Sunday, May 29, 2016

TRAVELING IN ETERNITY

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For a decade of my 30 years, I was privileged to travel all over the world for missions and on dance trips. And I loved every moment! I love to fly. Airports are fun (except for maybe LAX when one has to spend the night in baggage claim). Packing a bag and heading off somewhere new is my absolute favorite. How thankful I am for all of the memories and experiences!

Let's go down memory lane a little bit, shall we?

Romania
My first missions trip, when I was a freshman in high school. No digital pictures from this trip...it was back in the olden days of disposable cameras.

Montreal, Canada
Multiple high school mission trips to this beautiful city--street ministry, mime performances, working at a soup kitchen, cookouts for kids, riding the Metro.



England
An amazing experience with State of Grace dance company--teaching a workshop and dancing on a military base (plus lots of sight-seeing, of course). Also traveled to Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida with this company.



China
A young adult mission trip--our main purpose was to teach English classes at a remote village school and build connections/relationships for the Kingdom.



Australia & New Zealand
A semester abroad in Sidney, Australia during my junior year of college and then a week in New Zealand on the way home. My blog from this trip.




New York City
Multiple trips to this beautiful city--one time to visit my dear friend Amy (met in Australia) and another with Bryce to attend her wedding.



El Salvador
Bryce and I helped to chaperone a youth mission trip a year after we were married--drama, worship, VBS.


Maine
Visiting my sister and her husband soon after they had their first baby boy.



During my mid-20s, our season of life changed. I wasn't dancing with a company anymore. Bryce and I got married and I worked a job with limited vacation days. A couple years later we had a baby and then another and fostered / hosted for Safe Families 20+ times in between there. Travel opportunities became more infrequent. (And now with 5 children? Pretty much impossible!) At first, it was really hard for me to let go of that "passion." It felt like my life wasn't quite as exciting or fun or meaningful anymore.

But Jesus encouraged my heart and reminded me that my time here on earth is limited. What a very short time I have to give my all for Him (in light of eternity!). This time is for impacting the Kingdom, living sacrificially, and leaving a spiritual legacy. Perhaps His plan will involve travel, perhaps it won't. Whatever the case, I must bloom where He plants me and joyfully do all He calls me to do (even if that means never leaving the Midwest, serving Him by being a mom).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the Author and Perfecter of our faith . . .
Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus reminded me: there will be a time to travel and enjoy life to the fullest--in the days of the new heaven and new earth! Those will be the days of endless delight and worship, enjoying creation renewed and made whole, surrounded by all who love and serve the Lord Jesus. Can you imagine it?! We will have eternity to explore the new creation, cultures and cities...what an experience it will be to travel the world then!

Maybe God will bring more opportunities to travel for the Kingdom (or for fun!).
But maybe He won't.
And that's okay with me.
Now I just have something amazing to look forward to on the New Earth.
(I can't wait!)


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

{ POWER }

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The past few months I have spent time meditating on the greatness and necessity of God's power in my life. Truly, it is only through the working of the Holy Spirit that we are saved and transformed and sustained. Have you ever felt helpless against the difficulties in this world, the sin struggle in your own life, or the mountain of responsibility in front of you? Then turn to Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit within you.

Let's focus on four powerful verses in Ephesians, shall we? (Sorry, couldn't resist that pun.) The weight of these statements causes my faith to rise in amazement and thanksgiving!



His Power Saves Us

His incomparably great POWER for us who believe. That POWER is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His 
right hand in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 1:19-20)

Soak in those words for a moment: the very power Who raised Christ from the dead is the same power working in us who believe. Are you believing Him? Are you trusting in the working of His mighty strength on your behalf?

Matthew Henry writes: "It is a desirable thing to know experimentally the mighty power of that grace beginning and carrying on the work of faith in our souls. . . . It is nothing less than an almighty power that will work this in us. . . . the exceeding greatness of God's almighty power, that power which God exerts towards his people, and by which he raised Christ from the dead."


His Power Strengthens Us

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with POWER through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Eph. 3:16-17)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty POWER. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  (Eph. 6:10-11)

When we are weak, His Spirit gives us strength to keep walking, to persevere. And not merely to endure and plod along (although there are days for that) but to thrive in the midst of whatever surrounds us because He strengthens us out of His glorious riches--and they are more than enough to bring joy and the ability to stand strong. "That strength from the Spirit of God in the inner man is the best and most desirable strength, strength in the soul, the strength of faith and other graces, strength to serve God and to do our duty, and to persevere in our Christian course with vigor and with cheerfulness" (Matthew Henry).

