Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Flying on New Year's Eve

Tonight, I flew from Chicago, Illinois to Seattle, Washington. If you get the chance to fly west at sunset, take it. It was gorgeous! I couldn't even believe how beautiful it was.

I do have some resolutions to share, and there will probably be a number of blog posts to come soon. First, I have a Bible reading plan that I started on the plane.

I'm doing the "Change you mind" plan: read a book of the Bible 20 times, then another, and another until you've read them all. I read Genesis 5 times through on the plane. Doing that, thinking about the Creator and how He led His people - He saw them, He knew them, He established His covenant, He remembered His promise - that made looking out the window that much more incredible.

I also read a large portion of Boring which I maybe like even more than Ordinary. More to come on that in the future.

I checked in with my last it wasn't a total fail. I was definitely mindful of these changes:

"1. Cleaning up (mostly the newspaper) in the living room each day 
We did ok...then we stopped getting the newspaper and the clean factor went way up. Then we moved and got two more roommates with boyfriends and for a time there were SIX pets. So if it wasn't a disaster we called it good.
2. Doing the dishes before bed 
Fluctuated. We did make a solid effort to stay on top of this. Mostly
3. Exercising every day (walking to work, conditioning with our kids, yoga, jump rope; it doesn't matter as long as you're moving)
Spraining my ankle limited this one, but I definitely did something active every day. I will count this one a success
To that I now add: 
1. Memorizing larger passages of scripture. January will be Ephesians 2. 
I did this one! Ephesians 2, Psalm 119, Hosea 2, Romans 8, Psalm 16, Hebrews 1, and this isn't Scripture, but the first 3 weeks of the Heidelberg catechism. 
2. Staying a little more in touch with a few more people. I've written a letter, sent a Facebook note and exchanged a few texts thus far. 
I feel good saying I stuck with this one. I did get way behind on the Betsy loves though. But I even talked to my family more! 
3. Attend at least one musical event a month. It doesn't matter if it's a rap concert at the Showbox or a cello sonata at a church. 
I didn't hit the goal, but it wasn't terrible. But I did well January - June. I maybe missed July and August, but hit up September and October. Missed November. And then I went to a musical and a ballet in December. And a wedding. So pretty close.
4. Eat at least 2 actual sit down meals per day instead of just random snacks."
This was probably the biggest fail. I consistently hit at least 1, though. 50%

I think I would feel comfortable giving myself a low B on this one. Fight me if you want, but if we're on a bell curve with other Americans, I definitely think I'm above average. I think what made the difference is that these are true lifestyle/mindset changes. When you can make the change, it gets easier. to keep making it. 

My theme last year was "to live with all my might while I yet do live." I honestly feel like I lived that theme out pretty well. I see myself growing up into Christ - I have a long way to go, but I do feel a deeper satisfaction in Him. And I'm so thankful because I know it's only by His blood and His Spirit that I am sanctified. It makes me love Jesus all the more. 

This year, I came up with a word, a theme, and a few goals. 

Word: hesed. Hebrew for love and loyalty, it's about loving when you have nothing to gain and everything to lose. 

Theme: live a life laid down


1. Change your mind reading plan, writing a haiku for each book, alternating between Old and New Testament (Genesis, Matthew, Exodus, Mark, etc.) [this will probably take more than a year. I have no idea] 

2. Watch t.v./movie only one day per week, and no more than two consecutive episodes 

3. Go out for a treat/meal/coffee 1-2 times per week MAX (excluding Bible study @Zoka). 

4. January with no refined sugar, February with no sugar (besides fruit) 

Here's to the new year! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The 14 most important books I read in 2014

I have read so many books this year(my rate did decrease once we got Internet though), and a large number of them were high quality. A smaller number, however, had an impact on how I live my life, how I read, how I pray, how I cook, and how I see the world around me. I have 14 titles to share with you this year.

