Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snowflakes and Prayer

I woke up this morning to a few snowflakes falling, now they have multiplied and looking out the window in our living room I feel like I am inside one of those old snow globes you shake. This seals the deal, it finally feels like Christmas is coming :) I don't know what you have been experiencing this month as you prepare for Christmas time. Perhaps, stress with work or school, sadness over a loved one you miss being with you during this time of year, busyness with buying gifts and attending Christmas parties, or even numbness to it all, just-not-feeling-it this year. For me, I have been experiencing a few weeks of disappointment. A few "didn't see that coming" unexpected circumstances have made me distracted during what has always been my favorite time of the year. For any of you who may be feeling disappointed or distracted today, I encourage you to seek God in the midst of your experiences. I have found joy in long prayer times lately. Sharing with God all the questions I have, all the whys and whens and wheres. As much as these past few weeks have been a struggle at times, the times of peace I have found have been in focused prayer pouring out my heart to my Heavenly Father in tears, with smiles, in joy and confusion. God hears us when we pray.

In Romans 12:2, God tells us to be faithful in prayer - "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer."

In Ephesians 6:18, the Apostle Paul encourages the Ephesians to pray in every situation/cirumstance - "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. with this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord's people."

In Philippians 4:6-7, we are encouraged to pray when we are anxious - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says that we should, "Pray continually..."

James 5:13 says we should prayer in trouble and joy - "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let him pray. Is anyone among you happy? Let them sing songs of praise."

In Psalm 17:6 David prays to God with faith that God hears and answers prayer - "I call on you, my God, for you will answer me, turn your ear to me and hear my prayer."

In Matthew 6:6 Jesus teaches us how to pray, not only continually throughout our day, (I pray in my car, the grocery store, anywhere as people come to mind and as I need God's wisdom/comfort) but also, in quiet moments where we can focus all our attention and affection on God - "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

There are many more verses about prayer in the Bible and if you want to look them up I encourage you to go to and do a keyword search on "pray."

Bottom Line: God desires us to call out to Him. He desires our praise for who He is, what He has done & can do (Mark 10:27 "...with God all things are possible"). And to pray for our requests for others and ourselves.

Whatever you are facing this season, remember the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, who came as a Savior for all who would believe in him, who demonstrated His great love for us by dying for us on the cross, who showed his great power to conquer sin and death by His resurrection, and for all these reasons deserves our praise and prayers.

Enjoy the snowflakes :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I am...

I had to write an "I am" pattern poem for my grad class this week. Here's what I came up with.

I am reflective and out-of-control
I wonder what the future will be like
I hear Josh Wilson singing “I refuse”
I see only my next step forward
I want to be devoted
I am reflective and out-of-control

I pretend that I don’t care what others think about me
I feel like a mystery about to be unveiled
I touch freedom briefly
I worry that I will disappoint you
I cry when I think of the loss of anything or everything
I am reflective and out-of-control

I understand that I will not have all the answers
I say, “God won’t break his promises”
I dream of a perfect world
I try to break free from the opinions of others
I hope to be faithful
I am reflective and out-of-control

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The beauty of redemption

Tonight I read in Colossians 1:15-24 about how Jesus is the "image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation" (v.15). How "by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him (v.16). How amazing. Here was my favorite part:

Colossians 1:19-23 "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated fom God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish, and free from accusation- if you continue in your faith, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you have heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which, I, Paul, have become a servant."


I need to read this passage everyday! How thankful I am for the good news of the gospel, that though undeserving, Christ did all the above for me and for you.

Oswald Chambers in his devotion, "My Utmost for His Highest," wrote a devo for today on verse 24, "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church."

Chambers encourages Christ-followers to live in a way that displays God's redemption, that God alone saves, we do not save ourselves/others. Chambers says in regards to this, "We have to see that we are in such living sympathy with God that as we proclaim His truth He can create in souls the things which He alone can do."

Chambers also says this, "If a man attracts by his personality, his appeal is along that line; if he is identified with his Lord's personality, then the appeal is along the line of what Jesus Christ can do. The danger is to glory in men; Jesus says we are to lift Him up."

That gives me lots to think about.

Have a wonderful night :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Love your neighbor, can we define that please?

In college I used to use Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost for His Highest" for my bible study time. Chambers gives a verse and explanation/his thoughts for each day of the year. Today I decided to check out what scripture he had chosen for today. The scripture was Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect." Upon first glance I find this verse all kinds of overwhelming and confusing. If you could have read my thoughts earlier today when I reading this verse you would have heard something like..." Wait a minute, be perfect? Isn't only God perfect? A perfectionist at heart, I've been told it can be more of a bad quality then a good quality,,,,hmmm...." After thinking about it and checking out the good old ESV study bible notes I have different take on the meaning :) A pleasant switch in my thought process.

Here's what the ESV study bible notes have to say to confused readers like me:

"Scripture is a reflection of God himself as He has made his will and character known to his people. As Christians seek to live in conformity to scripture, they are in fact pursuing the very perfection of God."

Here's the breakdown: As we live our lives getting to know God through the Bible and learning how to live a life that honors God we are taking steps toward God-likeness. As Oswald puts it, "The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness." This verse isn't about perfectionism as we typically see it, it's about pursuing an understanding of who God is, how he commands us to live and then obediently following his commands and putting the truths of the Bible into practice in a way that shows others a point of difference in your life. You're not just living to be "perfect" as our society defines perfection, the dream house, dream car, dream job, never making mistakes, being revered by everyone who meets you, having the perfect body, etc. You are living to be seen as perfect in your pursuit of knowing God (what he commands, who he is, his love for you, what he's done for you and promised you) and displaying who He is in your life so that when others see you they don't see you as having some movie-come-to-reality life, they see God making a difference in your life, they see God making you more like Him in the way you love others, the way you face hardship, etc.

God's love for us has never been based on how good or perfect we are, otherwise, who could ever approach him? He takes away our guilt, He doesn't want us to live in it! We all do things we know we shouldn't. No one is perfect. This is the beauty of the gospel/ God's love shown for us. We are not perfect and can't save ourselves from messing up, hurting others, etc. we will always mess up this side of heaven but God in his love sent Jesus to die for us and be raised to life so in our imperfection he could see us as perfect by the blood of Jesus. What does that mean? It means that when we repent (confess what we have done wrong, that we do wrong and need God's forgiveness and then turn our lives around seeking God instead of sin) God doesn't see our sin anymore, He sees Jesus who took our sin away on the cross. He sees us as His children. He sees us as perfect. Now does this mean we keep sinning and living a life that's not in obedience to the bible? NO! Paul says that in Romans 6:1. It means we now commit ourselves to striving to obey God's commands (created for our good, out of great love for us!) and showing his character through how we live with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. We will mess up, trip up, etc. but we're forgiven for sin so we can walk in grace knowing He forgave whatever we did and we can keep staying the course with His help.

