global 6k

Go for a walk & change a child’s life forever {6k for Water}

Instead of cooking dinner right now, I get to curl up in my favorite chair, put my feet up, and share this post with you. See, a dear friend is generously bringing dinner to us tonight. She knew we had a hard few weeks, so she insisted on bringing us a delicious, homemade meal. Because I don’t have to cook dinner, I now have 47 free minutes 😉 to sit and share this with you.

Cooking dinner is such a small thing, and I’m grateful to do it. But imagine if you had to spend not just 47 minutes cooking dinner but HOURS each day, walking to fetch water that’s unsafe to drink. Now, busy moms have dinner to make and babies to attend to, so guess who ends up walking an average of 6 kilometers every single day carrying a 5-gallon bucket of dirty, contaminated water to bring back to his or her family?

Children. 

Six kilometers is the average distance that women and children walk, every single day, in order to fetch water that is unsafe to drink. I don’t even walk that far on a daily basis, for exercise, and these small children do it, usually barefoot, often through dangerous areas, carrying more than 40 pounds on the return trip.

But this week (3/22) is World Water Day & we have a fun and EASY way to provide clean water FOR LIFE for 500 children (or more) through the 6k for Water. I hope you will consider joining us, or contributing to this amazing opportunity.

Now hear me out, dear friends: I know there are so many great causes out there. I’m sure you are contributing to many of them. Here are some reason why this is one our family has chosen to focus our efforts on:

1. Water is life

I am all for any cause that alleviates suffering and extends Christ’s compassion to those in need. And specifically, Titus 3:14 tells us to devote ourselves to doing what is good, so as to help cases of urgent need.

Water is an urgent need. Without water, we die. And to make matters worse, when children drink contaminated water, they die. Waterborne illnesses are the world’s leading killer. More than 3.4 million people die every year of water-related diseases, making it the leading cause of death and disease in the world. Every single day, 1,000 children die of preventable water-related illnessesProviding access to clean water is one of the most urgent physical needs there is.

2. Ripple effect.

Because someone sacrificed her time to make me dinner, I now am able to sit down and write this, contributing to the greater good. In a much greater way, the gift of clean water gives a child much more than a cool drink–it gives her freedom from the slavery of water-fetching day in and day out. When a community has water, its children go to school. They can learn to read, write. They can learn skills to break the cycles of poverty.

And, the children are safe. One of the greatest tragedies of little girls gathering water, is that they are often walking through dangerous areas and often assaulted. One man said, the very best part of their community having water, was that there was no more rape. 

I can hardly type those words. I cannot fathom my own little 8-year-old angel having to walk some 4 miles every single day, through dangerous areas, vulnerable, lugging water back home, water that most likely will make her sick, that could possibly even be carrying a deadly disease. When I look at my little girl, I think of those millions of little girls, and would LOVE to help in whatever little way I can. Providing water is a way to prevent rape, abuse, and keep those little girls safe.

3. Living Water

We believe that humanity’s greatest need is Christ. These physical bodies will someday die, but every soul needs the love of God and the promise and hope of eternal life. So it is our conviction that we give through agencies that will explicitly share the truth of the gospel and the love of Christ with those they serve. Jesus said to the woman at the well,

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 6:13-14)

What I love about World Vision is their commitment to excellence and to the truth of the gospel. So, would you join us?

2017 6K for Water

May 6th, 2017: 9am

@ Clackamette Park, Oregon City

This family-friendly run/walk event is a fabulous opportunity to go for a walk and change a child’s life. For just $50 you can provide clean water FOR LIFE for a child (every dollar goes straight to water projects), and identify with them in a significant way by walking the length they walk each day. When you sign up, you get a unique bib with the picture of your child on it, and information about that child and his or her community.

We did this event last year, and I cannot say enough about how great it is. It is such a sweet opportunity to connect your heart and your family to another child, and make a real different in his or her life.

This year, they’ve expanded the regions where water projects are done, to include not only Africa but also India and Haiti. And, we are THRILLED that a local business has made us an amazing offer:

If we reach $12,500 fundraising as a team, they will MATCH us dollar for dollar. That means we have to reach that amount, but they will match it, and the sky’s the limit! We have an incredible opportunity provide clean water for 500 or more children, just through this fun and simple event.

So, will you join us? Here is the link for registration, don’t wait! You’ll get your bib in the mail soon and be ready to go. And invite your friends! It’s always more fun to do together.

And if you cannot attend personally, would you please consider contributing to our team? Every $50 gift provides clean water for one more child. 

