So I'm in that time between book Bible studies. Our Ladies Bible study finished 2 weeks ago and right now, nothing is on the calendar until the first of the year. I thought about starting another book study on my own and decided instead that I'd choose a book of the Bible to study. Just me, God, my Bible, a pen, and my journal. I felt a tad overwhelmed to begin with, because I didn't want to play Bible roulette, so I decided to pray about what book God wanted me to go through. After a minute of just listening, I was positive of the fact that God was giving me 1 Thessalonians. Now, I've read through this book probably 30 times. But I've never sat down with pen in hand and waited for God to bring the words to life. Well, wouldn't you know, I got about 3 verses in and here it came...
As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.- 1 Thes 1:3.
Now, maybe you think that's a random verse to stick out to me, but I grabbed my journal immediately and wrote these 3 phrases down...
I decided to take these each one by one and do a little digging. So, here's parts of what I recorded in my journal about Faithful Work. I decided to start with the actual definitions of the words...
Faith- Noun, confidence or trust in a person or thing
Work- Noun, exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
So, confidence in God motivates us. It motivates us to exert effort to accomplish something.
My next question was- What confidences do we have in God? I know the list is extensive, but I'm just going to add what I wrote down in my journal.
He will never leave us.
He will never forsake us.
We have hope.
We have a future.
He will always lead us.
He will always love us.
He is for us.
He wastes nothing.
Having these assurances, how are we motivated to work towards accomplishing eternal goals? A few of my personal observations were...
1. He will be with us and provide for us when we are serving Him.
2. We can move with courage knowing we will be successful in our work for Him.( Now let me add a little to this one- Am I saying everything we do will be successful? No. Back to the He wastes nothing. If God calls us to do/try something and we don't succed, does that mean all is lost? Absolutey not. That means God is doing something we can't see behind the scenes. Hold tight, there's a plan we don't see. )
3. If God leads us to something we can keep walking knowing he brought us there no matter how dark or unclear the path.
4. Searching out the things of God is never a waste of our time and energy.
So, once I had all those written down, I asked myself... What does this mean for me? Here's a few of the things I concluded...
- I need to to seek out God's will even if it doesn't seem like He's leading me to the right thing. (what I want)
- Everything means something. Every step has had a purpose. God won't discard that purpose and it will all be used for His good. (Amen to that!)
Perhaps this seems a little disjointed, mostly personal to me, a little more studyish, and lots of information compared to usual, but this is what I've deducted from this.....
My faithful work is this- Being assured of God's promises and using them as motivation to do what God has called me to do. Right now, my calling is to be the best wife and mother I can be. To love my husband, to be his helper, and to point him towards the cross. To love my children, to instruct them with biblical instruction, to teach them grace and humility, and to lead them to the cross every day. To show them who Jesus is. Knowing that God is for me, that he has a plan for me, and that he wastes nothing is motivation to live day in and day out knowing that folding laundry, doing dishes, breaking up sister fights, praying for graceful responses to my husband, though they seem mundane and unimportant- they are not. Because it is my faithful work.
What are you doing today, this week, this month, in this season of your life that is your faithful work? Are you like me- loving your husband, raising your children, keeping your home? Perhaps it's opposite of that. Whatever it is, I encourage you to figure out what your faithful work is, and do it well.
Our Women's Bible Study at church
is going through the book Stronger
by Angela Thomas
. Again, it's right what I needed when I needed it. God is good like that. Anyways, today, I wanted to share with you a few key things out of the book that really struck me. The specific week theme is God is stronger than my overwhelming life. The day subject is Unrealistic Expectations- Mine and Theirs.
She starts out by describing her perfect picture of life then asks "Do you have a magazine dream?" I almost laughed at that question. It took me about .5 seconds to answer it and describe in detail my answer. Then, she asks "Does any of this resemble dreams you have or still hold onto?" Of course, my answer was yes. Here's her response...
If we take all our dreamy, unrealistic expectations and add the unrealistic expectations from the people we love, we create a dangerous concoction: a recipe for an overwhelming, disappointing life. After all, burnout comes not from work, but from not achieving expectations. (pg 102)
Have you expected someone or something other than God to live up to your expectations? To fill you up? To make you whole? To always keep his/her promise? To respond to your parenting with kind obedience? To be your Savior? (pg 102)
Ouch. Double Ouch. And basically the last year of my life in 2 sentences. Aaron and I are about to enter our 6th year of marriage. I can honestly say that I spent year 1-5.2 expecting my magazine life. I held (and still do) hold Aaron to an expectation of creating my happiness. Because of that, I let bitterness and discouragement destroy my marriage. I have set a standard for my kids that's unrealistic and because of that, I have been a hard and angry mother.
Angela goes onto to say...
Have you expected too much of yourself- to be the best mom, best daughter, best wife, best student, best friend, best employee, best follower of Christ?
From the first breathe you drew, you have need a Savior. You are imperfect and flawed.
Jesus took you off the hook when He died on the cross. He bore our sin and imperfection. You do not have to be what you can never be.