In no particular order: 

1. Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. Rich was a middle aged former alcoholic who ate plates of cheeseburgers while watching tv late into the night. When he was winded going up the stairs, he realized it was time to make a change. A juice cleanse led to vegetarianism led to veganism led to whole foods led to iron man competitions. His story inspired me in a massive way. I tried veganism for 6 months, and trained for a 50k run. I still stick to veganism when I can, but I am a lot more loose about it. I do read labels more carefully and am willing to spend a little more money on higher quality foods. This is a great book if you're looking for some inspiration to change in the new year. 

2. The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon. Elizabeth has been a longtime fan of Angela's blog and pre-ordered this book for us. The only book I used more this year was the Bible. Angela creates delicious vegan recipes that anyone can enjoy. My favorites in the book are curried lentil oatmeal, black bean and sweet potato enchiladas, and fudgy mocha pudding cake. After you read Roll's book, you might need Angela's to help you get started. 

3. 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I was introduced to Jen by my friend Christina, and I am so thankful for it. In this book, Jen tries to tame the excess in her life by doing a 7 month experiment in 7 areas of her life. She eats only 7 foods one month, wears only 7 pieces of clothes (underwear and socks don't count) for another, etc. I was challenged to evaluate many of the choices I make and how it affects my ability to focus on what is actually important. What do I really need? How can I bless others? How can I make more time to spend with Jesus by cutting the less important things? This is a great introduction to the Hatmakers; I'm sure you'll be calling her your friend in no time. 

4. Depression by Ed Welch. If you or any Christian you know suffers from depression, please read this.  Welch writes primarily to the depressed person, adding in just a chapter to friends and family. However, I found the entire book immensely helpful. If you've ever read Job and wondered what his friends should have said to him in his suffering, this book will answer that dilemma. 

5.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This book tore me apart. Louie Zamperini was a troubled youth who was transformed into an Olympic athlete. He was then drafted into the war and survived a plane crash for 47 days on a raft. He was then discover by a Japanese ship and survived brutal torture in POW camps for years before finally being set free. He returned from war beat down and having nightmares of his torturers; he trained and planned to murder him. Instead, his wife took him to see Billy Graham. Louie turned to Jesus and told his captors he forgave them because of how much he'd been forgiven. This story was so powerful, and this last idea especially so. He had every right to be angry and instead he showed grace. It was a reminder that the trivial grievances I face in my life are also worthy of forgiveness. 

6. Ordinary by Michael Horton. This is a pushback on Radical. For me, Radical was convicting and life changing. But I think what's been done with and to it has created a sub culture in which only the big things matter. I really believe that, read correctly, these two books say the same thing: Love God. Listen to Him. Love people. Horton's book did spark some great conversation with my former InterVarsity staff worker, though, and it also freed me to dedicate myself to the ordinary life to which God has called me right now. There's a lot to be said for being faithful and available, and that's what Horton really gets at in this book. 

7. A Loving Life by Paul Miller. If Rolls' book most affected me physically, it is Miller's that takes the cake spiritually. This book is essentially and extensive walk through the book of Ruth. I sighed when I figured that out because that's the poster book for women's Bible study. But this was unlike any other study of Ruth I had ever read. It focused on relationships of all kinds, not just the marriage of Ruth and Boaz. It talked about the severity of Naomi's grief, and how it was her faith in God that depressed her further, this shattering the stereotype of the depressed person of faith. The book looked at how loving and faithful Ruth was to her mother in law. It showcased not only Ruth's audacity, but Boaz's extreme respect and honor. The word of this book is "hesed", which means love and loyalty. It's about living a life laid down. Although I read this book late into the year, it has already affected my mindset and the way I try to approach relationships. I am so excited to carry this one forward. 

8. Fierce Convictions by Karen Prior. Many of you know of my interest in William Wilberforce and the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. Few of you probably know of the immense role a Hannah More played in both the abolition and society at large during that time. She was a bright, charming, bold woman who never married; choosing instead to invest herself into her writing and the improving of society. She founded many schools to teach the poor to read and wrote prolifically to change public opinion on slavery. She and Wilberforce were close friends and obvious allies. I am grateful to Prior for telling more of Hannah's story. Because she was a woman, More could not officially join any anti-slavery organizations, vote, or run for a seat in the House of Commons. And yet, she is one of the primary reasons abolition passed. History is indebted to this brialliant woman. Read her story and give her the honor she is due. 