ALL THE INFO IS HERE » werunOC.com

Quick link to sign-up or donate: http://lk.godrenews.us/OC6KforWater (click “Join our team” to join, or “Support” to give.)

Thank you so much for joining us in this great cause. I pray you are BLESSED for your generosity. 

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When you’re just so weak…

 

Last month, when we went through those 17 stressors all at once, I thought, “Oh good. There’s my break-down-and-cry session for the year. Let’s get back into our groove and start thriving again!”

But then. We were heading into a super full month ahead, so I braced myself for the busyness. The same day that I wrote that post, I found out I was pregnant. I’ll share more on that story later, why we were amazed and beyond thrilled, but suffice it to say the stressors all faded away in light of this new miracle. Yes, I was tired and nauseous, but it was worth it because it meant a little LIFE was growing inside my body.

But then, a week later, Heidi came down super sick with a high fever. I hoped it’d break quickly and she’d be better in the morning. She wasn’t. The next day she was sick. And the next. I had to leave for a retreat, and by then Jeff and Dutch were also coming down with it, so I reluctantly left them home and headed off to speak.

That night, I came down with it too. The whole retreat I felt so weak. I was also doing a fast with a family member to pray over a specific situation, so I had given up all caffeine for 40 days. Between no caffeine, being pregnant, being sick, and being away from home and not sleeping well, trying to have enough strength to speak to these dear women, I was at end of myself. I just kept reassuring myself that I’d be home soon, could rest and recover, and it’d all be better.

When I got home from the retreat, we were all four still sick. And then, that night, I miscarried.

In the middle of it, I felt so much peace. I knew God’s goodness, I was able to praise Him, trust Him, sing to Him. He spoke specific words of hope and encouragement to my soul, so although I cried most of the night, I was really ok.

But it isn’t usually the sudden blow of sadness that gets us, it’s the slow wearying effect of daily discouragement. That’s how I felt. The next day we were still sick. I kept up at my optimism, always believing the next day we’d be better. And then next day we were still sick. Heidi had hardly eaten anything in 10 days. Finally on Wednesday, I was feeling strong enough to get to Bible study, so I went.

Then, in the middle of study, I got a text that Heidi had a horrible allergic reaction to bubble bath, she was swelling up and breaking out in a rash over her whole body.

Seriously?!!

I went home, to find her face swollen, her lips sticking out, bulging, her tongue swollen, and a red puffy rash all over her body. While Jeff went for Benadryl, I sat up beside her bed, praying over her, hopeful the next day it’d be gone.

It wasn’t. It looked like chemical burns all over. It itched terribly, and no matter what we tried, we couldn’t seem to get it under control. The next day, it was slightly better but still there. And the next day, still there. This was day 12 of sickness, on top of the exhaustion, no caffeine, and miscarriage, and Jeff or I had commitments 7 nights in a row, and I was just. At. The. End.

By the time all the sickness and reactions ended, it was the day before I was supposed to speak at a conference, in a session for Pastor’s Wives. I so desperately wanted to give them a powerful, hope-filled message. I wanted to make the session worth their time. I wanted to encourage them.

But I had nothing. I had no special insights from the Scriptures. I had no clever 3-point sermon, no alliteration or outline or fill-in-the-blanks, I had NOTHING. And I still needed to pack for our week of travel and clean the house and do laundry and homeschool these kids and make a dozen arrangements, and all I could do was cry. I spent my last hour of “prep time” lying on my face before God, sobbing. No matter how hard I tried to pull myself together, I couldn’t stop crying.

And there, with my face on the floor and the tears and snot soaking the carpet, the words of Jesus came to me,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

There it was. Not only the message for my session and the message for my soul. I grabbed my Bible and began scouring 2 Corinthians, amazed to see how often Paul himself pours out his own list of laments, how often he was weak, hungry, weary, sleepless. How often he was at the end of himself. And yet over and over we see the reason for it:

That the power of God can be displayed.

I’m always praying for God’s power to be in display. But how often I tend to think that God’s power will be displayed through my power. I want God’s power to be displayed through my powerful preaching, or writing, or wisdom. I want God’s power to be displayed through health and strength, through exhilarating times of worship, through energizing church services, through successful endeavors.

That’s fine, but there’s no denying that more often than not, in the Scriptures, God’s power is displayed through our weakness. In fact, God’s power is made PERFECT (its very best display) through my weakness.

