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Give Me Faith

Give me faith
To trust what You say
That You’re good
And Your love is great

I may be weak
Your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God You never will

This song has been speaking to me so much over the past week. I am so limited in my obedience and faith. Yet, I take heart in the work of the Holy Spirit and in God’s grace.

How blessed am I that He allows someone like me to partner with Him in all the wonderful and amazing things that He is doing? And in all the difficult and trying things that are still waiting to be redeemed?

Trusting Him in all things: the good and the bad, the praises and the difficulties. Believing in Him for myself, for friends, and for family.

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Week 23 + The Greatest Thing You Could Do Today

Week 23 + The Greatest Thing You Could Do Today

Oh man the weeks are flying by! This is the last day of week 23!!

How do I feel?

Great! Haha. I’ve been feeling fantastic and finally getting that second-tri second wind that everyone talks about. ZERO nausea anymore PTL! I seriously didn’t think it would happen when it was partway into the second-tri and I was still feeling it.

Babyee continues to kick fairly heartily too so that’s been a lot of fun. I was very worried though on Monday as I barely felt her move the whole day. Usually she kicks a lot when we watch “The Voice,” but she wouldn’t even kick for her favorite country crooner, Zach:

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(No joke there was one week when she kicked A TON the whole time this guy was performing. Seriously, baby!? Seriously!? Already giving your poor old Mom and Pop trouble in the boy department.)

Usually I’m fairly calm, but I was getting super worried as time went on, but she gave me a few kicks late in the night. It’s so hard for me to not worry, but gotta keep giving it up and trusting that God has her and her best interest in His hands. He loves her infinitely more than I do and I can trust Him with her life.

Other fun stuff from this week: I finally went maternity clothes shopping this past Sunday! Woohoo!! Poor Nicole had to sit for hours as I tried on the entire Motherhood Maternity store. I think I showed a good amount of restraint considering they were still having their Black Friday sale. Must say, maternity jeans are GREAT. I could live in these things lol.

What is God saying?

I HIGHLY recommend this article by Francis Chan: The Greatest Thing You Could Do Today. I’m looking for a good quote, but seriously want to post the whole thing here!

We often spend a lot of time and effort gathering believers together. We’ve become experts at gathering Christians around great bands, speakers, and events…

The word community is thrown around quite a bit in Christian circles today. But our gatherings can be toxic if we do not spend time alone with God. I’ve been in many groups where people share their insights. The problem is not only that our insights are not as profound as we think they are, but that we’re so eager to share thoughts originating in our own minds…

I want to know the thoughts of God. I want to gather with people who have been reading God’s Words, people who have prayed and interacted with Him. I want to fellowship with those who fellowship with God.

These thoughts impressed on me my dire need to be in God’s Word and in His presence daily.

How can I even hope to be an effective Christian if I’m not constantly bringing myself before Him?

I want to make sure I’m not that person just giving impressions or my own thoughts as I talk to others. I want to make sure the things I say are submitted and aligned with God’s Word and that I’m open to His constant correction of any wayward thoughts/beliefs (which I surely do and will have on this side of heaven!).

I’m reminded of 1 Timothy 4:16:

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Watch your doctrine. This is Paul’s exhortation to Timothy. And how can we watch our doctrine? By making sure we’re staying in the life-changing study of God’s Word.

Last night at BSF, Duhee also spoke about the Bible being a sword that will pierce our hearts and lead us to repentance and correction. He said either the Word will pierce our heart and correct us, or we will pierce the Word and cut out of it the parts we don’t want to apply to ourselves. “The Holy Word will become the hole-y Word.”

So will I pierce the Word or will I let the Word pierce me?

It is SO easy for me to think I’m right all the time and not be open to the correction of others and of God’s Word. It’s easy for me to be prideful and think my thoughts and ways are best and fail to have a humble attitude.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”

Isaiah 55:8

I want to be careful with my thoughts and my doctrine, and keep an attitude of humility that God’s ways really may not be my ways even though I might think they are. I want to stay in the Word to make sure my doctrine is continuing to grow more and more in line with what the Word truly means and says.

