Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me…

I went on a walk with my two older kids (ages 5 and 4). I had a letter I needed to send something via the post office, and I had a check to deposit at the bank. Both locations are just over a block from our apartment, and the parking is ridiculous. So we walked.

About half way between our destinations and our home is a church, with a brick – thing out front. We have been here before, but it never really hit me what the brick thing is. It’s in the shape of a cross. Longer on two sides, shorter on the other two sides.
And, my kids favorite thing to do with this brick thing is: hide in the corners of it.

My kids didn’t know that is the shape. They just like hiding in the corners and trying to scare one another.
My kids didn’t know that this morning I had read Exodus 33.

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

Exodus 33:8

It struck me so powerfully, particularly this truth:
In the Old Testament, before Jesus came, Moses had to be hidden from God’s glory, had to hide from God in the cleft.
Later in the Old Testament, in Psalms, there are these words: “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come” (Psalm 71:3). It’s the longing of the Psalmist’s heart to come near to God, to find refuge in God, the rock.
Then Jesus comes and we can draw near, immediately, intimately, continually (see basically all of Hebrews, but specifically 4:16, 7:19, 7:25, 10:22). No longer through the priests, no longer through the blood of animals, but in spirit in and in truth (John 4:23-24).

The rock in which we take refuge is the cross. Because of Jesus’ redeeming work, we don’t hide from him, we run and hide in him.

Enjoy Chris Rice’s rendition of this Rock of Ages.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Relationship-ing

During a pandemic? During a second shut down?

Yes and yes.

Life does not stop because of crisis, or rules, or sickness, or personal issues, or job losses, or stir crazy children, or school closures, or whatever. Life still happens. Importantly, relationships still happen. Most importantly, the calling and commands of God do not change (or completely evaporate) because of circumstances.

I am a wife. I am called and commanded to honor my husband.
Nothing going on has changed that.
I am a mother. I am called and commanded to teach, train, instruct, discipline, love, and encourage my children.
Nothing going on has changed that.
The fact that I am a mother, has also not negated the fact that I am a wife, and that the calling and command to honor my husband came before and trumps that of the calling and commands in regards to my children.

My relationship with my husband is crucial in raising our children, and my relationship with my husband takes precedence over the relationships with my children.

So, I need to take the time to keep investing in my relationship with my husband. I need to keep dating him.

Every couple is different. So finding what works for each couple will look different.
Some couples like to go out, do something different, explore the outdoors, do something service oriented, cuddle with a movie, buy each other sentimentally significant gifts, and so many other things.
For us, its talking. Yes, this pair of introverts loves spending hours together just talking. Talking together it how we date. It’s how we dated (literally, so many hours of college were spent just sitting in the Chick-fil-a parking lot talking, letting our food get cold, and our sodas watery).

So, maybe in a pandemic, or under certain shut-down/stay-at-home orders, formal dates are challenging. We love good food, so that’s been a change for us, not looking forward to that one time every few months to try some yummy food at a restaurant.
But, we have tried making new things at home, and ordered out (thank you Door Dash!) a good bit.
We like to give each other “just because” gifts. We can’t do anything real fancy, but my husband came back from the store last night with cranberry juice, my absolute favorite! So, you know, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be special. 🙂

I will say that although talking is a favorite for us, communication is not key to every relationship. Communication is essential to any relationship. There are no exceptions here. The more significant and central the relationship, the more important communication is.

No matter what relationship you are in: married, dating, single, child, parent, co-worker, grandparent, grandchild, teacher, student, friend, boss, employee. Keep investing in it, keep pursuing it, keep talking, keep doing that thing that connects you, keep working through those hard things that you butt heads over, keep forgiving, keep saying sorry, keep learning, keep teaching, keep being kind, keep relationship-ing.

Soli Deo Gloria

Patience? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

During this season of mothering littles, I find my number one prayer request being “that I would be more patient with my children”.

