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A New Blog.

Why?

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I’ve been thinking about making a new blog for a while now. Why? Reading my old stuff makes me cringe. Kind of like seeing the pictures of a much younger me with bleach blonde hair and orange skin (to be fair, I called the orange skin thing…I distinctly remember a seventeen year old me sitting with a friend at lunch and saying “I just know I’m going to look back at pictures of myself and wonder why I thought I looked good with orange skin.”) . Just like tanning beds, I’m done with that old blog!

Like i said, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. WHY NOW, you ask? My husband, Alex, put on the new Power Ranger’s movie because he was “curious” (AKA totally channeling HIS younger self), and I just didn’t have it in me to actually watch it.

I didn’t want a fancy website because I’m not really trying to be a “blogger,” I just wanted an outlet to share my thoughts and experiences to relentlessly share on my social media feeds! Just kidding. I will probably text most of the links to the family members I think may be slightly interested in what I’m experiencing and/or thinking about. (Hi, mom!) I am not saying I won’t ever post a link to my social media because sometimes the desire to share something about myself gets the best of me and I just can’t help it. Surely, you can relate.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Secure in the Lord: 1 Samuel 25

Intro:

Security often implies protection, bur does not guarantee it, especially when we place it in things other than the Lord.

In 1 Samuel 25, we see various examples of how placing our security and hope in the wrong things can result in devastating consequences.

-secure in our family/inheritance

-secure in our wealth/position

-secure in our strengths/skills

-secure in the Lord.

Secure in our family/inheritance:

Nabal: Calebite—book of Numbers story of Caleb.

Caleb: faithful, trusted the Lord.

Nabal obtained his wealth as a relative of Caleb.

-Nabal inherited Caleb’s wealth and physical blessings from God, but not his character.

-We cannot assume God’s favor and blessings for our family is a product of salvation or an indicator of our character.

-Are there areas we place our identity and security in our families that make it easy to settle for simple comforts? Does our misplaced security allow us to idolize our family?

Secure in our wealth/position:

– While David was in pursuit of Nabal and all of his household to kill them all, Nabal was drunk and feasting like a king.

-“high in spirit”: cheerful

-ignorant and unrepentant

His wealth afforded him the ability to maintain his ignorant and foolish behavior.

We see this all the time among the rich and famous. They are often blindsided when their wealth and fame suddenly disappears. A spiral most observes see coming every step of the way.

Proverbs 11:4

This means that those of us blessed with wealth need to be good stewards and generous givers of it. Our wealth cannot save us. What comforts do we cling onto as if we deserve them instead of generously offering them to those in need?

Secure in our skills/strengths:

-David’s skills in communication:

-Wise time to ask/shearing sheep/feasting/abundance of food.

-humble approach, sent men on his behalf not as an anointed king/military general, but as a servant and a friend.

-His kind, thought out, and humble request set expectations for a favorable response.

-David’s skills in war:

-Upon the response from Nabal, David resorted to his skills in war/ defeating enemies.

-Why such a strong response to Nabal, but not Saul?

Matthew Henry commentary: “He who at other times used to be calm and considerate is now put into such a heat by a few hard words that nothing will atone for them but the blood of a whole family. Lord, what is man! What are the best of men, when God leaves them to themselves, to try them, that they may know what is in thrirheathei? From Saul, David expected injuries, and against those he was prepared and stood upon his guard, and so kept his temper; but from Nabal, he expected kindness, and therefore the affront he gave him was a surprise to him, found him off guard, and, by a sudden and unexpected attack, put him for the present into disorder. What need we have to pray? Lord, lead us not into temptation.”

We may be patient, wise, strong, considerate, and/or resourceful, but our skills and strengths are not secure enough to keep or save us from sin. Where do we place our hope and security in our abilities and skills? How often are our abilities and skills used for our sinful ambitions?

Secure in the Lord:

The gospel is illustrated in this story in a few ways:

-Abigail interceded for a very undeserving Nabal.

-Abigail pursued and reminded David of God’s faithfulness, both past and present. She reminded him of the security he has in the Lord.

-She communicates the lasting affecta of sin by appealing to his conscience.