Amen to that! Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We have to renew our expectations and our standards with the fact that- Only God is perfect. No other person or myself can be or do what we need God to do in our life. And the truth of this is... God has already done what we need. When he died on the cross, he offered us salvation. Grace that covered our shortcomings, our faults, our unrealistic expectations.
If we allow that truth to renew our mind, we will be set free of living a life measured by our expectations.
Angela challenges us with this...
Who needs to be let off the hook today? Your husband? A wayward child? You and your high expectations? Make a list of the names. Now make this declaration for each name you have written:
__________________________________________, you are off the hook. I kneel at the cross and lay down my unrealistic expectations about you. You are a human being who needs a Savior. Only God is perfect. I hereby release you from ever having to be my Savior, my fulfillment, and my joy. All that I need is Him. Jesus Christ is my Savior. I am humbled and I am greatful. (pg 104)
Man, making that list for me was mentally and emotionally exhausting. Not because I had to come up with names for the list, but because my list ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would be. Once I started thinking, I came up with quite a few people that I've held to a higher standard that I should have been. And the truth is, it's easy to recite that declaration. It's easy to say those words- It's the action behind those words that is hard.
For me, that's a declaration I will have to make a few times a day, every day, until my mind is renewed in the truth that only God is perfect and no other person on this planet, including myself, will live up to my perfect expectation. And what does that mean for my life?
It means this...
When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.- Luke 12:48b
We are given grace freely, which means that we need to extend grace in return. Obviously, God does not need our grace, but others do. If you've followed my blog for a time, you know that over the last 10 months, God has revealed more to me about His grace than ever before. And the more I realize how God's grace applies to my life, I realize that if I'm going to live Christlike, I have to live out grace to others.
Today, let's make a point to let others off the hook. Let's let ourselves off the hook. And let's let our minds be transformed. Only God is perfect. And because He's extended undeserved grace to us, we need to live a life of extended grace to others!
It's been a long time since I've blogged! It hasn't seemed like that long, but wow! We had a great week or so with my folks and a quick weekend getaway for me and the postman! We had a great time relaxing in Amish country in Northern Indiana!
It was so nice to have time away. We haven't taken a trip together alone since we've had kids (over 4 yrs). We've gone on trips with the youth groups we were working with, but that technically doesn't count. This was just us, with absolutely no agenda. And it was awesome. Hard to come home. So thankful for the work God has done in our marriage. A year ago, a trip like this would have been unheard of. Not because we couldn't, but because we wouldn't have wanted to! Now I'm ready to pack up and do it again this weekend!
And on another note, my big girl turned 4! It's honestly been the 4 fastest years of my life! And she finished her first year of preschool. Where does the time go!?
Emerson and her Dad at school for muffins!
So, last Friday marked the start of our summer vacation. This week was somewhat eaten up by the holiday and family still here. Our first free days was yesterday and we spent the day relaxing and, well, napping... Summer Break is hard! But with the beginning of summer comes a great opportunity to set some goals for the next few months! So, here are a few of the goals I've set for myself and our family for Summer break!
- Paint my bedroom furniture. I've been thinking about this for some time and I just need to pull the trigger on it. Our bedroom furniture is a hodge podge of wood colors and types, so I'm going all white. Nice and crisp and uniform. Adding the same hardware to everything will help too!
- Make better use of our family zoo passes. My parents got us zoo passes for the year as a part of the girls birthday gifts. Last year they did the same and we went about 5 times. I plan to go much more often this year.
- Organize and edit every room. I've been saying for a while that we don't have much to sell in a upcoming family garage sale, but I'm pretty sure if I was honest and adopted a little more of a simplistic view (especially in my kitchen) I'd be able to find plenty of stuff. So, over the next few weeks I'm planning on going through our entire house and getting rid of stuff I've held onto for way too long!
- Send out more greeting cards. Years ago when I was a teenager and in college, my friends and I sent each other lots of cards. I loved the feeling of getting something hand written in the mail. I don't do it enough now. I'm going to try and send out at least 2 cards a week this summer.
- Read 5 books. I LOVE to read. To the point that I have a hard time putting a book down and end up staying up most of the night to finish it type love. But, I have a harder time reading non fiction books. I know there are so many good ones out there (we own lots of them) so my plan is to read at least 3 non fiction books and 2 fiction books this summer.
- 2 TV free nights a week. This is more specifically for Aaron and I. It's easy for us to plop on the couch after a long day and tune out. But, now that it's warmer out, it would be so easy for us to plop down outside and spend time together actually conversing instead of staring at the tv.
- Memorize more scripture. I want to do 3 verses with my girls. One a month. And I want to memorize 12 new verses. I've slacked off over the last few weeks, so next week, I'm back at it!
So, that's my short list. I'm sure I'll come up with more. What are some of your goals for this summer?
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! I know we did. We celebrated with Aaron's family and then I shopped till I dropped! I planned to blog on Friday but never found the chance! Well, Thanksgiving is over and that means Christmas! And at our house, that means family visiting from out of town! Because of schedules, we're celebrating Christmas with my parents and sister and her family this weekend. I'm also excited because my parents have been storing our Christmas decorations and I've really been wanting to decorate. On Thursday, we will finally!
