Friday, March 6, 2015

Extending Grace

"It's okay!" He said with a smile on his face.

"It won't matter in a couple of years."

My tears flowed even faster than before.

I made a mistake. It was all my fault, and I knew it. But he wouldn't say that.

My husband has been at WLC for a month now. A school that stands for Warrior Leaders Course. He is trying to make Commandant's list so that if/when he goes to the promotion board it looks really good for him. This requires good grades on their classroom work, and no negative counselings. He's been there almost a month, and only able to come home on weekends. Last night was the first night he was able to start coming home on week nights. I was so excited! I had worked 9-5:30 that day, and was looking forward to ordering a pizza, cuddling, and watching a movie. We went to bed early, around 9:30 or so, and as always he double checked to make sure his alarm was on. It was.

I remember being so sleepy. I hate alarms. I hate noise like that. I reached over within seconds of it going off, and turned it off. I probably mumbled something to Aaron, and I remember him moving. Normally, he reaches over to the only night stand we have on my side, and turns it off himself and gets up. But today, for some reason, I decided to shut it off. The next thing I remember is his phone ringing and me saying, "No! Aaron! You're late!" He jumped out of bed, and answered the call.. I knew instantly it was my fault, that I hadn't made sure he was awake. He probably hadn't woken up at all earlier when his alarm went off, just merely moved at the noise and movement I made. And I hadn't made sure.

In my shame I told him I'd grab his bag for him and go downstairs and wait in the car to drive the 10 minutes to where they meet. I sat down there and cried and cried knowing it was all my fault. He rushed down after getting dressed and shaving and opened the car door to see me crying and all I could muster to say was, "I'm sorry" over and over. That's when he said it.

"It's okay!" with a smile on his face, his hand resting on my knee.

After I explained that it wasn't and now he was going to get a negative counseling and it was all my fault he said the other thing;

"It won't matter in a couple of years"

I couldn't believe his response. Had those tables been flipped, I would have been so angry. I would've told him all the things that ran through my mind, without a filter. I would have yelled, and then probably followed it with a horribly uncomfortable silent treatment. But this loving man that I married, told me he loved me and smiled anyway, and said it was okay.

Aaron has told me before when I've gotten mad about things that he doesn't see what the big deal is. I don't always either, I just know that some things make me mad. Usually petty things, sometimes bigger things. But today he showed me that he really doesn't see the big deal, and that it's not worth a fight, or a relationship.

I so often am humbled at the way that my husband allows God's grace and love to flow through him into our marriage. Aaron didn't choose to get mad at me, or to tell me I'm a horrible wife (cause I was sure telling myself that). He chose to tell me that it was okay. Later on he told me that he was really upset but that it was an innocent mistake and he wasn't mad at me at all. He told me he loved me several times throughout the day as always, and asked me to forgive myself when I cried on the phone for like the 10th time that day. He also told me that he was not allowed to come home now until Saturday morning.. It's weird when the army basically grounds your husband.

Later in the afternoon I talked to a lady I babysit for to ask her if anything like that has happened with her husband in the army. She told me I had a long army career ahead of me, and a lot of alarms to turn off. She said the exact same thing happened to her husband while he was at the same school previously, and another happened just this past week. It felt good knowing I'm not the only one, and the more I thought about it I realized that I'm sure nearly every military wife has done something like this. The military isn't a normal job, it's a way of life, with high standards.. There's plenty of room for mistakes. On the soldiers part, and the dependents.

It's amazing to me to think that if a human such as Aaron in a situation like today could extend that kind of grace to someone he loves, then imagine how much God can extend to his children.. it's unbelievable! God loves us so much more than any human could even begin to understand. He sees the bigger picture. What I did today wasn't sin, it was a mistake, an accident. And when we mess up, God still love us. And when we sin, God still loves us. He desires our repentance and kindly walks with us.

I am so thankful to have a husband who embodies Christ in a way that daily points me to a deeper relationship with Jesus, and shows me the bigger picture in life.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Thing About Time

Time is a funny thing. 

I realized that, this last week.

I have 51 more days until I move to Hawaii, and 54 until I marry the man I deeply love and start our life together.

For the sake of excitement for upcoming plans.. I am wishing my time away. I [and he as well, as we've talked about this] would love for this next month to fly by, for us to miss the next month and simply go to the next, for it to simply be the time to be together again.

But it's not that way for everybody. 

I had a friend drop by this week, who informed me that her grandma was recently hospitalized and given another 1-2 months to live.

For the sake of loss, they are soaking up every moment they have. Thinking about what really matters, calculating how to spend every second, to put first what's most important, and forget those that aren't so important.

Time is a funny thing.

