Have you ever felt like you’ve heard from God? Like really heard from Him?
There have been things that I have done because I feel like God has put them on my heart (hello, adoption!) but I wouldn’t say that I really heard God speak to me on that topic.
In that case adoption was just something I wanted to do ever since I was a teenager and watched those World Vision episodes where the African kids had malnourished bellies and flies buzzing around their face.
I don’t think we need to hear from God in order to take action.
I’m of the mindset that if we are doing something that is Biblically sound, we’ve prayed about it and haven’t come across any founded opposition from friends who also believe, we should always err on the side of action.
I don’t think we need to hear God say “yes, do this.” every time.
(Though it sure is nice when we do.)
Over the last number of months I have been praying over this space, trying to figure out how I should use it and this last week I got a clear answer:
Be faithful in sharing the story I have given you.
I have no idea what that story is but I plan on showing up each week and writing it.
If you want an extra dose of whatever God puts on my heart you can sign up for the newsletter.
I’m bringing back what I used to call A Cup of Cocoa: a monthly-ish newsletter where I will probably to go a little more in-depth and also share a few things I’m loving lately. Probably books, podcasts, blog posts around the internet and other goodness I’ve been enjoying.
Sign up for the newsletter here:
Have you ever felt like God was calling you to do something; He gave you the desire, some gifts to help you with it but it feels like He forgot to give you the map to get there?
This is the space I have been in lately.
And by lately, I really mean the last four years.
It has me completely restless because I feel like I was made for more (which is pretty much the title and subtitle of the book, Restless).
This “normal” western life is not the kind of life I feel called to live.
I feel as though I am supposed to make a difference somewhere else but I don’t know where.
Don’t take this as me saying “so I’m not going to do anything here” – it’s not that at all, I’m just talking about more than that.
Last month I re-read the book of James for the fifty-bazillionth time (approximately) and like all the times I’ve read it before James 1:22 hits me in the heart:
Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.
If I’ve talked to you at all this winter you’ve probably heard me say this winter has been hard and you’ve probably assumed it’s because it was a frigid cold winter (or because I hid behind that excuse) and while that definitely has played a factor, the majority of the difficulty for me this winter has been this feeling of restlessness, this desire to not just be a hearer of the Word.
BLOGGING AS THERAPY
I used to use this space to share the restlessness of my soul and I found it very therapeutic, this post may be me bringing that practice back.
The last thing I want is for this space to look or sound like I’ve got it all together, I think sharing honest posts like this will help keep any thoughts of that sort in check!
While I am an introvert and live in my head a lot I also do find it necessary to talk or write out my thoughts so I can comprehend them better – there are so many thought bubbles bouncing around in my brain and it’s nice to be able to pull a few out and put the words down. (And it’s a great excuse to share random, non-related recent photos to break up long winded posts.)
THOUGHT BUBBLES OF MY INTERESTS AND GIFTS
Some of the thought bubbles bouncing around these days are the different areas, interests, passions, gifts, etc. God has given me. When I think about this restlessness I am feeling there is no one defining answer. I am Jack-of-all-trades and dabble in a lot of things. I wish I had one overwhelming gift or passion that I could point to and say that is what I am supposed to do.
I used to have one specific passion: orphans in Africa. But after returning home from South Africa with Ephraim it felt like God took that passion away.
Now my vision is not as clear, but I do have a few things I have been thinking about. I thought writing them out may help me process my thoughts and there is always the hope that someone out there will come across this who has a specific need that matches.
After drafting most of this post I picked up the book An Intentional Life to start reading – I’ll admit I totally picked it up based on the title, I had no idea it was being written but it came out three months after I started this blog and don’t feel like it’s a coincidence that it has the same name as my blog and the subtitle is: A Life-Giving Invitation to Uncover Your Passions and Unlock Your Purpose. I’m not very far into it yet (30-ish pages) but this paragraph jumped out at me since I had just written most of this post:
Your passion? That thing that echoes through your mind and is constantly drawing you in? Relentlessly? It may not even have a point or a destination, or any real mission that you can make sense of in the beginning. But still, you can’t seem to go against the grain of your own heart and resist it. Whatever it may be.
