The Life of Surrender

He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30

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Is There Evidence of Jesus in My Life?

Peter and I have been asking that question a lot recently.  I posted this to Instagram last week:

Recently I have been asking the question, “Is there evidence of Jesus in my life?” The answer can be a bit scary, but we always have room to grow. Right now, I can pursue Christ by repenting of my sin, asking him to help me see the people in my life who need love and helping them, serving my husband and children rather than the other way around, letting go of distractions and things that block my relationship with Christ, reacting thoughtfully and apologizing when I don’t, and waking up with a mindset on others rather than on myself. God changes the world through small acts one person at a time.

This question has been asked in response to reading the book Radical by David Platt.  The book discusses taking back our faith from the American Dream.  He talks a lot about how our wealth and comforts in America can block us from Jesus.  The book also discusses that 4.5 billion people in the world don’t believe in Jesus.  By this standard we should be really busy trying to make disciples of all the nations as Jesus instructs us in the great commission.  Many times, we are not very busy making disciples because we don’t have an urgency because we are comfortable just living our lives.

Peter and I have been guilty of this and we also went/are going through a “crisis of faith” as David Platt describes in his book. We are not sure what this looks like for us.  We do know that we need to be wiser about what we spend our money on and we need to do a far better job of spreading the gospel.

There was an analogy in the book that I keep thinking about.  The SS United States was a troop carrier designed to carry fifteen thousand troops during times of war.  The SS United States ended up mainly being a cruise liner that carried 2,000 passengers. This is supposed to represent our lives.  As Jesus followers, we are supposed to be on mission.  We are supposed to carry 15,000 troops rather than 2,000.  It is way more comfortable to be on the luxury liner than the troop carrier, but our mission here on earth is not comfort.  Our mission here is to tell the 4.5 billion people that don’t believe in Jesus (and are inevitably going to hell) about Jesus and his saving grace.

Phew, this has caused some difficulty for us in the way that we think about our lives.  Our main goals now revolve around how we can be on mission, like the troop carrier.  How can we live our lives for Jesus rather than getting lost in our own comforts?  I think the answer is different for everyone, but it is our prayer that all of you would wrestle with this question just like we are right now.

Peter wrote a song about following Christ using the verses that David Platt used in his book (Luke 9).  The song is called Follow Me.  I love that Peter does his processing through song.  It is so insightful and then we get to listen to it over and over again.

I am thankful that I have a partner in life that is willing to wrestle with these questions.  We would recommend reading this book, but at the very least we hope that you will be praying that Jesus would lead you to those he wants you to tell about him.

Episode 17: Allowing Our Children to Struggle

Allowing our children to struggle can be one of the hardest things that we will walk through as parents.  Unfortunately, our children will not learn self-control, perseverance, character, and hope if we swoop in and fix their mistakes and bad choices.  This podcast will discuss how we can lovingly allow our children to make mistakes and provide empathy and encouragement when they do.  Also, we focus mainly on how Jesus can use their mistakes to grow a closer relationship with him.  A close relationship with Christ is what our main goal should be for our children.

Show Notes

Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com

Blog Posts

Books

  • Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline, MD and Jim Fay
  • Loving our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk

Bible Verses

  • James 1:2-4
  • Romans 5:3-4
  • John 16:33
  • Matthew 28:19-20

Episode 16: Humility and Accepting God’s Correction

Pride is one of the first sins that entered the world. In this podcast, we will be talking about humility and how it makes us wise.  We are free from guilt and condemnation when we give our sins to God and obey his commands.

Show Notes

Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com

Blog Posts

Bible Verses

  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13
  • Two kinds of wisdom from James 3
  • God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  (1 Peter 5 and James 4)

One Word for 2017: Discipleship

We spent the year of 2016 surrendering over our circumstances and our lives to God.  I know that this practice is going to continue into 2017 because it is essential to the Christian faith.  I almost thought about doing it again in 2017 but I felt like God was putting another word on my heart.

