Dear Micaila

Dear Micaila,

You are 5 years old today. That is half a decade! And it blows my mind. What a blessing you are, not only to me and your daddy, but to your sister Ryann and any other family member or friend that has spent time with you. You are a BRIGHT little girl, in fact I am always amazed at just how naturally smart you truly are. It’s scary come to think of it. 🙂 Not only are you smart but you are charming and beautiful. I pray that you will always remember that God graced you with these gifts and that you will only become more charming, smart and beautiful, the more you seek Him.

I want to share with you some of my very favorite things about YOU. You are mommy’s big helper. There are so many occasions where you are eager to help mommy with cleaning, laundry, dinner, ect. While your playful sister will be trying to think of ways to get out of helping, this is a strong suit for you and I admire it. You are such a great big sister. From the minute that Ryann came into this world, even at your young age of 18 months, you loved and adored her. You were ready and willing to care for her as much as your tiny self could and you two are such great friends. I have full confidence that this baby boy will feel the same amount of adoration from you as Ryann has. How fortunate your siblings are to have you as the leader of the pack. I love your awareness of things going on around you. For example, if someone is sad, you are sensitive to those feelings. This is an excellent quality to have, as these days it seems not very many people are sensitive to the needs of others. I love your appetite! You are a really good eater and that may seem silly to hear but I love watching you down a cheeseburger! One of my very favorite things about you is your ability to express yourself. You will tell me 57 times in a day that you love me. You are always the first one to tell me I look beautiful, even when I’ve just rolled out of bed! And you have no problem sharing with me things you like, don’t like, or anything going on in your young life. I pray you will never stop sharing this part of who you are with me.

God willing, you have so much life ahead of you Micaila. And above anything else for you I could wish or hope for, I hope that you always seek the Lord first in all you do. I pray that these wonderful qualities He has graced you with will be used in a mighty way to glorify Him. I pray that early on you will understand and embrace His love for you and that you will experience the joy and fulfillment that pursuing Him brings. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

My dear sweet Micaila “carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!” Jude 1:20-21

Happy Birthday Micaila. We love you more than you know and Christ loves you a million times more 🙂

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Strengthening Your Marriage

My sister-in-law posted this series on her blog and after listening to them myself I wanted to share them with anyone who reads my blog as well 🙂 It’s a pretty short series, broken into 3 segments. At the end of the 3rd segment Greg and his wife answer some questions and I really enjoyed hearing their answers. Anyway, check it out! And as Jamie said “Your marriage will thank you.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

James

Recently, Jason and I became part of a “life-group”. Or as most would know it by, a small group or bible study. After joining Northwest, we knew from the get go that becoming part of a smaller more intimate group of believers within our church was essential for our relationship with Christ and it’s growth and maturity. Finally, we did it! Last night I was expressing to Jason how much I really have loved getting together with other believers and reading directly out of God’s Word. It’s just very uplifting. Our group is very fortunate too because our “leader” happens to be one of the pastors. It’s just nice to have someone leading whose career is built around studying, knowing, and living out the scriptures. We are blessed to have someone to bounce all our thoughts off of but also he can bring us back to the Truth and what the scriptures are really telling us. (It’s very easy to misinterpret scripture so that it suits how we want to live.)

Anyway, we have launched our life group with the book of James. James has always been a favorite book of mine. He is so CLEAR with what is expected of us as Christians and how we will truly find freedom in Christ. I had never read James translated by The Message though and parts really spoke to me last night as someone read James 1:19-27 out of their copy. This is the portion in James titled Listening and Doing in the NIV translation.

God has really been working on this heart of mine within the last few weeks and every day I’m in the Word it becomes more clear what he is saying to me. Yesterday in the morning I had just simply prayed that I would not only be a reader and speaker of the Word but most importantly a doer. Enter James. 1:22-24 (The Message) Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. Yikes! The Message is not fooling around with its clarity. But what I was struck with last night was verse 25 in my NIV. “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,……” James is telling us that God’s law is perfect. It’s not a bunch of rules to make us feel as if we’re in bondage, his law is FREEING. Obeying is law frees us! I felt so FREE reading that. Only in being obedient to Christ can we experience freedom. There is NOTHING this world has to offer that can free us. As Christians we hear that all the time. Do we believe it? Verse 25 goes on,  “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in itnot forgetting what they have heard, but doing itthey will be blessed in what they do.” James is saying that if we are consistent in our obedience and Faith in Christ and DO what we have heard and seen in his Word, we will be blessed in what we do. Not “worldly” kinds of blessings, that essentially are meaningless. Spiritual blessings, real, fulfilling, life giving, blessings.