I think this all came to mind even more as I got in an argument with my bff Monday night (hello, Deb! haha). I was getting so emotional and stubborn, unwilling to listen and upset. But as I took a step back, I had to ask God to show me where my thinking might actually be wrong and be open to correction, even if some of what I was saying still did feel correct.

And I think thankfully God was in the conflict and hopefully He is using our extreme differences to influence one another and make us look more like Christ.

Sometimes long friendships feel a lot like marriage haha. Over time conflicts surely will arise, but if we bear with one another and stick it out, God will use our friendships to spur us on toward holiness and looking more like His Son, Jesus.

I can’t remember who said it (Pastor Kyle I think?), but the speaker said we are all like rocks with jagged edges and as we stay in relationship with each other and get into conflicts, our jagged edges grate against each other, but over time are eventually smoothed out more and more. What a pertinent picture of what it looks like to be perfected by one another!

So that’s what’s on my mind lately and again, I highly highly recommend reading the Francis Chan post!

And as a last note, I love you, Deb! Haha. Thanks for bearing with me and being a good friend. Praying that God would help us continue to love each other even in our differences and use those differences to make us more like Him. Yay! :)

Week 14! & The Fight Against My I-ness

Week 14! & The Fight Against My I-ness

Second Trimester!!! Woot woot! But why do I still feel nauseous!?!? Haha.

How do I feel?

Still nauseous in the afternoons toward the end of work and before dinner. I thought this was supposed to be over?! Ugh. But as much as I complain, it’s still amazing that I’ve only thrown up ONCE so far (I don’t count the time that I had food poisoning) and even that one time was kind of due to my stupidity with the whole toothbrush thing. Sure there are the moms I can’t identify with who say being pregnant was so great and didn’t have any nausea at all, but on the other end of the spectrum there are moms who threw up every single day well beyond the first tri. Time for me to stop complaining about this and be thankful.

And HUNGRY. So hungry. I am always down to eat. Like always. Like worse than before (because in all honestly I’ve always been pretty down-to-eat even pre-pregnancy). Nice thing is I’m still -2 lbs. from when we started this whole pregnancy thing, even though if you were to see my tummy it sure doesn’t look it! Still not even sure how that’s possible, but I’m sure I’ll start putting on the preggo weight soon.

Definitely not as tired now though PTL. I barely even nap after work anymore!

Thirsty. The OBGYN asked about it at the first appointment and I wasn’t feeling it yet, but when I wake up in the morning I am soooo thirsty. My throat feels parched. Oh and then there’s the pee. Yes, it’s true. You always have to pee. Haha. Oh and leg cramps too in the middle of the night. That’s a new thing.

Other than all that though, I actually feel pretty energetic and excited! I’m feeling a lot less irritable too thank goodness… or should I say thank Jesus!? There’s still times when I feel like the grouch can’t be contained, but it has been better as of late probably due in part to being less tired.

What is God saying? (This is actually a whole other post really, “The Fight Against My I-Ness”)

So I just wrote a whole Tumblr post yesterday, which kind of captured it, but I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships and change and what it means to endure in relationships even when they are difficult. I think God has been speaking to that area of my life and working on my heart to grow me in love.

I think too He’s been showing me that my love is so small, even when it comes to the people I purport to love. Only He can grow my heart and make me someone who truly loves.

My love is so limited. I will “love” to a certain point, i.e. be friendly, small talk, help out a little, but there is definitely a limit to how far I’m willing to go with other people. It’s like I stop right at the point of being friendly acquaintances/casual friends and for the most part don’t dare to or want to move past that stage.

Why is that?

For me at least, I think a big part of it is personality. For so long I deceived myself into thinking I was an extrovert because let’s face it, as a kid being an E is sooo much cooler. And yes I was always pretty friendly and I can step it up and try to drive a convo if I need to, but me, an E? Puh-leaseee. There’s no way even when I was in high school/college. I just wanted to desperately to be that social, fun person that draws people in. But honestly when I realized later that I was actually TOTALLY an introvert, it was actually very freeing. Finally I knew why I couldn’t pull off meeting up with multiple people every day of the week like my more extroverted friends. It wasn’t because I was less loving or less Christian, it just wasn’t how I was wired. And when I had a better understanding of my wiring and limitations, I think it helped me live a more reasonable life.

