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Genesis 45:4-5, 8
Genesis 50:20

"And he said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.
And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life…
So it was not you who sent me here, but God.’”

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

I want to see suffering the way Joseph did.
I want to remember the difficult times God has already redeemed,
and let it give me faith for current and future trials.
Because keeping God’s sovereignty in view is the difference
between bitterness and true, redemptive-minded forgiveness.
It’s the difference between being ‘”ruined” and being surrendered.
And the effect is a patient, God-ward hope in even the most horrific of circumstances. 
The effect is peace. 
It’s faith.  It’s love.  It’s kindness.
It’s provision for the so many things we didn’t even know we were lacking.
I’m so grateful that God can transform sin by us and against us,
and turn it into unforeseen mercies.
And if our current trials are not mercies yet,
we have the ultimate example in the Cross.
Out of so much sin came the greatest mercy of all.
It has changed everything, and it will change everything.

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I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!”
– Psalm 27:13-14

I have been a slacker at blogging lately.
I hope to get back at it soon.
Because life is sure to only slow down from here on out 😉

As far as baby news,
I had my 20-week ultrasound this past week,
and we are praising God for a healthy report!
An added bonus –  we’ll be adding another GIRL to the mix this summer!

Isobel Rose

And this girl has a name:
Isobel Rose.
Isobel means “God’s promise,” or “Pledged to God.”
Now, in the interest of full disclosure,
we didn’t look up the meaning of the name until AFTER we had picked it,
but once we did,
we really couldn’t believe how fitting it is.
Before I got pregnant with Isobel,
I had a very early-term miscarriage.
I only knew I was pregnant for a week,
but it was heartbreaking,
and I struggled with a lot of fear afterwards.
I still do at times.
During that time, I clung to the truth that
if God wills, He absolutely can.
”Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)
It’s a truth that God continues to teach me about Himself.
He is good in all that He does,
even if we don’t understand His ways.
And if God makes a promise, He will be faithful to fulfill it.
It is comforting for me to know that Isobel is first and foremost His.
She is a gift from God, and we pledge her to Him.

Now, she has a name…
but I am a little less certain she has a nose.
(though Mike assures me she does and that I am ridiculous)
I went back and looked at Julia’s pictures from 20 weeks,
and she also appeared to be lacking in nasal features,
but has quite a nice nose now…
so I am hopeful 😉

The day after we found out we were having a girl,
Julia and I went out on a mini shopping spree.
I am typically not big on the matchy-matchy sibling love,
but these dresses were too cute to not swipe two of them.

 julia & isobel

Half-way there!
We cannot wait to meet you, sweet Isobel Rose.

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“There is a fullness of atoning efficacy in His blood,
for ‘the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.’
There is a fullness of justifying righteousness in His life,
for ‘there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.’
…There is a fullness of blessings of every sort and shape;
a fullness of grace to pardon,
of grace to regenerate,
of grace to sanctify,
of grace to preserve,
and of grace to perfect.
…Oh, what a fullness must this be of which all receive!
…Come, believer, and get all thy need supplied;
ask largely, and thou shalt receive largely,
for this ‘fullness’ is inexhaustible,
and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it…”

Charles Spurgeon
Morning & Evening

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about my cranky lovey
Through much prayer and patience, we got through.
We always do, don’t we?  Even though it seems we never will 🙂
Because God is faithful.

And this week has been different from that week – a good different.
I’ve been enjoying my girlie in such a refreshing way.
I am sick (yes, again) and so my mom took Julia for a few days.
But starting yesterday, it was just me and her.
So I threw out the strict TV rules, and we set up camp on my bed.
I can’t tell you how good she has been!
We’ve spent the past two days watching Elmo and Mickey
(and perhaps a bit of Top Chef),
reading, and yes – even jumping on the bed.
(her, not me.)

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When we go downstairs so I can throw something in the crockpot,
or try to tame the disaster that is what I call “the sick house,”
she plays happily with her toys and “reads” her books.
She runs around pointing out letters on things,
ecstatic when she finds an “H.”
(it is her favorite)

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And as I watch her, I realize how very blessed we are to have her.
I read stories all the time of mommies losing their babies,
stories that break my heart.
Just yesterday I heard of parents who lost their second baby to a heart condition.  Absolutely heartbreaking.
It brings me to prayer like little else does.
I pray for their comfort,
because I can only imagine the anguish that must grip them.
I pray that in this world of trouble,
where trials come and little ones go to be with Jesus,
we would know that He has overcome this world of trouble.
And I pray out of gratitude.
Thankful that my little one is so healthy,
thankful for the light that she brings to our home,
thankful for the joy that God’s given to us in her.

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I went to put lunch away today and couldn’t find my chip clip.
Why?
Because ten little fingers had stolen it from the drawer
and stashed it only God knows where.
And I was filled with so much praise for those two little thieving hands.