Originally when I sat down to post this blog I was just going to post James 1:19-27 in The Message. So that’s what I’m going to do now.

I pray that we as Christians would hear God’s Word for what it is. I pray we wouldn’t water down his message or convolute it into something that we think suits our lifestyle better. I pray we would take hold of the freedom he has to offer, in the way he offers it. I pray we would be doers of His Word.

James 1:19-27 The Message

 19-21Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

 22-24Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

 25But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

 26-27Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

No excuses, make an effort: The Body of Christ

The last few days I have been researching, studying, and praying over my next topic within this series. I felt very compelled by the Holy Spirit to write about “The Body of Christ”. I feel He moved this topic on my heart because I recently have experienced the benefit of becoming more apart of our “Body of Christ” at Northwest Christian. When Jason and I moved here, we pretty quickly found a church we felt confident God had led us to. However it has taken us quite awhile to become really connected and find out where we belonged within the church. So as I have been discovering my part in the body of Christ, I thought I would share some of what God has revealed to me through out this time.

 

When we choose to be a disciple of Jesus, to trust Him completely, we automatically become a part of “the Body of Christ.” But, do we fully understand what that means? There are quite a few verses that address this topic. If you search (as I did) “the body of Christ” at biblegateway.com, you will get 2 pages worth of results.

Many of the verses specifically refer to the church being the body.

Colossians 1:18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.

Ephesians 5:23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

Back in high school and my late teens I remember quite a few times when I had conversations with people who claimed to be Christians but didn’t think they needed to go to church to be a Christian. And, indeed you don’t have to attend church to be a Christian. The scriptures are very clear. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by God’s grace through the exercise of the faith He has given us. It is not of any work in which we might engage. That includes going to Sunday worship or any other “church” service. God does it all. We simply accept what He has already done for us on the cross.

But, if you have decided to be a disciple of Jesus and the Bible says clearly that the church is the body of Christ in this world in which we live, one would think that you would want to be a part of Christ’s body. Ephesians 5:25 says Christ loves the church. If we are followers of Jesus it only makes sense that we would love what He loves, that we would desire to be a part of that of which He is a part. Which brings me to the real question with which I struggle . . .

I ask myself, “Katie, are you an effective part of the body of Christ?”

1 Corinthians 12:12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Romans 12:4-6 “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well….”

The bible says we, Christians, each are a part of the body, with a special function. We all have God-given gifts and talents. He gave us these functions, gifts, to work TOGETHER and partner with HIM in advancing the Kingdom of Heaven.

If I had been studying this topic back in high school I might have said to those people who didn’t think they needed to attend church to be a Christian that “It must be hard for a member of the body of Christ to function properly if it’s trying to work separately and on their own….” That’s just not the way God intended the body to be. He intended for everyone, every part, to work together. That is how we can be the most effective in our Faith. I really like how The Message translates 1 Corinthians 12 and specifically this at verse 27-31: You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.

 With out bouncing all over the place let me emphasize something. Attending church on Sundays will not make you an effective member of Christ’s body. If that is all we do, is show up, sing some songs, listen to a message, leave inspired and feeling good, yet do nothing, we are not working as a part of His body. What Sunday morning worship I believe is intended for is 1.) TO WORSHIP. (Which is a WHOLE different lengthy topic we could delve into some day 🙂 ) and 2.) Sunday is meant to re-energize us FOR His work OUTSIDE the church building. Sunday morning worship (and other worship and study times) enables you to gather with other believers, be encouraged by other believers, and be held accountable by other believers. It is RARE that you will find these things if you aren’t apart of some kind of body. You can’t find these things sitting at home watching a service on TV. (and obviously there are SOME situations where this is what a person may be limited too). My point in all this is, don’t get hung up on “Sunday morning church”, but get wrapped up in what Jesus has for you as a Christian in communing with fellow believers, gathering as one body, to focus on Christ, and learn how you can be a functioning and effective “part” of His body.