Now I think in high school/college life, there’s a lot of I’s trying to pull off being E because like I said, it’s just SOO much cooler. But then something changed either as a young adult or when all this introvert pride literature started coming out over the past few years (I think it’s both) and suddenly it’s like I-ness is totally a cool thing too. I think also as you mature you come into your own and stop trying as much to be things that you’re not. But suddenly it’s like being I is supreme and guess what it’s TOTALLY okay to hermit out in my room or only spend time with my sig other and cut off the rest of my community.

While I think it is good to embrace who we are and see the upsides of our own God-given personality, I think it’s also totally NOT okay for us to use personality as an excuse for not loving, not being a part of community, not trying hard with other people. In order for me to love and be like Christ, I need to fight off my tendency to only think about me: my comfort, my energy levels, my time. Because I am an “I,” or perhaps just because I’m human, it is SOOO hard for me to make space in my life for other people.

I am TOTALLY that person at work that only has 1-2 work friends and keeps everyone else at arm’s length because I just don’t like being bothered. It’s not that I don’t have time, it’s just that I’d rather sit here quietly at my computer than go out to lunch with everyone or join in on playing ping pong or that sort of thing. And in my mind I justify it and think well all these people are Christians so you know it’s not as important for me to make friends as it would be if I were at another type of workplace. But who am I kidding? At my last job for the most part I was the same.

And at church… at church I have to fight SO HARD sometimes to put myself out there and be social. I struggle to introduce myself to new people or go deeper with less new ones. A lot of times it’s so hard for me to open up with people because I just don’t really want to or sometimes even see the point of it. And life group/small group, etc. Ugh. I feel like saying “don’t even get me started!” But it is so hard sometimes to drag myself there and I often feel like (at least initially) that it’s going to be a waste, so what’s the point? Even lunch after service can be a drag and I have to convince myself to go and participate in lunchtime festivities. (Luckily having an extroverted husband helps though as he’s almost always down for some activity.)

So basically what I’m saying is that it goes against my nature to love and connect with (most) people. And it’s probably not just an I thing, I’m sure there are ways E’s struggle with loving too. But what I find is that when I do die to myself, when I do force myself to hang out/reach out/go deeper, a lot of the times God does meet me there and I leave thinking either “that wasn’t that bad” or surprisingly “that was actually pretty great!” It’s just that initial surge against the flesh that takes effort and a lot of Holy Spirit help.

A fellow introvert posted this Tim Challies blog which I found very insightful: The Christian Introvert.

The post isn’t long, but here the parts that spoke to me most:

I believe that God made me introverted. It seems clear that some of us are naturally more outgoing while others are naturally inclined to be quiet. I am naturally quiet and this is part of God’s good design.

…we inhabit a world of sin where any trait or quality can be used for God-glorifying ends or for self-glorifying ends. Not only that, but God calls us to be always willing to deny our desires in order to serve others. Both introverts and extroverts will face particular temptations to sin. My temptation as an introvert is to run away from people instead of serve people. It is to be selfish instead of giving.

The Christian life is a life of self-denial. It is a life of saying, “Even though this may be what I want, duty compels me to do something different.” There are many times when I am to deny my own desires in order to serve others. Even the desire to be alone.

I have no right to crave introverted solitude. Rather, the gospel compels me to deny even that trait and all its desires in order to serve other people. I am introverted, but this does not give me a different calling in life than the gregarious Christian.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hermit or anything and I have a handful of people I choose to keep in contact with and who I feel I can honestly share my life with, and I don’t think we need to be best friends with everyone, but we do need to love everyone, love those we come in contact with. When I come in contact with people, do they leave having experienced at least a small part of Jesus’ love for them? Do they leave feeling like they matter and knowing that they’re important?

Jesus focused a good amount of His energy on the 12, and even within the 12 disciples, He had His inner circle, but I’m certain that every person Jesus came across He loved. Yes, even the Pharisees and others who opposed Him in a strange way were loved (kind of what I described yesterday regarding His firm stance against sin).