Here are a few things I feel like I learned this year:

  • Being quick to apologize and not hold on to anger
  • Giving my fears and worries to God instead of trying to control my own situation.
  • Finding comfort in God instead of trying to control my situation.
  • Experiencing God better because I was removing my way and making way for his way!  I feel like when I remove those barriers that I put up, God shows up in a big way.

I am not by any means perfect in any of those areas that I listed above.  I still let my fears take over once in awhile and I will often be slow to forgive, but I do feel like God is placing different reactions in me and those times are becoming less and less.  I feel like I can turn to him more instead of relying on myself.

This fall I started thinking and praying about what word would change my lifestyle and mindset as much as the word surrender.  I didn’t think that it was possible to top.  I do feel like God did it, though.  I had an internal change in 2016 and I feel like in 2017, God is calling me to have an external change.  I feel like he wants me to be his disciple and disciple others.

This word, like surrender, makes me uncomfortable because discipling people means that I will have to give up my own comfort.  I like to keep to myself and not have to engage people.  Jesus often gave up his own comfort to be with those who needed him.  I think being in the people business can be a hard place to be.  I find myself constantly worrying about offending people, or if they are comfortable or not.  Jesus didn’t call us to make ourselves comfortable, he called us to go and make disciples of all nations.  (Matthew 28:16-20)

It has also been out of my comfort zone to talk about Jesus in my everyday conversations.  I think that if he is King in my life, he would be a part of my regular conversations.  Anything that we are interested in or care about comes up in our daily talks with others.  Jesus needs to be center in our lives and should come up in conversation with others.

I still don’t know what this discipleship will look like in our lives for 2017.  I do know that God has a plan for us and that we are willing to follow.  It should be a great year!

 

Episode 15: Living With Purpose in 2017

The new year is here.  Is this year just going to happen to us or are we going to choose to live with purpose?  Regardless of our plans, we need to keep in mind that God’s ways are higher than our ways and his plans are what we should be willing to submit to.  This podcast will examine ways that we can be intentional with our time this year.

Show Notes

Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com

Books

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

Life Strategies by Dr. Phil McGraw

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

 

Blog Posts

2017 Dream Guide by Jennie Allen

When You Want More Than Resolutions …When You Want SOULutions on  A Holy Experience

Movies Referenced

Greater

To Joey, With Love

Remain in Me

Well, we have officially been on break from school for one week.  We have run the gamut of emotions: joy, happiness, frustration, crabbiness, and boredom.  I get so excited for these breaks from school and all the time with family.  I often forget that extra time with family doesn’t always look how I pictured it in my head.  The past few days it seems like we have been living in time out.  There is rude talk, fighting, and whining, and Peter and I have had to remind ourselves and each other that our family and home is our children’s practice field.  They are not going to be perfect and behave perfectly all the time and it is our job to teach them what we expect of them.  The process can be difficult and not look at all how I pictured our Christmas break to go.

The above picture is how our village looked after Christmas this year.  Luckily, I have a talented husband that glued them all back together again!  I feel like my soul sometimes looks like it’s been through the runner after Christmas as well.  I think my attitude often needs adjusting and I need grace from God so that I can give it back to my children.  I think I get very focused on my children’s behavior and how they are frustrating me and I often forget to think about why they might be acting that way.

I was driving my son to grab some pizza on the day after Christmas and he talked my ear off the whole way there and the whole way back.  I realized in that moment that even though we are all home together, I am not putting in intentional time together with each child.  With our 1 year old it is easy because she follows me around and begs for my attention all day long.  I think I often let Peter interact with the older two because I get so busy with Nora.  Our oldest daughter has been whining and talking unkind and it all came to a stop today when I got down on the floor with her and wrestled and tickled her.  I didn’t hear anymore rude talk the rest of the night.  She just wanted her mom’s attention.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  John 15:4

We also need to be intentional with God.  Jesus tells us to remain in him.  When we are focused on him, our earthly problems seem to disappear.  Just like Emily stopped talking unkindly when she got some attention, we also have better attitudes when we remain in God and get his attention lavished on us.  He is not withholding his attention, we are running away from it.