We need to trust that our tears mean something. That God put them there for a reason and is pressing His finger harder and harder on that sweet spot until we wake up and give it the attention He wants it to have.
We need to press into it.
To do something.
Because chances are high that someone out there is waiting for you to step out, to start. To share your story, or come up with a solution or create a place for them to belong.
Here are four different things/areas I’ve been thinking of lately:
#1 MISSIONAL JOURNALIST
I’m honestly not sure if this is an actual term, to my knowledge I completely made it up. This idea combines my love for travel, photography, missions and writing all neatly in one package. This idea is just to travel to different places and help raise awareness about different mission organizations. This is similar to what we did when we went to Uganda though I didn’t go into that trip with this intention, that’s just what it sorta ended up as.
I would love to document stories of what different small ministries are doing and share their stories with the world to help raise awareness, build a praying community and monetary support – things most small ministries need. Plus, if they need a website, I know a guy . . .
This idea is similar to what they are doing over at The Archibald Project though they specifically share about the orphan crisis and adoption stories and I’m open to a broader range of Christ-based ministries.
I know this is a thing within many bigger organizations, they have people in journalist roles, but I think I would like to do this on a smaller scale, not under a bigger organization.
This idea has been brewing in me for a long time but I don’t even know where to begin. How does one find small ministries
a) if they need help raising awareness they aren’t easy to find online
b) if they are easy to find online they generally don’t need help raising awareness.
Oh the conundrum.
#2 PARTNERING WITH AN ORGANIZATION AS A FAMILY
One thing we’ve talked about doing lately is partnering with a small organization as a family. I would love for us to regularly be able to go out and see/help out with on a regular basis and also do something in regards to it when we are at home (fundraising, raising awareness, something tangible, etc).
In talking with Raeca she said she would like it to be something with orphans. She mentioned working with an orphanage which is fine but I think there also needs to be the other side – doing something to help keep children with their families.
Once again, my problem is that I don’t know any small organizations like this!
#3 WHAT GOD THROWS AT US
Kay, I don’t really have much else for skills/interests but I want to be open to whatever else God has in store for us, especially if it is something, I much prefer that to nothing.
My word for the year is adventure and I’m open for God to throw one at me.
#4 A ONE DAY DREAM
I’m not sure I’ve ever written this before but this kind of falls in this category: one day I would like to write a book. Like a legit, hold in your hands, highlight the lines, dog-ear the pages kind of book. I do feel like I need to follow what God has in store for me for the next few years before really thinking about this dream but it’s there in the back burner of my brain on a low simmer until I can bring it to the front and start the full boil.
Ahh, it felt good to write like this again! I think I am going to try to make writing here, like this, a weekly discipline.
Thanks for reading all the thought bubbles I took the time to write out today. If you have any suggestions or connections with small ministries I would love to hear about them!
People read books for a variety of different reasons, for some they like light and fluffy books to escape from life, for others they like deep books that challenge them and others, like myself, like a mix of the two.
Today I wanted to share a list of books that have challenged, inspired and ruined my life. If you want some non-light reading, this list is for you.
That being said, these books aren’t hard to read because they are written poorly or written as text books. They are hard to read because they have been written in a way that makes you analyze your life.
It’s easy to see the mistakes others are making in their lives but it’s harder to see the ones you are making and these books help point out some areas you may be falling short in.
The following books make me stop and analyze my life and question if I am living it for God or for myself. (The answer isn’t always what I would like it to be.)
Disclaimer: Read these books only if you want to live a changed life. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
(For the record, I think challenge and inspire speak for themselves but when I use the word “ruined” I mean ruined my ability to live the typical western life – self absorbed and in pursuit of more.)