Because of family coming in, I only planned 3 meals for this week. It was a very easy plan. Emmy asked for one, Aaron asked for one and suggested the other. Thursday and through the weekend we'll plan with my mom when she gets here.
Monday- Spaghetti. Emmy's been asking and asking for it and I've been out of spaghetti noodles. So, tonight I finally got some. So finally Emmy will get her spaghetti.
Tuesday- Green Beans, Sausage, and Potatoes. This is one of Aaron's favorite meals. And I love it for 2 reasons (beside the fact that it tastes good!) #1- it's easy. It's cooked in the crock pot. And #2- it's quite possibly the easiest recipe I fix.
Wednesday- Sausage and cheese omlettes. We love breakfast for dinner and it's been a while since we've had it. Plus, for some reason I've got 3 dozen eggs in the fridge. So, omlettes it is.
Ok, so a little bit of a Holiday and Weekend Recap in pictures....
#1- Getting back into a bit of a routine. I'm working on a bible study with a friend and seriously folks, this is one of the best studies I've done so far. It's called No Other Gods
by Kelly Minter.
#2- I've been able to be in my happy place some this weekend. I've been working on some crafts and projects for the living room redo, and a few small things for the kitchen.
#3- Yesterday was the Hubs birthday. The girls insisted on having a tea party with him yesterday morning to celebrate!
Well folks, we're getting closer on the living room. The truth is that right now, our furniture is in layaway, and it probably will be for quite a while. So a big living room reveal will be a long way off, because our ugly furniture just won't do this room justice. So, I'll give sneak peaks here and there as we get things put together.
The toy storage/desk. The actual bookcase was made by my dad. Rugby striped bins- The Container Store, Mirror and picture frames- Target, Candle Holder- Goodwill.
I had these letters from my previous photo gallery wall and an open space above our pass through. I really like the way this turned out! And I didn't have to do anything except stick them up there!
I'll post a few more sneak peak pics as we get stuff done. Have a happy Monday!
Last week I didn't do a My Favorites Friday post. Things were kinda crazy (and still are) but I'm not as discombobulated this week. But, a lot of good stuff happened last week, so this is going to be a combined post from this week at last!
1. Campmeeting and NYI convetion! I love campmeeting. I grew up in Michigan and although our campmeeting is slightly different than here in Indy, I love getting together with fellow [Nazarene] Christians and worshiping. Plus, it's always such a good reminder of the Christian heritage we have. And, it's a great time to catch up with friends I haven't seen in a while! NYI Convention, which is basically a business meeting for the youth department on the Indy District, was great too. Although, I missed a lot of the meeting since I was selected to be on one of the ballot counting groups. Oh well. It was fun being with teens and youth pastors. We got to meet some youth pastors on the district and network some!
Camp Meeting at Camp Camby
2. My girls have discovered sleeping in! Well, if 8:30 is sleeping in. Anyways, they're getting like an hour and a half more sleep than normal for the last 2 weeks. And although this has made me rework napping, I still enjoy getting a little more sleep.
3. GAME NIGHT! I'm so pumped about tonight. Some friends are coming over to recieve the worst Monopoly deal booty whoopin they've ever recieved. Plus, we're going to have grilled chicken, brats, fried corn and some other awesomness to eat.
4. I've mentioned it before, but the devotional book, Jesus Calling has been such a blessing to me over the last week or so. It's a great book, but it seems like what's written has been written exactly to me from God. If you haven't checked it out, you should!
5. Toronto in 8 days! The lists and spreadsheets have been made! I haven't really started on anything yet since if I packed now, I'd just have to pull stuff out of suitcases. And my parents will be here on Thursday, so if I did a deep clean now, I'd just have to do it again before they get here. So, on Monday, the cleaning starts in earnest. Aaron's got Wed (the 4th) off. So, hopefully, I can get alot accomplished while he's home to entertain the girls. And with my parents coming in early I'll be able to pack sanely since they can entertain the girls while I pack.
On Friday's I'll be doing what I'm calling "My Favorites Friday". It's a short list of some of the good things that have happened this week or things that I am enjoying. So, here goes!
1. Emmy's 3rd birthday party was on Tuesday! I can't believe she's already 3. We had a great time with a few of her friends. We ate lunch, enjoyed cupcakes and opened gifts.
2. This one I didn't necessarily enjoy, but on Wednesday I started my training for the Color Me Rad 5k run that a friend and I are doing. I don't particularly enjoy running or feeling like I'm dying but I did enjoy the feeling of accomplisment that I felt after I finished the first day of training. Today will be day 2. I'm actually dreading it because I'm not feeling well at all and have been coughing up a lung the last 2 days.
3. Skype date with the best friend this afternoon. YES! We've been friends as long as I can remember. Seriously. I don't remember her not being around. The hard part of growing up... not being in the same place to enjoy typical friend activies. (Our favorites happen to be eating and shopping)
4. I picked up the devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young a few weeks ago. If you have a chance to go through this book, DO IT! It's awesome!
5. Rain! I'm so glad we've finally got rain. It just means my flowers will live to see a few more days.
Don't mind the sad looking droopyness of my poor flowers. At least they're alive!
Everyone enjoy your weekend!