Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

What Bible Time with Little Ones is Really Like (and encouragement for not giving up)

What Bible Time with Little Ones is Really Like (and encouragement for not giving up)

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

The Expectation of Bible Time

Before my oldest was born I had hundreds of ideas for how to spend Bible time with my children. Of course, my little ones would sit sweetly with anxious hearts for stories, songs, and activities. As a children’s ministry major, I’d even studied Bible class teaching in college. I couldn’t wait to do with my own children what I’d been reading about for years and years!

I can’t help but laugh as I think about my previous expectations. I’d spent plenty of time with of other children in Bible classes so it should have come as no surprise that my daughter would have a wonderful mind of her own! It did not take long for me to realize that Bible time at home needs to be casual and flexible!

The Reality of Bible Time

During Bible time with little ones you can expect wiggles, interruptions, and even resistance. It will feel like they are not listening. They might not sing along with you, or they might want to read a different Bible story than the one you picked out. It’s possible they might not understand the point you are making. Or  they might not want to do Bible time at all.

With all of this you might get frustrated and wonder if it’s even worth it. You might assume your kids are just too young and think about putting it off for the future. Oh, sweet momma, this is all so normal! Your kids are probably retaining more information than you think. I encourage you to keep it up because not only will you eventually see fruit from your effort, you are instilling a very important habit in their lives.

Establishing the Habit of Bible Time

Our kids, even at the earliest stages, have little hearts that need to be ministered to. I fully believe that, and I’m sure you do too! Let’s take a look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The ways of the Lord are to be a part of our everyday life. We fill our time in so many ways: play dates, zoo trips, errands, ballet, sports, school, work, chores. But it is vitally important for our children to grow up with a developed habit of daily praising God, praying to him, and reading his word.

Trying to organize Bible time often overwhelms me. I want everything planned out, and I want to know where we are headed in our studies and have set out goals. I’ve come to realize that my methods for Bible time with my daughter are not nearly as important as the habit of doing it daily. The best Bible program you can do with your kids is one that you will actually do. What that will be for you family, I can’t tell you. I’ve learned not to get bogged down with a system.

Incorporating Bible Time into Everyday Life

We must also remember that this task of impressing God’s way on our children is not something we do ten minutes a day during our Bible time. This mission is to be intertwined into our lifestyle. We must intentionally make God a topic of conversation as we sit at the table with our children, as we are helping them change their behavior and work through their feelings, as we drive in the car, when we find down time at home, and when we go to bed. We must also be a living example for our children, doing all we can to live the way God calls us to live.

Are you embracing the task of raising your children to be part of God’s kingdom? It is surely the most important job we have as parents. Don’t be discouraged if Bible time with your little ones isn’t going the way you envisioned. Keep reading God’s word. Continue singing those sweet songs. Keep talking with them. Lastly, don’t forget to keep praying with them, and for them.

How do you engage your little one in God’s word? 

 

When You’re in the Trenches

When You’re in the Trenches

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

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When you’re in the trenches, it’s hard to see your way out. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, because you’re not even sure there is a tunnel. It’s hard to keep slogging through and exhausting to keep your chin up. You feel as if you are covered in slime, in mud, in disappointment and despair.

Perhaps you might have lost hope or energy. You might understand in your mind that this is “worth” it, but your heart is weary and burdened.

When you’re in the trenches, you can’t see your progress or the character built. You can’t see the shape of your heart or the influence of your efforts.

What if:

  • Your heart turns out to be right?
  • You are in it alone?
  • After all this work, you don’t reach your goal?
  • Despite the prayers and the tears, you come out empty-hearted and empty-handed?

Reach out your hand, and grasp onto the Father’s hand. Grip it with determination and desperation. Cling to it with the last strength you have.

Realize that, despite what you see, what you feel, what you are suffering, you are only seeing a tiny part. Yours is a small corner and one that you see with a skewed view. Just because YOU cannot see, does not mean that there is nothing to be seen.

Sometimes–no, many times–trust must come before character is strengthened. Faith must come before reason and experience can explain “why.”

Take heart. Take courage. Take perspective.

Think of Elijah. After drought and hunger, persecution and hatred, he comes before God’s presence. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah cries out to God: “And I, even I only, am left and they seek my life to take it away.”