This was supposed to only be a side note, what I really wanted to blog about was what it means in Matthew 5 when it talks about loving your neighbor as yourself and loving your enemies. However, I am going to put that on pause and go for a run with the hubby... more later (and when I say later I mean hopefully before the end of the week :) )

Running time here we come :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blogging time delayed...

About 20 min. ago I was sitting on our living room couch finishing reading Acts 9-11 and preparing to blog about some of the things I learned this morning about the early church. However, my doorbell rang and to my surprise when I opened the door there was a man and his son at the door dressed in dress shirts, dress pants and ties with magazines and a small bible in their hands. The boy (about 12-13) asked if I would have a few minutes free for him to share with me something on his heart about the end times and if he could read me a scripture. I told them I was a believer and that my husband and I attend McLean Bible Church and that I would welcome him to read me the scripture. He read me a scripture from Psalm 104:5-9 "He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth." The boy assured me to not fear the end of the earth, that the things the world is saying about end times aren't true and that God doesn't want us to fear. His dad chimed in with words of encouragement, that God will establish a godly kingdom here where there will never be fear again.

Now this is an encouragement and Revelation does speak of a time when there won't be fear/suffering. And in Revelation we are told that when God establishes the new Heaven and New Earth "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." What an amazing truth and certainly a comfort these words are for us. I shared with the father and son that I believed in Revelation's account of the end times, that of course there are questions for those who have premillennial and postmillennial views of Christ's return (a theology lesson in itself I'm not ready to explain in depth here, but seek biblical resources and check this out on your own or ask a Pastor), however, the earth will someday be restored by God (Rev. 21:5 "Behold I am making all things new") and God will dwell with his people (different from how he dwells in us now through His Spirit) He will live among the saints who are his children who have committed their lives and souls to Him. The dad was encouraged I knew scripture and thanked me for chatting. When I got inside with the magazines I was searching for the differences between what Jehovah's Witnesses believed vs. what Bible-believing Christ followers believe. It didn't take me long to figure it out (there was an FAQ section, that always helps).

Some of the basic differences are these:

1. "Jehovah's witnesses are Christians, but they are not Protestants for the same reason they are not Catholics- they recognize certain teachings of those religions as unscriptural. For example, the Bible does not teach that God- the very personification of love- tortures people forever in a fiery hell."

They also claim in their magazine that "Jehovah's witnesses built their system of belief and practice from the raw material of the Bible without predetermining what was to be found there. They align their beliefs with the Bible; they do not interpret it to suit themselves."

**However, these statements are contradictory, the Bible does speak of the reality of hell for those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the only Savior and Son of God, that He died for the sins of the world as an atoning sacrifice for all who would believe and that he was resurrected on the third day conquering sin and death so that those he created could be rescued from the eternal death (hell) caused by the fall and have eternal life. Many people, like Jehovah's witnesses, who profess our God is a loving God deny that there could be a hell because they believe it contradicts His character and makes God unloving. However, this isn't true. God provides salvation for humanity that has been affected by the fall/sin. That shows His love! Hell is not a place God desires for those he created to go, however, for those who reject the truth, forgiveness and grace of Jesus and never repent of their sins there has to be punishment because God is loving, He disciplines, He is just. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:15, "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation" and 2 Peter 3:9 "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God wants to be "right" with the human race He created in His image. However, to be righteous (right with God) repentance is required. The early church in Acts proclaimed the truth of Acts 3:19, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord..." God loves his people, which is why He sent He only son to suffer the sins of the whole world to save them. All people have this life to commit to Him, to repent, to live in his forgiveness, grace and love. God is loving; He is also a just Judge of the living and the dead (spiritually dead) (Acts 10:42, 2 Tim. 4:1).

**Also, God's word is true as it is, no where in the Bible does it say that we should pick and choose what we want to believe because it makes us more comfortable. God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) and God has much more wisdom than we do for He is God and Sovereign over everything and we are not (Job 38). The Bible tells us that His word is true as it is. We can't choose to fudge over certain parts of scripture so they say what we know people will like more, etc.

2. Jehovah's witnesses also deny the trinity using inaccurate biblical support to say that God the Father is above and not equal to the Son and Spirit as the rest of the Bible proclaims (Genesis 1:26 "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...", John 14:23 "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me He will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.")

There's a lot more detail that can be given, however, I just wanted a cover some of the key differences I recognized in my interactions with the two people I met this morning. They were very sweet, it was super cool to see a 12-13 yr. old boy at my door sharing from God's word, however, we must be aware of what people really believe and how it may be similar and different from what the Bible teaches is truth.

I know this was a pretty heavy blog, I encourage you to think through some of the scriptures and ask questions and talk to people in your life you know love God and know the Bible and teach it as it is without adding their own interpretation.

For my friends in VA I encourage you to check out McLean Bible Church or Reston Bible Church if you're not part of a community or have questions about Jesus, salvation, end times, etc.

For my friends in New Jersey, I encourage you to check out Emergence Church in Lincoln Park (a multi-site of Jacksonville Chapel) or Cornerstone Bible Church in River Vale to hear some true completely scriptural teaching about who God is, what He commands, what the Bible really says, etc.

Know today that God has created you in his image and loves you, He sent his son to suffer on the cross for you and to conquer sin and death through his resurrection so you may not have to fear what the world fears but may have eternal life, hope in hard times, peace in the midst of suffering, unconditional love from a holy God and so you may live an abundant life on earth having all you need in Jesus.

Have a great Saturday!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clinging to the One who Saves

1 Samuel 12: 20-22,24

"Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil: yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own...But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."

Notice the words that are emphasized through repetition within these verses: "do not turn away," "useless", "all your heart," "serve."

