Quote

Relationship 

Yet God has far more in store for your life than merely giving you an assignment to accomplish for Him. He wants you to have an intimate loving relationship with Him that is real and personal.

Henry Blackaby (Desiring God)

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Lately

Lately

I never blog anymore. Blame it on the #momlife.

So I feel like, by the grace of God, I’ve been growing a lot lately.

It’s truly all God’s grace. I haven’t even been in the Word much lately.

But God is good. God is gracious.

I think I’m growing in my understanding of just how much grace He offers and affords me. That His desire is not to punish or shame. That His tenderness is extended just as much if not more than His wrath and judgment (theologians… is that correct thinking?? Or maybe it’s incorrect to think of these attributes in measurable amounts…).

I still struggle when considering God’s judgment vs. His long-suffering loving-kindness. Sometimes I still feel like His wrath is the “dirty little secret” of Christianity. But I’m understanding more that God MUST judge evil. And for Him to restore the world and humanity to its intended state, He MUST come in wrath. For Him to be good, He MUST hate everything that destroys, everything that separates us from Him. And His heart’s desire and full intent is to restore us completely to Himself for our great pleasure and His great glory. (Can you tell I’ve been listening to a lot of Piper? Lol.)

For the first time in a good while, I stayed in my seat during the closing set of worship. It felt so good to just receive and let the Lord minister to me.

I’ve been feeling stretched, and yes, as much as I hate the phrase due to all the overuse in college, perhaps a little close to burn out. Life is consumed with so much pouring out, so much ministry.

So as I stood at my seat during service, opening my hands to receive, I felt God encouraging me. I felt Him saying that in order to step into greater calling and greater ministry, I had to truly believe this one thing: that He is good and specifically that He is good TO ME.

Often I can feel His love and compassion and tenderness for other people, but I almost never feel it FOR ME. When it comes to God and how I feel He relates to me, often I see Him as a God who is just waiting to drop the axe (is that the expression?) and punish. As if He’s just waiting for me to mess up so He can discipline me. I see His grace as an obligation that comes out of Him being holy, rather than a loving expression He chooses because of the fact that He is so gracious and so kind that He loves me.

Every week during accountability, we answer this question: are you experiencing God’s love, grace, and forgiveness? And every week, my answer is somewhat. I don’t think there’s been a single week when I’ve answered yes.

Do I truly believe God is gracious to me? Do I truly believe He is for me?

If I examine my life, I can see so many small and large evidences of grace. All these times when I should have been shamed/revealed/disciplined, but God encountered me in tenderness and not wrath.

It reminds me of this article I read by Henry Cloud (it’s great, take a look!): Why You Shouldn’t Give Others What They Deserve

Not giving others what they deserve is a big part of not playing fair. To give them better than they deserve is grace. The word means “unmerited favor.” Sometimes, it means that we give someone loving limits and consequences if other things have not worked. But often, limits are not needed; only a little softness is.

SO good.

God is so gracious to me. He is long-suffering. He is kind. I don’t always feel it. But faith isn’t always about feeling. It’s about believing. It’s about knowing. (As my dear husband in recapping Todd White, his fave, recently reminded me.) I must BELIEVE God is good and that He is good to me.

When we know and believe God’s character, when we behold Him and adore Him and see just how worthy He is, then we will have fuel and passion and drive in our ministry. When we truly treasure the One we are worshipping, then our worship is not a chore, it’s a delight, it’s a pleasure. Pointing others to Him is no longer a task, but a privilege, a joy, it’s something that cannot be contained.

I’m reminded of one of my all-time favorite verses, Isaiah 42:3:

A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice…

My Lord, my God is SO gracious to me. He is so kind, so tender, so loving. I owe Him everything, yet to receive His love He doesn’t even ask for anything (other than choosing to believe)! Even if I didn’t serve Him, He would still love me. Even if I didn’t grow in Him, He would still love me. Even if I spurned His gifts, cast them aside, lived life only for myself, He would still love me. Even if I followed every evil desire of my flesh, He would still love me.

As someone who struggles with self-/works-based righteousness, that is soooo difficult for me to fathom!!!

How could a perfect, holy, all-sufficient God LOVE me, without ever even asking anything of me?

I just cannot fathom it. I cannot fathom this love He has for me. Yet here I am, exercising my faith, choosing to believe it and letting my inability to comprehend His love point me even more to how great, how loving, how immeasurably precious my God is!