Remaining in God is the best way to get our broken pieces glued back together.  That is my wish for everyone this Christmas season.  Let’s lean into God and let him make us feel whole.

Episode 14: Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

In Charlie Brown Christmas, he was feeling sad because despite all the parties, presents, and pink aluminum Christmas trees; He felt empty because he didn’t realize the true meaning of Christmas.  We can get pretty run down in a season when we should be focusing on Christ and his giant gift to us.  When we take Christ out of Christmas, we can feel burdened and bogged down with the weight of the world.  This podcast will discuss how we can keep Jesus as the Reason for the Season and how it is so freeing when we do that! 

Show Notes

Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com

Books

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

Blog Posts

What to do About Santa on Gospel Centered Mom

Five Reasons We Don’t Do Santa on New Orleans Mom’s Blog

The Christmas Conundrum  by Jen Hatmaker

5 Ways Advent Can Transform Your Marriage on Fierce Marriage

Promise of a Savior on Love God Greatly

It Meant Leaving Heaven  on Love God Greatly

He Came to Redeem the Lost on Love God Greatly

Ann Voskamp’s Advent Videos

Bible Verses

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  Philippians 2:6-8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules. Colossians 2:20

Peace When Loved Ones Are Hurting

Today marks the second week of Advent.  Even in this Advent season, people are feeling hurt, broken, afraid, sad, and unsatisfied with their lives.  This world can be a very difficult place to be.  I think we have all felt like we have wanted our wounds mended, our souls healed, and to live in happiness.  We also want these things for our loved ones.  I absolutely hate to see my loved ones suffer for any reason.  I hate to see them get their feelings hurt or feel unappreciated.  I hate to see them feel any pain.  I hate to see them feel even the slightest discomfort.  I ran home last week to get my daughter’s sweatshirt because I hated the thought of her sitting in her classroom uncomfortable and cold.

peacewhenlovedonesarehurting2

What I am realizing is that God will allow our loved ones to walk through hard things.  Our loved ones will not have a perfect life, just like we will not have a perfect life.  It is in the struggles where we grow and learn to trust God in everything.  When I try to step in and “save” my loved ones from walking through a hard thing, I am stepping out of God’s plan and trying to form my own plan.  My loved ones don’t need me to rescue them from their struggles, they need to know that I am praying for them and asking God to draw them nearer to Him.

A few years ago, a family we knew was going through a big heartache and struggle.  I told my mom that I just couldn’t get them out of my mind.  It was so hard to fathom what they were going through.  My mom wisely told me that the reason I couldn’t get them out of my mind was because God wanted me to lift them up to Him.  Every time I thought of that family I should pray as hard as I could.  That conversation has been in my mind quite a bit these last few years.  My biggest defense against the struggles of my loved ones is to turn those people over to my Heavenly Father.

This world is full of hurting people.  It can be very discouraging to feel like we can’t be there to help everyone.  The idea that I can lift all of those people that enter my mind over to God gives me peace.  I have really been enjoying Ann Voskamp’s Advent videos.  The second week of Advent represents peace.  Peace can sometimes be very elusive.  We see all the headlines around us and it is hard to be peaceful when this world feels so broken.  Ultimately, our only peace is resting in God through prayer.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.  Philippians 4:7

This holiday season I want to have peace by putting my cares where they belong, with God.

Dear Lord,

   Please be with all of our loved ones this holiday season.  Help them to feel your peace and bring them closer to you.  Help them to feel your presence in their lives and help them to walk in your ways.  Most of all, Lord, help them to feel your love for them, your perfect love.

