This World is Not My Home…And That Changes Everything

IMG_7707As I wrote recently in my 2015 recap, I did a lot of wrestling over the past year. Much of that wrestling continues as we are one month into 2016. It’s not necessarily a negative thing; wrestling is a necessary part of the Christian life. There was a time when I didn’t really wrestle the way I do now, and I know that I had nowhere near the relationship with Christ or the desire to make my life count for Him that I do now. With growth and sanctification has come more intense internal spiritual battle.

In reading Letters to Pastors’ Wives (which is SO good so far, by the way), I stumbled upon a quote that absolutely hit the nail on the head in articulating one of my biggest struggles. This quote is written of two godly Christian wives from years ago…

“They knew this world was not their home, and this knowledge gave them stability to enjoy good times without needing them and to endure hardship without despair.”

When I read that, my world was rocked. That is precisely where I so want my heart to land. I’m a pendulum, constantly swinging between being so caught up in not holding onto my gifts that then I don’t even enjoy them, to being crippled by fear that I might lose them because I’m idolizing them. But that simple sentence encapsulates the balance that I long to strike: applying the truth that this world is not my home by enjoying the good times, with a precious, healthy family and all my material needs met, while still having a heart that is prepared to see those blessings removed without sinking into despair.

This concept boiled down into one simple sentence hit me in such a profound way that I felt compelled to share it in case anyone out there wrestles with the same issue.

Believing by faith that this world is a fleeting journey taking me toward my eternal home with Christ has massive practical implications for how I live my life. I’m constantly begging the Lord to give me the discipline and vision to set my “mind on the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:2).

Because doing so changes everything.

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2015: The Year of Wrestling

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I generally feel sad on New Year’s Eve. It’s a day when I can’t avoid how quickly time is passing by. Every time December 31 rolls around, I can remember the previous one like it was yesterday, and it weirds me out. It’s a day when my nostalgic, sentimental side threatens to overwhelm me with melancholy.

But I also embrace the opportunity to reflect on what God has done in the past year, and to start afresh with renewed energy and passion. This year, I’m especially grateful for the past 365 days.

While last year was certainly one of sweet, unmatched blessings with my precious little family, I am even more grateful for everything God did in my heart.

If I had to pick one word to describe my spiritual journey in 2015, it would be “wrestling”. I wrestled with intense fear like I had never known. I wrestled with assurance of salvation, and it was a hard, draining, fight. I wrestled with finding the balance of enjoying God’s good gifts while recognizing that He could remove them at anytime and that I am not entitled to anything.

I haven’t overcome all these struggles by any means, but I have seen God’s faithfulness to comfort, to speak truth, to hold onto me. He restored my confidence and trust that He has saved me, after some very agonizing months, and I am closer to Him and more thankful for His work on the cross than ever before. He used His Word and many wise believers in my life to teach me how to combat fear and anxiety Biblically, so that although I still struggle with it, I am equipped to conquer it in His strength. He is still teaching me how to enjoy His material blessings without finding my joy and stability in them.

It’s not something you can measure, but it feels like I grew more in my love for God and my understanding of the Christian walk in 2015 than I did in my whole life up to that point. It makes me excited for how He will continue to change and shape me in the years to come. What an awesome, powerful God we serve!

Yes, I wrestled in 2015. It was hard work and at times I was overcome by how far I had to go. But God was right there with me, every step of the way. So really, when I look at 2015, I see God. I see Him overshadowing all my failures and struggles and sin. And I trust Him to stay at my side for whatever 2016 will bring.

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
(Psalm 37:1-6)

{Seminary Journal} Update Letter October 2013

For those of you who don’t attend our home church in Washington, this letter went in the church mailboxes last week. =) I loved that Andrew thought of and made time for doing this…it was a fun way to feel connected with everyone back home. If the text is too small, you can click on the letter to enlarge it.

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{Hebrews} He Never Changes

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Continuing our series, Blown Away By Hebrews

Today I meditated on God’s immutability–the truth that He never changes–as well as His eternal nature and future rule. Hebrews 1:8-9 quote Psalm 45:5-6, which say,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Here are a few other verses that speak of God’s unchanging and eternal nature.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6

“But you are the same, and your years have no end.” Psalm 102:27

My lesson in Hebrews for today asked the question, “​How does meditating on Christ’s eternal nature, future rule, and  immutability affect your thinking and behavior in a specific area of your life?” Here were my simple answers.

  • It makes me feel small.
  • It gives me broader perspective.
  • It humbles me.
  • It inspires me to redeem the time I have here, knowing that it is fleeting, and but a drop in the ocean compared to God and His eternal nature.
  • It fills me with the hope of Heaven.
  • It comforts me and quells fears about the future and the unknown, knowing that Jesus is forever and He will never change.
  • The security I feel knowing that my Savior does not change encourages me to continue pursuing Him, so that I might in turn be a stable, dependable influence in the lives of my husband and others. The more I go to God for everything I need, the more predictable my responses to life’s happenings will be as I grow in consistently drawing from my relationship with Jesus, Who never changes.

 How do these truths about God’s nature affect your life, outlook, thoughts, or character?

{Seminary Journal} One-Month Expectations

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Photo by Rv Sun. A hike I took with our Bible study this week.

This is the 100th post here on Anchored! We’ve been here for a month as of yesterday. Last night at a small fellowship group with fellow sem wives, my friend Tia asked everyone a few questions related to what we’d expected to encounter down here, and how those expectations have been fulfilled or turned out differently. It was a good question. I thought about it a lot more when I got home and decided to blog some of those expectations.