14 Books That Will Leave You Challenged, Inspired and Ruined
This was one of the first books from this list that I read, it changed my life in so many ways. I go back and re-read it on a regular basis because it can be so easy to slip back into living “The American Dream”.
What is Jesus worth to you?
It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily…
But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?
In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple–then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a “successful” suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.
Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment–a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.
This book is disguised as a marriage book but it is so much more. It’s another one I re-read regularly. Please don’t see that this is a “marriage” book and then think because your marriage is doing well you don’t need to read it. I think it is a must read for all Christian couples, it’s not about how to get through arguments but rather, how to live with an eternal mindset.
Marriage is great, but it’s not forever. It’s until death do us part. Then come eternal rewards or regrets depending on how we spent our lives.
In his latest book, Francis Chan joins together with his wife Lisa to address the question many couples wonder at the altar: “How do I have a healthy marriage?” Setting aside typical topics on marriage, Francis and Lisa dive into Scripture to understand what it means to have a relationship that satisfies the deepest parts of our souls.
In the same way Crazy Love changed the way we saw our personal relationship with God, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity will radically shift the way we see one of the most important relationships in our life.
Jesus was right. We have it all backwards. The way to have a great marriage is by not focusing on marriage. Whether you are single, dating or married, You and Me Forever will help you discover the adventure that you were made for and learn how to thrive in it.
This is the newest-to-me book on this list and if my 100+ highlights and 29 tabs mean anything, this book struck me. If you are a parent I would put this down as a must-read.
Almost any parent you asked would tell you that they want their children to be happy, successful adults. But many of us forget (or never knew to begin with) that lasting personal joy is not necessarily found the way the world says it is–through reaching a certain socioeconomic status, having a certain job, buying a certain house, or having a certain amount in one’s bank account. In fact, says Kristen Welch, popular blogger and author of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, personal satisfaction comes not from grabbing onto things but from holding them with an open hand and, very often, giving them away.
In this inspiring book, Welch shows parents how to discover for themselves and instill in their kids the profound joy that comes from sharing what we have been given–our time, our talents, and even what’s in our wallets–with those who have less. Through powerful personal stories as well as stories from Scripture, Welch offers a tantalizing alternative to status quo parenting that has the power to impact not only our own families but the entire world. At the end of each chapter, one of the author’s kids offers their perspective on what it’s like to be raised as a world changer.
As Christians we say we love God, but what are we willing to do or give Him? Are we willing to say Anything to Him? I’ve read this book at least three times.
In the years since the initial release of Anything, God continued to stretch Jennie Allen and her faith because of the courageous prayer of surrender that she and her husband, Zac, prayed, “God, we will do anything. Anything.” Previously caught in the dizzying haze of worldly happiness and empty pursuits, Jennie went on to begin living out the adventure God had written for them—to include becoming the founder of IF: Gathering, an organization to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation to live out their purpose.
Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move you to stop chasing things that just make you feel happy and start living a surrendered life that matters.
This winter has been one of major restlessness for me this winter. I know it is not just because of discontentment, it’s because I know I was made for more. I read this book years ago and should really re-read it again.
Do You Feel Like You’re Missing Something? Jennie Allen, founder of If: Gathering, directs you on how to find the best way to use your spiritual gifts.
What if this feeling wasn’t a bad thing? It could be a longing for more of God and a catalyst to living the life that was designed before the foundations of the earth were laid.
A lot of us, if we’re honest, are afraid. We hold our dreams close to our chest. But our passions have a purpose—they were engineered for God’s greater plan and he intends for us to use them for his glory and purposes.
In Restless, Bible teacher and fellow struggler Jennie Allen explores practical ways to identify the threads of your life and how to intentionally weave them together. She explains how your gifts, passions, places, and relationships aren’t random; they’re deliberate and meaningful. And your suffering—it’s possible it has produced the very thing you want to give back to the world.
