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What Stirs Your Affections?

Earlier this year my Young Adult group went through Matt Chandler’s video study on Philippians, “To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain.” I have to say, I was SUPER excited to do it because I had already read the book and loved it and was ready to share that with my closest friends. Pluusss…I just love Matt Chandler…

There was a thought in the series that really struck me. Chandler is asking you to look at your life and think about what stirs your affections for Christ and causes you to passionately pursue Him. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it before. From the book:

“What is it that stirs you to know Him, to love Him, to worship Him? It will probably look different for a lot of people. It will have to involve the Scriptures, because that’s how God speaks to us. It will involve prayer, because that’s how we speak to God. It involves worship, but we have to remember that worship is bigger and more expansive than singing songs in church. What is it that incorporates the Word and prayer and ultimately builds your heart in worship?” pg.98

He goes through several things that build his love for Christ and let me just say, I’m pretty sure he and I are kindred spirits. Most of the stuff on his list is on mine too. But I wanted to share with you a couple things that stir up my affections for Christ. I want to be clear that these aren’t just things I like in the way that I love cozy blankets but they are things that actually cause me to love and worship Christ more than I already do.

The first would definitely be early mornings. There is just something about waking up early and watching the sun come up as you do your devotions. There is a quiet beauty during that time that makes my heart whisper thankful prayers to the Lord.

Secondly, listening to others who are passionate about their faith. Being in the presence (or, ummm, screen) of someone who SO obviously loves Christ and is excited to share about Him and what he has done encourages me to love Him and serve Him better!

Thirdly, SNOW. I’m already prepared for some negative feedback on this one. I don’t know what it is about snow but it makes me giddy. I literally start giggling like a little girl and laugh (out loud) with joy when it snows. That God would create something so unique, soft, and beautiful is just amazing to me and I love it! It adds a beauty and quietness to winter.

The last one is probably weird. Music. Worship music, yes! Singing praise songs by myself or, even better, with my brothers and sisters in Christ is a beautiful thing! But it doesn’t even have to be that. Have you ever listened to movie scores before? Like from awesome, epic movies? There is something so moving and incredible about them that causes me to worship God. I thought at first it was because I was relating it to what I knew was happening at that point in the movie but I’ve listened to scores from movies I’ve never seen and it can still happen. Classical music can have the same effect. The pure beauty of music itself screams out glory for the Creator!

The book also addresses things that can steal your affections for Christ but I want to talk about that in my next post (whenever that comes.)

What about you? What are some things that make you love and rejoice more in our Savior? What stirs your affections for Him?

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in books

 

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Shout-out to Moms

Today was my day off and this morning I was asked last minute if I could help in my church’s VBS nursery. I didn’t really have any pressing plans so I showered really quickly and walked over. I LOVE the nursery by the way. I’ve always loved working with kids and 0-5 is my favorite age. From the time I turned 13 until I moved away from home, I did more babysitting than I can remember. I don’t think a week ever went by that I didn’t babysit for someone or something. And I loved every minute.

But with all the health stuff, it’s been a while since I held some babies so I was more than happy to oblige. Ummm…guys…it was EXHAUSTING! Seriously! I literally can’t believe how tired I am hours later! I’m pretty sure those kids just zapped the energy right out of me!

At one point, I was rocking a sweet baby and yawning (trying hard not to think of the two long hours that I still had to keep awake) and I realized that the other three ladies with me were all moms. The one was causally telling a story about how many times she gets up in the middle of the night to nurse and how many times her other kids wake her up just to ask simple questions. And the others laughed and nodded knowingly.

What??! Here’s the deal. Sleep is and always has been very important to me but even more so now. The little amount I get is a precious thing. I thought about how SO. VERY. TIRED. I am all the stinkin’ time and realized that I just have myself to take care of. And I can barely handle that on some days. And here these moms have all their kids dressed, out the door, and at VBS by 9am AND were talking about going strawberry picking after it was done!! I knew exactly where I was going when it was done and that was to lay on my couch. I sat amazed.

Now, I realize that my health issues complicate matters for me and that I take three medications that all have a top side effect of sleepiness. But I also know a lot of moms with health issues too. Like my mom. She’s awesome.

So I would just like to give a big shout-out to all the moms out there! I’m not quite sure how you do it but thanks for letting me love on some of your little ones today.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2018 in encouragment

 

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A Parched Mollusk

Today I have the very special opportunity to share a story with you from my best friend. She wrote this up a week or so ago and has such a talent for communicating so I asked if I could post it. I hope it blesses you as it did me.