Abigail represents a greater savior who would come to save more than one foolish person.

-She rode to David on a donkey.

-She sought the Lord’s glory in her defense.

-In all of her interactions and upon her marriage proposal, she humbled herself, risking her own life. After the proposal, she even called herself, “a slave to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.”

1 Samuel 25 is often overlooked because of the greater narrative between David and Saul, and when it is discussed, it’s usually about Abigail and how men should respect strong women. Abigail is definitely worthy of imitation, but this story clearly points to a greater need of security in the Lord.

Conclusion:

Like Nabal, we were foolish and ignorant to our sin.

Like David, we so easily wander and act out of haste/our own desires when we are caught off guard and angered.

Like Abigail, we need to humbly seek and plead for mercy for ourselves and others, especially those who don’t deserve it. (We, in fact, do not!)

We are also presented with two choices:

Like Nabal, will we continue in our ignorance and foolishness? Will we seek security in temporary things? Will we choose to be closed off and defensive to anything that threatens our shallow security?

Like David, will our security rest in the Lord? Will we repent of our sin? Will we recognize that accountability and being called out in our sin should cause us to repent and worship, and not feel threatened?

Like David, we can respond with humility when Abigail’s come to keep us from continuing in sin. We can thank him for the mercy of accountability.

Like Abigail, we can respond to the the sin’s of others with humility and a gospel focus – communicating in love and trusting the Lord to be faithful.

When our security rests in the Lord, we can trust that all discipline, discomfort, unexpected insults, and sin is met with grace from a faithful God who pursues our hearts.

War.

I am no stranger to self reflection. Even as a child, my parents would ask, “what was your part?” in any conflict I was involved in. I was raised to think about the why of my words and actions. Self reflection can easily spiral to overthinking which can easily result in excessive shame and anxiety. Sometimes there is no significant reason (usually disguised as a justification) for my actions and behaviors. Sometimes I choose the wrong thing just because it’s easier, or because it feels right. Sometimes self reflection is a war in my mind, other times it’s a battle I find enjoyment in losing.

Self reflection has been helpful in causing me to repent of sin and to recognize God’s faithfulness in my life, there’s no doubt about that. At the same time, self reflection can also cause such an inward focus that my redemption story once again becomes all about me, and not God. Do I enter every situation with the mindset of, “what is God going to teach me through this?” Is the focus of my trials for my increased knowledge and self reflection about how I’ve changed? (I change very quickly- and I also change back to default “settings” very quickly 😉 )

We live in a culture of “think pieces” where we all want to share our wisdom and life lessons with one another. This is a beautiful way to encourage and build up each other. Unfortunately, I think that these stories from Christian brothers and sisters often miss the mark and point us back to ourselves.

As I shared a few months ago, I spent the summer reading the Bible. During the summer, the realities of war impacted our family with long absences and distances apart from each other. In my reading of the Old Testament, it’s hard to miss that a majority of it is spent describing the constant war/captivity between the Israelites and various territories. Upon reading it, I very quickly realized that it never speaks about the impact on the family. Soldiers are gone from their families for long stretches of time and we never get a sentence about what those separations do to the family. We never get an account from a military spouse discussing the life lessons she learned while her husband was away at war. A majority of the soliders in the Israelite army aren’t even listed in the Bible. The wars are not about the soldiers (unless we are reading a story of soliders who directly disobey God ;)), and they are not about the wives at home. They are about God fulfilling His promises to the Israelites.

As I kept reading, I noticed other little things here and there. We know that Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, was married. How? Because Jesus healed his mother in law.  That’s it. No other discussion about Peter’s marriage. Peter’s ministry was not centered on the insights he learned about God through his marriage. His ministry was centered on the grace he received from an unmarried Savior.

God’s word is not a think piece simply to encourage us or to help us piece our insights and life experiences together.

Self reflection and life lessons are not the sole purpose behind our trials and suffering.

What does this mean?

It means that during seasons of difficulty, we can ask bigger questions and learn more meaningful answers.

Instead of asking “what has this trial taught me about myself?” We can ask, “what does this trial teach me about God?” “What attributes of God did I see for the first time or see more clearly?” “What is God’s redemptive plan? How can this trial cause me to decrease and him to increase?”