Using the story of Joseph, the dreamer, Jennie explains how his suffering, gifts, relationships—all of the threads of his life—fit into the greater story of God and how our stories can do the same. What would happen if God got bigger than your fear and insecurity, and you spent the rest of your life running without reservation after his purposes for you? You were created for more.
This is Francis Chan’s newest book and I really enjoyed his challenge of what we believe church should look like. It’s really not just a place we go to, it’s something we are a part of.
- Do you want more from your church experience?
- Does the pure gospel put you in a place of awe?
- Are you ready to rethink church as you know it?
Sit with Pastor Francis Chan and be reminded that you are a part of something much bigger than yourself, something sacred.In his most powerful book yet, Chan digs deep into biblical truth, reflects on his own failures and dreams, and shares stories of ordinary people God is using to change the world.
Chan says, “We’ve strayed so far from what God calls Church. We all know it. We know that what we’re experiencing is radically different from the Church in Scripture. For decades, church leaders like myself have lost sight of the inherent mystery of the Church. We have trained people sitting in the pews to become addicted to lesser things. It’s time for that to change.”
When Jesus returns, will He find us caring for His Bride—even more than for our own lives? Letters to the Church reminds us of how powerful, how glorious the Church once was … and calls us to once again be the Church God intended us to be.
“For too long I have lived life on comfort mode, making choices for life engagement based on safety, ease, and convenience. It has left me very little wiggle room, just a small parcel of real estate upon which to live, move, and have my being. It’s not quite the abundant life Jesus was offering.” Whether we’re aware of it or not, our minds, bodies, and souls often seek out what’s comfortable. Erin Straza has gone on a journey of self-discovery, awakening to her own inherent drive for a comfort that cannot truly fulfill or satisfy. She depicts her struggles with vulnerability and honesty, and shares stories of other women who are on this same path. Straza also provides practical insights and exercises to help you find freedom from the lure of the comfortable. This detox program will allow you to recognize pseudo versions of comfort and replace them with a conviction to embrace God’s true comfort. Discover the secret to countering the comfort addiction and become available as God’s agent of comfort to serve a world that longs for his justice and mercy.
This is an inspiring story of a girl who left behind her upper class life to live in Africa and change the hearts and lives of many.
What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because they think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language?
A passion to follow Jesus.
Katie Davis Majors left over Christmas break of her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved by the people of Uganda and the needs she saw that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, adopted thirteen children in Uganda and has established a ministry, Amazima, that feeds and sends hundreds more to school while teaching them the Word of Jesus Christ.
Kisses from Katie invites readers on a journey of radical love down the red dirt roads of Uganda. You’ll laugh and cry with Katie as she follows Jesus into the impossible and finds joy and beauty beneath the dust. Katie and her children delight in saying yes to the people God places in front of them and challenge readers to do the same, changing the world one person at a time.
Bob Goff has the great gift of being deep and inspiring while writing in a highly entertaining way.
As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren’t good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll.
Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world’s best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it’s not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob’s love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.
When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don’t want to miss.
Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.
This has been one of my favorite books for the longest time. Written in parable form it reminds me a bit of Pilgrim’s Progress.
Are you living your dream— or just living your life?
Welcome to a little story about a very big idea. This compelling modern-day parable tells the story of Ordinary, who dares to leave the Land of Familiar to pursue his Big Dream.
You, too, have been given a Big Dream. One that can change your life. One that the Dream Giver wants you to achieve. Does your Big Dream seem hopelessly out of reach? Are you waiting for something or someone to make your dream happen?
Then you’re ready for The Dream Giver.
Let Bruce Wilkinson show you how to rise above the ordinary, conquer your fears, and overcome the obstacles that keep you from living your Big Dream.
You were made for this. Now it’s time to begin your journey.
This is my all time favorite book written by Elisabeth Elliot – the story of how her husband and four other missionaries died trying to share the gospel with the natives of Ecuador.