Todd Phillips, the Young Adult Pastor at MBC, has been preaching on idolatry/idols the past 3 weeks in a sermon series called "No Other Gods." Studying what God has to say about idols, identifying idols in my own life, seeing the destruction they can cause in our lives and how they can impact those around us and learning ways to turn away from them has both humbled and challenged me personally as a Christ follower. I read these verses this morning and was refreshed by their truth. Before I share my heart with you, let me give you Todd's definition of idols:

Idols: Anything that takes the place of God on the throne of our lives
My Extra Cliff Note: An idol is anything that steals our focus, attention and affections away from God

Background: As Todd mentioned in his sermons, idols are what our hearts wander to when/if we are not focused on the LORD. We were created to worship God, therefore, when we are not worshipping God we will be worshipping something else. The people have been described in previous verses as those who "forgot the LORD their God" (v.9). The text goes onto to tell us that b/c the Israelites forgot God and turned to idols "he sold them into the hand os Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the King of Moab, who fought aganist them" (v.9). In v. 10 the people repent saying, "We have sinned, we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies and we will serve you." Notice the compassion of the LORD in the next verse, "and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies on every side so that you lived securely" (v.11). But soon the Israelites once again turn their attention and affections away from the LORD demanding they have an earthly King rule over them like the other nations, forsaking God as the only King they need. By the time we get to v. 20-22, 24 the people of Israel have once again recognized their wandering hearts and are now pleading with Samuel to pray to the LORD for them for they are afraid of what the consequences of their disobedience will be. Samuel's reply is what we will focus on for the remainder of this post.

Let's break down 1 Samuel 12:20-22, 24 using the phrases and words we highlighted above.

"Do not turn away" - The Israelites have already seen the wickedness of their human hearts and how they are prone to wander through their disregard for God delivering them from their enemies and then looking for fulfillment in idols instead of God. Twice, Samuel reminds them "do not turn away." This is significant because it is a reminder to them of what they should do, however, it's also significant because it is warning them of the destruction of turning from one idol to another idol, rather than turning from one idol to God! In your life, have you ever experienced this path of misdirection like the Israelites? I know I have! But here is the beauty in this warning/reminder, God is ready to deliver you! He desires for you to turn to Him! He will fulfill the void in your heart longing for satisfaction and security! Notice v. 20 " ... do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart." On the map of life for Christ-followers we must turn away from dead ends and steer toward God. *Turn away from idols, not God."

"Useless" - This is not the only time idols are mentioned as useless. In my studies I have found that there are MANY times when the terms "idols" and "useless" are used together. Why? Probably because we need the reminder that idols profit us NOTHING! That's right friends, 0 profit from trusting in idols. Bottom line: trusting in idols is not just a waste of time, it's a waste of life! Notice what v. 21 says, " Do not turn away after idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless." Read that again! Let it sink in! They do you NO good, they CANNOT rescue you. For me I struggle with idols like control and safety. I can become self-reliant in times of fear. I look toward a sense of control and safety to rescue me, however, this is not true! It's not trusting in my own control&safety that will rescue me from fear/anxiety, it's trusting in GOD! He is the ONLY deliverer, the ONLY Redeemer, the ONLY God. Many times when we trust in ourselves more than God the reality is we are saying, "I am my own god, i.e. I have more control then God." Let's not let ourselves be deceived!

"All your heart" & "Serve" - As we seek to turn away from idols and the uselessness/destruction they cause in our rel. with God (notice how the Israelites asked Samuel to pray to the Lord for them b/c they felt distant from him in their disobedience) and our rel. with others, we must serve God with all our hearts. HOW? v.24 mentions one way to begin this process, " sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; *consider what great things he has done for you.*" One way to turn away from idols in our lives is to remember what God has done for us. How has God shown you you can trust him? How has he shown you that HE IS the ONLY one who satisfies? How has he shown you that he ALONE rescues you from harm?

One other way to begin the process is in Nehemiah 4:14 (one of my favorite verses!) "Don't be afraid of them. (this is referring to the people plotting to attack the Jews b/c of their efforts in rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem) Remember the Lord. Who is great and awesome..."

When we choose to remember the Lord and seek to know him more intimately we will find the truth, that worshipping Him is what we were created for and what will fulfill us and that idols will only leave us empty.

Remember the Lord (who is he? why can you trust him with every area in your life?) & Consider what he has done for you today!

Praise Him for HE IS great & awesome & worthy of our lives!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

When we throw tantrums

It's time to confess, we ALL throw tantrums. I imagine if you are reading this blog you are older than toddler age, unless you are a child prodigy who stumbled upon it. Those of us in our teens, twenties and older have experienced this ongoing temptation to tantrum. If you are reading this and thinking, "No Kristin, I disagree, maybe you still throw tantrums about things but I am certainly above it," let me give you some examples to test your humility in this area. If you're in middle school or high school have you ever thrown a fit because your parents wouldn't let you go see the movie "everyone is going to"? What about when your parents want you to be home at 11pm when "everyone else gets to choose their curfew"? How about when your friends get new cars and you have to work three jobs just to try and buy a used car off craig's list? Adults, how about when you receive an assignment for work that you weren't expecting when you are already working overtime? How about when you hit traffic on the only day all week you get out of the office on time? How about when you ask God for something and it doesn't go your way? This last question is what I want to focus on. Often we throw tantrums because things don't go our way. As I read Jonah today I was reminded of my own pride, God's grace on me and the need to embrace his ways over my own.

In Jonah 1:2 we see God calling Jonah to go tell the people of Nineveh of their wickedness and God's righteous anger toward their sin. In v. 3 we see that Jonah jumps ship to Tarshish blatantly running away from the Lord's command because God is asking him to do something he does not want to do (isn't this where all our tantrums start too?). We know this is never a good sign, so what happens? The ship Jonah is on encounters a huge storm. Jonah acknowledges the storm is from God who is trying to get his attention and soon we see that he is cast into the water and swallowed by a whale. While in the belly of the whale we see Jonah humble himself before the Lord thanking God for saving him from drowning in the sea and confessing that it is better to obey God then run away from him in disobedience. Jonah 2:8-9 says "...those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs," then he continues, "But I...will sacrifice to you." Jonah recognizes in his humility that depending on anything other than God is a waste of time so he now decides to obey God's earlier command (Jonah 3:3). Then in chapter 3 we see that things don't go as Jonah expected. Instead of punishing the people of Nineveh for their wickedness God has compassion on them because of their repentance. The book ends with Jonah throwing a tantrum because things did not go his way.

Often times we act like Jonah. We only want to obey God when he asks us to do something that sits well with us. However, when he asks us to do something that we don't want to do, don't understand, or something that ends up not turning out as we had expected we become angry with him. And in turn God says to us in these moments the same thing he said to Jonah, "Have you any right to be angry?" (Jonah 4:4).

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says the LORD, "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher then your ways, and my thoughts then your thoughts." We must remember this truth and embrace it instead of viewing it as a stumbling block. The "my way or the highway" mentality doesn't sit well with God. It's not about us! Life is not about everything going my way. Our purpose in life is to bring God glory. Colossians 1:16b says, "we were created by him and for him."

