Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Public Thank You!

As we end the month of October which is Pastor/Clergy Appreciation Month and enter November, the month of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the staff, members and attenders at Stonebridge Church.  

This past Friday, November 7th I finished my second round of working on staff at Stonebridge.  I first started working there as an assistant for Pastor Randy, our senior pastor and part assistant for one of our adult pastors, Jason Poling.  This past year of working at Stonebridge, I have helped as a Children's assistant with our Director, Melissa Majorins.  It has been a complete joy and a hard decision to leave these great people once again.

Working at Stonebridge has so incredibly grown my faith and knowledge of God and for this I am extremely thankful and blessed.  It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."  The environment that is in the church office at Stonebridge is real.  If you walk in and someone asks you, 'how you are doing', they mean it.  They are not looking for a pat answer and want to encourage you if you need someone to listen or need some of God's truth's spoken to you.  Pastor Jason is the one that introduced me to Biblical Counseling while I was working as his assistant.  Taking some classes and learning how to use scripture for my own life and in others has transformed my thoughts, feelings and actions everyday to bring me closer to God!

Churches are made up of a bunch of people that are sinners and do hurtful things to each other.  So...in my time I have witnessed and experienced many happenings of this but also had the opportunity to see conflict dealt with in a manner that would imitate Jesus Christ and reconciliation.  When Christ is in us and we allow God to help us navigate life, the Gospel shines through to everyone we have contact with!

I also want to take time to thank the many people that attend Stonebridge who I have had great experiences working alongside and for their commitment to our church.  It takes many hands to minister to everyone that goes to church there, especially the children.  I am so thankful that God continues to help me love people!

As I start my journey as a full-time stay at home mom with our son, I am excited.  I am so much better equip to minister to him at home now because of the great people at Stonebridge that God has used to disciple me and will continue to use.  

If you attend Stonebridge, we have a lot to be thankful for.  God is doing amazing work in us all and through our church.  Be praying for our staff and leaders as we continue this race that has been marked out for us as we share with others about Jesus Christ!

And don't forget to "Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."     1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Learning to Fear God, Not People

It says in 2 Corinthians 5:16-18,

" So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:"

This "new" person in Christ is easier said than done.  Recently, I felt as if God has been really impressing upon my heart and mind that I need to grow in the area of Fearing God and not people.  You might say, what does that mean?  A book that I have been reading called, "When People Are Big And God is Small," by Edward T. Welch says that scripture (the Bible) gives three basic reasons why we fear other people -- 

1.  We fear people because they can expose and humiliate us
2.  We fear people because they can reject, ridicule, or despise us
3.  We fear people because they can attack, oppress, or threaten us.  

Being an extreme extrovert I have always held relationships and people in general as a high priority in my life.  Around 4 to 5 years ago God started to bring this unhealthy dependency on people to light.  I was choosing to be filled up by these relationships and did not want to disappoint people.  I would try to make meeting up with people possible at all times.  I would also get frustrated with people if they did not see the value in meeting.  Now looking back this "fear of man" was controlling my life.  Today I am praying that as I continue to be changed by Jesus Christ that I will become more and more a lover of people.  This means that I will be used by God to share about how God can change them as he has changed me and also that I am holding my relationship with God higher than my relationships with all humans.  

About a month ago, I started to feel as if I was supposed to start staying home full time with our son Caleb.  For me to even consider this shows that God has changed my desires.  I have always been extremely fearful to stay home full time because parenting has been a struggle from day one for me.  When we were first married I actually thought life was pretty great and wasn't sure if I even wanted children.  Then God started to help me see through some great friends from our church that being parents is a great calling.  God has given us children to help disciple and help them learn to love and serve Him.  So...after struggling through infertility and many questions of why, God blessed us with Caleb.  The baby stage was very hard for me and I always say once he turned one years old it was much easier for me to spend time with him because he could "do" so much more.  Fast forward to 2 years old....parenting has started to be even tougher!  He continually pushes our limits and patience levels.  These past almost 3 years of his life has shown me more and more why I need to pour my life into him.  They watch everything you do and only by being with him on a consistent basis can I have the influence as a mother on him as I hope to.  With having so many other work commitments and outside interests, my patience levels grow very thin.  So...with lots of prayers and a little fear still in my heart, we decided for me to start staying home later this fall.  I am excited for this new adventure and have a true peace about it that can only come from God!  

Another area that I still struggle with fear a lot is with my body.  This has been a constant struggle since college.  I have a fear of gaining weight and feel uncomfortable at times with tight fitting clothing.  I felt as if I had made huge strides with being freed of some of this fear, anxiety and lies that I was believing.  However, as I am starting to change some things to correct some of my health issues, I have had less control over some things and I quickly realized that this is still a very large stronghold in my life.  A friend of mine suggested that I memorize a Bible verse to be able to bring to mind when I am struggling with those lies in my thoughts.  Oh, yeah!  What a great idea.  Isn't it way easier to tell someone else what to do to help with their struggles than to know what to do to help yourself?  That is why we need other people in our lives that we can talk to and help keep us accountable!  I am continuing to pray that I will be comfortable in my own skin no matter what I choose to wear.  