Self reflection is still a huge part of my DNA, so I could list off ten things I learned about myself during the last big trial in my life. I can also tell you that the more I focus on myself, the more likely I am to be able to relate to and encourage those just like me. The more I reflect on God’s word and seek him, the more I can see how his truth, love, grace, and faithfulness is for everyone.  God pursues our hearts so that we can pursue him. Our desire for him should be significantly greater than our feeble attempts to make sense of our lives.

This is Hard.

If I can take a moment to be honest, I’d like to share a few thoughts.

My instinct tells me what I’m about to do proves I am incapable, ungrateful, and selfish. I hope you will gracefully walk with me as I share and process.

The past 7-8 months have been some of the hardest of my life. I can’t remember a time in my life when I cried myself to sleep more than I have in the past few months. My body has responded to the stress in unique and sometimes scary ways. I’ve never been more aware of the sin and idols in my heart. My capacities as a friend, mom, wife, sister, and daughter have been limited.

More often than not, the response to the question, “how are you?” has been, “I’m okay.”

Some random thoughts:

1) If you pray for God to refine you during a season, he will listen. The prayer leading into this season was, “help me to lean on you more.” I sure have needed him a lot.

2) My greatest temptation to sin involves anything that promises rest, comfort, and escape. I’m really good at justifying actions that are sinful, meaningless, and selfish. One of my greatest fears is that Eleanor will look back on our life together and picture me on my phone. I’m praying for self control and discipline with technology.

3) Boundaries are essential. I’ve had to have difficult conversations with people I love most regarding topics of conversation I can and cannot have with them. My capacities to “take on” other people’s issues are limited right now, and I do believe we can wisely discern how/what/when we do walk with others in their relationship/personal struggles. Some discerning questions I often consider: Is this an actual issue or is it gossip/venting disguised as a call for help? Does this issue need to be handled within the confines of a marriage? Is it inappropriate for me to step in? Do I even have any wisdom/experience/input of value to offer? I know there are times I have sounded “mean” or like “I don’t care,” but really for the health of myself, the other person, our relationship, and potentially the relationship between them and other people, I had to establish some boundaries. Boundaries do not mean I don’t care, but really, they mean the exact opposite. I do care, but if you’d like me to care in better and more meaningful ways, I need the freedom to recognize when a conversation has drifted past my zone of comfort or capacity to help. We were never meant to be all things to all people.

4) Weakness and limitations do not  mean we are disqualified from service. My big yes’s to things are always covered in prayer. During this season of loneliness, solo parenting, and a never ending to do list, I’ve found passion, energy, and strength to serve our church in new ways than I could before. My weakness does not disqualify me, because my service to the church does not depend fully on me. There are roles, responsibilities, and expectations I must fulfill, but the Lord has been so gracious to provide MANY people who give so much of themselves, their time, and their giftings to have the ministry of the church succeed. I have never felt alone in that and it fills me with encouragement and energizes me in a unique way. That role continuously humbles and reminds me that none of this is really about me and my striving. The self induced stress and worry is from me, not from God and his expectations of me. It causes me to continuously step back and reflect on the areas in my life that are causing me frustration, worry, and stress and reevaluate the importance of them. It reminds me of my weakness and inability to do it all. It also reminds me of the weakness I believe is a strength- my struggle to ask for help. The Lord is so gracious to give us community.

6) Help/support does not always look  how I think it should. That does not mean it isn’t there. There are a lot of personal emotions and complex factors about this one, so I will say that and be done.

7) Grace is essential. I would like to think I model biblical truths in the form of instruction and story telling to Eleanor, but really, more than ever, I model my need for grace. Do you know know humbling it is to ask for forgiveness from a two year old? Thankfully for me, she’s the best at hugging it out.

8) Rest does not have to be separate from doing. I have prayed for and been given rest while cleaning up vomit for the fifth time in a day, while dealing with an over tired and over stimulated little girl screaming and needing a little glimpse of peace in the midst of intense and difficult feelings, while sweeping my floors, and while confessing my sin and inability to perfectly love God and others. I think I need to be able to escape to feel refreshed. God never has to escape from us or get a break to be faithful to us, what a gift that he willingly shares his strength with us when we ask. Why do I so often forget to ask?