He is all-knowing, we are not. He knows what is best for us, we do not. Maybe what Jonah needed to see was the beauty of God's compassion (Jonah 3:10 "When God saw what they [the people of Nineveh] did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened."). But Jonah missed out on rejoicing in how compassionate God is because he was throwing a tantrum over not getting HIS way (seeing Nineveh receive the punishment he thought they deserved).

Praise God for his compassion on Nineveh and His compassion on Jonah and us when we are prideful (insisting on our own way) and disobedient.

Let us live out Jonah 2:8-9 ""...those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs... But I...will sacrifice to you" not expecting to get what we want from God, but expecting to receive what God knows is best for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future."

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Psalm 9:10 "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Praise the Lord that we have the gift of freely reading the Bible everyday so that we may know His truth and be encouraged by it daily!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Missing Home

I've been living in VA for almost 3 years, in August it will be official when Mike and I celebrate our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. No matter how many days, months or years seem to pass I still miss NJ. There's a special place in all of our hearts for the place that we grew up calling "home." Home is where I drove with my dad is a limo home for Pascack Valley Hospital, when my mom says my dad leaned over to me in my carseat and said, "Next time I ride with you in a limo will be on your wedding day." Home is where I took my first step at my Aunt Loret and Uncle Peter's home down the road. Home is where I learned to ride a bike with only two wheels my Uncle Keith in front of the carport. Home is where I had play dates with Kerry Gehm and Samantha Smith and ran under the weeping willow trees in the back yard with Frankie and the Morgenstein's after dinner time. It's where my mom and I shared Gilmore Girl like moments everyday, where I learned to cook with her, where we celebrated every holiday and hosted dinner club for a special group of people at our church. It's where we had an open house every Christmas Day for other people we knew who had no family to celebrate with. It's where I went to school, discovered who I was and who I wanted to be, where I gave my life to Jesus at youth group at Montvale Evangelical Free Church. It's where most of my family lives, where Jersey accents are heard, bagels are the best, family owned businesses are the norm and memories are everywhere I look.

Today I guess I just need some time to grieve. Grieve over being away from family and home. And there is nothing wrong with mourning. Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). When we let ourselves mourn over things that make our hearts heavy or eyes tear up we will be comforted by God. Often times I try to stuff down my emotions, but not today. Today a good cry is doing me well, I feel the Lord's comfort and sense the Lord's compassion. He cares about me, he cares that I miss NJ, He understands and that is a great reminder for me.

2 Corinthians 1: 2-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. John 14:1

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When expectations aren't met

I enjoyed doing a few posts from my past journals from college and maybe when I have a bit more time this summer I will be able to share more. I hope you got a little picture of God's work in me as he gave me more of an understanding and desire to know him intimately. This is my prayer for each of you as well, that you may see your need for Jesus, a growing desire to know Him and an understanding of his love for you shown on the cross.

I don't know about you but I sure am one to have high expectations. I think it could be a prerequisite to womanhood or perhaps something embedded in us during the wanna-be-a-princess stages of our little girl years. What have my expectations been over the years? I often except that if I am loving and kind to someone they should treat me in the same manner, however, Jesus says to love our enemies. I used to expect that all my friends from high school and youth group would remain close to me as life went on ("we would ALWAYS be friends"), however, people change and I have changed and only some of those people have remained a part of my life. For a long time as a child I expected that if I prayed enough, wished on stars enough, and was good enough my parents would get married again (however this was not God's plan, and we know His plan is best). Even in Mike and I's marriage I find I create expectations. For example, the first year we were married (the first year I celebrated a birthday away from my family) Mike planned a nice night out to celebrate. I didn't know where we were going or what we were going to do but I already had expectations of what it would be like. iIt would stick to tradition and feel like I was at home celebrating just in VA and without family. Mike would take me out for my favorite dinner after a day of doing my favorite activities, we would meet up with friends or just hang out, he or a group of people would sing me happy birthday, we would have birthday cake and then go home. Well, it didn't go quite like that... We heated up leftovers at home, Mike drove me into Old Town Alexandria (which I loved!), we walked around for a little while, he gave me my birthday present by the fountains in the middle of town, and then he said "I thought we could walk down to Pop's to get some ice cream" (which on any other day would excite me) however, I had expectations that weren't met. So what do you suppose happened next? I began to cry. Yes, in the middle of Old Town by the fountains where everyone typically enjoys ice cream and hanging with friends I began to sob. This birthday didn't feel like I thought it would. No one was celebrating with us. There was no "Happy Birthday Song" and no birthday cake. Once I calmed down Mike and I talked about having expectations, expressing those expectations/ideas (husbands should be "expected" to read our minds) and we decided to go to cheesecake factory where we got to see his little sister, have waiters sing to me and eat something that could have a candle stuck in it :) What did I learn? I learned that expectations can lead to disappoint sometimes and that we should be careful what we have expectations about and how tightly we hold to those expectations.

In Matthew 11 we see this same life lesson of expectations not being met coming to life. Let's check out verses 1-7.

"When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? And Jesus answered them, "Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

From birth John the Baptist had been described as the one who would be "the voice of one calling in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight" (Matt. 3:3). John has lived his life up to this point anticipating the coming of the Messiah. He is looking forward to meeting the Messiah and being freed from all earthly trouble, finally free to live with only blessing upon him. Now he is in prison. This was not a part of HIS plan and he certainly did not expect to the Messiah to be near if he was facing such hardship.

The ESV Study Bible Notes explain these verses as follows: "John is probably concerned because his current imprisonment does not match his understanding of the Coming One's arrival, which was to bring blessing on those who repented and judgment on those who did not. Jesus' ministry, however, is in line with the prophetic promises about the time of salvation, as seen especially in these descriptions that recall the words of Isaiah: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and good news is preached to the poor. Jesus' deeds gave sufficient proof of who he was and that the prophesied time of salvation had come. The beatitude is a mild rebuke; John and his disciples must be open to God's unfolding plan even though Jesus' ministry did not match their messianic expectations."

Just like John we can have expectation not only about others & our circumstances but about who God is, how he acts and how he should act. This is a dangerous place to be. Our expectations of God do not change who God is (I can assure you they would make less of God then He is) and our circumstances do not change who God is or how much He loves us. We have to remember that while expectations are not bad, they can lead to disappoint and even unbelief. Gods ways are not always as we would expect but He promises in Romans 8:28 "All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." We don't always "feel" God's love the way we expect, however, faith in God and His love for us is more than a feeling, He died on a cross for us and in seasons He disciplines us, and while that discipline may not "feel" good at the time, however, scripture says in Hebrews 12:11 "No disciple seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Let's pray for right expectations. Let's start by allowing God to mold our expectations and exceed them.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Flashbacks to Freshman Year continued...