9. A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester. This is a book about a lot of things, but primarily, community and awareness. Chester encourages Christians to meet regularly and pray for each other, give thanks and do life together over food. He also challenged me to say grace more fully, giving thanks for the workers who grew the food and packaged and stocked it, as well as the hands that made it and those who share the meal with me. I cannot do this book justice in a short description; you'll have to see for yourself. If you read 7, read this one right after. They make a great pair. 

10. Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill. There were several books that came put in the wake of God and the Gay Christian, and this was one of, if not the best. Wesley writes of his experiences as a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction. It is useful not only to those who are in the church asking about homosexuality, but also to very Christian who is tempted in any kind of sin. He writes beautifully and biblically on sanctification, and although he writes specifically about homosexuality, his lessons are applicable to the entire church. He also makes a strong statement about singleness and the need for a sound theology around celibacy that I think the Christian sub culture needs to hear. Not everyone will marry, and the church needs to know how to encourage singles and help them both in their struggles and in their fittings. 

11. All Things for Good by Thomas Watson. Watson has become my favorite Puritan this year. His books are a little tough to tackle, but so worth it. This book was my introduction to him, and it is a good one in and of itself. I read it while memorizing Romans 8, and the depth Watson reaches in discussing that famous verse, 8:28, is incredible. In joy, in sorrow, in the ordinary as well as the radical, God does work everything for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes. 

12. The Diary of Jim Elliot edited by Elisabeth Elliot. Although I was familiar with his story, I'd never read it from his own hand. Jim's diary covers his entire college career, his waiting for his call to missions and his mission until a few weeks before he was brutally murdered. It was so encouraging to be able to read from his Bible study, to his prayer, to his own struggles with doubt, an even his pursuit of marriage to Elisabeth. He is one man who made himself available to God and kept the faith, and his story should be a breath of fresh air to all who read it. 

13. Biblical Illustrator volume 28 by Joseph Exell. This is the volume on Hosea. I picked it up as a commentary for my church's Bible study. I have been immensely pleased with it. Exell layers commentary by Matthew Henry, John Calvin, Moody, Spurgeon, and many others with his own insights to provide an incredibly thorough commentary on the book of Hosea. I spend hours digging into a single chapter, with many thanks to this commentary. I can't wait to check out some of the other volumes! 

14. Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss. Moss is one more book that solidified by negative opinion of the corporate food industry. If you're the average American consumer, you can't helped but feel duped when you read Moss's exposĂ©. Another great read if you're thinking it's time to change what you're eating. I've learned this year that it's really hard to ignore these things once you know them. Or as my dear roommate says, "you can't un-know this stuff" 

Honorable mention: 
Eight Twenty-Eight by Ian and Larissa Murphy; Out of the Depths by John Newton; What to Eat by Marion NestlĂ©; The Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub

Happy reading, everyone! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 

You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 

Where shall I go from your Spirit? 
Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! 
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 

If I say, "surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," 

Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 

Psalm 139:1-12

Pictures, in order:
Stone Mountain, Georgia. December 2014

Bare Mountain, Washington. August 2013

Bare Mountain, Washington. August 2013

Maple Leaf Park at sunrise (sunrise! I know!), Washigton. November 2014

Kendall Katwalk, Washington. September 2014

My parents' living room, Wisconsin. December 2014 

Friday, December 26, 2014

I had an amazing visit with T. The wedding was beautiful and I feel so thankful to have been able to travel to Atlanta this winter. 

Home has been mostly nice. J was pretty much a butt wipe from our first family dinner right until we took her to the airport for India, but that's what you get with her sometimes. 

Anyway, I have a few verses that always remind me to pray for T, and allow me to believe Jesus has her in his hands. 

I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. John 14:18

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share? 
Jesus knows our every weakness; 
Take it to The Lord in prayer. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

John Newton

I love everything that has to do with the abolition of the slave trade in Britain (William Wilberforce and Hannah More especially), so of course I've noticed that there was some amazing writing about the time period being done this year. 

