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Because He Loves Me

Guys, I made a mistake. A few years ago, I was given a book. It was given as a thank-you gift to a group of volunteers that I’m blessed to be a part of. It was around Christmas time and I remember looking at it, and putting it on my bookshelf. And here’s where the mistake came in:

I DID NOT READ THAT BOOK. If you don’t know this about me, I don’t read many theology books written by women because sometimes I get tired of looking for good ones. (Some of you might identify with that and some of you might be outraged.) So when I saw that this book was written by a woman I pridefully placed it in the back of my mind and forgot about it. I should have known better. I should have known that the ladies that picked this book are some of the most biblically sound people I know. I should have read the book years ago. I didn’t though.

But God in his grace reminded me of that book a couple months back and I decided to give it a try. I have been blown away, people. There were some days I would be reading and it was all I could do to contain the love for Christ that I felt building inside me from reading this. This book is one of the most Christ-focused, convicting, and encouraging books I have ever read!

It’s Because He Loves Me by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I actually can’t think of anything negative to say, which is rare for me. I even included the Amazon link if you click that picture because, seriously, everyone should read it!

Over the next few posts, I want to share some of my favorite parts of the book but I think my absolute favorite thing about it was how entirely gospel-focused it is. Elyse starts out with the gospel and builds on that but always brings you back to the fact that Christ’s love displayed in the gospel should be the driving motivation for every single thing we do. I needed that reminder. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to do what’s right that I ignore my motivations. A short quote from the book, “I believe that most Christians think fondly of Jesus, are sincerely grateful for salvation, and remember his name as a tagline when they pray, but they don’t see his work and life as something to contemplate every moment of every day. I have to admit that until fairly recently I, too, pursued godliness without much thought of him.”

And that’s just from the intro! This book left me with a greater awe of our Savior and love for him! I’m so excited to share that with you all.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in books

 

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Raised to Walk a New Life

You know those people that come into work (or wherever) in the winter time and complain about how much they hate winter and can’t wait for warm weather but then as soon as summer is here they complain about how much they hate the heat? You know who I’m talking about? I’m not one of those people. I’m solely a summer complainer. A heat-hater. I freaking love winter and all my friends know it. So I jokingly say that I have a right to complain when summer comes around since I don’t play both ends. ๐Ÿ™‚

In case you didn’t know, summer has finally come to Ohio. After weeks of rain, the heat and humidity have arrived. And while I haven’t particularly enjoyed the rain and have been praying especially for all our farmers, I HAVE been enjoying those 50 degree nights. That was pretty nice to have all the way through June. And I’ve also been enjoying my $20 electric bill as I push off putting in my AC until I can’t take it anymore.

Which was last night. Last night, I got home from work and my apartment was at 90 degrees with no air flow coming in. My neighbor and I agreed it was time and we helped each other get our AC units in. But after an hour, it was still at 86 and I was sweltering. If you haven’t seen this, I turn into a different person when I’m unbearably hot. Yeeeeaaahhh…need to work on that…

So I quickly texted a friend of mine in town who has a- guess what? Pool! And both my neighbor and I went swimming for a while. It was SO cool and refreshing! We stayed till the sun went down and I felt like a new human walking home.

As I thought about it this morning, a phrase is running through my head that I’ve missed since I moved to Ohio. When I was baptized in PA, my pastor said these words, “Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Buried in the likeness of his death and raised to walk a new life.” I love that last sentence! It’s so symbolic as you are put under the water and come back up. But I haven’t heard it at any baptisms out here and I’m usually sitting waiting for it (and end up whispering it under my breath ๐Ÿ™‚ ) It’s not like it’s a required thing to say, I just happen to like it.

Last night was a very simple but great reminder for me. As different as I felt getting out of that pool from when I got in is how different my life is in Christ! Believers are new creations! The old is gone, washed away! The new is here, being put on daily!

Thank you to my chlorine-smelling hair for the great reminder!

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2019 in encouragment

 

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A Part of HIStory

This weekend I had an incredible, terrifying opportunity. I was asked to do devotions for a ladies retreat and after a lot of prayer I said yes (Hey, it fit the criteria!) But I was pretty nervous because (believe it or not), I’m not much for public speaking. No one at my church thinks that is true because I make announcements all the time but they are too far away to see how much I’m shaking! I write, I don’t speak.

So I had to put a lot of thought into what I was going to do these devotions on. I had 5 sessions and a varied audience. I asked several people what they thought and I kept getting the same answer- tell your story. So that’s what I did.

I told the story of my life and how God’s grace was woven throughout it. Pretty much what I’ve written on here. I was amazed at the response and the conversations that I was able to have simply because I opened up.

And at some point it hit me- that’s something people crave: openness. We really have a desire to be honest and open with our struggles but so many things prevent that! Either from bad past experiences, fear of judgment or consequences, or simply a fear of being vulnerable to other people, we hide things that we are struggling with.

And yet this weekend, I found a wonderful group of ladies affected by my story and willing to open up to me. It takes one person sometimes to kick down the walls and find the common things we all struggle with. One person being honest for everyone else to be honest as well.

Through that simple honesty, I was able to share Christ. I didn’t open up any theological book for my devotions this weekend. I didn’t need to. I needed my Bible and my Backstory (like the alliteration there?) and it was simple and effective. Every believer has that. You don’t need a seminary degree to share the gospel with others. All you need is a willingness to be obedient and do it.

I’m glad I said yes this time. ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2019 in evangelism

 

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It’s Lent for Me

Two nights ago I was laying in bed exhausted. But I was thinking and one thought just kept coming to my mind. “Lord, I wish it was Lent.”

Which is a totally weird thought for me. Growing up, we didn’t celebrate Lent at all. In fact, I secretly thought that the only people that did anything with Lent were Catholics or super legalistic people. I didn’t even really know what it was to be honest.