It has been exciting to look back in my old journals and see the ways God was molding me more into his likeness and teaching me how to bring him glory and love others. Today in my quiet times I was reading in Matthew 7:12 about the "Golden rule", "So whatever you wis that others would do to you, do also to them." This is the thought that came to my mind, "Treat others as you would like to be treated, love others as you desire to be loved, serve others as you would like to be served, put others needs above your own as you desire them to put your needs above theirs." I am going to meditate on this truth this will be exciting to set my mind more on the golden rule :)

Here's a journal entry I found I had written in January 14, 2004

1 Samuel 20:17 "And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself."

1 Samuel 20:42 " Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord saying, "The Lord is witness between you and me..."

Girl's weekend road tripping has been amazing. It's been a great opportnity to strengthen my friendships with my girls. Tonight I think Nicole was upset with me.. I asked her about it and she started to cry and said it was personal and didn't want to talk about it. Iknow in my heart i has something to do with me. I think she might have felt left out by Kelly and I and that is the last thing I would ever want her to feel. I love her so much ad it's difficult to act happy and act care-free knowing she may be hurt by something I've done. I came downstairs and decided to spend some one-on-one time with you. When I flpped to back of my bible or a subject to study I thought, "why not friendship?" ? The reference to David and Jonathan stood out to me most. I didn't rememeber the story very well. The only thing for sure that stuck with me was that when Aaron (my cousin) was training in the reserves he asked my Aunt Tina and mom to pray that he would find a "Jonathan" and you provided for him! And I feel I've been blessed with 3 Jonathan's in my life, Jackie, Nicole and Kelly. I cherish their friendships closest to my heart. And I feel extremely fortunate to have such genuine and unique friendship with each of them. I love all my girlfriends tremendously, but in this season I have a very strong and special love for the 3 of them.
Jonathan loves David more than himself, I would do anything for those girls, but at the same time I don't feel I always love them more than myelf... I would say "most of the time" and I do not want to hold onto any "self-love" in my friendships. I pray you ould take any selfish love from me. Ideire to be self-less a you are. I also desire my friendships to be firmly built upon a love for and relationship with you, because I know even these small bumps like the one with Nicole are nothing when our friendships are led by you. I want my friendships to be as Jonathan described, "the LORD is witness between you and me." I pray you will be honored by our friendships and that the more we love each other and not ourselves the more we will love you. I know that things between Nicole and I are in your hands and that yu're teaching me something through it. My trust and hope are in me and I will follow. I love you.

Your daughter,
Kristin Marie

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reflections from Freshmen Year (continued)....

December 26, 2003

Romans 3:23-24 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

In other words... Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are made "not guilty" by his grace b/c Jesus has set us (sinners) free from being slaves to our sin.

The past few days I have been struggling... I haven't been doing my devotions and I've felt like I was losing grip getting caught up in old stumbling blocks that have crowded my path. This verse makes me joyful knowing Jesus has freed me from my sin so I can be a slave to being a true follower of Christ and not a slave to my own sin. I feel I have been tested since I have been home for Christmas break and I know the testing of my faith will make me "mature and complete" so I don't lack anything (James 1:5). I'm so thankful that I am justified by God's grace...because I do feel guilty but I know with God's help I can be forgiven although I am ashamed and feel like I take God's forgiveness lightly at times by telling myself, "I can do this, God will forgive me." I don't want to be that kind of person... I want to strive to be pure like God desires of me in Phil. 4:8...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Life in Rewind - Time to Remember

Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting old journal entries starting at the beginning of college and up until recently. Often times we spend our days in fast forward. We achieve our goals only in time to look for the next step p the ladder. We overcome a fear only to worry about the unknown fears that can come. Let's make a toast to remembrance and celebration. Instead of looking ahead I am going to take some time to look back to see the lessons God has taught me that may have been forgotten in the fast forward approach to life that too often robs us of celebrating what God has done in our lives and remembering all He has taught us. I hope these entries will encourage you as much as they encourage me to look back at your life and think about what lessons God has taught you or in what ways God has been trying to get your attention in the rush we tend to embrace in our short-God-given life.

This was written at the beginning of my freshman year of college when I has first decided to truly make God 1st in my life rather than living half-heartedly for Jesus... This was the first time in my life I was spending time reading the Bible on my own to really get to know more about Jesus and how to follow Him. I know there were MANY lessons after this...but here's some thoughts I had in the beginning as I was 1st trying to really follow Christ daily...

October 30, 2003

1 Timothy 4:12-16 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, dvote yourselves to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourselves wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

*My Thoughts*

The phrase "maybe when I grow up" is crushed by these verses! I used to say "I don't want to live completely for you "NOW" God I'll do that later "when I grow up." Even though I am young and have many more things in life to experience and lessons to learn I can still be an example of Christ to those around me by living for God "NOW" and not "later."
It's a challenge to set an example to other believers in speech, life, love, faith and purity. Sometimes I slip with words I say and sometimes my words are not kind about others, sometimes it's hard to love people who have hurt me, sometimes I have questions about my faith and staying "pure" in every sense of the word as described in Philippians 4:8 is hard. But I know that even though all these things are a challenge striving toward living as an example of Christ in all those aspects will only strengthen my relationship with God and they're simply bricks on the path of my journey with Jesus by my side.
Paul encourages Timothy to preach and teach devoted to encouraging the public with truth. With my family and friends I should also be devoted to sharing my faith with them and being an example in the way I live out my faith in my actions. Paul cautions Timothy to watch his life and doctrine closely which reminds me to live my life in accordance with my reminds me not only to "talk the talk" but to "walk the walk." The Paul ends with an encouragement to Timothy to "persevere" in following Paul's instructions to save himself and also his hearers...those who watch how he lives and hear the words he says. The study notes for verse 16 says, "you will save...your hearers - "God alone saves, but Christians can be instruments to bring about the salvation of others. Salavation is both an event and a process. We are saved at the time of conversion but are still being saved in the sense of being more conformed to Christ's image."

