Big Faith. Small Life.

Big Faith. Small Life.

"Do you have a big enough faith to lead a small life?"

I don't remember where I first heard someone say this, or if it was their original thought or something they snagged from another author or speaker. But it caused me to stop immediately and really ponder...

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Truth + Lies

Truth + Lies

Icebreakers. Oh what a pendulum from fun and interactive to mostly awkward and painful. The game "Two Truths + a Lie" swings to the latter side for me. I am just not a fan. In spite of my heavy dislike for the game, there's the common underlying theme of trying to determine what is true.

In life, it can be easy to decide what's true based on our feelings that day, circumstances surrounding us, or simply just what we want to be true. But that doesn't actually change the truth.

In my relationship with God...

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Meltdowns + iPads

Clarion River. A beautiful, low-populated haven in Pennsylvania. My hubs’ family owns a little home on this river and we retreat here as often as our schedule allows. 

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Over Labor Day weekend we ventured over for one last stay before moving overseas. It’s one of my favorite places to spend time with Jesus--reading the Bible, journaling, praying and simply relaxing, free from the distractions of every day life. I couldn’t wait to sit on the spacious wooden deck, overlooking the river lined with morning fog, sip a hot cup of coffee, and curl up on the chair to read. 

As we were driving I was painting this vivid picture in mind, and all the sudden my heart sunk. I forgot (what felt like) the essential tools: my Bible and journal. I had a dramatic meltdown brief moment of disappointment until my husband brought me back to reality, reminding me that those things aren’t the only way I could spend time with God.

Silly me. I had limited the Creator of the universe to my way of doing things. While the Bible is a critical part of our relationship with Jesus, it’s not the only way to encounter Him.

It was a humbling experience for me, being reminded that our God can be experienced daily, from the simplest of things to the most extravagant. Not surprisingly, I had one of the best mornings with God I’ve had in long time. I pulled out my iPad and a legal note pad--it made for a wonderful study of the Bible.

His timing is always perfect. As we’ve just moved to Slovenia, I know my typical ways of worshipping God and spending time with him will likely be different. It stretches me to encounter Jesus in new ways and be enriched by His presence wherever I way be. 

Don’t limit the One who knows no limits. Seek new ways to experience Him. Let God surprise you with what He can do and remind you that He is everywhere. All of the time. 

What are ways you enjoy worshipping?  (If this idea is new to you or you’d like to know more about having a personal relationship with Jesus, I’d love to talk with you!)

A Step Forward

Well today’s the day.

The day I take a step out of my comfort zone, a step of faith, to be obedient to what the Lord has asked me to do. Tonight my hubs and I are giving the main talk at our weekly gathering for Cru at Ohio University

As I’ve said before, I struggle with feeling the need to perform. It comes through in my feeling inadequate, constantly comparing myself to others and at times times not taking opportunities because I fear what people will think of me.

But I’m so tired of living my life that way. Insecure. Fearful. Doubting that God could use me in a special way. So when the chance came for me to speak alongside my husband, I knew it was the time to drive a stake in the ground, making this a turning point in my life; of resting in who I am because of Jesus, not the opinions of my peers and coworkers.

It’s not so much the public speaking that makes me anxious, but the wondering of what people will think of how I did that gives me butterflies. That, and the anticipation of just wanting to get up there and do it already!

So I as I go through this afternoon, I ask for your prayers--that I’d remain at peace, staying focused on my reason for doing this (Jesus), clinging to to Galatians 1:10 [that I wouldn’t try to please man, but God], and excited about talking to students about being sent. My hubs is a natural at this but pray for him as well--that every word that comes out of our mouths would be from the Holy Spirit, not our own strength.

If you’re in Athens, come out to Morton 201 tonight at 9pm to hear us. I’ll post a link to the talk once it’s up for any of you that would like to hear it. Thank you again for your prayers and encouragement. What a blessing your feedback from this blog has been to me!

It Doesn't Matter

June 17th marks one year since I married the love of my life! It’s crazy to me how the time seems to accelerate with each passing day. Our wedding day overflowed with beauty as has our (almost) 10 months of marriage. Recently, my sweet friend Rachel (soon to be Schultz) Crouch posted about herwedding planning experiencethus far. Her perspective and honesty were a tall glass of ice water in this wedding-saturated culture.

Everyone hypes up your “big day” like it should be the most perfect, lavish, over-the-top day of your entire life. You should feel more beautiful than you ever have, spend whatever necessary to fulfill your dream wedding, and then live happily ever after.

During our wedding planning, I highly under-estimated the amount of time I would spend over-analyzing every little detail after the day had passed. It amazes and frustrates me how this consumes my thoughts on occasion. As a perfectionist and someone that struggles with feeling inadequate, I guess I should’ve anticipated this.

But no matter what decorations I wish I could change, which details didn’t come to fruition as hoped, what I’d like to do differently... it absolutely doesn’t matter. These thoughts reveal the definition of the devil yearning to distract me with utterly insignificant matters.

Because the only thing of fundamental importance is Jesus. His plan, given by the Father, went off without a hitch. From before his birth until the day that he ascended into heaven, every minute of his life was ordained by God, the Perfect Planner.

We were doomed, separated for eternity from God because of ours sins. We were enslaved to the law, incapable of fulfilling it on our own. We were like sheep without a shepherd, wandering and lost.

Then He sent His precious Son, Jesus Christ.