Jonathan Aitken wrote a fantastic biography on his "disgrace to amazing grace". I've read a number of biographies on Newton, as well as his writings, but this was a wonderfully thorough look at his life. Until today, I'd never read his epitaph, which he wrote  himself

John Newton 
Once an infidel and libertine 
A servant of slaves in Africa 
By the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ 
Preserved, Reserved, Pardoned 
And appointed to preach the faith 
He had long laboured to destroy 

Newton's story is much more complex than the remix version that is often told alongside signings of Amazing Grace. I strongly encourage you to check out this biography by Aitken, and while you're at it, feel free to grab Fierce Convictions and Amazing Grace. You won't regret it. 


Return, O my soul, to your rest; for The Lord has dealt bountifully with you. 

I love this verse, but I don't think I've ever taken the time to really reflect on it. It's interesting that the psalmist tells his soul to return to rest. But when you first trust in God, there is an immediate peace that comes, for you know your safety; you trust His security if only for a moment. And then storms come: temptations arise. Trust is shake. Anxiety sneaks in to disrupt that peace. Circumstances drive you from the promised rest. As the psalmist, we also need to continue to prove that rest. The author of Hebrews tells us to strive to enter God's rest (v.4:11). We engage in the fight for joy. And the reason we do this, the reason we can rest is because The Lord has indeed dealt bountifully with us. 

Romans 8 reminds us of these marvelous, condescending, gracious dealings - 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (v.31-34). 

We can rest because the only person in the universe whose opinion matters loves us. God is the only one who can rightly judge, condemn and punish us, but because Jesus took our punishment, our slate has been wiped clean. We have no reason not to rest because God is for us. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On Friendship and the Gospel

I am 0% tired. I'm leaving for the airport in five hours to go see Christina so I thought I'd write about her.

Our friendship doesn't make any sense to the world. I'm going to give you a time line of the days we've actually spent together:

October 2011: We meet on a Friday on the Chapin quad at Beloit College. We see each other Saturday at a football game. We have dinner with Daniel, my sister and her friend Laney on Sunday. We become facebook friends.

March 2013: Christina comes to spend her spring break in Wisconsin. It snowed. Typical.

And now, December 2014: Daniel is getting married, so I'm going to Georgia. Also, I was praying for a good time to come see Christina and God provided this wedding date.

So. That's it. Our friendship hasn't been founded in time together. We haven't spent evenings watching movies and drinking wine. We're not friends because it's convenient or easy. We are not friends for a reason or season, we're friends for the journey.

We're friends because Jesus has made us sisters.

The love I have for her is rooted in the fact that we are family. We both love Jesus. We both love His glory. We are His people. And do you know what God says to do for your family?

"Feed my sheep" John 21:17

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God...Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7, 11

It is a true honor, privilege and blessing to be able to know, love and serve Christina as my sister in Christ. I am so excited to finally see her on her turf so soon. My next night's sleep will come at her house.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Be Careful Who You Live With

My roommate Elizabeth is possibly too well read for our sanity. This year, she's passed over books like Finding Ultra, The Oh She Glows Cookbook, The Omnivore's Dilemma, What to Eat, and Year of No Sugar; and movies like Forks Over Knives and Fed Up. She also inspired my reading of Salt Sugar Fat, Thrive, and Food Rules, and the watching of too many food documentaries to name.