Back to BEING an effective part of His body. First you have to learn what your gift is. Sometimes we know it right away, sometimes it takes a little trial and error to figure it out. In studying all this I really enjoyed reading 1 Corinthians 12 in its entirety translated by The Message. I encourage you to as well 🙂

I have found that the best way to learn where you are most effective within the body of Christ is to serve. Typically, your home church would have, somewhere, a list compiled of different ministries. There are children’s ministries, food pantries, homeless ministries, senior adult ministries, knitting ministries, youth ministries, crisis pregnancy, prayer teams, encouragement teams, there are ministries that you probably are totally unaware of that could use a body part like yourself 😉 There are different levels of commitment involved with any ministry. You certainly don’t want to over commit yourself and neglect your home front which in case you forgot is ALSO a ministry 🙂

But we have to be honest with ourselves and stop making excuses for why we aren’t serving somewhere and being active, effective parts in the body of Christ. I can’t tell you how often I have said “I can’t commit to serving because I have a husband and small children and I’m needed at my home ministry right now” and than proceed to commit to a 26.2 mile run that consumes upwards of 10 hours a WEEK for 3-4 months, of training. (Well I’ve only done that once but you get my point.) I’ve spent time in other areas for “good reasons” but what is a better reason then FOR HIS GLORY? And truly, knowing from the times I’ve experienced it, there is nothing more freeing, nothing more fulfilling, then doing something for HIS glory and not my own motives or self gratifying reasons.

You start small. You start with obedience. The song by Casting Crowns just “happened” to pop in my head, (totally Jesus 😉 )  “If we are the body, why aren’t His arms reaching? Why aren’t His hands healing? Why aren’t His words teaching?……Why is His love not showing them there is a way?”  Them being everyone…. husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, friends, neighbors, strangers, EVERYONE.

So Katie…. no excuses, make an effort, do YOUR part in the Body of Christ.

Baby Boy update

Today we had the pleasure of seeing baby boy via ultra sound. Never get’s old 🙂 I actually saw him last week briefly because I was experiencing cramping and they wanted to make sure everything was good. It was, I just have major digestive problems. No shocker there really. Anyway, today was the anatomy ultrasound when they check to make sure all his limbs are there, no cleft lip/pallet, heart looks, good, brain, spine, ect. It is amazing how he is still so small, the size of a soda can according to tech, and yet has all these working parts. God is amazing. And it is also the best feeling in the world when our CNM comes in and says “You have a perfect little baby in there!” 🙂 Again, God is good. So I’m right at about 20 weeks, which is 5 months. Half way there! And so far everything is good to go. And I have some pictures of baby for you and of course  some of the girlies. 😉

His sweet little profile

Hi!!!!

And the money shot. I’m sure he’ll appreciate that one when he’s older 😉

The girls. I thought it was hysterical when Ryann said “You can’t eat any candy until you finish your lollipop.”

🙂 🙂 🙂

No excuses, make an effort: Valentines Day

For the last few weeks something has been weighing really heavy on my heart. Something I have been wanting to write about but couldn’t quite figure out where to begin. I actually wrote out an entire blog and saved it to drafts because it just wasn’t ready to be posted. I think I may have a series brewing. My first blog was all about time, how we spend it, and how it defines us. But there is so much more on that subject that I really wanted to go deeper and challenge myself.

You see, I write out of my own convictions, I write things that the Holy Spirit is gently whispering to me. I write it because 1.) I really enjoy writing and 2.) This blog does hold a certain amount of accountability for me. If I’m sharing these things with you then I hope you’ll be able to see growth and change in the future.

I’m calling the serious No excuses, make an effort. And each blog will have a more specific topic. The reason I feel this title is appropriate is because I believe we live in a culture that is addicted to making excuses, one right after the other. We can justify and excuse just about every thing we do, good and bad. I am just as guilty as the next person. I constantly have conversations with myself (usually in my head) about why I’m going to do something and why it’s okay for me to do it. Example: “Today I’m going to lay around and watch hours of TV because I am exhausted. I’m growing a child and taking care of 2 more who woke me up at least 3 times in the middle of the night every night this week. Plus, I have been keeping up with the house, dinner, and laundry all week and I really DESERVE (a word I will touch on later) a break.” And there ya have it, a perfectly wonderful excuse to not spend 5 minutes doing anything productive.

I’m going to talk about Valentines Day though, because well it’s tomorrow. I know I am not the only woman who deep down believes Valentines Day REALLY is all about her. 😉 Let’s be honest, most men don’t care about getting chocolate, jewelry, flowers, cards, GIFTS for that matter. Even the commercials make it about the females. So, every year, I secretly hope that Jason will do something amazing for me because well I deserve it. After all, I’m his faithful, loving wife, mother of his children, what more reason, to shower me with gifts and adoration, does he need? Sometimes he comes through, sometimes he doesn’t. And when he doesn’t…. guess who gets ugly? This year I have decided is going to be different.