1 Corinthians 1:18 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Sinus Infections, IEP projects and Distractions

Do you ever feel like you are stuck in a cycle of continuous distractions? That's what I have felt like this week. It seems I can't focus on anything! (Or anything important or worthwhile at least). Today I am home sick with what is looking like a sinus infection from the hammer pounding feeling between my eyes right now and trying to be diligent in finishing my final project for my grad class which ends tomorrow. In times like this it's good to remember God is in control. He knew I would have this sinus/cold and finals in the same week. Maybe I feel distracted because he is trying to get my attention? Possible :) If any of you are having a week similar... stuck in a rut, treading to keep your head above water, riding an emotional roller coaster, lacking sleep, feeling confused, and (one I am all to familiar with) overthinking about well...whatever you can overthink about... kind of week; you're not alone! :) Here's the verse I have been clinging to today, hope it will help you fight to get your focus back on what matters as it is helping me...

1 Peter 1:13-14 "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

Lord, help me and all who read this blog to focus on you today. Help us to be "holy"/ set apart in our thinking and actions as we rely on your Spirit to be obedient to your desires for our lives. Help us not to be conquered by distractions or temptations but rather to be victorious in you. Thank you for your words of truth that speak to us in the midst of anxiety. Help us today to not be "anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition to present [our] requests to [you] that [your] peace may guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Phil.4:6-7) Amen ("let it be").

More writing to come later....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When there are no exemptions

I was praying before my quiet time tonight and all geared up to continue reading in Matthew when I just felt that I really needed to begin my time in the word by reading today's proverb. (Proverbs 5, since it is the 5th day of May :) )

When I looked at the title I thought to myself...should I skip this one? The description of Proverbs 5 is "Warning Against Adultery." I think we all have times like these when we look at scripture and ask ourselves, in our pride/ignorance, does this part of scripture really apply to me? I mean, maybe it applies to "that" person or "him" or "her" but me? YES, it applies to me and all of you! 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness." In other words, there are no exceptions and no exemptions for to whom the truths of scripture apply.

As I read Proverbs 5 I began to really question myself. What about adultery is important for me to be aware of as a younger woman/wife? The proverb is written to God's sons (Proverbs 5:1 "My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight") but what about us daughters? Do these cautions of those interested/entangled in adultery lust still apply to us as single women and wives? ABSOLUTELY! As wives we have committed ourselves to our husbands for life! We have stood before the Lord and committed our hearts affections to them through better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness in health, with gray hair or balding, in shape or out of shape, when they have a good day or bad day, when they romance us or don't! Marriage is the real deal, sticking by you forever commitment. The world tells us as married women and single women that fickleness is ok. It's okay to harmlessly flirt, it's okay to have a best friend who's a guy and have your husband, it's okay to go out with a man other then your husband or boyfriend and share in intimate conversation with them. The world today has even gone so far as to make "swingers" look like the acceptable answer to adding to a marriage and keeping spouses happy. What has happened?

As always the answer to what has happened is...SIN. Sin happens. It entices us to go against the commands God puts in place to protect us, not to make our lives boring as some would like to persuade you to think.

Let's take a look at a couple of the warnings Proverbs 5 has for us.

# 1 - Proverbs 5:3 "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil"

Girls, Wives, Women - This is a double caution! 1) It's a caution to watch the words the boys/men in your life are saying to you. If you're married, be cautious of the flattery of other men besides your husband. Pray for protection that you will not look to the affirmation other men give you above the affirmation your husband gives to you. If you're not married, be cautious in how you let the words of guys you date or are interested in influence you. Watch their actions more than their words. Are they saying things just to romance you or because they mean it? Are they flattering you because they want something from you or because they are sincere?
2) Be cautious of what you say to men/guys. Are our words to men other than our husbands/guys you're dating or not dating in our lives full of flirtation? Do you say things to get attention from guys that lead them to have false hope? Are you displaying an interest in the words that you say that is different from the affections of your heart? Words invite emotion and we should use them lovingly. If we're married the conversations we have with other men should honor our husbands and guard the heart of the man we're speaking to by straying from any possible mixed message. If we are not married, the same is true! guard the hearts of other men in the things you say! Be loving by being cautious of how what you say can affect them.

Remember these words from Proverbs 7:21 "With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk."

#2- Proverbs 5:13 " I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors"

If there are godly people in your life (those who love you, love God and know his truth) who are telling you to be careful in your interactions with another man/guy in your life other than your husband/boyfriend or even someone who is just your friend, heed their counsel. Often people on the outside of a situation can see more then we can see from the inside out. Let God protect you from stumbling into lustful thoughts, adulterous thinking or even unloving actions by following the advice of others around you when they correct you. My freshmen year of college me and 4 of my other best girlfriends were called into a pow-wow with about 6 of our guy friends who told us that hanging out with us was turning out to be bad news for them. They pointed out that we constantly sent mixed messages, dressed in ways that made it difficult for them to look at us without lusting and confused them with our flirtatiousness and affection toward them (hugs hello/goodbye/cuddling). WOW... was that ever a shocker! We were so ignorant we never even considered how our actions were affecting them! We were more focused on the attention we were receiving (although I doubt we admitted it at the time) and acting how we wanted regardless of how it might have made them feel. It was difficult for us, but after they corrected us we sought to change. We were humbled. We wanted to love these guy friends we cared so much about.

So here are some questions for us all: Are you seeking attention from every guy (even if you're married?) Are you battling insecurity and finding attention in the wrong place/from the wrong person? Are you leading guys on or sending mixed messages that would grieve God, hurt your spouse/boyfriend or guy friends? Are you being a woman of Christ who is living out Phil. 2 by looking to the interests of others more than your own interests? Have you considered the way you dress and the message it sends? Why do you dress the way you do? If you are struggling, have you asked our ALL-POWERFUL God for help to be obedient? Have you asked Him to help you guard your heart and the hearts of others?

Proverbs 5 closes with these verses....

v.21-23 "For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly."

Ask God tonight to correct you in his love. To lead you on the path that will guard your heart and bring Him the most glory. Please feel free to shoot me any questions :)

Love you all in Christ!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

His Presence in the Storm

Many of you may know that over the past 2 years I have struggled with what has felt at times like a debilitating fear of tornadoes/thunderstorms.  This struggle was allowed by the Lord in my life two years ago when driving home from school (I was working in Fairfax at the time) I drove through my first real VA severe thunderstorm/tornado warning.  It was a traumatizing time for me as I pulled over on the side of the road screaming out "Jesus, please don't let me die now, don't let me die." It may seem silly to some but I has never experienced such a scary storm and being in my 1st year of marriage in a new state and 2 weeks into moving to another new area I felt a loss of safety/comfort in the unknown surrounding me.  The Lord, as He promises, protected me. He was my shelter from the storm. However, it has been 2 years of deep struggle with anxiety spurred by that event.  God has a plan for me in this time.  Recently, after hearing our Pastor Lon Solomon speak about why God sometimes chooses not to answer our prayers in the time or way we would like I realized the main reason I still have not been able to overcome this struggle.  God is still trying to teach me something.  Now please understand God is not trying to teach me something in the sense of him punishing me in some way.  God is teaching me a lesson out of his love for me and desire to see me become more like Him.  I have said numerous prayers pleading with God like Paul (2 cor. 12:8) with the "thorn in his flesh." However, God has not taken this time of struggling from me.  He has, however, put upon my heart more an earnestness to pray "God what are you teaching me? What do you want me to learn?" He has already taught me many things... 