We love you,

Amen

Immanuel

We have begun our Advent season and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been lacking some zeal.  Today was our first day back at school after Thanksgiving and it is always hard to go back to work after a long holiday weekend.  The atmosphere in my soul felt very heavy last night.  I was talking to Peter about it and I think we concluded that I am clinging to the wrong things in this world.  In general, I want my life to be nice and easy.  The reality is that my life can’t be what I want it to be because we live in a sinful world.  When I feel burdened, it is because I am relying way too much on my circumstances to make me happy.

I think it is hard to go back to work after a break because my circumstances feel good during break.  I love to get to spend all that extra time with my family and be able to relax.  I love to not have to answer to the clock and have more freedom to do the things I want to do.  These holidays and breaks are a beautiful thing and I think they help us replenish.  We are not meant to live in “holiday mode” our whole lives.  I have been thinking of it like church.  Church is a gathering place for one day a week to go and get filled back up after a long week of following Christ.  I need to put in the hard work to get to the payoff (or enjoy my payoff fully).

Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christ is wanting me to go out and do his will for my life.  Fortunately, I live in the time of the Holy Spirit and I am able to feel his presence right within my soul.  God’s people were so looking forward to Christ coming to be with them.

immanuel

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means, “God with us.”       Matthew 1:23

We live in a time where we can read all about our Immanuel or our “God with us” in the gospels.  We also have the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us through our days.

I was watching  Ann Voskamp’s first week of Advent video and it is all about hope.  The sermon made sure to emphasize that it is not just remembering that God’s people were waiting for Jesus to come the first time, but we are also waiting for his second coming.  It is a time of preparation for us to be ready for Jesus’s second arrival.  At that time we will get to spend eternity with Him and be done with all the pain and disappointment here on Earth.

Peter and I have been reading in Matthew and chapters 24 and 25 are all about being ready for Christ’s second coming.  These have not been my favorite chapters to read, but they are very important!  The wording always seems a little menacing to me, but I think it is because he wants us to know that we need to be prepared for him.  It is so easy to get swept up in this world’s distractions and not be prepared for our King!

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.   Matthew 24:42-44

I can feel that I am not fully prepared for his arrival when I am relying heavily on my emotions about the circumstances that surround me. This week I will be focusing on hope for my future in Heaven.  I want to remember that Advent is not just a remembrance of Immanuel coming the first time, but also preparing ourselves for his final arrival.  The hope of Heaven and eternal life with God is the greatest hope of all.

Episode 13: Engaging Our Children Wholeheartedly

ep13this-one

Anyone who has kids will be able to tell you how quickly time passes. It seems each year and each child we have time spins faster and faster.  Our oldest daughter’s five years have flashed before our eyes in a blink.  When we think about this time passing so quickly, we also want to think about how we are using that time.  Are we using it to engage our children in loving ways and teach them about their Creator, or are we letting those precious hours and minutes slip by.  This podcast will discuss how we can be engaged with our children while we still have them.

Show Notes

Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com

Books

Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic

Fit to Burst by Rachel Jankovic

Blog Posts

Why Every Parent Should Know the Magic 5:1 Ratio  by Kelly on The (Reformed) Idealist Mom

Taking Off The Ticking Clock by Rachel on Hands Free Mama

Connecting Our Kids with God’s Truth by Courtney DeFeo on LysaTerkeurst.com

Adding Structure to the Chaos: Living Intentionally with your Littles  by Emily Jensen on Emily Jensen Writes

Finding My Inner Slow Parent by Kristin P. on Twin Cities Mom’s Blog

The Intentional Jar: Making the Most Out of Time by Ali on Austin City Mom’s Blog

Dear Moms of Littles, This Might Be the Most Important Thing You Do Right Now by Kristen Welch on We Are That Family

An Intentionally Long Bedtime on The Orange Rhino

“Mommy Will You Play With Me?” by Amanda on Dirt and Boogers

Bible Verses

Be very careful, then, how you live –not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15-17

Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.  Psalm 39:4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.  Philippians 2:3

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