  1. I expected our apartment to be tiny and cramped, but it’s not. There’s far more space than I’d even hoped for and pretty much everything we brought fits, with a little wiggle room.
  2. I expected church to feel big and overwhelming, and it does. But joining a fellowship group makes a big church get small really fast. I’m surprised that we run into people we know every Sunday, in a church of thousands.
  3. I did not expect to feel lonely, but I do. It’s not the homesickness I’d anticipated, it’s different. There are moments, after my work and responsibilities are done and Andrew is still doing homework, when not having my best friend or a family member to call for coffee or a game night hits me really hard and I feel very alone.
  4. I expected there to be many young married couples without kids in seminary, but there aren’t. There are tons of young families and a lot of single guys.
  5. I expected Andrew to be swamped with homework, and he is. God prepared me to be fully ready for evenings and Saturdays to be for homework. I’m encouraging Andrew to study and not making him feel bad about being busy. This week he got 105% on his first Hebrew vocab quiz! When I texted that I was proud of him, Andrew replied, “It’s a victory for both of us ’cause the time I spent studying was time I didn’t spend with you…but it paid off!”
  6. I expected it to be hot, and it is. It’s been around 100 or more all week. As I write this, it’s 101 and supposed to reach 103 this afternoon. The apartment is stuffy and cooking is a drag. But that’s no surprise and I’m learning to get used to it.
  7. I expected it to take awhile to make close friends, and it does. But we’ve already been so blessed to meet a number of amazing people who love Jesus and have a heart for people and ministry. I know there are very special friendships in store, likely with some of the people we’ve already met but haven’t spent much time with yet.
  8. I expected to be hard to find gluten free food, and it is. Until yesterday. I discovered Sprouts on the recommendation of friends. It is like our co-op back home, maybe better! It’s in Burbank but so worth the extra jaunt! Thank You, Lord!

Yes, there are a lot of good and hard things about this new season of life. It’s stretching, and Jesus’ presence and love are becoming more dear to my heart. Despite the tearful moments and the ache in my heart that sometimes doesn’t want to fade, I am very content and completely confident that today I am exactly where God wants me to be. No second thoughts, regrets, or misgivings. God’s work in my life is an encouragement to me, and I know He has so much more in store for my spiritual growth as the weeks roll on. Thank you for your prayers…there is no doubt He is answering them!

{Seminary Journal} All I Have Is Christ

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At Grace Community Church (GCC), there are two (identical) 90-minute worship services at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. During each one, there are various Fellowhship Groups happening elsewhere on campus. These groups are also 90 minutes long and are basically full-blown worship services, with a singing time and a sermon. Add the 90-minute evening service, and you’ve got a packed but oh-so-rewarding Sunday. Since moving to LA, we’ve spent each Sunday visiting different Fellowship Groups in the mornings to figure out which one to join. It’s been hard to attend a group or two and then have to wait an entire week to go to another, when we both want so much to jump in and start connecting with people and getting involved. We appreciated things about each of the four groups we’ve visited, but were excited this week to decide where we will land, for many reasons–Doulos (the Greek word for “slave”).

During the worship portion (which we absolutely loved) of Doulos we sang All I Have is Christ. To me, that song embodies our church family back in Bellingham, since it has become a favorite staple there in recent years. I couldn’t help but cry as we sang the chorus together in Doulos and I pictured our church at home, worshiping God at the same time. As I pondered the profound lyrics, I was reminded again of what a precious thing it is that no matter where I go, I have my Savior there with me. “Hallelujiah, all I have is Christ.” I had Him back in Bellingham, surrounded by familiar faces, and I have Him here in LA, where everyone and everything is new and different. I am still His, and He is still mine…and no matter what the future holds, that truth will never change. Amazing!

Andrew and I are both 100% excited about joining Doulos and growing under the solid teaching of Pastor Travis, who we know through mutual friends. It’s great to finally feel like we “belong” somewhere, instead of floundering. I can’t wait to share more of how we learn to love this group as it becomes home for us.

Stay tuned for a guest post from a very special individual!

{Seminary Journal} New State, New Routine, New Goals

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Andrew and Dr. Steve Lawson, who is teaching his Expository Preaching class this week.

We’ve only been here two weeks, but it honestly feels like it’s been a month or two…in a good way. Our apartment is really home and I am settling into a new routine. If I stop and think about back home, specifically my brothers, I start tearing up pretty quickly. So I’m choosing not to dwell on everyone I’m missing so much and throwing myself into everything we have here instead.

The out-of-state move feels like a totally fresh start in many ways. I have goals and new habits I want to form.

I want to put myself through a “seminary” of sorts while Andrew is in school. I have a lot of books I want to read and now seems like a good time to establish a reading routine. I love reading, but I struggle with sitting down and making it happen, because there’s always something else to be done. I have one more chapter to finish When I Don’t Desire God. Then I’m going to start through two books with dear ones back home: Creative Counterpart : Becoming the Woman, Wife, and Mother You Have Longed To Be (with my mom) and What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (with Brittney). One with a Shepherd: The Tears and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage is also high on my reading list. And somewhere in there, I’ll finish the other three books I’m partway through. =)

So far, keeping the house spic and span has been a cinch. (I’ve always struggled with consistent housekeeping maintenance.) Something must have just clicked in my brain. I spend about 15 minutes a day straightening things, wiping down the bathroom, etc. and that’s really all it takes to maintain a tidy place. (Not counting dishes and kitchen cleanup.) It does help that we got rid of so much stuff and that we’re in a small space. I hardly have a choice but to keep it organized, or we’d go crazy!

And of course, I’m really excited to find the right ministry niches here at Grace Community. I’ve already had opportunity to help a fellow sem wife with her kids and there’s plenty more where that came from. I have some ideas of the church ministries I’d love to be involved in, but I’m waiting first to see what Andrew will choose to plug into so I can help him and then add from there as schedule allows.

Tonight is a dessert for seminary students and their wives. I’ve so been looking forward to it!