Then God reveals the bigger picture:

He would anoint a new king and put to death those who deserved it and the last words are the ones that must have stunned him.

“Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

You see, from Elijah’s perspective, in the trenches, he thought he was alone. And yet, there were 7,000 others standing with him.

I pray that God helps you to see over those trenches, to see over the horizon, to see that even if you feel you, like Elijah, are left alone–that you can see a bigger part of God’s plan. That just as God helped Elijah, He can help you too. You are not alone.

Will You Take the One Word Challenge This Year?

Will You Take the One Word Challenge This Year?

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Have you heard of the “One Word Challenge?” It’s not really a challenge so much as a focus. You choose one word to be your focus for the year. As a Christian, this word is so special when it comes after much prayer and with a focus on spiritual things.

“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. ~ Colossians 3:2

colossians-3_2

This is my fifth year to do this challenge. Each year, God has revealed the perfect word for me.

There are many ways to approach your word for the year. You can use your word to inspire different goals. You could do a word study through the Bible on your word, or even find different books and podcasts for more inspiration. Over these last few years I’ve discovered my favorite approach:

Give God the ropes. 

Once I determine my word I like to let God take it from there. It is amazing how he orchestrates my situations so that I can learn more. For example, one year my word was grace. Our ladies’ bible class topic turned out to be on the book of James, which is laced in a message of grace. I spent my summer doing a personal study on James, and then we moved to a different church. Guess what their ladies’ bible class was studying? You guessed it–James. It was as if God knew how badly I needed the message.

The year I chose joy for my word still gives me chills. It was that August we discovered my husband had testicular cancer. We had several months of surgery, recovery, and many tests. I’d been praying about joy all year though. When I was anxious I would listen to songs like Chris Tomlin’s “Whom Shall I Fear,” and I found joy–true joy. Thankfully the surgery removed the cancer, and my husband has remained cancer-free! But experiencing joy amidst scary and unknown circumstances is tough, and I’m so thankful for the way God helped me grow that year.

This past year has been the most exciting! Out of pure faith, I chose the word hope. Believe me, I did not want this word. For some reason, the Lord put it on my heart. God showed me much about hope, but the greatest excitement was finding out just days before Christmas that I was pregnant after dealing with minor infertility issues for most of the year. God is good, and year after year God has shown me his faithfulness through my word challenges.

I enjoy giving God control and seeing where he’ll take me, but I do seek out inspiration along the way as well. Apart from prayer here are some other ways I’ve focused on my one word:

  • At the beginning of the year I look for a few key verses to meditate on which relate to my word.
  • Find a special way to keep the word nearby. This past year, I found a tea bag rest that had my word–hope–on it. Seeing that nearly every day was a gentle reminder.
  • Make a Pinterest board! Fill it with quotes, verses, articles, and pictures that will fill you with inspiration. Don’t forget to check in and browse your board every now and then.
  • Be on the lookout for books, Bible stories, and Bible studies that relate to your word. (This is something I pray about, asking God to put the right material in my hands.)
  • Make a playlist of Christian songs that remind you of your word.

The One Word Challenge has truly been a blessing for my soul. I grow in new ways each year and I’m so excited to see what God will show me this year!

You might be thinking, “This all sounds great but New Year’s Day has passed and it’s too late to start this challenge.” No way! Last year it was almost the end of January before I committed to my word. (Remember when I said I didn’t want the word hope? I spent a few weeks wrestling with God over that one!) So if you’d like to shift your goals to something simple but very meaningful, I encourage you to pray about it and see what God has in store for you!

Have you ever done the One Word Challenge? How has God revealed himself to you through it? I’d love to hear your testimonies in our comments!

What is your word for this year?

give-god-the-ropes

The Gift Jesus Refused: The Epiphany from Día de los Reyes

The Gift Jesus Refused: The Epiphany from Día de los Reyes

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Day of Epiphany

Because of my adorable Puerto Rican mother, I grew up celebrating this wonderful day called Día de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day). This day is also known as the day of Epiphany to some. We didn’t go all out in our household like some do.  In some countries, this is the culmination of the Christmas season and much bigger than Christmas.  In our household, we simply enjoyed the fun of remembering that Jesus was given gifts by men who traveled from afar, trusting God to lead them by a star.