I truly do believe most of us live each day as if we're invincible. Or at least, we don't live with the end in sight. Life is precious, and fleeting.

The bible has a lot to say about our lives, and the days we live.

Here's a few, just to give you a glimpse:

"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

"Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring" Proverbs 27:1

"Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow" Psalm 144:4

Behold, you have my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!" Psalm 39:5

And that just scratches the surface of the biblical texts that talk about the span of our lives.

This makes me regret my every wish of wishing each day would pass by without me noticing.

I may only have today. If I only have today, would I be okay with how I lived today?

Psalms 118:24 says, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Every day is a gift from God, and should be treated so. He literally is the reason that you and I are breathing right now. Will we choose to use that breath to wish excited time away, or to take each breath to praise God and live for His glory?

It's not wrong to be excited about upcoming events.. But when you put things into perspective I think it shows us how much we should simply cherish every moment of every day that we have.

From a standpoint of a relationship with God, and evangelism, Ephesians 5:15-16 says,

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

We should be walking in step with the Lord, each and every day. So many people say that they will get right with God when they're older, that they want to live their life how they want to live it now.. But this just shows how silly that is. We don't control how much time we have, God says our life is a breath before Him. We don't have time to wait to get right with God, all we may have is this day, this hour, this moment.

So, rejoice in this day! God has made this day, has given you this day as a gift.

It's not necessarily about how much time you have.. Because we don't know and can't choose.. It's about how we're spending our time that counts.

Monday, December 9, 2013

God loves me?

I've struggled a lot with believing God loves me. Like, why would He love me? I felt horrible feeling this way and calling myself a Christian. I knew that there is nothing good in me, I am not good, I am sinful, and I can't earn His love. Basic sunday school stuff, right? So why was I struggling with this?

I moped around for a few days wallowing in my self pity of not feeling loved and not believing God would actually love me. I was trying to pray about this, and see the root of where this came from but couldn't understand.

I think my problem was I knew the answer in my head, but not in my heart.

I was listening to the radio and a song by Anthem Lights came on talking about God being love. God directed me to 1st John where it talks about how God is love. I thought of other verses, and heard several other songs that talked about God being love- and I realized how God was speaking to me through this. Sure, I knew that God was love. I've heard that and read it in the bible my whole life.. But for the first time it became real to me. It wasn't just something I've heard several times and knew by heart, it was something I truly believed and understood for the first time so clearly. I realized He doesn't love me because I do or don't do something, He doesn't love me because I deserve it or don't deserve it, He loves me because Gods character IS love. His love is completely and entirely independent of me. Because I am a follower of Christ, because I am covered by Jesus blood, have turned from my sin and turn to Christ, God loves me. He doesn't see my sin, He sees His Sons blood that covers me.

This doesn't mean I didn't grasp the gospel before this, it's just that as a human I think we all still feel that we need to do something to earn God's love. Even believers sometimes think that we screwed up, so we better make up for it. But that's not how it works- God's gift of salvation is entirely free and independent of our works. Good works are a result of salvation, salvation is not a result of good works.

God is love. His character is love. Because He is love He has sent Jesus to be our salvation freely if only we will accept it, repent, and turn to Him.

I'm so thankful for a loving God.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

So this is less of a topic post and more of a hey let me rant about my day and how truly awesome God is. So, some background to this awesome day:

Sometimes I feel like I have no purpose. And sometimes I feel like it's wrong of me to feel this way. To be a believer and still ask these questions. 

"What is my role in the church?" 
"Am I needed here?" 
"Why do I exist?"

It's not that I don't actually know the answers to these questions. 

My role is to serve and encourage and be in fellowship.
Yes, I am needed.. Every part of the body is important.
I exist for God's glory, to worship Him. 

But sometimes, I don't FEEL the answers. Sometimes I do feel useless, lost, wandering for my direction in life. And that isn't wrong. 

And today, when I was leaving work to rush to Jr High to be a leader I had the thought which creeps in every so often that says, "Why are you even doing this? It's not like you're doing anything useful." 

I quickly dismissed it and figured well, i guess we'll just let this night determine if I want to continue. 

At our church we have "Encouragement Sunday" which is the first Sunday of every month, where on a little bitty card we write a quick encouragement to someone we choose and the church then sends them to those people. Well, the church sent a few I got to my parents house, not mine and my mom sent them to church tonight with my sister. When I got them, one was from the Jr high girls that I had tried to reach out to but didn't feel was going anywhere. She wrote, 

"I am having so much fun in youth group! It is fun when I get to say my bible verses with you. I hope to see you next week!" 

And that was all it took for me to realize: there's a reason I am here. 