So I’ll keep talking about the cranky toddler days,
because they can be challenging in a very real way.
But I want to remember that I am blessed;
blessed to simply have my baby,
whether cranky or joyful.
And I’ll keep on praying for all those mamas who have had to place their babies in Jesus’ arms.
For He is near to the brokenhearted;
He has promised to be.
And I think every mother can relate to that kind of sorrow.

So, that’s it really.
Just had to share how grateful I am for God’s blessing to me in this little girl.
Thank goodness the cranky days are not the only kind. 🙂

Happy Wednesday.

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Last week was a challenging week.
Yesterday was a challenging day.
And this Tuesday morning, I found myself fearful of another challenging week.
Julia was miserably sick all of last week, and just as she’s getting over it, I’m getting it.  Oh, and I just discovered she’s getting all 4 incisors to boot. 🙂

I have a cranky toddler.  The temptation is to then be a cranky mama.
I don’t want to be that for her.
I want to love her with patience and kindness,
to remember that she has been alive in this world a mere 18 months.
I want her to grow up knowing her boundaries,
but also knowing that her mama’s arms are always open to her.
As you can imagine, I need a lot of help with this.

I’m grateful to say that yesterday I felt a lot of grace to be patient with her. 
I went to bed feeling both victorious and exhausted.
And yet when I woke this morning, there was fear instead of faith.
Fear that yesterday’s grace was gone and nothing was left for today.
So, in case any of you are in a similar boat, here are some verses and book quotes that have really helped fill me with faith for cranky toddlers today 🙂

Lamentations 3:22-23
”The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

 

Rachel Jankovic (“Loving the Little Years”):
”Christian childrearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge…
…So, while your children are little, cultivate an attitude of sacrifice.
Sacrifice your peace for their fun,
your clean kitchen floor for their help cracking eggs,
your quiet moment for their long retelling of a dream that a friend of theirs allegedly had.
Prioritize your children far and away above the other work you need to get done.
They are the only part of your work that really matters.”

 

“You have to open your heart to the tumble.
As you deal with your children, deal with yourself always and first.”

 

“It is no abstract thing –
the state of your heart is the state of your home.”

 

Proverbs 11:25
”Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.”

 

I’m holding onto that last verse quite dearly this morning.
Praying for all you mamas out there that need that encouragement too.
Happy Tuesday. 🙂

“To be content as a result of some external thing is like warming a man’s clothes by the fire.  But to be content through an inward disposition of the soul is like the warmth that a man’s clothes have from the natural heat of his body.”

~ Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

 

Yep.  I’m going through this book again.
Why?
Because I still desperately need to learn the art of contentment 🙂

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much…”
”No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”

~ Luke 16:10a, 13

 

This is closely connected to the heart of contentment for me.
I always think that if I have more, life will be better.
I miss the fact that God tells me to be faithful with however little/much He has given me, and to not put my trust in earthly riches.
Contentment chooses God as a haven, not money.
Praying that God will teach me this 🙂

“I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.”
2 Corinthians 12:15a

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Lately I’ve been ending the day feeling exasperated.
Julia has entered that lovely new phase of “constant mobility,”
and while fun, it can be exhausting.
And I only have one child! 🙂

This verse really spoke to me this morning.
Paul was writing to the Corinthians
(who in my opinion seemed exasperating to say the least!)
and yet his heart was to serve.

I want my heart towards Julia to be one of pouring out,
giving of myself and my time.
And to do it gladly!
I was telling Michelle last night how frustrating it can be to get to the end of the day and not really know how the things on my to-do list are not done.
I must have been doing something all day, right?!
In fact, I know I did lots of things.
They’re just not always apparent right away.
She was reminding me that Julia is the most important thing on my to-do list.
And if nothing else gets done, not to stress.
For not being a mom yet, she has a lot of motherly wisdom 😉

This is my prayer today.
That I would love Julia,
and spend and be spent for her sake.
And love every moment that God has given me with her.
And if, at the end of the day, not much has gotten checked off my list,
that I would rest in what God says is important.
Little souls certainly are worth caring for. 🙂

“…God, even our own God, shall bless us.”
~ Psalm 67:6b

SONY DSC I read Spurgeon’s take on this verse in Morning & Evening today.
It was perfect timing for what God has been teaching me lately.
I couldn’t pull just a few quotes – it was all so good.

It is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings which God gives us, but it is stranger still how little use we make of God Himself. Though He is ‘our own God,’ we apply ourselves but little to Him, and ask but little of Him. How seldom do we ask counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business, without seeking His guidance!

In our troubles how constantly do we strive to bear our burdens ourselves, instead of casting them upon the Lord, that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, ‘I am thine, soul, come and make use of me as thou wilt; thou mayst freely come to my store, and the oftener the more welcome.’ It is our own fault if we make not free with the riches of our God.