Through Gates of Splendor is the true story of five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. The story is told through the eyes of Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men who was killed.
After you read Through Gates of Splendor you need to read this book, it follows the story of Nate Saint’s son, Steve.
Steve Saint was five years old when his father, missionary pilot Nate Saint, was speared to death by a primitive Ecuadorian tribe. In adulthood, Steve, having left Ecuador for a successful business career in the United States, never imagined making the jungle his home again. But when that same tribe asks him to help them, Steve, his wife, and their teenage children move back to the jungle. There, Steve learns long-buried secrets about his father’s murder, confronts difficult choices, and finds himself caught between two worlds. Soon to be a major motion picture (January 2006), End of the Spear brilliantly chronicles the continuing story that first captured the world’s attention in the bestselling book, Through Gates of Splendor.
This middle aged watchmaker is one of the biggest inspirations to come out of WWII, I often wonder if I could be half as brave as she was.
“Every experience God gives us . . . is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.”–Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker who became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. In World War II she and her family risked their lives to help Jews and underground workers escape from the Nazis, and for their work they were tested in the infamous Nazi death camps. Only Corrie among her family survived to tell the story of how faith ultimately triumphs over evil.
Here is the riveting account of how Corrie and her family were able to save many of God’s chosen people. For 35 years millions have seen that there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. Now The Hiding Place, repackaged for a new generation of readers, continues to declare that God’s love will overcome, heal, and restore.
C.S. Lewis created a masterpiece when he wrote this book. The words in this book are just as applicable now as they were when he wrote it. I strongly believe that distraction is one of the strongest tools Satan has.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.
Which books on this have you read? Are there others you would add to it?
Last week I read the book A Man Called Ove. I’ve heard of this book floating around for awhile now but I’m not usually big into contemporaries so I didn’t think much of it.
But then, a few weeks ago I read And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by the same author and it moved me to tears so I was ready to give A Man Called Ove a chance.
It turns out it also moved me to tears.
And I learned some lessons on how to be a good neighbor in the process.
If you plan on reading this book in the future and don’t want to know anything about it I would recommend reading the book before reading this post. The majority of the spoilers are in the summary in the next paragraph while the actually lessons I learned don’t share much in the way of spoilers. You’ve officially been warned.
As a very short summary of the book before we get into the lessons so you have a little reference: Ove (pronounced Oo-vah – at least that’s how the narrator pronounced it in the audiobook) is an old curmudgeon who has decided it is time to take his life. Try as he might though, the pesky neighbors keep ruining his attempts to do himself in and they slowly work their way into the heart of this hard old man. There are some flashbacks in the book that give us a little of Ove’s history and we begin to understand why he has become the curmudgeon he is.
FIVE LESSONS ABOUT BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOR I LEARNED FROM THE BOOK A MAN CALLED OVE
Okay, now on to the lessons I learned!
#1 BEING AN INTERESTED NEIGHBOR CAN SAVE A LIFE
Sometimes, as in the case of this book, it can be saving a life literally but I was thinking of it in more of an eternal way. Being interested in the lives of your neighbors can open doors and give opportunities to talk about spiritual things and plant seeds of the Gospel.
#2 EVERY PERSON HAS A STORY
This is one thing I try to remind myself of often. It can be easy to think that others are not interesting or write people of as grumpy or anti-social but there is often a story behind such attitudes and knowing the story can help you to be more understanding and feel more compassionate.
Let’s just pretend that my neighborhood looks like a German town, kay?
#3 MAKING YOURSELF VISIBLE CAN MAKE YOU MORE APPROACHABLE
In the book Ove walked a regular route each morning and his neighbors knew it and him as a result. There were a few times where people knew he would be out walking early so they actually tried to be out at that time so they could catch him while he was walking to chat or ask a question.
In the summer we try to make a point to walk on a regular basis and it has actually started a lot of conversations with neighbors over the years. People seem to feel like because they have seen you walking they know you a little and it helps tear down some of the initial walls.