Man, I love my kids, and they never stop. I think the constant motion is pretty standard for littles, but it’s exhausting!
My youngest is still in diapers, and doesn’t have all her teeth in yet.
My middle has colossal meltdowns where no one but Daddy can calm her. My oldest is turning five at the end of the summer and will start kindergarten in the fall. I have a whole new set of things to think about! Have I prepared him enough? Does he know enough to be independent at school? Will he be kind to others? Will he listen to and obey his teachers? Will he get teased? Will he get in trouble?

My worries for my oldest, have often turned normal parenting moments into this “do or die” test, to see if he is really ready for school. Many days, my patience is gone before I even wake up, because I’ve lost sleep worrying.

But, God calls me to be patient.
Actually, He calls all believers to be patient, not just the “extra holy ones”. Patience is a characteristic of God we are called to have ourselves as his children. It is one of the many ways we image our heavenly Father to a broken world. This world has no patience.

So what is it? What is biblical patience?

Well first, let me tell you what it is not: patience is the not the same as waiting.

I don’t know why we think just waiting this is “good enough”. When we think about it, the act of waiting cannot be the same as patience, it just doesn’t make sense. I mean, have you ever seen a someone wait impatiently? Therefor, waiting cannot be what patience is.

Biblical patience is this: a Godly attitude towards circumstances and people, which is founded in and completely resting in God.
It’s an attitude of trust.
Why do I struggle with being patient with my kids? Because I am not trusting God. How did I diagnose that? Because I am worried.
More often than not, my attitude of anxiety has replaced the God-trusting attitude of patience.

When I get off, I need more of God, I need his word.
God’s word is our living water, our primary cause for heart change, and our gauge for our lives.
Here are some passages I found to do a quick study on what practicing biblical patience looks like:

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Practicing biblical patience means not worrying about circumstances or even about evil people, but focuses on the LORD, rests in God’s goodness, in God’s good promises. Therefore, we can be still before him, and wait patiently for him.

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Practicing biblical patience shows up in how we love others. See all the “not”s that follow? All three are me-focused. Therefore, a love that is patient and kind is others centered, it is God’s-will centered.

2 Corinthians 1:6
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Practicing biblical patience is playing a long game, an eternal game. It is seeing our world for what it is, temporary, not our true home, knowing that the relatively brief pains now pale in comparison to a joy-filled forever after.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Practicing biblical patience is remembering that those around us have an eternity ahead of them too. Dealing with others with patience infused love, focused on their good, not your own desires, or schedule.

How can we possibly do this? (That’s what I’m thinking, I’m sure at least some of you are thinking the same thing!) I lose my patience with my family all the time.

Here’s the progression: our love is shaped by our attitude of patience, which is caused and motivated by our remembrance of who God is and what he’s done for us. It’s all about perspective, and our perspective needs to stay fixed on God or we will get off track. On our own, we could never do it, but because God was gracious, loving, and patient with us first, and continues to be everyday of our lives, we can refocus our perspective, readjust our attitude, and restart our actions in a way that glorifies him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

What I’m filling up with

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit drained these days.
Turns out, even introverts need people!

My husband is home, and thankfully is still working. It’s a tricky situation in our little house, but we have found a sort of groove with it, and the kids have adapted.
What has been the hardest is being home, inside, and away from family. It’s especially hard on my kids, which breaks my heart.

This new isn’t normal. This will change, but we don’t know when, and man can these days feel long.
So, what do we do?

Fill up! and fill up with truth.