Then, since thou hast such a friend, and He invites thee, draw from Him daily. Never want whilst thou hast a God to go to; never fear or faint whilst thou hast God to help thee; go to thy treasure and take whatever thou needest-there is all that thou canst want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee.

He can supply thee with all, or, better still, He can be to thee instead of all. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of Him in prayer. Go to Him often, because He is thy God. O, wilt thou fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to Him, tell Him all thy wants. Use Him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a ‘sun;’ if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a ‘shield,’ for He is a sun and shield to His people.

If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use Him as a ‘guide,’ for He will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest, and that He can do all thou wantest.”

 

Right after this I read Psalm 96:5 – “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord  made the heavens.”

Idols are not only golden statues of the Old Testament.
Idols are the things I daily elevate above God, yes – “even our own God.”
Idols are the things I run to instead of the God of the universe who has made Himself all things to me. 
Idols are the things I want more than the God who can actually grant those things.
And idols never present themselves to me as “worthless.”
They are always the things that capture my passions and my affections and then use them to bulldoze everything in their path.
They always present themselves as worthy above all else, yes – even God.
And they always fail.  They can do nothing else.
How grateful I am that God is enough! 
God is all things to those that seek Him!
It is my prayer today that Jesus would become all and all to me.  That He would teach me the “divine skill of making God all things to thee.” 
I want to be caught up in the only thing that truly is worthy, and leave these worthless things behind.

I love early mornings.
(if I can get up for them.)

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Coffee
+ The Word
+ Classical music
+ a warm blanket
+ light beginning to stream in the windows
+ birds chirping (really rather loudly) outside.
= quite a lovely time of day.

I’ve been using this Easter Week Devotional my church put out.
It has been so good. 
Today was my first day trying it, and it really spoke to me.
I was praying that the Lord would use this week before Easter in particular to remind me once again of the Gospel.
And wouldn’t you know right after praying that I found out about this? :) 
I love how God answers specific prayers. 
I don’t know if I’ll get through all of it before Easter, but the little I have read has truly fed my soul.  I highly recommend it.

I’m so excited because I just ordered these two books:

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

food revolution

Total Nutrition

total nutrition

 

Mike and I went on a trip to Philly over the weekend (it was DIVINE), and one of the places we kept finding ourselves at was Barnes & Noble.  We realized how much we enjoy just drinking coffee and reading…uninterrupted by a darling, cute, very active baby. 😉
These were two of the books I picked up, and I thoroughly enjoyed what I read.  I love Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – I think it’s a great project and exactly what our country needs.  Since my early teens, my mom has taught me a lot about whole foods and their many God-given benefits.  She’s battled an unknown auto-immune disease for years and has learned the importance of good diet and exercise – she’s the reason I even got interested in this stuff 🙂

I’ve had my own ups and downs with food over the years, both with overeating and undereating, and God has taught me so much about what it means to worship HIM and not food.  It’s been a battle for sure, but I am glad to say that the Lord has been my help and delivered me from so much.  All the glory goes to Him.  Not me, not my willpower, not a specific “plan.”  No.  HIM.

That being said, I do think nutrition is important and plays a key role in treating our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), ready and able (as far as it depends on us) to be used by God for His glory.  This is something I’m still learning and trying to apply: that I was bought with a price and am called to honor God with my body (and what I put in it.)

I think the most fascinating thing to me is how much nutrition makes sense.  When I see all the benefits that whole, unprocessed foods have for the body in overall well-being and also in preventing disease, I’m amazed at the wisdom of God!!  He truly has provided for all our needs in the vitamins and nutrients found in the food He gave us!  I also think our culture’s desire to do as much as possible in the least amount of time (one of the results being highly processed foods) has a cost, and it’s a hefty one.  I don’t believe it was meant to be like this.

I don’t have a nutrition degree. (I’ve taken a grand total of ONE nutrition course 😉 ) 
I am not an expert by any means.
I still eat way more sugar and junk food than I should 😉
AND, I do think there is a place for yummy, “unhealthy” food, in moderation!
But I feel a call to feed myself and my family well.  
It is my hope and prayer that I can learn how to eat/cook in a healthy/humble/grateful way.

In addition to these books, the website Words of Wisdom Living has been such a great resource to me!!  If you don’t have time to read an entire book, I highly recommend the blog since it’s much easier to read posts which are much more condensed but just as informative.  I also like Jamie’s challenge – just learn one recipe from each chapter of his book, and then pass it on to someone else!  The more we learn how to cook better, the more we’ll eat better, feel better, and hopefully be able to fulfill our callings better!  It is my prayer that God will give me (and all of us) grace to honor Him in not just what I eat, but in all that I do!

Collective Reminiscings

The Smittys

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