Getting older is harder on the body but so much easier on the soul.
I don’t recover from days of little sleep as easily, I can’t fit back into my “skinny” jeans by just running and eating well for a week, I require two to three cups of coffee instead of just one and a nice, quiet dinner out with the hubs sounds way better than any concert or club.
But, I am totally ok with all of that stuff (well, minus the metabolism shift!). As a trade-off, I am much calmer and much less stressed and anxious. I don’t beat myself up all the time for not being perfect because I have truly come to realize that no one is. I don’t freak out if someone sees me out without make-up on because I just don’t care about their opinion like I used to and I kinda feel like it helps show my girlfriends that I don’t have it all together either. I don’t stress about the future or my career because I have seen how God has directed my path regardless of how much I worried about it.
Most amazingly, I am stunned by how I continue to grow in my relationship with the Lord. I think there was a part of twenty year old me that worried there was nothing more to learn. I had read the whole Bible, memorized a bunch of scripture and been studying, reading and teaching it since I was 14. What more could there be? Stupid twenty year old me had no idea what I was in for. Just in the last year I have come face to face with my own wretchedness and God’s grace-filled, loving-kindness anew. I am in awe of the facets of the gospel I have yet to uncover and look forward to how thirty year old me will be transformed by this new understanding of Grace.
To my twenty year old friends: Don’t fear getting older. It is so wonderful and filled with much more peace and much less angst than your twenties. Try to relax, focus on God’s already given approval instead of that of others and receive peace in knowing HE’S GOT THIS.
I’m sitting in my bed eating Pei Wei and watching Celebrity Apprentice while my hubby is feeding, bathing and putting the kids to bed. The best part? None of this was my idea. My thoughtful man knew I was battle weary from all my mommy duties and emailed me this morning to ask how he could serve me today and then suggested a night of relaxation where he picked up dinner and took care of the kids while I took it easy in our room. Pretty amazing, right?
I’m posting this to let you know how great marriage can be when you’re married to a man who serves like Jesus. Please know that these men exist and keep that at the forefront of your mind when you feel the desire to settle. DON’T.
For His glory,
I get asked all the time if I think it’s a good idea to go the sorority or Christian sorority route. The truth is, I just don’t know! That is between you and the Lord. What I can offer is advice from my own experience. So, here you go!
Not a post about f-bombs, swear words or any other colorful four letter wonders. This one is about a different kind of foul language. The ugly, inaccurate kind we use when we talk about God. Especially on my mind is the magic genie language.
I do it and I’m guessing you’re guilty of it, too. It’s when we say, “God, I really want (fill in the blank).” Without voicing the next part, there is a certain feeling within us that it will be good if He fulfills our wishes and we will praise Him. So often left out of our prayers and our conversations with others is the little bit (infer sarcasm here) about Him being Sovereign no matter the outcome.
Two very important encounters come to mind when I think of our language concerning God. The first one comes from Dora. No, not the explorer although her name quickly endeared herself to my four year old son who loved the brunette, bilingual cartoon character. This Dora was an older, hispanic lady who helped us clean our house for a while. When she’d leave for the week and we planned her next visit, we’d set a date and she would always reply with, “Si Dios quiere” which means “If God wants.” “Por supuesto,” meaning “Of course” was always my answer and as she walked away I would pray and ask God to give me a heart like that. One that made plans but knew I had no control and willingly gave up control to the Sovereign God who knew better than me.
The other encounter came during a Beth Moore study. Beth (as she is known in our home) said, “Write out the thing you are most afraid of happening to you and then follow it with the words ‘God would still be sovereign.’” For me, this meant I had to write, “If I lost my children and my husband, God would still be sovereign.” Hard, painful to write but oh, so freeing.
You see, we are in a terrible habit of thinking we are in control or we know best. Let’s stop rubbing the magic lamp and coming to God with our list of wishes. Let’s present our requests, be real with Him about our felt needs but always remember to include His sovereignty in our language. It will change us. The language we use changes the way we see ourselves and God. May we be more like David who prayed desperately to be delivered from the evil men who sought to harm him but said:
But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
in you I take refuge… (Psalm 141)
Or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who knew a fiery furnace awaited them if they didn’t bow to Nebuchadnezzar. Obviously, they wanted to be delivered by God but even as the flames taunted them, they replied:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d]18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3
Praying today that God will change my heart and therefore my words so that in all my conversations and thoughts of Him, I will remember His sovereignty.