Since we are nearing the end of the winter it feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve been out walking but hopefully the weather will turn for the better soon and we can resume our walks.
#4 IT’S GOOD TO HAVE A USEFUL SKILL
This is an area where I definitely feel myself lacking. Ove had a lot of practical, handy skills and could help people fix things in their homes. I feel like I have zero practical skills . . . I’m going to try to think of something though.
#5 BE AVAILABLE
Ove was often around to bring people to appointments or borrow items to people because he was home most of the time. I’m home a lot and generally willing to be available to other people but we really don’t live in a society/neighborhood that is very interested in asking for help.
That being said, I did have a neighbor show up at my door one day last winter and ask for a ride somewhere. I had seen her around a little and often said hi but had never talked to her before but that little bit was enough for her to come knock on my door when her car didn’t start.
And there you have it! Five lessons I learned from the book A Man Called Ove! If you are interested in finding out what I am reading each week you may want to subscribe to my book-ish newsletter, each week I share what myself and each of my kids are reading as well as some other fun book-ish things.
I remember one of my highlights from childhood going to AWANA each week – I would wear my little vest with the badges and the jewels. I learned so many verses because of AWANA, I would even go so far as to say that half the verses I know now are thanks to AWANA.
Unfortunately we don’t have any programs like AWANA around where we live but I still really want to make memorizing verses a priority in these early childhood years for my children.
I have made more of an effort in our homeschool this year with memory verses but it wasn’t until last week that something dawned on me. Because I have one pre-reader and one reader this year I’ve just been saying the line out loud for them to copy and memorize that way, which has been going great for my son but I realized last week that my daughter is more of a visual learner. Being able to read what she is supposed to memorize makes it a lot easier for her. It was such a light bulb moment that I should have clued in on early.
So, I made a list of 30 Bible verses and passages that I want to go over with my kids in the next year or two (or three, I really don’t have a set time) and I just printed them out and have been having my daughter highlight the verses we are/have learned. This way the verses we are learning jump out more on the page and she has the ability to read the verses instead of depending on me reading them.
I have included the list of verses below and in addition, I have a PDF with the verses that you can print out as well.
OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:
- Our Techniques for Memorizing Bible Verses
- What’s Currently Working (and Not Working) in our Homeschool
- What is the Charlotte Mason Method – And Why We are Switching to it
30 MEMORY VERSES AND PASSAGES FOR CHILDREN
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell
in the house of the Lord forever.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I’ve questioned many times in the last three years why God seems to like to make us wait. There have been days where I have felt like I honestly could not handle the weight of waiting any longer, it felt like a physical pressure on my chest, one that was affecting my ability to breathe.
In the last year there were many days where I wondered if the road towards adoption would close to us again, for good this time. I was starting to doubt that it would actually happen. To say the last few months have been a struggle would be fairly accurate.
When we finally got that call it felt like the weight had been lifted. Even though we are still in a stage of finding out details (like when we can go pick him up!), we know we have a son, we know his birth date and we’ve seen his photo.
The waiting will continue for a little while but somehow it seems easier knowing who we are waiting for.
I always go back to these verses that first clicked for me when I read them ten years ago:
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Whatever it is that you are waiting for during this season, can I just say; I understand, it’s hard, but it’s worth it.
Glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us,
to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
I have been working lately at coming up with my life vision statement, inspired by the book Organized Simplicity and this post by Whitney. I didn’t get my vision statement as concise as I would like it and I am sure it will change and evolve over the next few years (because had I made one a few years ago it would have looked completely different). But for now my life vision statement is as follows . . .
I aim to bring glory to Christ in all I do by:
* investing in family and friends
* loving and serving in my community
* living simply
* being a life long learner
So how does that look in real life? I took some time to expand on each of my points a little.
