Peace,  Faith & Trust

Peace, Faith & Trust

McKenzie R

McKenzie R

Hello all!I am an Oklahoma girl, through and through!I was born here and after 5 years in Texas for college, I missed Oklahoma too much and just had to come back home with my Oklahoma husband to raise our Oklahoma babies! I met my husband in high school and fell we in love in college.We have 2 beautiful kids that are full of life and make me such a proud momma.I love to craft, journal, paint furniture, and decorate our Edmond home!See some of my creations at The Lettered Light www.etsy.com/shop/theletteredlight and IG:theletteredlight
McKenzie R

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Several years ago, I decided to pick a “word” for the year.

At the time, life seemed a little bit on the chaotic side.  Who am I kidding – that’s all the time!  I had a 9-month-old waking up several times every night and a 4 year old son who was testing all kinds of boundaries, and I was still trying to figure out this normal in our growing family.  Finding a way to make all the demands fit together was a bit more than I could handle.  I’m sure none of you can relate to a chaotic life, right?  Right when you feel like you get a grasp on anything, it begins to change and slip through your hands again. 

Well, when all of the crazy seemed to be enveloping me, I decided to pray about a WORD for my year.  Now ya’ll, this kind of prayer can be scary.  You start to realize that the Lord is about to speak to you.  Yikes!  You better hold on!

After a couple days of thinking and praying, there was one word that seemed to float to the top of all of my thoughts… TRUST.  Yep, the big scary TRUST word.  Now, the Lord knows this about me but I will let you all in on a little secret about myself….I have a hard time with trust.  Not trust issues that stem from people hurting me but more of a controlling kind of trust.  Like I can do it better kind of trust.  I know the right way to do something kind of trust.  Ew, just typing that out makes me feel ridiculous.  (Thank you, Lord, so much for my amazing, patient husband.  See ya’ll, the Lord knows what we need!)

Trust

So there it was, my word for the year – TRUST.  I kept thinking, I need to put on my big girl panties and buckle up!

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Now when I consider how trust fits in with the rest of my life, I see it as the result of a couple other things that are also hard:

1. TRUST

Trust is an acceptance of things that the Lord sends my way, whether I like it or not.  And in my mind this has everything to do with faith.

2. FAITH

Faith is trusting that the Lord has my back and is taking care of me.  The Lord knows what I need before I ask or even when I don’t ask.  How great is that?  SO GREAT!! (also a little unnerving for me) and when I can really begin to grasp the link of trust and faith, it brings me a great deal of peace.

3. PEACE

Peace can often feel like a deep heavy sigh. Whew!  But let me tell you, the fear and anxiety leading up to that peace is really hard to fight through.  I actually have this tattooed on my wrist.  It reminds me that remembering to be at peace with the Lord’s plan and trusting in the faith that I believe – even when that seems most impossible – is completely necessary.  It’s worth the internal battle!

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In this verse that I illustrated, I am so drawn to the word “understanding.”  I am often reminded in life that trusting the Lord, despite not understanding, is faith.  Belief in that faith that the Lord has got me, offers a huge dose of peace. WHEW!  Often times things happen that are not a part of my plan, but I can rest assured that they happen according to His plan! 

What word has God been helping you to better understand?

{New to Bible journaling? Check out these Getting Started posts Writing Your Heart on the Word &  Open Your Bible:  Let’s Get Started}

 

My Personal Babel and Making Much of Me

My Personal Babel and Making Much of Me

Meredith P

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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I’m pretty sure I would have been the one to lay the cornerstone for the Tower of Babel.

My Personal Tower of Babel

I didn’t always think this. In my blind pride, I used to read the story in Genesis 11 and think, “Good night moon! These people are really thickheaded!”

But here’s how I know I could have been the one to place that stone; I have thought to myself what they said out loud at Babel,

“…so that we may make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4, NIV)

I confess, I have wanted to make a name for myself.

I have craved all the glory for a job well done.

I have thirsted for all the recognition for doing “good” deeds.

I have hungered, above all else, for the love and approval of people.

Though these are broad examples, you can probably imagine some specific ways these general desires might manifest in my life or maybe even in yours.

The truth is, all of the craving and thirsting and hungering leaves me empty no matter how much I receive. And leaves me in shambles when receive none. This name for myself is a dangling carrot that is never caught, and like an addiction, always leaves me grasping for more. More glory, more approval, more…

It never satisfies.