Anyway I could babble on and on about this topic, but the heart of it is, “Lord, help me to love!” In spite of all I am and/or with all I am, help me to love.

Friendship

Friendship

I haven’t written here in so long. I’m still debating whether or not to move platforms to Blogspot or something as Tumblr doesn’t really seem like a traditional blogging venue anymore. Will have to investigate… though who am I kidding? I’m also super lazy and I’ve been on this Tumblr for 5+ years already.

So I have many blog posts that have been brewing in my mind. I feel like my husband as we have a running joke that he should Tweet out names of blogs he will never write. He’ll always make comments about how he should write about some matter (usually a spiritual one… I know, surprise surprise haha) and then we’ll “hashtag” it #blogsthatkennywillneverwrite.

Here’s my attempt at getting some thoughts down on a topic that’s been on my mind for quite a while now:

Friendships

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships, namely the friendship kind. And how marriage is truly a life-transforming relationship because you can’t or at least are not supposed to quit marriage. But friendships, people quit them all the time. And are all friendships meant to last the ages? No, probably not. And should they? No, I think there are times when it’s okay to let the flame die. But I also feel like there are other friendships that we are often too quick to give up on due to conflict or change.

What got me thinking is that there are a few major friendships in my life that are enduring change. What has changed? Upon investigation, I realized the main agent of change has been, well, me. I like to think I’ve changed/grown a lot in the past couple years primarily due to dating and marrying Kenny, but also due to the Lord growing and changing me.

I think the biggest area of change is that I’m a lot bolder now and more willing to have opinions in the first place, and second to share them even if I know they could cause offense or conflict. I think this came about primarily through being a companion to Kenny (who is outspoken and opinionated at times and yes sometimes possibly enjoys it a little too much haha) and also through studying Jesus in the book of Matthew a couple years ago. Jesus Himself, though supremely loving, was also someone who called people out. He had no qualms about challenging others (in love of course) when it came to issues of sin that hindered people from growing closer to God.

And that really is why He called people out. Because He realized sin meant roadblocks between His people and Him and He didn’t want ANYTHING hindering that relationship. (Which reminds me of another brewing post: “So what’s so great about holiness?”)

So especially in one friendship (I’m sure you’ll know who you are when you read this and we can discuss more… haha) I’ve been getting more and more vocal about not just big things, but small things too, and I’ve realized it’s changed the dynamic and it’s sometimes uncomfortable and not fun and sometimes I leave feeling frustrated and I’m sure the converse is true even moreso. Because of the increase of conflict, on both ends at times it might seem easier just to decide that things have changed and this is just getting too hard and maybe we should push away from each other for a bit. And I guess that’s when I realized why marriage is so transformative. Because you can’t leave. When one party changes for better or worse and it requires both people to mature and grow and give grace and bend and even break– marriage means you stick it out until one or both of you changes and things aren’t so rough anymore! Whereas friendship… friendships are a little easier to abandon.

But leaving difficult friendships means we rob ourselves of the opportunity to change. We forgo the chance to love when it gets tough, to love when we disagree, to give up the sin that ensnares, to humble ourselves when it’s our pride and condemnation of another getting in the way. We rob ourselves of love. Yes, the receipt of it, but also the opportunity to give it even when it’s hard.

Again, I’m not saying we need to cling to every friendship we have, but I think God will highlight certain relationships where He wants us to endure and cry and struggle and pray and not give up with the hope that He will eventually turn the tides (usually as He gives the grace to mature/change) and make everything okay.

Yes I have gotten bolder and more aware of things that bother me, but just because I’ve grown in that one area doesn’t mean I’m supremely right and that’s it for growth in me. No. I need to continue growing and allowing God to grow me in grace and humility, love, and the act of covering. I need Him to give me eyes to see people as He sees them. Yes, I am a better friend if I am not permissive and am willing to do what the Bible says and correct in love, but I’m actually not a good friend at all if I let that realization of another’s shortcoming lead me to pride and condemnation.