I am so thankful that God is continuing to change me each day.  I leave you with this verse...

"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe."  - Proverbs 29:25            

Monday, August 4, 2014

Discovering Who I Am in Jesus Christ....

It has been a while since I have blogged.  Part of this is the fact that many times I have so many thoughts in my head and I can't decide which ones to blog about. :) 

The past three months, I feel as if I have been a sponge....soaking up everything that God is teaching me and trying to process it all.  Since January 2014, I have had a lot of ups and downs with my health and in our journey of continuing our family.  The end of May, we found out that my thyroid levels were extremely low.  After addressing this discovery, I have felt so much better! 

Then in June, I was blessed to spend two weeks in Chemnitz, Germany with five teens from our church and our youth pastor.  We have a partnership with an E-free church in Chemnitz.  The time there was very refreshing to me physically, emotionally and most of all spiritually.  The slower pace of life and time for rest was absolutely wonderful.  I love the European lifestyle of public transit, buying fresh food more often and being less busy.  Being with the Christians over in Germany also helped me gain a better understanding of what it also means to listen and be guided by the Holy Spirit more.  Recently, I have re-picked up the book, Forgotten God by Francis Chan.  I think in America we are missing out on experiencing the fullness of God because we are so afraid of the Holy Spirit.  A quote from this book that spoke to me was..

"The reality is that the early church knew less about the Holy Spirit than most of us in the church today, at least in the intellectual sense.  But they came to know the Spirit intimately and powerfully as He worked in and through our their lives."

I walked away from that trip with a sense that I needed to let go of some things in my life that I have been holding on to.  I struggle a lot in my life with control and trusting God.  It is so easy for us in America to not really "need" God and yet we are depriving ourselves of the freedom and thrill it is to live for Jesus.

This past weekend we attended our church family camp at Hidden Acres Christian Center near Boone, Iowa.  Our guest speaker this year was Zach Blickens and the band White Ribbon Day.   He shared his opinion that life with Jesus should not be boring.  I completely agree!  When you read the Bible, all of the stories tell of times where things were shaken up and not "normal."  Yet what holds us back from living on the edge for Jesus?  Fear!

My husband found this blog post today and sent it my way...http://www.knoxpriest.com/scruffy-hospitality-creates-space-friendship/     I have been struggling with this idea of true community for a long time.  I value friendships so much and yet sometimes don't feel like my friendships are going very deep.  Once again....why do we not have this community, because of our pride and fear of not being "excellent." 

The Lord has been teaching me to be content with where he has me and our family.  Through these past few months he has also been helping me see that I value people's opinions far too much at times and allow fear to drive me from being the person he created me to be!  A friend of mine shared this with me....that when we turn our life over to Jesus Christ and allow him to guide our steps, he starts to work on clearing out all of the junk that is inside of our hearts and minds and slowly reveal who we were really created to be before sin came in and mucked everything up!  We are so blessed to be taken in as a child of God.

I leave you with a passage in the Bible from Ecclesiates 3: 1-14.  It has reminded me that God is in control over everything in the past, present and future and he is too be praised!

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

If Any of You Lacks Wisdom...

         It says in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." 

I was struck by a sentence this past week in a Paul Tripp devotional.  It said..."envy questions the wisdom of God."  Lately I have been praying for wisdom for both Matt and I as we navigate understanding and discipline with our son.  However, this sentence helped me think about wisdom in a whole different aspect. 

Through analyzing my thoughts I have been starting to identify that I am struggling with envy and contentment at the current time.  I have found that when I have more "down time", I actually have time to think about things that I want versus what I need.  For example...on my days off when my son and I are home, I almost always want to go out and do things.  This usually involves grabbing a latte and going and looking at things in stores.  The thought of staying at home all day actually scares me.  However, if I am out and about than my sinful heart wants to buy things.  I have found that if I stay home with my son for a good chunk of the day he sort of gets bored and then that requires me to do a lot of things with him in which I get weary and would rather be doing things around the house.

This lack of contentment carries over to other areas of my life as well.  I love to run/walk and participate in work out classes.  It is definitely my release but I have also found that I think it helps give me something to focus on besides my materialistic wants and selfish desires to use my time instead of having to use it on other things.

When Matt is home in the evenings and weekends, I don't have as much of a hard time with contentment and envy because I have less time to think about it and yearn for things that are not needed.  I often wonder....is this the way God created me...or can he give me more peace when I am not as busy and help me to be more content?

Where is the balance of trying to do things in your life to keep you less focused on yourself and more focused on serving God and others?  Parenting is so difficult for me at times.  I feel like when I was needed all the time by my son it was easier because I did not have a choice of where I spent my time.  Now...as he gets older I find it much harder to sacrifice my time again and get impatient with him often.  