It is exhausting.

But I know that an exhausted, unsatisfied, shamble of a life is not what Jesus means for any of us. He says he “came that they may have life, and hive it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)

Jesus says there is more.

That more is this truth:

I was not created to have a Name.I was not created to have a Name.

In vain, I have searched the scriptures trying to find justification of building myself a tower; for making myself a name. It isn’t there.

But, I did find a Name. It just wasn’t mine.

“My name will be great among he nations from where the sun rises to where it sets… my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 1:11, NIV)

I found God’s name.

He says His name WILL be great.

One example in particular struck me hard. Jesus calls for God the Father’s name to be glorified.

Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:28, NIV)

I claim to be a follower of Jesus. What have I not been following Jesus in this? I’m struck with this discrepancy in my Christianity. The truth is that I have been so occupied elevating my name, that I lost sight of the only Name that is worthy elevation.

Searching the scripture, I found that everything I am and everything I do is actually for the glory of God’s name, not my own.

I am created for the glory of His Name.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NIV)

Not that the task of elevating His name is mine to bear with my deeds or my life. Oh no, God is not depending on my performance to make His name great. What trouble He would be in if He were to depend on me with my false tower of Babel building and other missteps!

It is freeing to worship a God who is so powerful, He needs nothing from me. He needs nothing from me, yet He offers me a place to work by His side. He is a God who gives and has no need to take.

Now that is One whose Name is worthy of glory. Not mine.

So, I have come to the point where I am earnest about tearing down the idol I’m pointlessly trying to build of making a name for myself. I’ve been asking God to change me. To crumble my personal Tower of Babel. And because He gives, God is changing my heart to not just want, but to actually crave to place God and His Name in the rightful place: glorified above all else. And I am enjoying the freedom that comes from it. 

John the Baptist is an inspiring example of one who did not seek to make a name for himself. Ironically, he did in a way have a name for himself. People came to him to be baptized and forgiven of their sins. He actually had his own disciples!

Then Jesus comes on the scene.

When people around John see that those who were his disciples are leaving to become followers of Jesus, they say, “…-look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26, NIV)

John replies, “I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him… He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30, NIV)

Now, instead of thinking what those at the Tower of Babel said aloud, “…so that we may make a name for ourselves…” I think I need to start thinking what John the Baptist said aloud.

“He must become more, I must become less.”

I’m trying to filter my actions and thoughts through this one question: How can I make more of Him and His Kingdom and less of me in this situation?

I am Free

With this in the front of my mind, I am free in Christ to serve Him.  Free from the weight of bearing a name that I can never obtain because I was not created to bear a name. I can just be me.

I am free to be nothing because He is everything.

I am free to fail because He has already succeeded.

I am free to be rejected because He accepts me.

I am free to be me, when I recognize God for Him: Glorious.

I am realizing that this is where my cravings, thirst, and hunger for a name will be satisfied. It’s not in trying to fit into a role I was not created for. Much like pants that are too tight, I’ve been uncomfortable in my misplaced striving to make a name for myself. But in starting to live to make much of Christ who loves me and you more than His own life, I feel as though I’m slipping into my favorite jeans. It fits well.

Cravings are ceasing.

Thirst is quenching

Hunger is fleeing.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NIV)

Jesus, I come to You and I place Your Name high.

Ah, satisfaction.

In what ways do you make a name for yourself over making much of Christ?

If you can’t think of any, ask the Lord to reveal to you if you are missing anything. I am asking Him that too.

 

Without Grumbling

Without Grumbling

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

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“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life.” 

Philippians 2:14-16 

An Invitation to Go Without Complaining

I invite you to take a moment to meditate on Philippians 2:14-16. Do you feel you are following this instruction in your day to day life? Would others describe you as blameless and pure? Does your life stand out in this sinful generation we find ourselves in? Are you holding firm to God’s word?

A few weeks ago we read this scripture in our bible class and I could feel my heart freeze. I immediately remembered the way I huffed out of frustration when my daughter wouldn’t leave my feet. I thought about how I often lamented over the stress of motherhood and the envy I’ve often felt in my heart toward my husband who goes off to work around other adults, and finds himself with 60 minutes of commute time each day to listen to whatever he wants.

As I thought about my tendency to grumble, my chest grew tighter as the Sprit continued to convict my heart.