Amen!! :)

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Love

Something about the way we love the people around us should signal to the world that we belong to Jesus. Our mission will include preaching, encouraging, rebuking, serving, studying, suffering, and many other things. But if all of these activities are not manifestations of love, then we have missed the point. 

Francis Chan

New Mommy Life

New Mommy Life

Yesterday was difficult.

Not really sure why as it wasn’t too different than any other day. I guess part of it was the overly ambitious 0.8 mile walk to get poke and boba on a hot April day. And I think the other part of is that little Eves has been fussier than usual lately and yes, as my sore lower back and wrists can attest, I do get tired of having to carry her all day, but more so I think what frustrates me that I can’t quite figure her out.

Internal dialogue: Why is she so fussy lately? Is it just a growth spurt? But it’s been going on for a long time now! Should I give her a pacifier? Why do I feel the judgment of a thousand internet moms when I do and she calms down instantly (on that note, maybe I should just stop reading so many mom forums)? And if I don’t give her the paci, she’s so dang close to figuring out finger sucking soon as that index finger knuckle always lingers precariously close to her mouth and fingers are dirtier than pacis which you can wash, right? Am I spoiling her by carrying her constantly? But if I try to put her down no amount of shushing and patting will keep her content for more than 5 minutes. And what about nursing? Every time she cries now she acts like she wants to nurse (probably because I was too quick to nurse her every cry before! #newmomfail), but then when I nurse her she’ll only eat for a few minutes and/or spit up what seems like everything she ate within the hour anyway.

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Our Complicated Little Sleepyhead

I guess this is all just a part of new mommy-hood. The new mom boot camp that prepares you for the rest of your life!

And yet, what they say is so true. When she finally flashes you a smile or lets out a little baby coo, when she finally calms down and you get 15 good minutes of play time in… oh my goodness it is so worth it and all I can think is how could I ever be upset with you!?

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Melt my heart, why don’t ya!? Sad thing is she’s probably smiling at Kenny and not me bahahaha.

All this seems like one big exercise in learning to depend on the Lord, in remembering to ask Him for guidance and strength and wisdom and patience and grace and so much more! I’m in the crucible of learning to selfless (in other words, like Christ) and it’s hard because let’s face it often times what I prize more than my daughter or more than my husband is myself, my own convenience, my own ease.

And actually what I thought would be most difficult part (no sleep) is turning out to not be all that bad. For one Eva’s been a fairly gracious sleeper (usually 3+ hour stretches though lately it’s been one long stretch, then waking every hour til Dad fetches her around 5:30) and I think too I’m just used to staying up til the wee hours of the morning and dealing with very little sleep. (All those ridiculously late nights in college are finally good for something!) Also, I’m trying to just treasure the time and was convicted to turn the phone to airplane mode to discourage mindless surfing (and also the Parents magazine scared me by saying they don’t know the long-term affects of kids being constantly exposed to wifi and cell phone signals yet… yikes! So they suggest turning phones to airplane mode when possible and never holding a cell phone up to your kid’s ear). Instead, I’ve been striving to pray and commune with the Lord in those early morning hours when I’m holding little Eves upright (20 minutes to help reduce the spit up!) and listening to the dear husband snore. Though I do admit sometimes I can’t take it and give him a not-so-gentle kick hehe.

So anyway, just some thoughts and reflections.

I’ll end with this funny tidbit: last night Kenny graciously took Eva and gave me some me time to, well, wash the dishes (and really yesterday was the type of day when I relished the tiny respite that was dish washing!). When I finished I couldn’t remember if I had actually soaped them or not. I knew I had actually washed the cups, but I’m still pretty darn sure that at least half of the dishes had only been rinsed with water. So out came all the dishes and I had to wash them again hahaha. Totally the epitome of new mommyhood, am I right!??

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Little love bug loves her daddy!

Lord Jesus, help me to be more like You. Help me to be selfless and to truly treasure this short season that is new mommyhood. Give me Your character, Your patience, Your understanding. Give me wisdom as I try to figure out how to best care for our precious little girl. And help me to know there’s so much grace even when I fail. You are so good, O Lord! Thank You for Your love and grace! Help me through this whole process to understand what it means when You say You love us so perfectly and that we are Your children, and help me to teach these truths as best as I can to dear Eva. We love You, Jesus!!! We depend on You!!!

Week 31

Week 31

So if baby girl comes on time, then we only have 9 more weeks! Single digits… eek!!

How do I feel?