So you can imagine my surprise when I became an adult and found out that quite a few of my friends give up things for Lent. Still didn’t really understand it….but I came to the simple conclusion that it must not be a Catholic thing after all. It was a mystery to me honestly.

Last year I decided to do some research to figure out this whole LENT thing. I found out that it was the time period between Ash Wednesday (hmmm…wonder when that is…) and the Saturday before Easter- 40 Days. Which represent the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. And that a lot of believers use that time to give up something from their life and focus on Christ instead. Of course it can be something legalistic (like most things) but it doesn’t have to be.

So I decided to give it a try. I thought of something I wouldn’t want to give up but would probably give me more time to spend with the Lord. *Netflix* Annnnddd…I hated it. Truly. It’s not like I watch a ton of Netflix but I didn’t realize at the time how much my brain used a stupid baking show or Andy Griffith to wind down before bed. And at the time I couldn’t do much reading so I felt trapped and stuck. But I did it for the 40 days and decided I didn’t want to do Lent again. Great attitude, right?

You may be wondering then, why I was wishing it was Lent the other night? Because deep down, I wanted to be done with social media for a while. It was just one more thing for me to keep up with and it was wearing me out. And I know that isn’t the purpose of Lent, to give up something because you are done with it. But inside I was thinking that people would understand more during Lent. They wouldn’t think I was weird or crazy. I KNOW it’s pride, people!

And even as I thought that to myself, my…small…inner rebel spoke up and asked, “Since when did you start caring so much about what people think?” HA!

Inner rebel for the win, I’m off social media. And it’s such a relief. I expect I will miss things and my blog stats will plummet and I. Don’t. Care. When something isn’t drawing me closer to Christ, out it goes. Christ stays, but the world doesn’t.

So right now I’m just sitting here enjoying my early Lent. How about you?

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Delighting in the Lord (Link)

Gooood Morning! Here’s my latest guest post over at Guys with Bibles! Have a fabulous day!

Delighting in the Lord

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2019 in encouragment

 

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A Real Christmas

This weekend I got to do one of my favorite things of the whole year. The Farm where I used to work was putting on their annual Christmas event and I got to volunteer for it. This event is great- a wagon ride that stops at different scenes where the story of Christ’s birth is told by volunteer actors. The culmination of the scenes is the last one. A simple nativity in a barn and angels singing. The gospel is told at this scene which means that all the thousands of people that come to this event have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I. Love. It.ย 

Friday went really well but Saturday came around and it was POURING. Torrential downpours, people. And for an event that is outside, it didn’t look like it was going to be quite as much fun that night. But I was reminded that things go on and the gospel is shared no matter the weather. And I prayed. Lo, and behold, we had practically no rain for the tours and as soon as we finished, it started to rain again. Isn’t God incredible??

But this weekend, I also had a good friend of mine say something unusual to me. She asked me why I was smiling so much and said I just looked so happy and she loved it. She said she is so happy and wished her face could show it like mine can all the time.

Gotta admit, I was kind of taken aback for a minute. I had to stop and think. Of course my answer would have been different if this person wasn’t saved but she’s a strong believer and we are good friends. I thought and just realized that somehow, seeing God answer small prayers like clear skies and being surrounded by people I love, doing something I love filled me with a joy I haven’t felt in a long time.

But I think there’s more than that. Growing up, I was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. I was ALWAYS cheerful, ALWAYS singing carols, ALWAYS excited for Christmas. And that’s a hard expectation to live up to. The last two years, I have felt very depressed and numb at Christmas but I didn’t show it. I felt like I needed to be the cheerful person that my family and friends expected me to be. And I hated every minute. I hated pretending to take joy in my favorite time of year when I felt nothing. I would enthusiastically participate in every Christmas activity and then come home and cry because I felt so empty.

And this morning at church, sitting taking communion, I realized that I wasn’t faking that joy this year.

It was real.

Amidst all the pain and difficulties this year has brought, God has given me his joy for this season and I don’t have to pretend to have it. I suddenly felt so relieved and unburdened.

So if you saw me quietly crying during communion this morning, no worries, they were tears of thankfulness. Just pure gratitude as I remembered all Christ has done for me.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2018 in Christmas

 

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In Case of Emergency

The other day I had to fill out an online questionnaire. (You have officially read the most boring opening sentence ever.) HAD is the crucial word in that sentence because it was a long, and in my opinion, meaningless, questionnaire but it was something that I really did have to do. I sincerely hope that the people who received it were able to get some sort of information from all the random questions they asked.

Anyway, one of the questions read something like, “In the event of a real emergency, how many people do you have in your life that you could count on to help you?”

Somehow my brain translated that question into “How many people would you call in the event of an emergency?” and I actually answered with 1. I thought of the time I needed to go to the ER and literally all I did was call my best friend, she came home from work to take me in, and contacted all my family. She handled everything. So in my mind I just thought, “Well, I’d call Natalie and go from there.”

I was about to click to the next question when I glanced over it again and realized my error. Oh! How many people could I count on??ย That’s a totally different question! The options were 1, 2-5, 6-10, or 11+. Suddenly I knew my answer and at the same time how incredibly blessed I am.

I realized if I REALLY needed someone to help me, not only would my friends and family drop everything and come, but my church family would do the same thing. And the other churches in the area would respond too. How do I know? I’ve experienced it and I seen it over and over again. Suddenly 11+ seemed like waaaaayyy too small of a number for this question.

My guess is that the people reading the questionnaire can probably see how long I spend on each question and if I change my answers. They probably thought I was rigging my answer when it switched from the lowest number to the highest.

Nope. Just remembering the kind of community I have in Christ and what a blessing it is.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in blessing

 

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