My Kingdom or His?

My Kingdom or His?

God has blessed us with a great big world, and I try to go see it whenever I can!Admittedly, I have an unusual life where I get to teach what I love 8-9 months out of the year and then go travel and serve the Kingdom in my other home the rest of the time:Edmond, Oklahoma and Vienna, Austria. A lot of what I write revolves around what God teaches me through those experiences and I invite you to "travel" with me in those times! Basically, I want to be Rick Steves (the travel writer) and Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries) when I grow up! :)

I have a bunch of college "kids" I call my own, 2 dogs named Abby and McGee (yes, I love NCIS) andI get to be "the cool aunt" to 2 beautiful nieces and 3 handsome nephews.They make great play dates!

Given the opportunity, I want to encourage people when I can and remind them of the power of God in their life...or help them find Him in different ways.Fair warning:I'll ask you the tough questions!I treasure deep relationships - especially ones that will allow for "iron sharpening iron."

I love being outside, and I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone whenever possible to soak up God's creation! Actually, I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone in the phrase goes: "Wherever you are, be all there", and if you are where I am, then I'm going to be all there!

I'm flawed, but saved by grace and learning daily to be loved by God.I'm thankful for the times he lets me wrestle with him because he knows my heart of hearts, and I'm ok with my hip being messed up (Genesis 32: 24-26) because growth comes from it.I encourage you to join me in the journey!

Love well...breathe mercy!
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My Kingdom or His?

Maybe you don’t struggle with this, but I do. Not intentionally, but I struggle with choosing my own kingdom over God’s.  I don’t always cling to the part in the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done…”, but I’m learning. By His beautiful grace, I’m learning.

We all have our own version of a kingdom: our jobs, homes, families, spending habits, technology that consumes our lives, our hearts and how we treat people.  Oh, how the list goes on.  Because we have our own kingdoms, sometimes those collide into other peoples’…not because we do or don’t want them to, but because it’s life and it’s just part of the journey.  When that collision happens though, we have a choice. My kingdom or His?  My will or His?

In a great book I’ve been reading lately called It’s Not What You Think, by Jefferson Bethke, he defines kingdom this way:

“For there to be a kingdom, there must be a king, kingdom citizens, and a governing structure or way of life. A lot of us have the first two, not realizing the last one comes with it.  We take Jesus as our savior, we become citizens of his kingdom, but we fail to realize that for that to be true, our lives now have to come under his reign.”

Too many times, I’m still king of my own kingdom.

I run things how I want to.  It’s out of habit–but I’m not proud of that.

You know that old song by Joni Mitchell called “Big Yellow Taxi,” with the lyrics that say: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”?  About this time last year, I was in the process of making one of the biggest mistakes of my life, and at the time, I didn’t even realize it.

My life had been colliding with someone else’s but I was choosing my own kingdom instead of learning and embracing the joys of theirs, even when I thought I had.  Only after I had “put up a parking lot” did I realize the subtle ways Satan creeps in and convinces you that your kingdom walls are strong and safe the way they are.  You don’t need the trouble or hassle of cutting out a door or a window from your heart–I mean, wall–of stone to experience the incredible joy that comes from a beautiful view of something beyond yourself.  After the other kingdom left, as Bethke says,

“It didn’t take long to realize just how selfish I was, just how hurtful I could be with comments, and just how unfocused I could be as a leader and servant.”

And his next comment, I confess, I know to be true:

“It’s only when we clash with another kingdom, or a new way of life, that we realize how poor the one [my kingdom] before truly was.”

And I have to live with that, probably for the rest of my life.  Oh, to be able to rewind the clock.

How Different Kingdoms Can be Beautiful

The wedding I was a part of in Vienna a few months ago was a precious reminder of how beautiful different kingdoms coming together can truly be.  The bride from Africa, the groom from Austria–and even his parents are American and Austrian.  As I read over the guest list, my heart rejoiced with how beautiful the differences coming together in one room would be.  There were people from Austria, Hungry, Africa, New Zealand, Romania, America, Asia, Germany, France, Switzerland…the list was long.  Different kingdoms collided. But through the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit welcomed into that place, it wasn’t about our individual kingdoms. It was about the Kingdom of God. 