And what about the converse? Am I conversely open to correction? Because up until this point I have definitely been the type to run from those who correct me. Recently looking back at my junior year college journal, I wanted to slap myself because I ran so hard from people who were trying to correct me and confront my relationship idolatry (thankfully the Lord killed that one by force later on!). Looking at those entries I want to yell at myself “Listen to them– they’re speaking the truth! Stop running!!!”

So I confess. I have too been a relationship quitter. It’s definitely the easier way, but in the end what do we miss out on by quitting?

When I think about Jesus, I often think about Ms. A because she is the most tangible version of Jesus I can think of. When I think of both, I see their relentless zeal for the truth and righteousness, but even more than that, their tremendous love for God and people.

In the short year I’ve been at DOH, I’ve heard a good amount of stories from Ms. A about correction, and have also gotten to see her in action first hand. The thing is, though people are often initially upset with Ms. A for confronting their sin, the vast majority of them eventually really do listen and try to soften their hearts because they realize from all the experiences they’ve had with her prior to that instance, she loves them SO SO much. She’s called people out on many different things: pride, unforgiveness, sexual sin, a sharp tongue, just to name a few. And like I said, from the small to the large things, people eventually listen because they KNOW deep down that she loves them sooooooo much.

So in the end, yes, it’s cool that I’m not such a doormat anymore, but are my boldness and words of correction coming out of love? And how is my love? Do I truly truly love others? To the point where my stomach hurts (as Ms. A) says? To the point where I want the absolute best for them? To the point where I have zero regard for myself and lay my life down for them? Do I truly consider them better than me? Are they always on my mind? Because a lot of times the only person on my mind is myself…

My loves falls so so short. And that’s just with my friends and family, the people I openly say that I love!

Oh that God would help me grow in love and grace. Oh that He would make me more like His Son!

There’s so much growth to be had. But thankful that God is patient and that He will help me in my weakness, and ultimately that He is love.

The One

The One

Sorry for those of you who got excited, but no relationship post here haha.

I’m thankful for late nights. Though they tire me out for the next day, I really do focus and am convicted best in the wee hours when all is quiet and God’s voice steadily becomes more clear.

Reminded once again tonight that God goes after the one.

Does it make sense? Of course not.

We are all about masses, and big numbers, and efficiency… but His plan for the world is backwards and humble. His Kingdom is built on disciple-making: tightknit, often painful, life-on-life, very costly relationships that sometimes don’t make sense and are much easier to abandon than continue to carry.

God cares about the one. Not just any one. The lost one. The broken one. The difficult one. The one the rest of the sheep shun. The one no one can relate to nor understand. Yes, He cares unconditionally about the other sheep, but He has a special love in His heart for the wayward son. Such a special love in fact that He will leave all others to pursue the prodigal to bring him back home.

This is God’s mission, thus this is my mission.

Why?

Because I was the one. The awkward one. The not cool one, not esteemed by peers in school and church alike. The unrelatable one. The prideful one. The one whose walls grew thicker and thicker that they became near impossible for mere man to penetrate. The one who pushed others away. The one who forgot God and the flock while pursuing other loves that would not fulfill and would eventually fade.

I am the one and God pursued me.

Thus how can I not pursue others? How can I be so quick to abandon and settle only for relationships that are easy and comfortable, where I know I am accepted and face no condemnation, and minimal chances of personal injury, when Christ came to pursue me, knowing fully how I would turn my back on Him so easily?

I am reminded tonight of my call. I am called to costly relationships. I am called to selflessness. I am called to humility. I am called to what is difficult and even painful to do.

Why? Because God did the same for me. And now His desire is to move through me in the same way, in the same type of ministry, to pursue the lost, the lonely, the broken, the shunned, the ashamed, but most importantly the beloved sheep.

Will it cost me? Yes. Time, pain, pride, comfort, reputation even are a few things that come to mind.

Will it be worth it? Most definitely. For when I am in His will, with His heart, I will find the true meaning of life. And as I pursue the one, God continues to pursue and change and love me.

Interestingly enough it also seems to be the most difficult relationships, bought through years of learning to love and mutual grace and understanding, that often become the most satisfying in life all in His time.

So the conclusion is this: I pursue the one because God pursued me. This is the call on my life. Lord, help me.