I mentioned last post that the given should be tired haha. Still agree. I took TWO naps on Saturday and one nap on Sunday. It’s crazy! Trying to cash in now before we reach total sleep depravity. I think I’ve written this before, but everyone says the gradual lack of sleep is actually God’s grace. It helps prepare you for the battle ahead and teaches you to function with less and less sleep!

On that note here’s a lovely picture of my Saturday morning breath of fresh air (hehe):

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Gotta love that hair.

Other than that, baby girl is continuing to move quite frequently! I was texting Kenny at work yesterday that I can’t get enough of her moving (despite how uncomfortable it can be especially when I’m trying to sleep!). I think this is a preview of parenthood. I know cognitively how delusional it is for me to be so obsessed with her tiny movements, but I can’t help but absolutely love it! In fact, every time I grab Kenny’s hand and put it on my stomach to point out her latest hiccup or kick, I can’t help but wonder if he really does enjoy it as much as I do or if he just thinks I’m crazy.

I can’t wait for our baby!!!

What is God saying?

What is He NOT saying!? Lately there’s been so many things…

I think He continues to press in the need for Gospel urgency. If He is who He says He is, then whether or not we follow Him and live the way He prescribes is not something that can be delayed, it’s something we need to decide IMMEDIATELY.

If He is who He says He is, we cannot afford to delay. We cannot afford to be disobedient. We cannot afford to not spend time with Him. We cannot afford to not read our Bibles. We cannot afford to not pray.

Essentially, if He is a reality, then I cannot afford to spend my life on me.

If the God of Revelation is real (and quite honestly Revelation has been so hard for me to read with all the judgment and eradication of evil… evil as in Satan but also human beings who choose to oppose God by not believing), and His wrath is coming, then the need for us to share His Gospel love and grace while He may still be found is a matter of great urgency!!!

And how can I share His love with others and be a reflection of His light if I am not so filled with Him, so moved and convicted by His Holy Spirit, if I am not walking in His ways? I cannot be an effective Christian if I am not actively walking in Him!!

My heart has been breaking for those who do not know the Lord. As hard as it is for me to imagine a God who would punish those who do not choose Him, in faith I know that it is necessary and loving even for Him to punish sin and carry out justice. The punishment of evil is necessary if He’s going to restore the world to what it should be. And let’s face it, we all know this world is NOT what it should be.

Do I truly believe the Bible? Do I believe sin MUST be punished? Do I believe in the complete and total holiness of God, that if He truly is holy, then He must punish those who reject Him? Do I believe in the reality of hell? That even the things written in Revelation are only a tiny piece of the reality those will face who choose to not believe? (That realization to me was bind-blowing. As terrible as the judgments of Revelation are, there is still a limit to them because of the grace of God. If hell therefore is complete separation from God’s grace, how much more terrible will hell be!?)

If I truly believe these things, then my heart must be filled with conviction. How can I go about my life casually knowing that people I know (some that I love, some that I like, some I’m indifferent to, and even the ones I don’t like…) face the reality of hell? The reality of existence without the common grace of Jesus?

I cannot save anyone, only the Holy Spirit can. And God can choose to work independently of Christians (ex. Muslims seeing Jesus appear to them in dreams), but in His Word God says that whether I like it or not, if I call myself a believer I am responsible for making disciples, living a life that speaks of Him, and preaching His Words that can be very offensive, but are utterly necessary. Therefore, I am OBLIGATED to live a life that reflects Him. And I know the only way I can reflect Him is by abiding in Him– choosing holiness, being immersed in His thoughts through His Word, praying, listening.

Last week I cried out to the Lord, “I can’t do it.” I can’t love people. I can’t share Jesus with them. I know myself all too well. I’m selfish. I’m lazy. My love is so limited. My grace so conditional. I don’t like getting to close to people due to self preservation. I don’t like speaking the truth because I fear rejection and offending. I don’t want to tell people they’re in sin and maybe that sin is why they can’t feel or hear Jesus. I don’t want to tell people that no it’s actually not okay to put off thinking about God and just live in the moment and be happy. I can’t do it, so why would God choose to partner with me and give me opportunities to be a vessel for Him?

I am so limited. But God? God is unlimited. His resources are endless. His lovingkindness is inexhaustible. He knows how to love. He knows how to give extravagant grace. His Words bring life. His Words bring conviction and stir up hearts toward repentance from sin.