For His glory,
Photo credit: http://theconsulsfiles.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html
Disclaimer: I don’t read nearly as much as I should. Are you with me? I know only a handful of avid readers that knock out 20 books a year but I am just not one of those people. I think I read 5 this year. I’m going to tell you about my three favorites below. The other two included a John Grisham book (I squeeze in one of those a year) and I’m including my attempt to finish Atlas Shrugged and my re-read of Love & Respect as my other.
I am always looking for good book recommendations. I especially love getting them from those I know and trust. So, in case I happen to fall under that category for you (wink wink), here are my favorites from 2012:
1. Jesus + Nothing = Everything by: Tullian Tchividjian
If you read nothing else this year (besides the Bible), READ THIS BOOK! The Lord has been taking me on an amazing journey of understanding the impact of the gospel in my daily life and this book broke that wide open. Do you know that the good news of the gospel isn’t just for salvation? It is also for our sanctification–the daily work of God in our lives to make us more like Him. I have so much to share on this and will save it for another post but I just want to share my favorite quote from the book by John Bunyan:
“Run, John, run,” the law demands, but gives me neither feet nor hands. Better news the Gospel brings, it bids me fly and gives me wings.
2. In Defense of Food by: Michael Pollan
Both of my kids have food allergies. BOTH. One is allergic to eggs and peanut butter; the other one is allergic to dairy and soy. After struggling through the guilt that I had something to do with this, I knew I had to figure out what was going on with our food. Enter: Michael Pollan. This book is an easy read and so informative about the evolution of the food industry in America. He helps explain where all of these genetically modified foods are coming from and what they are doing to us. He proposes an amazingly simple solution: Eat food. Mostly vegetables. Not too much.
After reading this and with the help of my wonderful pin boards full of back to basics, made from scratch recipes, we are following his mantra. The more we do it, the easier it gets and the better we feel. Seriously.
3. Seven by: Jen Hatmaker
This girl is cray. If you haven’t read anything of hers yet, let this serve as a warning. Everything she does is extreme but that’s part of what makes her and this book she wrote pretty amazing. I was drawn to the subtitle: an experimental mutiny against excess. Basically, Jen, her family and a few of her other cray friends ban together to limit certain things each month for seven months. The categories include: clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media and stress. I was afraid this book was going to make me feel super guilty and I’ve been avoiding it like I avoid Francis Chan’s Crazy Love for the same reason. However, I found it to be very informative and it really made me think about how I’m living out the calling of Christ in my daily life. Do I look more like Him or more like the world? As a result, we’ve had less “screen-time”, we’re recycling more, giving more freely and shopping a little bit less.
That’s all I’ve got! I hope these reviews helped. Here is the next stack of books I’ll be working through in 2013. Any other recommendations?
For His glory,
2011. Wow. It’s honestly kind of a blur. A wonderful blur but a blur nonetheless. Our wonderfully sweet and strikingly beautiful Lydia was born March 30th of 2011 and as of April 1st, everything got a little hazy! We love this precious beauty but spent the first seven months of her life sleeping little and just trying to survive. The Lord’s grace was abundant to me through it all and I learned to lean on Him in a new way–for actual strength just to make it through the day.
I had hoped to walk through the New Testament in 2011 but only made it through March. My soul is thirsty for God’s Word and specifically for gospel truth. In response to the Spirit’s leading, I am starting my journey once again tomorrow, January 2nd and am so excited and expectant for the Lord to draw me into greater intimacy with Him and knowledge of Him.
I would absolutely LOVE for you all to join me. Here’s how this reading plan I created works:
- We’ll read all 260 chapters of the NT in the 260 weekdays of 2012 (http://thefreshman15biblestudy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/260-in-260.NT-Reading-Plan-2012.pdf)
- Each day you’ll read a chapter from the set plan. To dig deeper into your reading, it would be helpful to journal. Here’s what I’ll be doing as I read:
1. Pray: Ask God to give me an increased hunger and love for His scripture and to stir the Spirit in me that delights in His Word and gives me understanding into all it teaches.