I love staying home with my young children. It is my first choice, but I admit, the enemy has still found footholds through the challenges that come with my day to day life.  The temptation to grumble is not reserved for stay-at-home moms. The enemy hits us all with deceptive ways, no matter our age or circumstance.

And oh, do we grumble.

Scripture gives us a different way to live.

Scripture tells us to live without grumbling. Why? So that we might shine like stars in the world for the purpose of bringing God glory. 

Do you know anyone who is always able to find joy no matter the circumstance? A couple of different people come to my mind. These sweet friends of mine are the brightest lights. They radiate God’s love. I’m always so refreshed after spending time with them. It is not that their life is easy, without any strife.

To live without grumbling is more than just ignoring one’s burdens, it is living with the joy of the Lord inside their heart. Philippians 2:16 says this happens by holding firm to the word of life. We must know God’s word, believe it, and put it into action in our lives. In God’s word, we will find two beautiful characteristics to lace our hearts with.

A Heart of Service 

Matthew 20:28 says “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”  Grumbles often stem from entitlement. Christ, on the other hand, displayed a very sacrificial way of living. We must reflect on our life circumstances and look for the opportunities to serve and bring God glory.

A Heart of Gratitude

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Embracing a heart of gratitude and continually looking for the blessings in life will not only help us to live more joyfully, but will also align our lives to God’s will.

As I’ve reflected on my tendencies to grumble these last couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded to embrace the season I find myself in, and to serve my family patiently and joyfully. I know that I will continue to grumble from time to time, but I pray that God often leads me to this passage in Philippians. In a world that feasts on entitlement and selfishness we will surly shine like stars from the joy of the Lord, if we serve and love those around us without grumbling.

So go ahead, jot down Philippians 2:14-1. Put it in a place where you will see it often and be reminded of a better way to go through your days!

 

Remembering the Blessings

Remembering the Blessings

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

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It’s 2:30 PM.

My girls didn’t take a nap. My older one is being a stinker, and the baby just wants to be held. I take a selfie of my frustrated expression so I can pour it all out on social media.

As I’m writing out the text for my post I immediately delete and put down my phone.  A couple of hours later I catch my daughters sweetly looking at each other. I take a picture and post it, reflecting on how the days are long, but the years are short. I do this because I want to remember the blessings of the day more than the frustrations. 

Remembering the Blessings or the Frustrations

I can’t tell you how many days the above scenario plays out.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to share the frustrations of every day life with young children. In fact, sometimes I DO share! Here is the thing though.

Every day will have frustrations- children or not!  Years from now, I want to think of these days with my little girls as sweet. Of course I’ll remember the struggles with potty training, illness, and defiant behavior, but I hope my overall remembrance of these days will be positive.

I want to remember the giggles and snuggles. The pitter patter of small feet hopping across the house and the way she crawls backwards instead of forwards. The funny little words they say and the proud way they sing their songs. Days where we got to play, read, and relax. Days when personality popped. Days we found friendship. Days lessons were learned. Days of togetherness.

The reflection that I want to have in the future begins with the present. I have a say in how it goes! I must ensure that I’m noticing the good, and looking for perspective in moments of difficulty.

Let’s season our social media posts with gratitude. 

Yes, hard things happen, and sometimes we want to share. That’s okay. Let’s keep perspective though. 

Let’s do all we can to create great days so that when we look back, we won’t only remember the struggles of our current phase, but also our blessings.

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Building Up Your LeadersThe Best Life Praying for our Children We all struggle

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

Melissa W
Follow Me

Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
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“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often–will it be for always?–how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”

 

C.S. Lewis

The Barren Land of Grief

The presence of grief is felt thick and its roots are deep in the hidden places of our soul. It is a spiraling entity that immobilizes us and causes us to ache for what once was…or for that which never had been. Grief spirals us into a land barren and unknown.

Where it is lodged secretly, no one knows of its depths. Not even the most intimate of relationships are aware of its overwhelming presence. We find comfort in the pain. We draw strength from the agony, but our light flickers dim as the darkness overtakes every nook and cranny of our grieving being. The comfort and strength gained wanes and becomes our undoing. The grief paralyzes.

“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”

Daniel 2:22

We hold tight to our comfortable uncomfortable, as grief has become part of our essence. But He who is light brings out the darkness. Nothing is hidden from His embodiment of knowledge. He sees our grief buried–our secret made known. He sees the darkness that has crept in, the grief that has taken hold. He knows what is in the darkness…and He offers us light.

For the grief-burdened soul, there is hope in the Gospel message.