Alienated from perfect fellowship with His Father to be nailed to a cross, forever satisfying the wrath of God. He came to loose the chains of sin and death, perfectly fulfilling the law. He came as our shepherd, laying down his life for the sheep (us); giving eternal life, promising that no one will snatch us out of his hand.

And boom. Paradigm shift complete. It’s not about what menial things I wish I could change (mostly to make others think more highly of me). Eternity is what’s at stake, and I waste my time caught up in trivial affairs.

Think about the cross. About the shed blood and empty tomb, and allow it to give you eternal perspective. As we celebrate this day, remember it’s not about the bunnies, big family dinners, egg hunts or even just the tradition of going to church. It’s about an innocent Man, taking on our sin and setting us free from bondage to live the real happily ever after in heaven.

Rose-tinted Glasses

The Israelites fascinate me [which I’m sure you’re catching on to as this is my second post about them]. Read through Exodus and I bet you’ll find their history intriguing as well. Often I’m frustrated by their lack of faith or disobedience to God. While in Panama City Beach last week for Cru’s Big Break, I was reminded of how similarly I resemble the very behavior that frustrates me in the Israelites.

Before I was living my life for Jesus, I was a very different person. Most people who meet me now have a hard time imaging who I was before: drinker, pothead and flirt. [You can listen to my story here]

Being back in the drinking + party scene usually isn’t hard for me. I’m not tempted to take part in the festivities and the burning urge to do a keg stand no longer wells up inside. But there are moments when I think back on those memories and see them through rose-tinted glasses. Like the Israelites, my memory only surfaces the (illusion of) good times.

All I remember is the feeling of being the life of the party, uninhibited, laughing for hours on end, getting all dressed up, doing whatever I wanted in the moment.

How quickly and easily I forget. I forget the many nights spent over the toilet, dreadful hangovers the next morning, foggy memories of what happened or bruises that jogged my memory, unstoppable tears that would come from feeling so empty, longing to feel a lasting satisfaction, the heartbreak of another relationship/fling ending. I remember times of crying out to God, asking Him to help me get out of the life I was living, to free me from the bondage I’d allowed to ensnare me.

It took four years of this lifestyle for me to reach burnout. By the end of it, I was desperate for something real, that wouldn’t let me down or disappoint me. And that’s when I found my way back into the arms of Jesus, who forgave every sin and mistake I’d made and washed me white as snow.

I’d like to say it’s been smooth sailing since I made that decision nearly four years ago, but I’ve messed up a great deal since then. The beauty of Jesus? When he died on the cross he forgave all my sins--past, present and future. I don’t have to hold on to the guilt and shame that tries to plague me from the past any longer.

Now, this isn't to judge those who have or are currently living this way. My heart now longs to reach out to them, to give them the assurance that there is more, and that it’s far greater than anything they’re in now. I’ve talked with many who don’t feel that emptiness (yet) and I completely understand. I still love them just as they are. And more importantly God does.

God loves us too much to leave us in our sin, settling for less than His best. Jesus promises that He is the Living Water, and if we drink from this water we “will never be thirsty again.”

When you’re ready, He’s there, waiting to embrace you. In the meantime, watch this video that depicts the spiritual battle we’re in.

Lord, help me never look back on those days apart from you with fond memories, but rather to recall the emptiness that comes in being away from You. As I reflect on the Israelites, help me to remember the reality of my past so as not to turn back. I know in an instant I could be back in my old patterns of sin if I don’t cling to You. May I see my sin through your eyes, longing to flee temptation when it comes. Thank you for forgiving my sinfulness, changing my desires and restoring my relationship with You. Father, I love you and long to serve you with my life. I now cling to the Living Water, and You guarantee I will thirst no more. 

It Has Nothing to do With Us

Interviews. A process most, if not all of us, have gone through or will go through at some point in our lives. What exactly does an interview entail? Talking about your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, experiences, and qualifications. In essence, making yourself look good. Or, more accurately, trying to make yourself look better than the competition.

Most people, myself included, get worked up before an interview--polishing their resume, cover letter and rehearsing answers to potential questions. If you really want this job, then you'd better work your tail off to get it, we’re told. In the end, someone is hired and you're praying you've polished yourself up enough to shine brighter than the other candidates.

It's all about you. It's all relying on you. 

Want a huge, stress-relieving, freeing bit of info? God has a whole different system, and it's way greater than what anyone else has to offer.

There's no boasting in anything we've done. Why? Because we have nothing to boast about. All I've done is earn eternal separation from God because of my sin. But in His infinite love and grace, He sent His son Jesus Christ to take my place on the cross; freeing me from a burden I would never be able to bare.

Paul (one of the greatest men of God and author of about half of the New Testament) understood his life’s accomplishments in comparison with Jesus.

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ...” [Philippians 3:7-8]

Some translations say he counted them as “garbage or dung”. Yes, as crap.

My hubby gave an amazing talk at Cru’s weekly meeting on Idolatry + The American Dream. He summed up Paul’s words in Philippians with this:

“I don’t care what achievements are on my resume. Without Jesus, my resume says, ‘Condemned’. With Jesus, rip it up because he doesn’t care about my achievements before him or without him. It’s all garbage. Give me heavenly treasures and forget the rest. I want to go where no one knows Christ and make him known there.”

Thankfully, it has nothing to do with us, aside from our decision to make Jesus our Savior. Our standard for comparison isn’t the people around us--regardless of how high or low we esteem them. God is holy and perfect, and every single one of us falls short of his glory.

I'll close with my favorite part of the song Who Am I, by Casting Crowns:

Not because of who I am, but because of what You've done. Not because of what I've done, but because of who You are.