2. Read the chapter.
3. Outline what it says.
4. Write out the scripture that stands out the most.
5. Pray and journal about what I believe the Spirit is teaching me through this selection.
I already have a few girls who’ve committed to doing this with me. I will be sending them a text message each day with the day’s reading. I’ve also created a FB group for those who want to participate. I’ll be posting commentary to aide in our study and would love to use that as a forum for us to share what God is teaching us as we study.
Are you in? Let me know! We start TOMORROW!!!
I spent some time in Psalm 119 this morning and was challenged and encouraged by the writer’s affection and desire for the Word of God. Here are a few things he said about it:
I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart.
Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Better than the turkey and dressing you’ll gobble up tomorrow and sweeter than any piece of pumpkin pie is the Word of God.
Sometimes things get crazy when we get home and get to hang out with our families. My challenge to you is to take a few minutes away to FEAST from God’s Word this Thanksgiving Break. It is the meal that always satisfies and never leaves you feeling bloated!
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight… Jer 15:16
Six weeks into my freshman year and I was ready to go home. The excitement was wearing off and the stress was setting in. The fun of everything new was gone and all I wanted was something old, something familiar, something normal. Erie, PA was a long way away from my Texas home and I was tired of being different. At first it was cute that everyone called me “Tex” but after a while, I just wanted to be Kate. Unfortunately, I walked onto that campus without a friend to my name and after six weeks, there is only so much new friends canreally know about you. These friends didn’t know me like my old buddies did and certainly not like my family who I hadn’t seen and wouldn’t see for another five weeks. Classes had lost their appeal, too as midterms were quickly approaching. I pulled my first college all-nighter, got an awful grade on a paper, started drinking way to much caffeine and began to hate everything about college.
I got a phone call from a sweet friend (whom I now call hubby). His Texas accent and southern charm brought a warmth and nostalgia I needed so badly. I poured out my heart to him and he listened well. He, having already done the whole college thing, gently requested, “Call me before you pack your bags.” It was the wisest, best thing he could have said. He didn’t try and tell me to stay and tough it out. He just listened, as if knowing I would make the right decision but also taking me serious enough to validate what I was dealing with. Thinking about actually packing my bags and heading home brought things into perspective. I didn’t really want to leave. I did really want to be here. I sat down, talked to the Lord, begged for His help and cracked my books to prepare for midterms.
You know…after that near breakdown, things got better. Before I knew it, I was making real connections with friends, getting the hang of how to study well so I wasn’t killing myself and starting to feel at home on campus. The funny thing is…just about the time I started to settle in on campus, it was time to head home for Thanksgiving break. I was thrilled to be returning home but yet I had started making a home where I was. The challenge I would face as I headed back to Texas was one I wasn’t prepared for but…we’ll have to save that for a later blog post.
Does all this sound familiar? Are you struggling with homesickness? School ugh? Exhaustion? You know I have been there and my heart goes out to you. I encourage you to sit down, talk to the Lord and maybe make a phone call home to a familiar voice. If you’re really feeling like throwing in the towel, my request to you is this: call me before you pack your bags.
Here are some scriptures to meditate on if you’re struggling with homesickness:
Hebrews 13:5-6, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Lamentations 3:22-24, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 121:1-8
photo cred: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chicago/travel/5-uses-for-vintage-suitcases-059341
The last three months have been the most physically demanding and emotionally exhausting of my life. Our sweet Lydia was born with a milk protein allergy that has caused her a great deal of tummy issues. I’m thankful to be able to put a name to it now because the eight weeks we spent trying to figure it out were grueling. To watch your new baby wrench in pain, struggle to eat and therefore struggle to sleep is distressing, to put it mildly. The emotional toll is exhausting and when coupled with physical exhaustion due to sleep deprivation, depression rushes in. Accomplishing simple, daily tasks is difficult when you are surviving on four hours of sleep for weeks on end. I started telling people not to even ask how I was doing because I just didn’t want to answer. (*Please don’t mistake my recounting of this difficulty as complaining. I am well aware that my struggle is trivial compared to the trials of so many. However, I feel it’s important to give a picture of the pain in order that God may be more glorified as I explain His triumph in it.)