1. I am out of control
2. I am out of control
3. He is in control
4. I am out of control 

Sounds kind of funny but this one lesson has been repeated over and over again in my life over the past 2 years.  Now, I am sure I will always struggle with control at one time or another but I have been learning that I want God to be in control and not myself.  For this I praise Him. Tonight it is thundering and lightening out.  I am in our living room listening and watching.  I am not panicking as I normally do.  There's not panic attack rising up within me.  Tonight I am trying to meditate on seeing God's presence in the storm.

Meditate Psalm 29 with me as I try to remember God's control and turn away from my fear.  I hope you also will be encouraged to turn from your fears, remembering who God is.

 Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, 
       ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 
       worship the LORD in the splendor of his 
 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; 
       the God of glory thunders, 
       the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; 
       the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
 The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; 
       the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. 
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks 
       and strips the forests bare. 
       And in his temple all cry, "Glory!" The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; 
       the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people; 
       the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Enjoy the beginning of your week! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Psalm 37

I wrote a song last week after meditating on Psalm 37.  The song based on what God put on my heart as I chewed on the truths I read.  The two verses I spent most of my time meditating on were verses 4 & 5 "Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."  We typically spend most of our time reading v.4 and thinking "God will give me the desires of my heart!"  We take on a christian consumer-like attitude that begins to focus on getting from God instead of giving to God for all He's done for us! We even an have the nerve in our pride to think we deserve to get our way, whatever it is even if it might be something God knows wouldn't be good for us!  Take time today to focus on the beginning on v.4... It's when we delight ourselves in the LORD that He will give us the desires of our hearts.  As we begin to know who God is, believe who He says He is and understand all we have in Him (unconditional love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, redemption, joy...just to name a few...) then our hearts will begin to desire more of what God desires for our lives.... those things that are good for us... as He promises in Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.  

Hope you enjoy this unfinished song God places on my heart... it has served as a melody to daily remind me of the truths in Psalm 37 :) 

V1:                Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart
                      commit your way to the Lord trust in Him and He will do this

Pre-Chorus: He will come through
                      He won't break a promise
                      He is who He says He is

Chorus:       He is our God; our only God
                     He is our strength; He is our peace
                     He is our joy; and all the hope we have
                     He will come through; He will come through

Sunday, April 18, 2010

For more than the ordinary...

Mike and I started reading the gospel of Matthew together last night (join us on the Matthew journey :) ) Here's just one thing God put on my heart from my quiet time in his Word last night. 

In Luke 1 we read about Mary's interaction with the angel Gabriel who tells Mary she is favored by the Lord and will give birth to Jesus who will "be called the Son of the most High." Mary's reaction goes something like this...
1st shock - v.29 "Mary was greatly troubled and wondered what kind of greeting this might be" ... v.2 tells us that the angel says to Mary "Do not be afraid"... I don't know about you, but seeing an angel would be pretty out of the ordinary, I think I would be pretty afraid at first too.  Please don't miss how amazing this initial interaction is... Mary is being spoken to by an angel!!! 

2nd- Confusion/denial v.34 "How will this be...since I am a virgin?"  The angel goes on to tell Mary of the miracle that will occur in her through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is part of the trinity, 3 in 1, the Holy Spirit is used in scripture interchangeable to refer to God himself and indeed is God himself. This is complex for us to wrap our minds around but instead of giving into thoughts of unbelief let's praise God for how magnificent he is! He is immeasurable and complex and worthy of our worship not our criticism or critique.  

3rd- Acceptance- Mary says, "May it be to me as you have said."

Now for Matthew's account from Joseph's perspective.  

1st- shock/hurt- Joseph was betrothed to  Mary.  The ESV study bible explains what betrothed means. There were 2 stages to betrothal.  The 1st stage was different from engagement, the parents chose who their son would marry.  The 2nd stage involved official arrangements and prenuptial agreement, "a legally binding contract that could only be broken by a formal process of divorce." Now that we have a better understanding we can imagine the shock Joseph feels!At this stage is their betrothal Mary is referred to as his wife and now he finds out he is pregnant! Devastating!   At this point he doesn't know that the child conceived in Mary is from the Holy Spirit, we see this in v.19"And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly." 

2nd- fear - An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and his first words are, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife..."

3rd- obedience/acceptance v. 24&25 "When Joseph woke up from his sleep he did as they Lord as the Lord has commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son."  

Upon hearing from the angels the news of Jesus' miraculous birth Mary & Joseph could have been disobedient in unbelief.  Rather, Mary said, "The Lord called has called me blessed" and Joseph, "did what the Lord had commanded."  Both accepted the hardship and suffering ahead as they prepared to have the Son of God in their family who many would reject (eventually crucify) and some would embrace as their Savior.  God picked Mary & Joseph to be Jesus' earthly parents and by their responses to His call He knew who He was choosing (of course, since He is all knowing :) ).  He was choosing who He knew would be obedient and endure hardship because of their fear of the Lord (fear of dishonoring the Lord). 

The Lord calls us to do the extraordinary for Him when he knows we are ready to be obedient to His call no matter what the cost!

I hope this encourages and challenges you as much as it has both encouraged and challenged me. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What fills you up?

Isaiah 55:1-2 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul with delight in the richest of fare." 