9) There are good days and bad days. Neither decide my worth in God’s eyes. We have the freedom to have bad days, because even on our best days, we still need God’s grace to cover us. The Lord redeems our best and worst days.

10) Some of the most profound and impactful things I’ve read and listened to during this season have been written for children. How often do I need reminding that God delights in me? That he created me and loves me just as he made me? That his grace is the best gift we can ever receive?

 

 

White Elephant Gifts That People May Actually Enjoy

$5-15

Going to a party with a bunch of parents or people who work with children? Why not ABC’s for the little G’s  ($12.95)

I would question ANYONE who doesn’t love these  Incredible Hulk Oven Mitts   ($14.95 Disney Store)

Have any foodie friends? This Rapper’s Delight Cookbook      ($12.76 on Amazon) is pretty fun.

This is also for your foodie/planning friends. I use this at home and love it. I’ve also purchased it for a white elephant party before with a fun pen. Knock Knock What to Eat Pad ($7 Amazon)

Work party? These funny memo pads  ($10.99 Amazon) are pretty awesome!

I bet there is SOMEONE out there that would say, “actually, yes, I would like to try a toilet night light ($10.99 Amazon).”

Winter time = sock time. Why not get some new fresh and fun socks  ($10.99 amazon)  and a face mask for a girls gift exchange?

Most adults like puns, right? Also, snail mail is back in. Combine the two with these awesome pun greeting cards ($9.95 Amazon)

We own this game and it’s actually a lot of fun: The Game of Poo. ($9.95 Amazon)

Are you the resident Debby downer of your group? This is sure to be true to form!  Bad Days in History: A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the Year  ($10.39 Amazon)

$15-$25

I once bought the CD ROM version of the Oregon Trail for a white elephant gift, but this   handheld Oregon Trail game    ($24.99) looks pretty awesome.

The thing everyone is curious about and few actually buy: The Squatty Potty ($19.99 Amazon)

Every party has that one person that would want this: Jokin’ in the John ($17.99 Amazon)

If you’re not sure why this would be a hit, then you probably are not on Instagram: Letter Felt Board ($19.99 Amazon)

NOT EVERYTHING YOU READ OR LISTEN TO IS TRUE!!! JUST CLICK HERE AND BUY THIS IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO MAKE A POINT! ($15.95 Amazon)

 

There are so many more goodies out there! What’s the best white elephant gift you have given/received?

Summer Recap

Whew! This summer flew by!

When I was a newlywed, a friend recommend recapping each year at a duty station as a way to re-evaluate my goals, priorities, and the ways the Lord has worked in my life. This is very helpful in recognizing areas in my life I need to readjust, keep the same, or completely change. Whenever I experience a season of big change, I like to evaluate it as soon I as collect my thoughts rather than waiting until the end of the year.

Here we go:

1) when the Lord calls me to something, it doesn’t mean it will be easy because he gave a clear yes. I  prayerfully considered my “yes’s” for the summer. Those “yes’s” included a 90 day Bible read through, organizing and facilitating the elementary age program for our Thursday AM Bible study, and participating in a “How to Write A Sermon” class. These yes’s were ones I will never regret or forget. But all of those yes’s required a lot of self discipline, time, and work. And it doesnt even include any outside stress from parenting, sickness, and other random “oh no’s” thrown in! There were plenty of days I was overwhelmed and recognized the limitations of my strength. I frequently prayed about these things and was amazed by the motivation, encouragement, and sense of purpose I received. It truly was a time of completely relying on the Lord to parent Eleanor, fulfill commitments, and do them to the best of my ability. The Lord helped me to do “hard” things. And I’m pretty proud of all three of them. It was amazing and life giving to read the Bible in 90 days (my first time reading the whole Bible!) It was enlightening to see all the time and work that goes into making a sermon. I’m proud of the one I put together, but it took me weeks to do! I have a newfound appreciation for pastors who do it week after week! The children’s program left a stamp on my heart forever. The volunteers that helped were helpful, life giving, and showed up to be part of something, not just to be a body in the room.  The kids were amazing. They are funny, insightful, and smart. It was such a fun time to affirm and encourage those that during his life, Jesus looked on with love and said, “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The Lord, in His unending strength, gave me strength to do what He called me to.