In recent days, the Lord has opened my eyes to the ways He has been blessing me through this. My first glimpse into His hand at work came from a quote by Paul Tripp that read like a mirror into my soul, “Today you’ll talk to yourself and speak a humbling gospel of grace or a false gospel of self-reliance, self-rule, self-righteousness.” I grew up with a “pull yourself up by your boot straps” mentality. When things got tough, you were just supposed to reach deep down and grab hold of enough gumption to get you through. I took this mentality in trying to survive Lydia’s first days. I remember waking up and thinking, “OK, Kate. You can do this. Come on!” Boy, how wrong I was. I was preaching to myself a false gospel of self-reliance, self-rule and self-righteousness. When I read Tripp’s quote, this false gospel echoed in my ears and I was struck by conviction. I realized how feeble and certainly unhelpful that gospel had been to me. It had not strengthened me. Instead, it made me feel more exhausted and down on myself. As I confessed my sin, I felt that false gospel of self reliance start to fall away as the gospel of grace poured over me. Relief. For the first time in weeks, relief. I could breath and felt hope. Since that day, my sweet Lord has given me a renewed hunger for His gospel and a provisional grace unlike none I have ever known. My new morning thought after four hours of sleep is, “Lord, it must be You today. Please pour out Your grace.”
In church last weekend, our wonderful Emmy Davis sang Blessings by Laura Story. It was the first time I’d heard the song and in that auditorium seat, the Lord once again poured grace over me and the evidence trickled down my face. Tears. But this time not of sadness and depression. These were tears of gratitude to a very good God who had rescued me from myself and was letting me know what He’d been up to. Here’s an excerpt from the song:
“Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise”
A thousand sleepless nights. I wasn’t there yet but it honestly felt like it. For the first time, I didn’t see Lydia’s struggle as a burden or something to feel sorry for myself about, I saw it as a blessing. My Father loved me enough to allow this very difficult season in order that I might return to Him. No more reliance on self but complete trust and reliance on Jesus. A blessing disguised as sleepless nights.
My hope is that you’ll be encouraged by this post to consider how the Lord may be blessing you through whatever your trial may be. Whether it’s the daily tug of the stress and pressures of this life or deep, down heartache like you’ve never known, He is revealing a longing for something better. I hope you’ll give up trying to figure it all out yourself and realize the answer is in Him. He is BETTER.
I crave the praise of man. I devour compliments, admiring glances & words of praise. They make me feel good. Full. Satisfied. Like I’ve just eaten a great meal. Inevitably the full feeling fades & I’m hungry again. When I’m wearing a cute outfit & no one compliments it, my hunger grows. When I’m having a good hair day & no one notices, my appetite deepens. When I do something well & no one tells me “good job” the hunger pains begin to ache. My growing hunger used to cause me to act out in sin & draw me into bondage. This desperate need to satisfy the hunger led me so deep into anorexia that I no longer felt true, physical hunger. I existed by feeding the appetite to be loved, liked, envied & seen as beautiful-not to mention skinny.
All praise to the God who set me free from that bondage & gave me a taste of something Better. He gave me a hunger for the Bread of Life who satisfies my every craving. In Him I am loved, accepted & secure.
Now, when I feel that craving for man’s praise start to ache within me, I know what it is. It now indicates to me that I have taken my eyes off the Savior & focused them on the mirror. I close my eyes & preach the Truth of the gospel to my hunger. “You are loved. You are accepted. You are secure in Christ. You are God’s beautiful creation.” The ache for the praises of men weakens & my desire for Christ burns within me.
These truths are yours as well. Do you believe them? YOU are loved. YOU are secure in Christ. YOU are God’s beautiful creation. YES. YOU!
Romans 12:2-3 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have diving power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Ephesians 4:22 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its’ deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
photo cred: http://fingercandymedia.com/applause