And what else do I know about God? His Word tells me to REJOICE, BOAST, BE THANKFUL for my weaknesses. For when I am weak, He is strong. For when I am empty, when I realize I have NOTHING to offer on my own, then I can truly be used by Him. He just needs a willing vessel. He doesn’t need a spiritual superstar. The people He chose in the Bible, they were incredible messed up even. If I am willing to be humble, and simply cry out “Here I am, send me!” then it’s in that place that He can use me.

So that’s where I’ve been lately. I’m in this place where God is giving me more of His heart, and showing me truly what it means to have Gospel urgency. And what does it mean to have Gospel urgency? Yes, it does mean being willing to share and listening for His voice, looking for opportunities to intentionally be a witness, but even more, Gospel urgency means recognizing how desperately I need to be with Jesus!! I cannot afford to not spend time with Him, read His Word, pray, listen, choose to walk in holiness. For the sake of the world, for the sake of my family and friends, I cannot afford to not be in Jesus!!

I’ll end with John 15:1-17. I’ve been drawn to these verses for the past month or so and even excitedly pointed them out to Kenny one morning. It’s a long passage, but please take the time to consider and read:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Week 15

Week 15

I’m on a blogging roll lately probably thanks to my new excitement over WordPress. I realized too there might be a way to actually import XANGA into here, but then again I kind of want to let my early college and especially high school thoughts stay in the past where they belong haha.

So anyway, it’s week 15!! Woohoo!! 15 weeks actually sounds like a lot, but really that’s only about 3 months down. Still 6 more to go…

How do I feel?

Not bad!! I was in awe yesterday after work because I genuinely had ZERO nausea. Must’ve been the lemonade and two salted caramel macarons I picked up from Europane mwahahahaha! So delish.

On a sidenote, on Saturday I dreamt that I was biting into a light blue salted caramel macaron. I bit in, chewed once, thought “hmm why does this not taste like anything??,” and woke up both stunned and saddened that it was just a dream. It was so realistic!! I then felt that my dream was so important that I had to tell someone, so I woke Kenny up and told him. He couldn’t have cared less (I reminded him again later in the day and he only vaguely remembered), so I then FB messaged Petrina since I knew she’d be awake. Hmm… I guess this is yet another “you can see where my mind’s at!” moment haha.

And miraculously even through all this I’m still -1 lbs from when I started. This past week though I’ve been eating a TON (I polished off an entire 2-entree Panda Express plate for dinner… gross!!) and we haven’t cooked at all, so I’m anticipating this may change very soon…

Other than my crazy pregnancy hunger, I’ve been feeling much more energetic and in good spirits, PTL!

What is God saying?

So I know I’ve written quite a bit about this over the past few days, but God is working on my heart in the area of love and showing me that though I consider myself a nice person, my love is so lacking!!!!

I think as much as we can try to brute force things though, as much as I can try to force myself to have good will toward others, true change can only come from Jesus. A mind set on Jesus will lead to a life that looks like His. A heart seeking Him continually is a heart that will be truly transformed.

It’s easy for us to change on the outside, but if that change doesn’t come from the heart, it won’t last.

The easiest place for me to see this is at work. As much as I can try to be nice and patient with donors/volunteers/families, once I’ve been interrupted too many times, once I’ve answered the phone one too many times, or made the trek down to the first floor more than I’d like, that’s when I can see my lack of love especially come out. I struggle so much when I feel inconvenienced or when I need to love at a time when I’m not prepared to. I’m okay when I am prepared, it’s when I’m not and in the middle of something that I really struggle.

Just this morning, I was rushing to finish receipt letters and Ms. A came into my office as she had a meeting in 10 minutes with the COO. I KNEW I should stop everything and talk to her and pray, in fact just this morning on the way in I was thinking about how I should spend more time with her in prayer, but my flesh was struggling so much. I had an unexpected deadline to meet in 40 minutes!! I was stressed!! Even for Ms. A my flesh railed against the Spirit.

And yet, by God’s grace, I saw tiny shreds of evidence of change. By His grace, I told the flesh to shut it, and that in faith I would spend time with Ms. A (and really it was a measly 10 minutes!) believing that God would help me get everything done by the deadline. So we sat, we talked, Ms. A prayed for Kenny, the baby, and me. It was a great way to start the morning, and yes, ultimately, I didn’t make the deadline, but it turned out to not be that important anyway and my boss easily pushed the deadline back by 3 hours without much thought.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:6

Striving in this season as I’m convicted to set my mind on the Spirit, on Jesus, believing that He will bring change.