2) The church is less “you can do it!” And more “we can do it!” I had to ask for a lot of help this summer. With Eleanor. With my dog. With the children’s program. Along with this, I’ve learned asking for help shouldn’t be the  thing I’ve built it up to be in my mind. When people ask me for help, I’m pretty confident in my yes’s and no’s, so I now assume that if people can/want to help, they will say yes, and if that can’t/don’t want to, they will say no. I used to assume anyone I asked wished they could say no, but feel an obligation to say yes. The selflessness I experienced from my friends and church family was encouraging. The eagerness I witnessed other people have to help me personally, and the church, was encouraging. It is freeing to be part of a community that says, “let’s do this together.” Sometimes we just need the boldness to ask, “will you do this with me?”

3) Contentment can be found in less fruitful/difficult seasons. Expectations often get in the way of my contentment. Disappointment, frustration, and a desire for more can be indicators of a much needed change. Sometimes that change includes my circumstances. Other times that change involves my expectations. During the summer, a pretty consistent prayer was, “Lord, I feel _______, please give me discernment regarding my call to action (or inaction). Help me to find fulfillment in you. Help to me have faith that you are bigger than this feeling and that your will is MUCH bigger than mine.”

4) Ultimately, my circumstances teach me way more about God than they teach me about myself. God’s strength and faithfulness carried me through the summer. God’s family encouraged, helped, and supported me in more ways than I can count. Only in Christ is true contentment found. He>me.

I learned a bunch of other things, too, but these are my big takeaways. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve experienced a season of refining and the lessons you learned. Seriously. The things I write about are things I like to talk about. (Not exclusively though :))

 

-Kelsey

Worthwhile Clicks 9/13/18

A round up of things on the internet I found thought provoking, enjoyable, or amusing.

1) It’s All Gift  “But if God gave it to me, then I will hold it loosely, knowing I have no rights to it, that it could have been given to someone else just as easily. If you’re work-minded, you own things; if you’re gift-minded, you steward them and give them away as soon as you’re asked. Easy come, easy go.”

2) God’s Will Is Not a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Book  “The Apostle Paul said, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). You can count on God’s faithful, consistent love, because that love isn’t based on your goodness. It’s based on his. He doesn’t give up on you, even when you give up on him.

If you’re not dead, God’s not done.”

3) NUTRITIONAL MINUTIAE DOESN’T REALLY MATTER AS MUCH AS WE THINK IT DOES 

I’m not yelling, I just copied and pasted the title and apparently CAPS lock was on. This is definitely something I’ve struggled with. “Sure, food plays a role in our health and we want to honor our health with our food choices. But if your food choices are causing you more stress, isolating you from social situations, disconnecting you emotionally, not satisfying your tastebuds and cravings, or leaving you feeling chaotic and out of control around certain foods…your food choices are not healthy at all.”

4) The One Question I Never Ask Myself

“A few years ago I watched a television special about man who traveled around United States and other nations and asked people if they were happy. From what I remember the other nations were predominantly poor nations. And what stood out to me from the program was that it seems the United States is the only nation where people ask themselves if they are happy. When the interviewer asked people in poorer nations if they were happy usually got the answer, “I don’t even think about that question.””

5) 12 Letters That Didn’t Make the Alphabet

Imagine singing the ABC’s with these letters/sounds. “You know the alphabet. It’s one of the first things you’re taught in school. But did you know that they’re not teaching you all of the alphabet? There are quite a few letters we tossed aside as our language grew, and you probably never even knew they existed.”

 

 

Christian Moms, let’s be known for….

Our consistency in the things that truly matter. Even a person with only an ounce of humility recognizes that  most of our opinions, preferences, and ideas change as quickly as our toddlers’ mood. My opinion regarding sleep training changed when I didn’t sleep for six months. Exposure, experiences, and life alters our perception and understanding of different things. Let’s be known for being consistent in the one thing that should never change: our desire to bring glory to God. In motherhood. In our marriage. At work. At home. While eating fast food. While eating a super healthy Instagram worthy meal.