The results have been:

a 6-ish month vegan experiment, followed by a month-ish long break and then a mostly vegan but with sometimes holiday flavored milk chocolate is too delicious and why is this gross pizza so good right now moments.

more label reading than I'd ever imagined possible

an awareness of sugar and doing psychotic things like spending $3 more on pasta sauce without added sugar

training for a 50k, followed by going days and even weeks without running

trying ballet classes

group fitness

walking and biking to work

losing too much weight and being told to gain some of it back

growing a half inch (I doubt this had anything to do with anything but it happened this year so it's being included).

ridiculous cravings for avocados

learning to swap out refined sugars for maple syrup or honey

eating plain salt when I had a vitamin/mineral deficiency (I now take a multi vitamin)

green tea. lots of it.

sometimes making gluten free food just for the challenge and fun of it

bread obsessions

super healing muffins (courtesy of Oh She Glows). and several different experimental versions thereof

elderberry syrup and lozenges with zinc

sparkling water

And probably some other weird things I'm forgetting. As you can see, there were some positives and some negatives, and that's what I want to tell you: it's been a learning process and I am not an expert. You have no reason to take my advice. I'm just figuring out how to do me in the best way possible.

And so, tonight, here's one more crazy thing we've decided to try, together:

Tackle sugar.

January will be refined sugar free. Things like honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar will be allowed.

February will be no sugar at all. Except, you know, actual fruit. because fruit. Also, Elizabeth has been doing this vegan cleanse and I weirdly accepted the invitation to join her in February.

Stay tuned, folks. It's going to get interesting.

Come and Stand Amazed

I absolutely love each one of our worship leaders for different reasons. Today was Conrad. He sat at the piano and he sang, and when he sings, he sings LOUDLY. And then the church sings LOUDLY. And then the piano fades and all you hear are the voices of the redeemed and being redeemed crying out in praise to Jesus. It is beyond lovely. Another thing about Conrad, is he always goes old, and not always well known. Today's set list was a good mix of that

Crown Him with Many Crowns
All Creatures 
How Great Thou Art 
Come and Stand Amazed 
Silent Night 
All Glory Be to Christ 

Come and Stand Amazed was a new one for us as a church, and for me personally today. When Conrad introduced he said something like, "So this is a really old Christmas hymn and you probably don't know the words, but it's to the tune of Come Thou Fount and you guys definitely know how that goes and the words will be on the screen, so let's do it"

It totally blew me away today.

Come and stand amazed, you people, 
See how God is reconciled! 
See his plans of love accomplished 
See his gift, this newborn child 
See the Mighty, weak and tender
See the Word who now is mute 
See the Sovereign without splendor 
See the Fullness destitute 

See how humankind received him 
See him wrapped in swaddling bands 
Who as Lord of all creation 
Rules the wind by his commands 
See him lying in a manger 
Without sign of reasoning 
Word of God to flesh surrendered
He is wisdom's crown, our King 

O Lord Jesus, God incarnate 
Who assumed this humble form 
Counsel me and let my wishes 
To thy perfect will conform 
Light of life dispel my darkness
Let your frailty strengthen me 
Let your meekness give me boldness
Let your burdens set me free

O Emmanuel my Savior
Let your death be life to me 

I was so struck by these words. I couldn't even get all of them out. The reality of what Christ gave up in being born a helpless infant hit me with full force today. He had perfect communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and He left that to be born, to live, to die, and to rise so that I could join that communion. And that last line of the song - let your death be life to me.


What a powerful reminder.

He died for life. For freedom He has set me free. He was born for life. A life-giving life. And I receive His life to give it away. Christmas is so beautiful, because it makes Chris's humility and lowliness so visible. He was a dependent little baby born in a manger. And He was and is the Son of God. Christ's example is before me. Lord, let me see Your light, and be Your light in a world of darkness.

The people who were born in darkness have seen a great light...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rejoice! Rejoice!

I have been completely taken with O Come, O Come, Emmanuel this first week of Advent.

Nancy Guthrie has a beautiful book for this season called Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room. In it, she writes about the longing that God's people had for the promised Messiah, and the longing we have for His return,

"Though it was hard for the people in Isaiah's day to imagine or understand how God would actually become a human, they began to long for this Messiah who would be 'God with us'. They looked forward to the day when God would fulfill all his promises by coming to live with them. We identify with them in their longing for God to full his promise to send Jesus when we sing, 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel'"

I particularly love verses 2 and 4 right now:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave

[Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel]

O com, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery

In all this longing, this thousands-years longing, the command is the same - Rejoice! Rejoice Because He is coming. And today, we get to rejoice because Christ has come, and will surely come again.