Of course I’m willing to be strong for the sake of Christ, but am I willing to be weak? Am I willing to be humbled? Am I willing to look small and unimpressive? Am I willing to pursue a path that purposefully puts my weakness on display?

The next day, in a packed room of pastor’s wives, I laid out my story of weakness. It wasn’t polished or pretty. Some might say it was pathetic, but then we opened up the Scriptures and let them preach. Oh and did they preach!!! They preached hope to us all—they told us that in our sorrow we are comforted so that we can comfort others (that’s ministry!). We saw that the treasure of the gospel is contained in weak and unimpressive jars of clay (that’s us!) to show that the power if His not ours. We saw that Paul was shipwrecked and beaten and hungry and exhausted, and that he was content with all that because it meant the power of God was put on display. And we saw that a messenger of Satan was even allowed to harass Paul, because when he was weak, then he was strong.

God met us in a powerful way, not because of my strength but because of His.

No one likes feeling weak, of course. But the gospel gives us something greater to live for than just our own feelings and fancies. We get to live for Christ. And the Scriptures promise us a reward that is far beyond anything we can possibly imagine, for those who choose the way of weakness for His sake.

Are you weak today, dear friend? Don’t lose hope. You are in the prime position to see God’s power perfected in your life. Your weakness is not a sign of God’s absence, it is an opportunity for His glory to be in display this very day.

Take courage, cling to Christ, for when you are weak, then you are strong.

{Thanks for reading.}

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Homeschool Nature Days {And the story of the Ark}

“Now I don’t have to die to go to heaven,” my son grinned. “It’s right here.”

We were walking along the trails zig-zagging through the wild countryside of the property we would soon call home. Towering trees, low-hanging limbs laden with moss, a pond and trickling creek, old-growth stumps — it was all so lush and green and vast — as far as the eye could see.

But even as spectacular as the scenery was, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Seeing his wonder–rapture really–as he explored and discovered, head tilted back, gazing straight up, pointing here and there, “Mom, red-tailed hawks!”

I couldn’t believe this was where, Lord willing, our kids would grow up. … {Read the rest over at here Simple Homeschool! And if you’d like to read the story of this piece of property … it’s here:

The Ark pt. 1

The Ark pt. 2

The Ark pt. 3

The Ark pt. 4

Thanks for reading!

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::Save the Date:: July 25th

At a retreat last weekend, we were asked, “What’s one thing you’re looking forward to this year?” The girl I was sitting beside quietly confided that she was excited to welcome a precious baby into the world on July 26th. I gasped, thrilled for her, and then quietly confided that I too was excited to welcome a precious little something into the world just one day earlier…

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Of course, a book is nothing compared to a life, but writing a book does feel like giving birth — the mental and emotional investment involved are most certainly akin to carrying and birthing a child. Some of you know it has been a long, sometime tearful, journey. So, I’m happy to announce our “due date” — July 25th. 

Between now and then I’d love to gather a group of you, faithful blog readers who have journeyed along with me here in this place, who would like to participate in reading and sharing the life-giving, hope-filled, Jesus-saturated truth of Sacred Mundane. I’d be honored to share a copy with you, and just ask that if it blesses you, you share the love with others. 100% of my proceeds will go directly to benefit women and children in need through World Vision; I want women all over the world to be blessed by both the message and the money from this project. I’d love if you would consider joining me.

If so, drop me a quick contact here, and I’ll be in touch. Thanks so much, faithful blog readers. You are a gift to me daily–your kindness and camaraderie blesses my soul.

Thanks for reading. 

total truth

My life and worldview rocked to the core…

This last week, I felt like chains fell from my wrists, ankles, mind. I opened this book and began scarfing down what I’ve been starving for for so long and didn’t know it. I cannot remember the last time I felt so FED by a book, by truth. About what, you ask?

Worldview.total truth

I know, this seems so dry, boring, unexciting. Please, track with me:

Even though my entire life is about the Sacred Mundane, even though my passion is destroying the sacred/secular duality and seeing all of life as a means of seeing and glorifying God, even though I just wrote a stinkin’ BOOK on this topic, I now see that I myself DID in fact allow my faith to be pushed to the margins of my life and relegated to a privatized corner of religious activity, safe and virtually ineffective, rendered useless for effecting change in the public spheres of life. 

See, I only spoke on safe topics. Only at religious events where Bible teaching was acceptable. I NEVER talked politics, current events, or spoke out on cultural issues. Truthfully, I was content to be the Bible-reading girl who shared little devotional snippets here and there about how to be more joyful in your mundane.