IMG_2047“So, how can I tell if it’s alive?” I questioned a stranger on the beach. “Hmm, splash a little water on it and see if it moves.” the stranger offered as she walked toward me. She drew in closer as I scooped a handful of cold ocean water into the shell. I caught this quick picture as the mollusk poked out of his shell. “O yah, it’s alive!” she exclaimed in her Wisconsin accent. “It’s just been out of the water for a while. I like to throw ’em back in and give ’em a second chance.” she said pointing at the water. I nodded in agreement and tossed the little guy back into the ocean.

This simple interaction sparked a life-giving conversation that moved me to tears.

You see, that morning I went to the beach feeling much like that stranded mollusk. Spiritually parched and so far away from God’s life-giving, soul-refreshing, Living Water. Feeling and looking rather dead and hiding from the light. Not that I didn’t KNOW or BELIEVE in God’s goodness and the fact that he is my source of life… it’s just I hadn’t FELT that abundant life in a long time.

While certain circumstances played a big part in feeling spiritually drained, the bigger culprits were sin issues and neglecting time with the Lord. Since my work is in a Christian ministry, I felt like I had to conjure up the appearance of spiritual vitality. I was exhausted from trying to keep up the facade while my heart was withering inside.

That week I was on a trip to Florida and had designated that day as my “Jesus” day. I was going to ignore my phone and other distractions and just focus on resuscitating my relationship with the Lord. In the past, I found spending time outdoors and acknowledging God’s hand in nature to be great faith-builders for me.

I decided to wake up early that morning and go for a walk on the beach to spend time in creation. As I got ready in my hotel room, I begged God to show himself to me that day. Like so many of my previous prayers, I felt like it fell on deaf ears and I was just talking to the wall.

As I walked toward the beach, the cold ocean air whipped through my hoodie and I wished I had stayed in bed. When I got to the beach I looked around and forced myself to come up with praises. (Not the right attitude, I know.) My heart said, “God you are so powerful that you control the tides.” Then my head butted in and said, “The moon controls tides, you dummy!” So my heart responded, “God, I’m so thankful for your control over ALL things!” Then my head came back with, “God if you are in control of all things then why can’t you fix…?” Ugh, not a very good start.

With a conflicted spirit, I reached down to pick up the little conch shell and noticed Sherry, who was walking several paces behind me.

We were two of only a handful of people willing to brave the 40 degree weather on the beach that morning. After tossing the mollusk back into the ocean, we started walking along the beach together.

Almost instantly she brought up her church and we started talking about faith. I learned that she grew up in church, but had fallen away a few times before returning the final time decades ago. She shared about her love for Compassion International, her passion for serving young adults in her church, and her interest in traveling. When she mentioned a life-altering career change to follow God’s leading, we talked about the blessings and sacrifices of the Christian life. I can’t even remember everything we talked about, but the conversation flowed so easily, it felt as if we had known each other for years.

For nearly two hours we walked along the beach together: gathering shells, tossing back mollusks, and talking about life. I found myself opening up to her about details of my life I don’t usually even share with friends. Her honesty, wisdom, and kind encouragement felt like cool water to my thirsty soul. What she was saying resonated so much with me that I felt like her words were a direct answer to my prayers.

As we neared the end of the walk, we hesitated, almost wishing we had more beach to walk and more time to talk. We both acknowledged what a mutual blessing it was to spend that brisk January morning together and felt God had ordained us to meet. Sherry gave me a big hug and we prayed together before a final farewell.

When Sherry first met me, I was that lowly mollusk that had been out of God’s life-giving water for far too long. With her encouragement from the Lord, she gave me a second chance by tossing me back into God’s great ocean of Living Water.

As I walked alone on the road back to my hotel, tears streamed down my face. For the first time in a long time I didn’t just KNOW and BELIEVE, I FELT the love and the presence of God in a real way. God had answered my prayer in a way I didn’t expect and I still don’t fully understand.

My revived soul spent the rest of that day soaking up God’s Word, talking with the Lord, and worshiping him. Only this time it wasn’t forced or conflicted, his praises came overflowing out of the abundance of joy in my heart.

Praise God!

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 68:1

~Natalie Frueh

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in encouragment

 

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When it Rains

Have you ever had one of those weeks where every single thing manages to go exactly as you want it to? Where you get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, work runs smoothly, devotions are deep, your family is well, you get together with friends, and you end the week doing whatever your favorite end-of-week activity is? Yeah, me either. And this week is definitely not one of those weeks. Let me tell you about it.

On Tuesday, I found out that one of my very good family friends from PA had had a stroke. She is only in her forties I believe and a pretty active and healthy person so I was really shocked. Praise God, she has recovered very quickly and is expected to keep doing so but it was still hard to take in.

On Wednesday, our church got the news that one of our dear elders had been taken to the ER for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. They had just gotten the diagnosis that day and needed to start treatment right away. As we were told, I looked katty-korner to the pew in front of me and saw his sweet, elderly mom sitting there with red and teary eyes. As I gave her a tight hug, I couldn’t even find any words to say. We just cried together.

