rest?

While I don’t have a chapter and verse to support my theory, I imagine that an Israelite high priest may identify with some of those same feelings. He worked every day in the temple offering sacrifices for the sins of the people. With a nation so large, there was a never-ending stream of brokenness for which to atone. In the rooms where he worked, there were altars, candles, and holy artifacts, but no chairs. No place to sit. No place to rest. The work of salvation was never finished.

That is until Jesus arrived on the scene.

Finally, the endless cycle of sin, confession, and sacrifice could be broken. He did the work His Father asked Him to do. There was no need for God to lower His standard of holiness. Christ accomplished the task perfectly and completely. The necessity of continual sacrifices in the temple was done. It was finished.

And our High Priest sat down.

  • He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high….Hebrews 1:3
  • Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven…Hebrews 8:1
  • But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God….Hebrews 10:12
  • looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

If Christ has sealed our salvation, why do we find ourselves often unsettled? Why does rest seem so elusive? Why do we attempt to continue to offer sacrifices in hopes of God’s favor?

Sitdown

He isn’t striving. He isn’t stressing. He isn’t struggling.

He is sitting down.

He invites us to rest in His accomplishments – to sit down in His finished work.

Is your kitchen far from magazine worthy? Have your children found your last nerve? Is that besetting sin rearing its ugly head today?

Sit down (physically if you need to) and rejoice. The ultimate undertaking has been completed for you. Because of Jesus, the weight of perfection is no longer on your shoulders. Instead, you carry a burden made light by His atonement and a yoke made easy by His redemption.

It is only in Jesus’ settled location at his Father’s side that our souls can find ultimate peace.

 

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