And I was there this week because even though I felt like I didn't want to do it anymore, God had different plans, and got to talk to this girl for a while! She even said all her bible verses to me again. We talked about a book she was writing, and she had me read it.. It was just a great time of bonding.

That led me to thank God for answering a doubt in my mind that I maybe shouldn't be helping with Jr. High, which lead me to realize something else: God's timing is absolutely perfect. 

If those encouragement cards had been sent to my house and I got them a couple days earlier, it probably wouldn't have meant so much. But satan tried to tell me tonight that I wasn't doing anything in the church and should stop serving, and God, who is absolutely awesome and huge and loving knew exactly what I needed at exactly the right time to shut up that deceiver. 

Not to mention, at jr high tonight, we had 2 kids make decisions to follow Christ. ANGELS IN HEAVEN ARE REJOICING AND SO AM I!!!  It was absolutely incredible to see God working in their lives, and to hear about it. 
I am so thankful for them. 
I am so thankful for my church.
 I am so thankful for Jesus Christ. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

The complex simplicity of "faith"

Ahhh, feels good to be blogging again.

To be honest, my spiritual life has felt very... dull... recently. I wish I could say, even though it's been dull, I've been faithful. Ashamedly, I can't. I know that I need to be more diligent in my bible studies and prayer.

However, I can say that the times I've taken the time to dig into God's word, I've been amazed. Currently I'm going through the gospel of Matthew and was challenged through the stories of Jesus actions through healing, hanging with the pagans, and His words of life He spoke to individuals as well as crowds of people.

But here's what's challenged me:

So in chapter 9 all kinds of awesome stuff goes down. Jesus heals a paralytic, rebukes the scribes, calls the disciple Matthew to follow him, he hangs out with the pagans and says one of my favorite things ever: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means. 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."[Verse 12-13]

Later on A father asks Jesus to put his hand on his daughter, that she may live again and a woman who had "suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years"[Verse 20] sees him and says to herself, "if only I touch his garment, I will be made well." To which Jesus turns and says to her that her faith has made her well, and she was instantly healed. Then after this, two blind men came to him crying to have mercy on them.... and this is what Jesus says in response, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"

"Do you believe that I am able to do this"

That made me really stop. And highlight. And think. And underline. And think. And pray.

They eagerly respond "Yes, Lord"[verse 28] and Jesus then touches their eyes and says that according to their faith they are healed.

"Do you believe I am able to do this"

If I was to look at my life, whether it be with finances, spiritual growth, prayer requests, desire and dreams and goals, relationships, whatever it may be, and then I think about Jesus asking me, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" I am ashamed. Because sometimes, I don't think I do believe that. Sometimes, I have the audacity to think that I am worth more than I am and that in my own strength I can do it, and I don't need God.

My doubt says that maybe God can't do that on His own and my pride says, "Hey, I can though!"

See, when I'm in charge, I have security. When I surrender to God, He's in control and that scares me sometimes.

But Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith, it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God. When God asks me "Do you believe I am able to do this?" He desires i respond "YES!" with faith. That doesn't mean it will turn out how I want, or how I think it should be.. But that it will turn out how HE wants it to be and how HE sees fit.

And when I look at who I serve: The Creator, the Sustainer, the Savior, Love and Justice Himself.. I know that believing He can do this, and trusting He will do it best, is what's not only right... It's comforting too.

Do you believe He can do what you are praying for, reaching for, working for?

Because He can. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

One on one discipleship

I am writing this post with a burden on my heart. A burden for my generation, for the younger generation, and a burden for the generation to come.

I know there's talk about discipleship everywhere right now. David Platt and Francis Chan just came out with some awesome books about it. I see the youth pastor at my church discipling kids and teaching them. I see a lot of talk about discipleship, not a lot of people actually doing it. 

This world is DRAGGING our kids into temptation and sin. They are being drowned with pictures, advertisements, friends, everything possible to pull them into the world that we as believers are so called to be in it but not of it. 

I'm not saying generations before didn't have it bad. They did. But it is only and will only continue to get worse as time goes on. 

I can't stress how important one on one discipleship is. When I think about those older than me who have come to me and spent time with me with genuine interest, I'm amazed at the impact it has had. 

Recently, with my change of relationship status I was at a family from church's house and she asked me questions starting with, "Are you guarding your purity?" She then proceeded to tell me that she wasn't assuming anything or being nosy, but she knows that if she doesn't ask, no one else will. This woman has done this through several phases of my life, always gently asking questions, and being loving and hospital always. This is more of what we need in this generation. 