And on Thursday, as I sat in a ladies Bible study I got a text that told me one of our campers from Insight camp (for kids who are blind or visually impaired) had passed away on Sunday. He was 15 and one of the sweetest guys- always had a smile for everyone.

Gosh this life is too much for me to handle. Sometimes the weight of everything really gets me down. And last night I realized I was struggling to hold onto Jesus and that’s when I remembered that isn’t what happens. He holds onto me. My aunt sent me this song a few months ago and as I listen to it, God calms my heart and reminds me that he is my strength, not me.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in encouragment

 

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Video

A Daily Prayer

So I have started writing a post numerous times but every time I just get so tired that I never get to finish it. This is not that post. That one will come. 🙂 Sometime…

I have had a lot on my mind lately and this prayer by Matt Chandler has been one that I have said often:

“My prayer, then is, ‘Lord, help me rejoice in You in this moment. Because I know You are in control. I know You love me; I know You love my family. And I don’t understand what You’re doing, and I don’t know how things are going to work out. But help me to acknowledge that if I have You, I have everything.'”  -Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain

I love that quote. I say it to remind myself that it’s okay not to know how it’s going to work out. I remind myself that God’s love is unchanging, undying, and he won’t leave me. I remind myself that his sovereignty is my hope and that somehow, with Christ, there IS a way to rejoice and find that hope in the midst of difficulties.

And that’s what I have for you today. That, and this beautiful song to encourage you to find your hope in Christ and what he has done for you.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in encouragment

 

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A Great Savior

Currently I’m reading the book, “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. I just started it and I can already recommend it. It’s about all the sins that believers tend to think of as ‘lesser’ sins. Those like gossip, anger, jealousy, unthankfulness, etc. In our minds we all know that sin is sin but if you really look at your heart you would probably agree that you have sins rated from horribly-worst to not-as-bad-as-murder.

A thought from that book really struck me this week so of course you get to hear about it. 🙂 His thought was that if we truly, deeply believed in our hearts that God has paid for all of our sins, then we don’t need to be afraid to confess them. If you really believe that Christ paid the penalty for your sins (past, present, and future ones) and that when God looks at you all he sees is Christ’s perfection, then you don’t need to be afraid to admit your sin.

What a freeing thought, right?! Sometimes I find that I don’t want to admit a sin of mine even to myself, let alone to others, but if I stopped to remember that God has already forgiven me of that sin, then I can deal with the issue and move on!

From Respectable Sins:
“To the extent that I grasp, in the depth of my being, this great truth of God’s forgiveness of my sin through Christ, I will be freed up to honestly and humbly face the particular manifestations of sin in my life. That’s why it is so helpful to affirm each day with John Newton that, ‘I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior.‘” (pg.35, emphasis added)

I have that quote from John Newton hanging in my room and I see it every day. It reminds me that I AM FORGIVEN! Yes, I still sin and make mistakes but Christ is greater than my sin and has already forgiven me! How incredible is that?!

So don’t be afraid to admit or confess your sin to yourself, to the Lord, and even to others. Realize that if you are a believer, you are already forgiven. Your sin was nailed to the cross long ago and you also can say that you are a great sinner, but you have an even greater Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in books

 

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Big Sister Mode

I used that term one time during a conversation and I got funny looks for it. Obviously, the person I was talking to was NOT a big sister.  However, the phrase could use some explanation I suppose.

Big Sister mode is when God gives Big Sisters an essential extra supply of grace just when they need it. 

Big Sister Mode is when your parents think your mom just had a miscarriage and is going to the hospital and you keep it to yourself so as not to upset your siblings.

Big Sister Mode is when your little brother has a life threatening seizure and you are bawling your eyes out but then your parents leave in the ambulance and you instantly collect yourself.

Big Sister Mode is when your younger sister almost drowns in a lake and you don’t scream or cry.

Big Sister Mode is when you find yourself in scary situations but know that you are the oldest and if you panic then so will your younger siblings.  It’s when you put your emotions aside to deal with the emotions of others. It’s when you stop seeking someone to comfort you and you start to comfort others. You don’t have to be the oldest sister to have it; you simply have to be an older sister. (I suppose you could have big brother mode, but I’m not a brother so I’m not sure. 🙂 ) A friend of mine calls it survival mode.

I’ve thought a lot about those situations since that conversation. Why do I respond that way? I don’t think about it during those moments. I never THINK about going into Big Sister Mode. It just happens.

The more I think about it, the more I realize: it really is just by God’s grace. He provides strength at those times when it is most needed and mine is gone.  He gives hope to me so I can share it. He comforts me so I can comfort others.

It reminds me of these verses.

Isaiah 40:29-31

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in encouragment

 

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