But here’s the thing that’s blowing my mind: God is the CREATOR of this world. Think about that for a moment. He’s the CREATOR. Not just of America. Of the whole world. So, He KNOWS exactly how things should be, all wisdom and insight and genius and creativity all come from Him.

He is the SOURCE of all things. All wisdom. 

So, we should then be able to see all of life through the lens of the Scriptures. I’m laughing as I type this because my book has an ENTIRE CHAPTER on this topic. BUT, I have never been taught how to develop a biblical worldview. That is, I’ve never learned how to intelligently engage with current events, culture, media, politics, arts, through the uniquely biblical lens of the Scriptures.

And here’s why:

In our culture, Christianity has been allowed to survive because it has been relegated to an obscure corner labeled “personal religious beliefs” which renders it completely useless for having any real impact on the actual goings on in our world. That is, we’re fine if people want to pray the sinners prayer, but DO NOT bring that Bible stuff into the workplace, government, education, healthcare, etc. No no.

Religious belief is allowable in your private life, but here in the public realm, we make decisions based on purely objective Reason.

Here’s the problem: There is no such thing as objective Reason

But, I’ve believed it. I’ve swallowed the pill that says, “Yeah, I can’t give biblical reasons for any of the things I believe which have widespread implications, so I guess I just can’t be part of this discussion. I guess we have to have public arguments based solely on secular principles.”

But secular principles are not neutral.

Nothing’s neutral. Nothing’s objective. Every philosophical system assumes some beginning “first principle.” That is, ALL knowledge depends upon religious truth. So even the secular “objective” reasoning depends upon some assumed self-existent truth. As Pearcey writes in Total Truth: 

“It’s a mistake to even to think of reason as neutral, in the sense of being independent of any philosophical or religious commitments. All systems of thought begin with some basic premise — some ultimate principle that is regarded as self-existing or divine. Reason is merely the human capacity to reason from those starting premises. In short, reason is always exercised in service to some ultimate religious vision. People interpret the facts in the light of either biblical revelation or some competing thought.”

Yes! See, ever so subtly, over the years, even during my college days and throughout the past 18 years, I have slowly and subtly believed the lie that “religious” knowledge must be confined to private spheres, while “objective reasoning” (which, doesn’t exist) is the only tool to use in the public spheres of government, education, science, etc. And since the only real knowledge I have is biblical knowledge, I figured that I better stay away from these public spheres because I clearly didn’t have anything to add.

So what happened was, God ruthlessly kicked me out of the private realm! During my nice quiet 40-day fast (a private religious activity where I minded my own business), He went and did something crazy — He told me who to vote for! And THEN, He clearly told me to share publicly who I voted for. GAH! I cried my eyes out, sweat, lay awake at night, and panicked. Even though I certainly wasn’t telling anyone else what to do or implying I had the corner on the truth, I was terrified to EVEN SET FOOT in that realm.

I was terrified to apply spiritual insight to a public sphere. 

And, because I didn’t have the tools to think critically and articulate biblically-informed views, when people asked me, “Why did you do that?” I shook my head, blushed, and said, “Um, I felt like God told me to.”

Not exactly a compelling answer.

See, I do believe that just by virtue of reading through the entire Bible 18 times, every single day for the last 18 years, that I have developed some sense of biblical worldview.

The Bible is the loudest voice in my life, hands down. I’ve “heard” more from the Scriptures than any person, even my parents, spouse, anyone. Nothing has spoken louder in my life than the Bible, applied supernaturally to my life by His Spirit.

So, that’s enough to at least make some sense of things, but I’ve never learned how to then intentionally develop a biblical worldview on public issues, and certainly never dared to say one out loud, for fear of being seen as idiotic, simplistic, uneducated, and narrow-minded.

And while I’m probably all those things, so is everyone else in light of Who God is, and His truth is TOTAL TRUTH. He has the genius insight on all things, and when we abandon His Word as THE SOURCE of all truth, then we inadvertently take up the “religion” of secularism, unknowingly falling prey to its false systems which are, at the core, contrary to God.

So, I don’t know where any of this will take me, other than to my knees. That’s where it’s taken me so far. I find myself feeling ALIVE like I have never felt before. I find myself feeling JOY like I’ve never felt before. I feel CONFIDENCE like I have never felt before. Not in myself, but in GOD! Sure, I don’t have the wisdom in and of myself, but HE has the answers, HE has the hope, HE has the truth, He has the words of eternal life, not just the ones that apply to private spiritual matters, but ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE, are found in the knowledge of CHRIST.