Food for thought :) I will blog tomorrow :) 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Comfort Food for the Soul

The challenges of being a couple in ministry often surprise me.  When Mike and I were first dating all we desired to do was meet together to share what new thing we learned in our quiet times in the Bible about God's love for us, His power, His justice, the hope only He can give.  When we were 1st dating I was sure to let him know that God came first, then my family, my girlfriends and then of course him.  Luckily he felt the same way.  We wanted to love God first and didn't want our friends to feel left out or like now as a couple we were some how too busy for them.  This is where our hearts were focused.  We would hang out with our roomies/close friends every night of the week and weekend and then eventually after we had quality time with them we would meet up, usually at midnight or 1am (did I mention I was also a nerd about my grades in college?) and talk for an hour or two just about our devo time that day.  We were overflowing with desire for more of God.  We would repeat this cycle all week long. However, one day  our roommates/best friends eventually ended up together or dating other people and then taught us a true balance of being in a relationship and still making our friends feel treasured :) As we ventured on in our relationship we still had a love and desire to share with one another what God was teaching us, praying together and being in God's word together, however, as we entered marriage and the life of a couple in vocational/full-time ministry we learned quickly how difficult maintaining these practices can be. In the past two years we have struggled to have time in God's word together, prayer together and sharing together regularly, mostly b/c we spend much of our days sharing with others we are pouring into what God is doing in our lives and can be tired by the time we have time to share with one another.  I do miss that college energy, pace & schedule that allowed us to have meetings at 12am/1am if we did that now our weeks would be wrecked! It was a cool time though :) 

All of the above leads me to share with you the best part of my week.  Last week while Mike and I were in Boston for my spring break from school we had a long heart to heart about our desire for our days of sharing and encouraging one another in the Lord when we were still in college.  We confessed how we had let business, even ministry commitments, get in the way of the ministry we are called to and dearly love & enjoy as husband and wife.  So on Monday my hubby came home.  We ate dinner.  Then we went on a walk to this adorable park in our community and sat down with bibles and journals looking up scriptures about God's promises Mike had prepared just for us that day.  One of the best hours of my life having that special focused time once again. You can bet we are fighting for it now more than ever!

All this leads me to what God has put on my heart to share.  Consider it a hearty meal of comfort food for your soul.  God makes us an incredible promise in Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you by my righteous right hand."  This promise is amazing just in taking it in in this one single verse, however, we can gain a richer taste for the depth and reliability of this promise by flipping ahead to the chapter that precedes this promise.  In Isaiah 40 the LORD is speaking comfort over His chosen people, Israel, below are His words of comfort, savor them:
v.10 "See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power and his arm rules for Him.  See, His reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies Him."
v.11 "He tends is flock like a Shepherd.  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to His heart..."
v.12 tells us, He measured the waters in the hollow of His hand
v.12 continues, He marked off the heavens with the breadth of his hand
v.12 He has held the dust of the earth in a basket
v.12 He has measured the mountains on scales 
v.18-20, 25 God is so amazing, powerful, loving that He can be compared to no one for He is far greater then we can imagine 
v.22 "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.  He stretches out the heavens like a canopy and spreads them out like a tent to live in." 
v.26 "He brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name" 
v.26 "Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing" 

These are the words of a huge God, of the only God, of a loving God, of a powerful God of a one-of-a-kind, only Risen God, speaking comfort over his people.  

Now understanding more of who God is and his heart for you, taste and be nourished by this promise once again:

Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you by my righteous right hand."  

Have a wonderful night of sweet rest & a Happy Friday!

PS- LeAnne thanks for the encouragement to write another post :) 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A New Beginning

I have tried really hard to be a consistent blogger, however, I have started to realize how truly difficult it is for me! Thanks for all who are joining me on this journey of change and discovering more about the God we love & serve! In the last couple of days I have felt a huge burden to be more devoted to writing each day or at least a few times of week to share what God is putting on my heart and where God is challenging me.

It seems that the Lord is calling me to take another step into the realm of vulnerability.  But if this is how he will be most glorified then indeed I rejoice! 

A little background on "Surprised by Change":

I came up with the title "Surprised by Change" because it seems to encompass the past few years of life and I'm sure will be the description of many years to come.  My husband, Mike, and I have been married now about 2 1/2 years.  We met in college and were married the summer after I graduated.  Always dreaming of living in New Jersey alongside my Italian-American family and mom (who re-married the Sept. before I was married) I laid down my dream of being in my hometown to follow the Lord's call on Mike's life.  Being a Youth Pastor in VA. It still amazes me to see the boy I fell in love with at college who swore God's plan was for him to share Christ in the business world preaching each week and faithfully following God's will for his life instead of the one he had imagined God having for him.  Leaving my family was one of the most heart-wrenching things I had ever done up to the 22 years of life I had lived when we were married.  Very close to my mom and Dad, leaving my extended family who all have raised their family's close to their parents/siblings, it was a hard start.  It's funny Mike and I never considered living in NJ.  God filled me with enough peace in His plan to never question that moving to VA to join Mike in ministry was what I was to do. A few weeks after our wedding I was preparing to teach 1st grade in a Christian School in the area.  My job was one area I was taking pride in.  I am able to look back now and see many motives of why I took the job.  Besides a love for teaching, one reason was to justify to my family that I had a job to help provide for Mike and I that would help them to be more comfortable with me marrying so young. I was trying to prove myself, which of course was unneeded.  One week before school began I was told that the 13 children I had prepared for would now be 28-30 because of another 1st grade teacher having to suddenly move.  At this same time, I started to become very ill.  I had been diagnosed with an ulcer from that spring through the fall with a few bumps in the road, however, told things were treatable.  By the end of August I was misdiagnosed with a bleeding ulcer. I was told to avoid all stressful situations.  Which led Mike and I to prayer consideration about whether to continue to teaching.  Never having quit anything in my life, the Lord humbled me to my lowest place, having to quit my job for the benefit of my health.  September was a month of stress and pain as we did not know what was causing the pain I was experiencing.  By October I had a procedure done which revealed that I had developed colitis, an incurable disease that causes inflammation in the large intestine.  Although, so much change had occured in such little time: moving from home, graduating from school, being newly married, quitting my job... God continued to teach me that his plans can be trusted.  He provided a job as a teacher's assistant in a classroom for middle school kids with autism that winter which led me to see the love I have to serve those with special needs.  He provided for Mike and I all we needed financially and even gave us the ability to save money for our future despite my lack of income for us.  He showed my family His provision despite what we had experienced.  He gave me the time I needed to adjust to a new home, being a wife, serving in ministry alongside Mike and being away from family.  He also gave me time to search to find what I desire to do for a job and finally 2 years later I am using my English degree to pursue teaching.  There have been many changes along this journey.  Changing jobs.  Following God in obedience despite feelings of... "God, are you sure?" I have to say as tiring as it has been at times it truly has been a blessing in disguise.  Looking back I can say I have been pleasantly "surprised by change" and look forward to the surprises ahead that will only mold me more into the likeness of Christ.  I wish the same for each of you on this journey of "growing up" with me. May you too delight in the hardships and blessings that make up God's plans for you.  He will be faithful!