I know so many friends my age, give or take a bit, who are passionately following Jesus and have a heart for Him and His ministry. And not all of us are using that to reach out. I'm not using that. I should be, though. And not everyone should be discipling other people! I have friends who are actively living in sin and falling into temptation with their friends and then tell me they're not going to stop hanging out with them because they're the only Christian influence in their life... But if they are giving in, what kind of a Christian influence are they sending out!? Our personal salvation is important. So important. And we should work it out with fear and trembling! Those who are giving into temptation continually need to be discipled more and be able to walk away from it before they can have Christian influence on their friends who do not know Christ. But I know friends who, like me, know that God has called us to a life of purity and of Holiness. To be completely set apart! I have friends who would barely think twice when faced with temptation because scripture from their daily reading, prayer, or the Holy Spirit is there to remind them Who they are living for. These are the people who should be sharing their faith and discipling others. This doesn't mean they're perfect or I'm perfect.. We still sin, and we will always fight with that sin nature, but I'm saying that these are people who actively pursue Godliness and Holiness and are showing fruits of their faith.

There could be many reasons for us lacking to reach out. Huge ones are time, gas, money, some people are shy... But here's the question: If the only thing that matters [and, this is the only thing that matters] is loving God, loving His people, showing them the way, making disciples who make disciples, glorifying, serving, and trusting God... then what is time, fuel, money, shyness? It's God's. Everything is His and for His glory. He is the Author of time. He is the Creator of fuel. He is the one who provides us with money, He is the one who empowers us to go out of our shell and reach out!

Don't get me wrong, I see people reaching out. But the amount who are doing it compared to the amount who aren't is absolutely astonishing. We need more Believers reaching out. We have generations here who are faced with temptations, who are crying out for help, who are crying out for freedom from addictions.... And most of them will never come to us. We have to go to them sometimes. 

We have to pray for a love for them, for opportunities with them. We have to remember it isn't our job to trust them or know everything about their life, but to love them. I've struggled serving in jr high ministry because so often they seem like they don't care/like me and other junior high leaders and God just told me, "Emily, it isn't your job to worry about if they love you, it's your job to love them." 

I think the most important thing I've learned is not just to talk to them or at them, but to be their friend. To hang out with them, to do what they want to do and let God open the doors. Don't forget that your example often speaks louder witness than anything. 

So my challenge then is this: Will you reach out? Will you be a following of Christ who is passionately and whole heartedly committed to caring and investing in the lives of those who most need Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do Not Conform

Although this verse is repeated all the time, it is one that continually sticks in my mind and doesn't lose meaning over the repetitiveness and instead each time it encourages me more than the last.

Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

A small verse, that holds such power. The first part is a command, "DO NOT" so do not be conformed to this world. What is this world like?

In my studying 1st John I recognized in chapter 2:15 it says "Do not love the world or the things of the world" and I asked myself, "What does the world love?" and then I found my answer in the next verse which is, "the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life- [this] is not from the Father but is from the world."

Alright, so there you have it. Fleshly desires, basically.

We are to be completely set apart.

The bible is full of descriptions of those who are of the world, those who live in the world, how they act, talk, etc.

The world says to treat others like they treat you. Don't let them talk to you wrong or do you any wrong, and if they do then you can just do it right back to them but God says not to repay evil with evil but to overcome evil with good. [1st Peter 3:9]

The world says to take from people. It's about getting- but God says it is more blessed to give than to receive [Acts 20:35]

The world says that you are your own, you do what you want to do when you want to do it.. God says it is no longer WE who live but Christ in us, our bodies, our lives, they are His!! [Galatians 2:19-21]

There's so many more examples of the contrast between the world and God's word.

So often I see "Christians" who are trying to simultaneously live a life in the world and a life in Christ, however.. It doesn't work that way. 1st Corinthians 10:21 says, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" I think this applies really great to Romans 12:2 because if we try to live a godly and worldly life, that means that whatever we want to live in the world for, we are idolizing over God. I think we all know that God strongly dislikes idols, and we should only worship God. Honestly, Christ died to deliver us from this world and came to give us freedom from it. If we're conforming to it in any way- we're essentially saying that we don't need Christ's sacrifice.

The second part of the verse is to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.... Honestly, the pull of the world is SO STRONG. We are told everyday what to wear, look like, act like, listen to, read, and what kind of an attitude to have. When you think about a day to day life, as a believer you are usually surrounded by those in the world who have fleshly desires. This presents a problem, because it is so tempting to give in and conform under this pressure, yet we are commanded not to.

So be transformed by the renewing of your mind, by letting HIS mind transform you! God has given us His word so that we can know His standards, His love, His mercy, and His desires for our lives. If you are reading the Word, put it into action. Ask the Holy Spirit for the Word's in the Bible to come to life and transform you through His power, that you may have strength to stand against this world and boldly proclaim Christ in what you listen to, look like, act like, listen to, read, and your attitude.

And now we close with a song...