Here’s what I’m doing to help fill me up, and maybe it will inspire you to fill up too: (the first one daily, but the others are scattered throughout the week pretty much)

  1. Bible – There is no way I, or you, or anyone on the planet who can make it through life, much less through stress, suffering, change, hurt, brokenness, without God’s Word. (I’m currently reading through Exodus, and seeing how God provided for his people is amazing, even through the law!)
  2. Sufficient Hope: Meditations and Prayers for Moms by Christina Fox – Having a solid, bible central devotion has helped me immensely. This book is perfect because it’s relatively short, full of scripture, has questions at the end, and has a prayer written out at the end of each little chapter. The prayers are my favorite, because they are so solid, often praying the words of scripture, and give me words to pray when I’m out.
  3. Friend-ish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion by Kelly Needham – Maybe an odd choice for being secluded away from friends, but man has this time also revealed some of the idols that have crept up in my heart, especially in the area of friendship. This has been a very convicting, and comforting book always pointing to the truth.
  4. Risen Motherhood Podcast – Hands down, my favorite podcast. No matter what, these ladies are always pointing to the truth of the gospel, from make up, to marriage, to parenting, and everything in between that falls into the realm of motherhood. Go listen. So good. The resources page on their website is also fantastic.
  5. Journey Women Podcast – In the same idea and purpose as Risen Motherhood, but aimed at young(er) women. Topic and interviews to encourage and point women to God in our journey through life.
  6. Foundations Podcast with Ruth and Troy Simons – This is centered on biblical parenting, and I have just started listening to this with my family (husband and kids).
  7. Biblicaltraining.org – I’ve listened to a few good classes and seminars for free on this site. I love learning and this free resource is great for that. They also have some certificates you can earn (these are not free).
  8. “Marks of a Healthy Church”, teaching series by Ligonier Ministries – This has been a balm to my soul, though I’m missing my church soooooo much right now, I’m enjoying this series about church. Ligonier Ministries also has a ton of other free teaching series, and other resources too.
  9. Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This is what I have been reading to my children everyday at lunch time, and they remind me when I miss! They are into this routine of ours. Their little hearts are anxious and scared in this time too, recounting promises, hope, and truth of Jesus is just what they need now, and all the time! It helps Mommy’s heart too 🙂
  10. Any/all music by Keith and Kristyn Getty and/or City Alight – definitely favorites right now for our whole family.

There you have it!
I’m also reading some fiction for book club, an audio book for fun, and have at least three more books I’ve started, and set down for now. Trying to be better about finishing what I begin. 🙂
What are you filling up with?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Finding a Peace-filled Schedule

Spoiler alert: I haven’t found it.

Schedules and routine are glorious things.
When I was a new mom, I followed a sleep training schedule just to keep me sane (postpartum emotions are no joke). Second baby came 15 months after the first, and getting my babies to sleep at the same time was my end-all-be-all goal.
Now, with three children ages 4.5 years, 3 years, and 16 months, schedules have been an vital part of our home for just about 5 years!

Schedules = sanity

Or do they?

For all of my motherhood, I have searched for peace and security in schedules. Yet, I still battle with anxiety (the kind where you just sit alone and cry for no reason, or can’t find it in you to get off the couch or even out of bed).

Why?

There is only one place where we can find peace, security, sanity, purpose, and all the other things we really are looking for in our ideal schedule.
That place, is actually a person, it’s Jesus.

Jesus is the source of lasting peace.
Jesus is the anchor for our fluctuating emotions and circumstances.
Jesus is the only cause for life-long and minute-by-minute purpose.

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

Schedules are good and often very helpful, they are fantastic guidelines, and give us (and our kids) things to look forward to. However, helpful tools were never meant to calm our souls, give us disaster-proof security, or motivate us with an all encompassing purpose that would fill every moment of our days and last our entire lives. Nothing on this earth can do that, only God can.

The book of Romans has a lot to say about peace, where it comes from, and where it does not come from. Let’s take a look at a few verses:

“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”

Romans 3:13-17

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 5:1

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:6-8

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Romans 15:33

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace  of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Romans 16:20

True, lasting, unwavering peace comes when our trust is in Jesus alone. Why? Because unlike every other thing in the universe, including ourselves, he is unchanging. Peace founded in Jesus Christ because no matter what we go through no matter our circumstances, our emotions, our relationships, our mistakes, our health, any of it, he remains steadfast. He is our peace.

No matter what faces you today, tomorrow, ten years from now! God remains faithfully the same. We can rest secure in that.

Soli Deo Gloria!