Our encouragement. Let’s practice less information sharing and more encouragement. Let’s give fellow moms permission to have a rough day with their child without recommending a “quick” fix. Let’s let real encouragement dominate 90% of our conversation and information sharing consist of 10% (OR LESS!) of our speech. I’m convinced that the cruelist thing to do to a new mom is present solution after solution without recognizing that the entrance into motherhood is HARD and sometimes babies just cry. Or don’t sleep.  Or just need time to also figure out what it means to be a part of the family.  Also, have you ever felt like you know every stance and method a mom friend has in regards to parenting, while never really knowing anything about your friend’s heart? Or struggles (in or outside of motherhood)? Or needs? Or accomplishments? Or joys? Let’s have deep, meaningful relationships with other people that aren’t dominated by opinions and preferences we may or may not have in five years.  Also, important to note,  maybe our mom friend doesn’t even need encouragement. Maybe she just needs someone to listen. That’s pretty invaluable too. Maybe another helpful question to ask is, “I’d love to support you right now. What do you need from me?”

Our reasonableness. Do we really need to share every click bait article regarding the new dangerous food, ingredient, or product out there? Maybe the reasonable choice regarding a legitimate recall or product that makes us uncomfortable is to not use/eat/buy it. That’s legitimate. But maybe  reasonableness also looks like NOT sharing an article that causes fear or anxiety in us. Maybe reasonableness sometimes looks like waiting. Usually these articles are based on one study that a reporter found a loose basis to make a strong statement to grab as many clicks as possible.  Maybe it is wise to wait and see what other studies (that are sure to be done) suggest. Maybe it is wise to tell ourselves to wait 24-48 hours before sharing. Maybe with time to reflect and prayerfully consider our response to something that produces anxiety, we will see that it isn’t as big as our minds made it to be. A constant prayer I have when I feel fear creeping in is “Lord, reduce this issue to it’s proper place. Increase my faith in You.” Let’s not be so easily swayed by every controversy happening on an almost daily basis.

Our discernment. Just like we should be prayerfully considering what and when we share with fellow mom friends, let’s also prayerfully consider the information shared with us. What do I need to learn from this? If I’m feeling offended, why? How can I let small offenses go? If I disagree with the opinion or information, how can I lovingly respond or redirect? Do I need to be teachable here and fight defensiveness? We can learn from each other, we just need to discern how we communicate with each other and apply (or not apply) what is said.

Our prayerfulness. Let’s be faithful in our prayers for one another. More than I need someone to say “you’re doing great!” I need someone to say, “wow, I will be praying for you (or Eleanor). I know it is in our nature for you to have a weak moment that results in yelling, but I will be praying that the Lord works in your heart and produces fruit the next time you are frustrated.” (p.s. I am SO blessed to have friends that say these things and that’s how I know how amazing it is).

Our willingness to speak Truth to one another. I absolutely cherish my friendships that speak to to my soul. I have friends share article and verses fighting pride. Or anxiety. Or any other various issue that deters from what I said I long to be consistent in (glory to God). These friends recognize that motherhood is a big part of my life right now, but that I also have a soul that needs truth. Motherhood is humbling and refining, but we need more than affirmation and agreement regarding our mothering. We need truth that is constant in every season. The Lord can be glorified in our mothering, but more than that, He can be glorified regardless of our circumstances and in every life change. Motherhood is important and a beautiful privilege, but let’s not cater all of our study and reflection on it either. Let’s let truth reign in our hearts and we will see how it applies every day, in every situation.

 

This list is not exhaustive. And it isn’t something I’ve perfected either. All of these things listed came from my own reflection of the type of friend I’d like to be, too. (Not the friend I already am…). It also was inspired by friends I have who model this so well. Let’s give each other grace and patience. Let’s carry one another’s burdens. Let’s be known for so much more than the labels we like to slap on one another. Let’s be known for establishing real, diverse, and meaningful community. Let’s challenge each other with truth when we start to dwell on things that take our eyes and hearts away from it. Let’s encourage each other with our words and service. Let’s expect more from ourselves. He is faithful to empower us to love each other as He loves us.