Enjoy this version by Red Mountain Church

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I've been reluctant to write this post, mostly because once you put your goals on the internet, everyone knows and is watching to see if you follow through. I'm thankful, though, for the grace of God, and that grace is not in vain. He is continually transforming me and working through my biggest failures and messes to show the power of His glory.

Last week, I read A Loving Life by Paul Miller. It was a thorough walk through the book of Ruth unlike any I'd ever heard. Ruth is pretty much the  women's conference/Bible study/blog book in Christianity. Most of the time, the focus is on how Ruth was so bold in ask Boaz to be her redeemer, and it was her humility, purity and audacity that won her a husband and preserved her line.

Here's the quickest run down of Ruth I can give:
Naomi is the mother in law whose husband and sons died.
Ruth is her daughter in law.
Naomi tells Ruth to return to her people so she can get married.
Ruth says, no way, and follows and serves Naomi.
Ruth goes to work in Boaz's field.
Boaz protects Ruth and shows her kindness.
Naomi tells Ruth that Boaz is a redeemer and can marry her and keep her dead husband's name alive.
Ruth sneaks into his dwelling place in the middle of the night and asks for a protective covering (marriage).
Boaz buys Naomi's land, marries Ruth, and they have children.
Ruth is celebrated (some scholars think that Proverbs 31 was about her!).

It's only 4 chapters, and that was a poor summary, so you should probably just go read it.

Miller, though, took the time to look at many different relationships, all through the lens of hesed. Hesed is a Hebrew word that is a combination of "love" and "loyalty". It is sometimes translated as "steadfast love". Hesed is a humble, faithful, self-sacrificing love.

Naomi shows this love when she tries to convince Ruth to leave her. Although Naomi has no other care giver or hope in the world, she lets Ruth go because she loves her. But Ruth also loves Naomi and is willing to give up everything to serve her. I was moved by Miller's description of Naomi's brokenness and how Ruth stepped into that -

"To enter a broken heart means that our hearts will be broken as well. That's what happened to Jesus. That's the gospel"

Ruth serves diligently in the fields to provide for herself and her mother in law. Boaz is moved and has compassion on this pair.

He is a man full of integrity and legally and honestly buys the rights to be their redeemer.

Their marriage is blessed.

All because of hesed. All because of the hesed that Jesus does for us.

"Hesed love is a determination to do someone good, no matter what, to be faithful to a covenant regardless of its impact on you. It wills to love when every fiber in your body screams run. This determination to love is at the heart of Jesus's relationship with His Father, and at the heart of ours as well"

They lived their lives laid down.


That phrase has been running so strong in me these days.

Sunday, pastor Joe preached hope. And then he challenged us to respond to that hope -

"Lay down your life so that others may see the hope that is only in Christ Jesus"

"Let us be a people who live lives of worship, who live

In all this, I reflected -

I'm trying to apply what I'm learning about hesed love, but it is so hard. I've been noticing a growing wall between {} and me. I don't even want to like/forgive/serve them sometimes. I want to have a clearer heart and be able to serve them with my life - looking always to Jesus as my example, and the Holy Spirit as my empower-er

From Psalm 51: 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! (v1-2)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (v7)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (v10-12) 

And then Ann Voskamp, with her upside down Christmas in The Greatest Gift.

I think I actually gasped when I got to the end of today -

"Think of three people who are not easy to love. What would it look like to love those people with God's love?"

Praying more. Bless those who curse me. Forgive as I have been forgiven.



More from me:

I welcome Christ's coming; as I long for maranatha once more, I pray that I would love with hesed and lay down my life as Christ laid down His life. It's hard for me to wrap my head around this one, but should be easy when I look at Jesus. Jesus loved me and died for me when I was beyond unworthy. My kiddos, roommates, bosses and coworkers may not always be worthy, but it doesn't matter. Agape loves regardless of the object of its love's worthiness or value. Lord, let me remember Jesus as I follow you in living a life laid down. 

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Do all things without grumbling or disputing Philippians 2:14 

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10