We recently watched the movie Courageous. It was a really great movie with a great message. And it’d be easy for me to jump on the “Where are you men of courage?” bandwagon, but it also got me thinking, where are we women of courage? I know from experience how easy it is to fall into satans trap of thinking that for the most part I’m doing my part and Jason is the one that needs to shape up. But you know what I keep being reminded of? I’m broken. No matter what I do here, I’ll always be broken, because we live in a fallen world.  Guess what? We are all broken. So instead of pointing my finger at someone else I need to take a GOOD HARD look at myself and ask “Are you truly loving in this moment? Are you glorifying God with your actions and choices?” And my dissatisfaction with Jason at points….. well I’m not supposed to GET my satisfaction from him. My satisfaction should come from seeking the Lord.

Psalm 145:16 You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. (NKJV) 

Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (NKJV)

HOWEVER,…..

1 Corinthians 7 The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other,….” (The Message)

I looked up serve at blue letter bible. You can view the entry as a whole if you like here. What I’ll highlight is.

To serve:

1.) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon

a.) to minister to one

To minister:

1.) to attend to anything, that may serve another’s interests

Am I viewing my marriage as a ministry? Am I ministering to Jason? Am I making choices that include what is in Jason’s best interest, as well as my children and NOT just thinking about myself? Not always….. not even MOST of the time. In all seriousness I’m one selfish human being. I tend to think that he needs to meet my needs, and do for me, before I even begin to think about “serving” him. The fact is, if your honest with yourself, we all think this way, IN GENERAL. Let’s get out of denial and get real with ourselves. “I am selfish and most of the time, it’s all about me.” You have to admit that before you will ever be able to change.

In the book “not a fan.” Kyle quotes a satirical magazine The Door and their hilarious vows they wrote for the unmarried couple living together. I personally think this sounds like what a lot of married people commit to instead of the vows they actually repeat to each other.

I, John, take you, Mary, to be my cohabitant, to have sex with and share bills with. I’ll be around when things are good but probably wont be when things get tough. If you should get a cold, I’ll run to the drugstore for some medicine. If you get sick to the point where you can no longer meet my needs, then I’ll have to move on. Forsaking many others I will be more or less faithful to you for as long as it feels good to me. If we should break up, it doesn’t mean this wasn’t special for me. I commit to live with you as long as this works out.

Scary, sad, and a lot of times true.

So back to Valentines Day. This year I am not going to expect anything from Jason. (Just don’t tell him, haha 😉 ) For one thing, the poor guy has been sick all weekend long. But for the most important reason, I think it’s a good day to begin (again) my service to him.  I’m not going to make any excuses. Sure we don’t have a babysitter, can’t really spend a whole lot of money, can’t have a romantic dinner out with kids, and yeah I’ll be babysitting all day, house will be a wreck blah blah blah. It’s time to get creative and make an effort. It’s time to put my selfish desires aside, it’s time for a little sacrifice and place my husband in the position of being loved, adored, and served for a change. No pats on the back this should be a no brainer.

Typically, we’ll do anything to accomplish something that is SELF serving but when it comes to others well that’s another story.  Because of course we think we deserve “it” whatever “it” is. Bottom line, we don’t deserve much of anything. What we deserve is death and hell. But by grace we have been saved, thank you Jesus. I can recognize that I’m self-seeking, indulgent, rude, impatient, I could go on forever, all these things I am, apart from Christ. With Him I’m a new creation. Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Good things, like truly loving my husband, whether or not I think he deserves it. And yes this is quite possibly the single most difficult thing I may ever have to do. But it will reap so much joy and pleasure in the end. The point is it’s not up to me to decide who deserves what. It’s up to me to love God and love others. (Matthew 22:37-39)

So, to wrap up the first blog of this series, No excuses, make an effort. I say, Happy Valentines day to the MEN, and shower him with all you got. Break out the candles, pop the bubbly, stick your kids in bed or in front of a movie and enjoy 80 minutes (typical length of a good Disney showing) with your hunky man you fell in love with. Let’s thank our men for being providers, for coming home to US, for not abandoning their families, for doing their best in this fallen world. Let’s put aside what we wish they’d be and love them for who they are, right where they are at.

After all, Jesus does this with us……