The night before Día de los Reyes, we would fill a shoe box with food and water for the wise men’s camels so they could rest and be fed along their journey to see baby Jesus.  Let me tell you, the camels are messy eaters…they always leave a mess behind! But as a thank you for taking care of their animals, the wise men would leave a gift that we would find in the morning.   This is how I grew up celebrating Día de los Reyes and so we’ve carried on this tradition in our household as well.

A New Connection to the Story of the Wise Men

However, I made a special connection that I have never made before.  Let’s call it the “Epiphany from Día de los Reyes.”

We all know about the three gifts Jesus was gifted by the wise men:

  • Gold
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh

Many consider these gifts to be the typical gifts gifted to kings, so in gifting this specific combination, the wise men were showing their belief that this child was indeed a king.

An Epiphany

My epiphany revolves around the third gift–myrrh.  This is not the only time myrrh is offered to Jesus.  This just happens to be the only time the gift is accepted. (I am not counting when the women embalmed his body with myrrh.)

Many say the wise men’s gifts were symbolic and that myrrh represented Jesus’ mortality.  If that is the case, then his refusal of the gift is even more interesting.  Now, what I am about to say are totally my thoughts. Study for yourself, but this leaped off the pages of the Bible the other day and I can’t help but share them.

So what is myrrh?

Did you catch that last one? It is also an anesthetic.

He Refused the Gift

Now with that in mind, let’s read Mark 15:23-24:

Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

He REFUSED to take the anesthetic!  He chose to be fully aware and conscious of all that was happening to him.  Would any of us think any less of him for taking the anesthetic?  No!  We would say it’s the most loving and humane thing one could do for someone hanging from a cross.  Yet, he did not take it!

This just makes me take a step back in awe while my eyes fill with tears and my heart realizes what he really did for us.  HE truly took it ALL!  He not only took our sins but he took all the pain willingly!

So when the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 4:15-16:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.

Refusing the Gift to Give Us a Better One

He refused a gift so we could have a better one–a Savior who truly understands all our pain and wants to help us in our time of need.  In dying this way, he even builds courage in us and those who are willingly taking a stand to the point of losing their life for him.  Christ did it…so can we!

In refusing, he also fulfilled a prophecy stated in Psalm 69:21:

They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

Again, it’s a reminder that Jesus is our living example and a perfect offering.  He did not sin and found a way to fulfill everything that was foretold about himself.  In this, he encourages us to follow God’s word too.

A Prayer over Our Hearts

Oh Lord, what can we even say?  You love us so much that you were willing to do all this just to reconcile us to you and to let us know how much we are truly loved! Your love is an overwhelming blessing. We pray we will allow our hearts to overflow with your love and share this immense joy with others.  In the One who refused to be numb to the pain of this world – Amen.

 

 

 

The Gift of Immanuel

The Gift of Immanuel

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

John 16:7

the-gift-of-immanuel-pin

Isn’t it crazy to fathom that Jesus himself said it is better for him to go away than to stay? How is that even possible? Isn’t Jesus on this earth the best thing that has ever happened? The answer is found in the word Immanuel – God with us! Yes, while Jesus walked this earth, people saw God and began to understand him better. He was with them! But we did not live then. We have the Bible stories and because we believe these biblical truths, our faith is credited to us. However, that is not all we have. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Counselor, with whom Jesus seals all his followers. Because Jesus is gone and has given us His Spirit, we can still to this day proclaim God is with us!

The Holy Spirit goes to God on our behalf. He is there, pleading our case with groans, when we pray and don’t know what to ask for. When we are confused and don’t know what to do, the Holy Spirit can guide us. When we don’t understand what we read in God’s word, the Holy Spirit can help make it clearer. We have this marvelous gift. Let us accept it freely. Let us not be scared of this gift or ignore it. Instead, take hold of Jesus’ truth: “It is to your advantage that I go away.” Let us trust wholeheartedly that God is with us every moment through the Holy Spirit!

Prayer Over Our Hearts

Lord, you are the ultimate gift giver! You surprise us with gifts we can’t even fathom. Thank you for allowing your Spirit to dwell in us and counsel us. May we forever proclaim Immanuel! In the One who decided to dwell in us in order to always be with us – Amen!

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