When brokenness entered that once-perfect garden, it also birthed grief into a once joyful and peaceful place. We often speak of our rescue from sin, of a Savior who died bearing the weight of our iniquities. But do we not also share that the day sin and shame were hurled onto the beaten body of Perfection hanging on a cross, so also was the enormous weight of all that is broken dumped heavily and fully onto the Sacrificial Lamb. Grief, in its complete form, crushed He who was Hope and Joy.

For what?

For the sake of mercy…for the sake of hope and joy complete.

Finding Comfort in Jesus

In knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross, we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us. Knowing that He defeated grief through His death and resurrection, we can now find hope in a rescue from its prison. When our vulnerable bodies can fall onto bruised knee and stretch out shaky hands in surrender, He will meet us in our state of fragility and hold us close. He is the balm that heals our broken heart. His love saturates deep as it fills complete.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.”

Sir Thomas Browne

Is that, then, the hope in grief? Are the feelings of emptiness and the bone-deep aches drawing us into His place of mercy? It is then that we find all we lost is recovered that much more in His redemption. Do we dare hope to feel again, laugh again…do we dare hope to live again? Is grace so strong that it restores the soul tattered and torn by grief’s long reign? In the mass of mercies given, there is such an amazing grace.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.” - Sir Thomas Brown (3)

A New Perspective

The grace received brings on new perspective. Our grief buried can be His peace resurrected. Letting go is scary and hard. When the pain does not drench into our pores, we feel as if we might have betrayed. But to live is not to forget. Our life for His glory, our sadness for His joy, our emptiness for His fullness–this is when and how He walks in the grief with us. He beckons us close and He breathes life into our soul. We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender our grief to the One who knew the ultimate grief on the cross. So then, we do not abandon grief itself. Instead, we allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies–allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.

“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”

 

Elisabeth Elliot

Am I the Critic or the Worker?

Am I the Critic or the Worker?

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

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;  who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 

– Theodore Roosevelt

The hit TV reality show “American Idol” was in its prime during my high school years. Remember those days? I avidly watched this singing competition and my favorite judge was Simon Cowell. I felt sophisticated whenever my thoughts aligned with his, as if I were somehow superior to those on the stage.

In reality, I was just a girl sitting on the couch.

A Critic of More than just a TV Show

If I’m honest with myself, I can see that my critical nature goes beyond my thoughts toward televised talent competitions. I’ve been critical of others and of myself countless times. This critical spirit has kept me from taking leaps of faith, pursing dreams, and even serving others. Meanwhile, others are putting themselves out there, growing, and accomplishing. I greatly regret remarks I’ve said and thoughts I’ve had throughout my life.

As Teddy Roosevelt so eloquently put it, “It is not the critic who counts…” 

When I think about the days Jesus spent on earth walking alongside man, he had plenty of opportunities to be critical. He could have presented himself pompously and rebuked all who came to him. Jesus was perfect; He was God’s son, and our ways were with such error.  He didn’t hold his head high though, did he? Instead, he offered grace upon grace. He saw the ones who were downtrodden and raised them up. Yes, at times he did correct, but he did it out of love, while giving opportunity for repentance and change. As he traveled from place to place serving others, Jesus was willing to dirty his feet. Christ desired his church to be devoted to love and service, not criticism.

A Time for Criticism and a Time for Grace

There will be times for correction. Sometimes we will need to evaluate and address what’s stagnant. Other times will be times to call for change. How is our attitude toward each other through all of this?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Colossians 3:12-14

So now we must ask ourselves, “How are we clothed?” Are our words dressed with complaints? Do our ideals hold back our noble actions, as we wait for perfection? Do we put others down, only seeing their rough spots?

I want to be dressed in the virtues of Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. These verses remind me to roll up my sleeves and get to work, whether under perfect or imperfect circumstances. As the old song goes, “I want to be a worker for the Lord.”

Kingdom Worker, Not Kingdom Critic

I’m thankful for the gracious words in 1 Peter 4:8: Love covers a multitude of sins. Because this love covers even my own sins, I can put down the self-criticism that often holds me back. None of us will be perfect. But if we dwell on our mistakes, we will never move forward. Kingdom work cannot be done by only a few. God calls all of us to labor. We need each other.

God calls us to be workers, not critics.

I’m so thankful for grace. It’s such a wonderful replacement for criticism. Don’t you agree?

 

 

 

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