Let's pause here a moment to notice that this power is always connected to Him and really has nothing to do with us at all (except that we acknowledge and trust in and relinquish control to Him).
      * HIS incomparably great power ("exceeding greatness") (1:19)
      * HIS mighty strength (1:19)
      * power through HIS Spirit (3:16)
      * according to HIS power (3:20)
      * HIS mighty power (6:10)


His Power Sustains Us

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His POWER that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, 
for ever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

There is no limit or weariness or exhaustion to His great power! The days are long and some moments seem too heavy to handle, but "There is an inexhaustible fulness of grace and mercy in God, which the prayers of all the saints can never draw dry. Whatever we may ask, or think to ask, still God is still able to do more, abundantly more, exceedingly abundantly more" (Matthew Henry).  And this "abundantly more" is accomplished by His power at work within us!





The Apostle Paul turns this declaration of God's ability, fittingly, into praise of His awesome glory: "to Him be the glory"! Acknowledgement of Who He Is (Powerful and Mighty!) should always lead to adoration.

And these are but the outer fringe of His works;
how faint the whisper we hear of Him!
Who then can understand the thunder of His POWER?
Job 26:14

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#Lifewith5 -- BY THE NUMBERS

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Here's a new series about life with 5 kids (who are all currently under the age of 5....won't be able to say that much longer so might as well throw it out there while I can). 


I've been collecting a little list of random numbers from a typical day/week with our clan.

10 eggs scrambled for breakfast
12-15 diapers per day (one of the two-year-olds is almost potty trained so this number has gone down a bit, praise the Lord)
2, 64oz tubs of plain yogurt, eaten in about 1.5 weeks
4 booster seats at the table



3 sweeps of the dining room floor per day
100 tiny nails to trim
7 loads of laundry if it's a catch-up day
10 bottles of hair product for the girls
12 bins & baskets for toy organization

Monday, May 9, 2016

FAVORITES LATELY


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Just a few of my favorites lately.


// The Bouqs
          I love sending flowers and I love sending flowers that will be amazing. You do too?
          Then look no further. Unique bouquets straight from the farm. Love.



// Joyful Papery
          Love this lady's heart and talent. Beautiful lettering and thoughtful gift ideas.




// Covergirl TruNaked Nudes eye shadow
          I haven't bought eye shadow in probably 4 years and this one seemed like a fun palate
          to try. Love the mix of matte and sparkly options.


// Wearing kids shoes
          Not really a specific thing, but if your feet are on the smallish side, give it a try sometime! I
          wear a size 5.5 in womens, but a 3 or 4 in girls. Sometimes the options are cheaper and
          pretty cute!



// Natural Bliss creamer
          I have a serious coffee habit right now, and finding this creamer a couple of months ago
          is not helping my problem at all. I've tried the vanilla and hazelnut. Yum.



// Almay Smart Shade Butter Kiss Lipstick
          New favorite lipstick! I have the Nude and Red for light skin tone. They are pretty creamy
          and the staying power is not too bad.

// Skinnytaste Un-stuffed Cabbage Soup
          I can't find any copies of the recipe online, but it's in her recipe book: "Skinnytaste" and
          I've already made the soup 2 or 3 times. Let me know if you want the recipe.....or,
          better yet, track down the book. Everything we've tried has been delish (and the kids
          have liked them too).


Saturday, May 7, 2016

FOR THE WEARY MOM

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This one's for the weary mom. Which includes probably every mom at some point, amIright? (Or we could widen it even further and include every woman ever at some point....weariness is a natural human experience, I think.)

I was reading in my devotional yesterday morning and a passage from 2 Thessalonians caught my attention. After some journaling and this little outline thing that I do:


. . . a beautiful picture of encouragement and hope started to emerge.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the Truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.


 We are saved through:
* sanctifying work of the Spirit
* belief in the Truth (adherence to, trust in, and reliance on)
* the Gospel (amen!)

We are saved so that:
* obtain and share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)

SO THEN.....stand firm and
                   hold fast to the teachings passed on

And now for the encouraging part.
May Jesus and God the Father
                          --who loves us
                            and by His grace gives us eternal encouragement (everlasting consolation)
                                                           and good (well-founded) hope
May this God
* comfort and encourage your hearts
* strengthen you (make you steadfast and keep you unswerving)
             in every good deed/work & word


We are not saved through our own efforts. Just the Spirit, the Truth and the Gospel.
We are not saved for our own glory, but for the glory of Jesus Christ.
We are saved so that we may stand firm and hold fast.

And this standing firm and holding fast, which on some days feels almost impossible, is only by the power of our Jesus and God the Father. This is the very Father who loves us and by His amazing grace gives us eternal encouragement (you can't have much more encouragement than that!) and solid hope.

This same God is able to comfort and encourage our hearts. I know as a mother, there are many days that my heart doesn't feel very encouraged, but God is able to do this for me! And He also strengthens us in every good work and word. It's His enabling that makes us steadfast and unswerving in our daily tasks: laundry, dishes, cleaning, diapers, speaking to little hearts....the (seemingly) mundane moments. He is there.

Let us hope in this God when we are weary.
May He enable us as mothers to stand firm, hold fast--allowing Him to encourage our hearts.

Note: I did further study on the passage using the Amplified Bible