Colliding into the Kingdom of God is beautiful. The door and window He cuts out provide a breathtaking view of who He is and who he created us to be–together, one, and whole.   Chiseling out room in your heart for other kingdoms to collide with your own is a God-honoring expression of love.  It honors the Creator, it honors His Kingdom…it allows room for His will to be done.

God, by your grace, thank you for tearing down my kingdoms.

Thank you for teaching me that the windows you carve into my heart are so I can see you more clearly–so I can see others more clearly!  Let your kingdom come, let your will be done!!

Adventurously Expectant: Facing the Unknown

Adventurously Expectant: Facing the Unknown

Something I struggle with most, especially in this season of my life, is the UNKNOWN. I’m pretty sure most of us don’t like being left in the dark or being told to wait. We like to know what’s ahead, to carefully plan and prepare, to cover all angles. It gives us a sense of comfort to know what’s coming up, but as we all know that is just not real life. And it’s certainly not God’s design for us.

When my husband joined the military I was terrified! We were engaged at the time and it was so much change so quickly. His first station out of Coast Guard boot camp was on the other side of the world! Well…OK, it was just the other side of the country but to me, it felt a million miles away. At first I thought God made a mistake. “Surely you are not asking me to move across the country away from everything I’ve known!”

My soon-to-be husband Sam was stationed on a ship in Virginia, while I was in California, planning our wedding, working full-time, and going to school. Every time I asked him a wedding detail question, he would respond with “I’m not sure yet” or “I hope so”…not something a stressed-out bride wants to hear! The day after I sent out invitations to over 200 guests he informed me that he “may or not be able to make the wedding” with his ship’s schedule. Greeeaat. Long story short, he did indeed make it to our wedding in the nick of time. It was beautiful and my favorite day ever.

Since our wedding day there have been countless unknown details. When and where are we moving next? When are you coming home? When will you get into school? Most questions seemed to be answered at the very last minute.

JulietI refer back to that time of our wedding often because it was the start of God working on my heart and taking me on a journey of trusting Him like I had never known before. In the beginning I felt like the unknowns might kill me.  I felt like worry and anxiety might just swallow me up…or at least turn me into a crazy person. The first couple years of marriage we were 2,700 miles from home.  My husband would leave for two months and then be home for two months. The schedule was far from ideal and I cried and prayed a lot. I felt like a baby. I missed my family and friends on the West Coast, my comfort zone.

But as I saw those “comforts” get stripped away, I saw God in a new way. I was desperate for Him. So much growth can happen when you’re forced to do hard things. It reminds us of our deep need for Christ and his sufficiency – it can be easy to forget when things are easy-breezy. Every time I was tempted to freak out, the Holy Spirit would nudge me to be thankful. He would fill me with His peace when I asked and it really did pass my understanding, like His word says. Our problems always seem so huge to us in the moment, but they often aren’t. I’m glad God is patient with us and doesn’t laugh at us for being so silly sometimes!

A few key things I’ve learned (and will always be learning!) to help me on this journey so far:

His ways are higher, His thoughts are greater. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Even when we think we know everything and want to be in control, we have to remember who God is. He is sovereign over all things. Sometimes that means going straight to the Word and preaching to ourselves when we need it☺

Remember His faithfulness. Sometimes you just have to reflect and see how God came through for you in the past. I’m a list person, so I like to write it down or go through old journals. We quickly forget all the ways God answered prayers, got us through the seasons of waiting, held our hand through the unknowns. It helps us trust Him with our future.

Don’t put God in a box, or set up your own expectations. So many times, whether I realize it or not, I create a list of things I’m OK with., ways that God is “allowed” to answer my prayers…it’s absurd because He is GOD! But I still do it, and then I’m upset when things don’t go how I thought. Instead, I’m trying to have a heart of expectancy, without set expectations. Recently, I read Romans 8 in the Message Bible. It sums up what God has been showing me:

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is and we know who we are: Father and children.” Romans 8:15-16 (The Message translation)

I want to live like that – adventurously expectant! I want to live knowing God is good and worthy of our trust, even if it looks different than we thought.

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