INVESTING IN FAMILY AND FRIENDS
* being intentional with making time for family and friends
* having a home that is open and welcoming
* making sure to not over commit myself
* take time to cultivate deep relationships
* loving unconditionally
LOVING AND SERVING IN MY COMMUNITY
* getting to know my neighbors
* supporting local businesses
* motivating others
* advocating for justice
* growing what we can
* buying and living with less
BEING A LIFE LONG LEARNER
* reading lots
* being friends with people from around the world and taking the time to learn about their country
* exploring the world around me and afar
Making my life vision statement was really easy because I know what I value and the dreams I want to accomplish, creating one for our family has proven to be a bit harder because while Jared and I share the same core values we definitely differ in some ways, so we have not finalized a family vision statement.
I believe having this vision statement will be a huge help in life going forward, when opportunities arise I can just mentally check to see if they line up with my vision statement before agreeing or declining.
Do you have a life vision statement?
If so, I’d LOVE to hear it!
While I’ve been taking time in the last month to write my little eBook devotional I’ve been thinking a lot about all you out there who are also waiting.
The waiting game can be a hard one. And I know that I’m not the only one in it. One of the things I’ve been doing lately is trying to not get caught up in my own life while I’m in this season but try to focus on and encourage others.
A couple of years ago I read a few amazing books on prayer; The Circle Maker and Sun Stand Still which revolutionized my prayer life (both of which are great reads, I highly recommend them). They really showed me the importance of prayer and taking time to do so each day.
But it goes beyond just praying for ourselves, our own hopes, dreams and problems, we need to make an effort to pray for others as well.
Today I’d like to pray for you.
It doesn’t have to be about something you are waiting for, I’d like to pray for anything you need prayer for. Feel free to leave a comment, send me an email, or hey, even a text message! -You can email me for my number 🙂
How can I pray for you today?
While you are in this season of your life, who else can you be praying for?
I feel like I’ve been a bit negative lately in regards to our adoption.
While we are still tired from the waiting and my words remain true, there are so many good things that come with adopting. I believe that this adoption has made each of us more compassionate, and the growth has been most evident in Raeca.
At least once a week she asks me about kids with no mommy or daddy.
She tells me that she thinks her brother or sister are crying for her because they miss her.
She asks me about kids without houses or shoes.
She talks about the clothes she will share and the toys she will give to her brother or sister.
She will tear up when asking if she can go get them soon.
All this from a three year old who I don’t think can even fully understand what adoption is all about. Her compassion is an encouragement to me. It reminds me of one of the verses on my list of 20 days of praying for my children from Colossians; “clothe her with the virtue of compassion.”
I love how it is referred to in 1 Peter as a tender heart:
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy,
brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
1 Peter 3:8
Yes, adoption may be a long and hard journey but it is already worth it.
P.S. There is still a little time to enter the Once Was Lost giveaway!
You know those days when you go to church and the sermon feels like it was written just for you? That was me yesterday.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but my Dad is actually one of the pastors in our church. The way it works is we have a few churches with quite a few pastors and they rotate through which means I usually hear my Dad speak once every few months. I’m obviously totally biased but he is my favorite pastor to listen to, for so many reasons but one of them is because he always has an outline with a few points to his sermons, as a person who likes to take notes and loves lists, I find it helps me listen to and remember the sermon better.
I’m not sure if he was thinking about me when he wrote yesterdays sermon, he definitely knows what we are going through, but either way, it really hit home.
He focused on the first few verses out of James 1:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.
Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
One of my favorite things my Dad said yesterday was: God does not waste pain. Isn’t that so comforting? We know there will be pain in the journey, we’ve been told, we’ve experienced it, but it wasn’t without purpose.
Our trials are put before us to bring us to maturity, to help us grow. He also shared that patience isn’t a passive waiting but rather, patience is a courageous endurance. I find that so encouraging. As we wait for our adoption to be completed I am going to be reciting that over and over again as my mantra: patience is a courageous endurance.
Patience is a courageous endurance.