I leave you this verse as I meditate on it myself...

"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."  James 3:16-18 

Monday, March 3, 2014

God Is Able

There is no better thing than to hear your 2 year old son, singing 'God is Able' in his crib as he tries to put himself to sleep for his nap.  It is amazing how God teaches us things in so many ways, many times through our children!  For the past 2 months this has been one of my son's favorite songs.  We watch this video by Hillsong United many times in a week. 

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend our churches' Women's Retreat at a local hotel.  We watched three different speakers that had spoken at various True Woman conferences in past years.  The first speaker, Voddie Baucham is a pastor.  A big take away from his session was again, God is Able.  He is sufficient and all we need in this life.  He also reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for. 

The past few months have been a roller coaster ride for me personally.  We are hoping to have another child and with our struggle of trying to conceive before and things not really seeming to be much better this time around I found out about another doctor that's specialty is hormone therapy.  I was able to get into see her right away and have some testing done.  In the mean time I started taking a 6-week nutrition class through Alexa Schirm, who I highly recommend.  Her website is www.simplerootswellness.com.  A lot was going on at my part-time job that was putting extra stress on myself, meanwhile all of the normal day to day happenings of caring for a home, husband and 2 year old!   I became highly emotional and was not dealing with my circumstances very well to say the least!

A good friend of mine came alongside me and spoke truth to me from God's scriptures and helped me identify what were some of my feelings and reactions to these things happening in my life.  She held me accountable.  Sharing all of the thoughts going through my head and helping me address some of my fears and lies that had been swirling around in my head was key for me to take my thoughts captive.  God is calling me to Trust him more in all areas of my life.  I so desperately want to control my life, specifically in expanding our family and yet the reality is that I have absolutely no control over this!

A verse that was studied at the retreat I attended this past weekend and was a needed reminder for me was, Colossians 3:15-17.  It reads:

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

We need God and we need each other!  I so firmly believe in the idea that we must live in community.  That means spending time at a church worshipping together in corporate worship once a week as well as being apart of a small group of people that are encouraging us to learn more about God and help us with whatever is going on in our life.  In order to form deep relationships with people, we must spend time with them and know what is going on in their life.

My husband and I attend Stonebridge E-free church.  It is such a blessing to be apart of this body!  We just started an additional service that is at 5 p.m. on Saturday evenings.  I am excited to see new people come to our church and find out what it means to worship a "God that is Able" and will fulfill your every need if you follow His way!

We are blessed!   

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Reflections On 2013 and the Year Ahead!

Wow!  2014.  In some ways it is hard to believe that Matt and I will have been out of college for 10 years in May.  However, as I look back, we have learned so much in our job experiences, parenting experiences, marriage and friend relationships and have been so blessed by God along the way.  I am so thankful that we are members and very involved in our church, Stonebridge EFCA.  The community that this church has provided for us as just a young couple out of college and now young parents is invaluable.

2013 was a good year for us.  I feel like we finally settled into life with a young child.  We figured out reasonable expectations for keeping up the house, exercise, what our priorities were as far as church, family and social outings.  Caleb just became more fun as the year grew on.  In fact, so far I really like the 2's.  He is just starting to be independent and have his own opinion about things and I realize that the discipline will get much tougher and yet I feel the trade out is far greater.  He talks up a storm and understands and interacts so much more and we can actually do things like play in the snow and paint now!  I am so thankful that God has given us the opportunity to disciple our children and teach them to love Him!

Something that I am pretty excited about in the coming year are some changes that I feel are a huge step for me.  Towards the end of 2013 we started to go through our house and get rid of a lot of things that we did not need or want any longer.  A lot of these things were clothes.  Matt and I have been fortunate enough to stay a similar size throughout most of the past 10 years and so many of our clothing styles have also stayed the same.  I decided that I would like to change my style of dress and try to dress a little bit more trendier.  Ever since college many of my clothing choices have been a little bit more modest, especially in the pants area.  I would choose looser fitting pants and recently those pants have just gotten to be too big.  Some of this choice was also more mental.  As I was not comfortable with the way God had created me.  So...I am happy to share that I purchased a pair of skinny jeans and some scarves and cardigans to start wearing.  I have also purchased the boots below.  I am very excited about them.  I am so thankful that God has been working on my heart in this area for the past 10 years and I know will continue to work on it as it will probably always be an area that I struggle in.  

I am also excited about continuing to eat a more Paleo/Gluten free type lifestyle again.  We already do this a lot but I have gotten off track some and would like to strive to cook/eat more like this again.  I found this great gluten free flour at Costco recently.  I have had some of their other products before and have loved them.  So I am hoping it will be good! 

I want to leave you with this verse from Psalm 145:17-18.

"The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.  The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."  

We are so blessed with a God that knows our every need.  He is trustworthy and full of grace.  However, we must seek Him out and follow His ways.  I pray you find the hope that you need in God this coming year!