In Christ is ALL knowledge. 

Christian, rejoice! There is a place for your voice in this world, for your Christlike care and compassion, for your wit and wisdom, for your humble critique and keen insight. Take heart, Christian!

Do not let your faith in Christ be relegated to a meaningless margin of your life. Jesus redeems ALL of life, for His glory. I’m excited to continue journeying this way with you. Thanks for your grace and patience with me along the way. Thanks for reading. 

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When you just aren’t strong enough to bear the load…

It happened Friday night — the unraveling, crumbling, ugly-cry, loudly-sobbing, can’t-talk sort of breaking point that seems to come along once or twice a year. I could kind of see it coming, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  I didn’t know anything was wrong, but the littlest thing can send you over the edge when you’ve been teetering on the brink and didn’t know it.

The thing is, I don’t usually sit down and consider how little things affect me, until it all piles up and I’m officially crushed. Besides, there isn’t time. When I was a teenager, busy with sports and school and work, my mom would remark how I was aways healthy until a vacation, then I’d come down with a cold. It was like my body knew to “hang on” through the busy season and then when there was enough space I could go ahead and “let out” all the stress, in the form of a cold.

I find that I’m like that now, emotionally. I will automatically hold it all together, until everything quiets down and there’s enough space, then I’ll go ahead and “get sick” emotionally. This is not a conscious decision, it just happens.

Anyway, it happened. And for awhile I couldn’t talk, I just silently cried, and Jeff waited to patiently, wiping my tears and holding me, and eventually I choked out the words that came from down so deep it felt painful to speak them:

“I’m not … tough enough to be a leader.”

That was it.

I felt like a butterfly trying to carry a brick up into the sky, and no matter how well-intentioned, those wings weren’t meant to carry that weight. 

Then, as I began reflecting back on the small things that had compounded, I realized that SEVENTEEN difficult/challenging situations to navigate or lead through had surfaced in my life in the last two weeks.

Seventeen.

And none of them are bad or catastrophic, but each one weighed on my heart. They caused me to ache, in some way. They took prayer. Several left me at a loss for how to proceed, at least for a time. Some hurt. Some left me confused. Some just took time and energy to determine the best course. Some took weighing how others would react or respond. Some required taking into account many different factors at play. Some required forgiveness. And most of them were things that wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss with anyone else.

So while no one of them was a “big deal” so to speak, they all piled up, and as I crawled under a blanket, in the dark, I cried out all I could think to say,

“God, help me. Please encourage me. Please help me be humble. Please … I feel so alone.”

Alone? It sounds silly to say, right? Certainly if I’m facing seventeen different people-situations, my life is not lonely! 🙂

But loneliness comes from bearing a weight that can’t be shouldered by anyone else.

But then I heard it so clearly, there in the quiet:

“These are My sheep.”

Oh. Yes. There IS someone who can shoulder this burden. In fact, He must. Because HE is the Good Shepherd and He loves people more than I ever could and He is GOOD and and He is for me, and for them, and when I am tired and weary and fragile and weak, He has already promised me this:

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…

Wow. When the words of Scripture spring to life and speak to your soul, you are changed.

Suddenly, the hopelessness slipped away. The warped perspective cleared. The fears fled. The anxiety dissolved. Peace flooded in. Rest settled. Hope rose. He held. 

Interestingly enough, one of the things weighing on my heart was writing the material for an upcoming Pastor’s Wives conference. I so desperately want to bring words of hope and life to them. I want to help them thrive. Guess what the verse is for our time together?

“Come to Me, all you who are weary…”

Yes. He’s so good. And so I prayed for God to translate every challenge into wisdom, into more revelation of His love and guidance, to turn every situation into an opportunity to teach the goodness and wonder and wisdom of God, to encourage these precious pastor’s wives, and any others who might just happen to feel weary along the way sometimes too. My seventeen situations weren’t all church-related, they were life related.

I know I’m not unique in this, we all sometimes feel like we’re not strong enough to bear the load. And Jesus invitation reaches to you too.

“Come to Me…”

Thanks for reading. 

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Heidi, full of light.

Oh Heidi, where to even begin? Yesterday you turned eight, and the day was FULL of watching you shine and love and receive and give, and I just sat marveling at how God has grown you into a lovely little lady these past eight years.

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I was reflecting this week on how amazing it is to see prayer answered before my very eyes as I look at you. I went back and found this post from when you turned 2, and I was amazed to see that you have become exactly the things we prayed over your life all those years ago. I prayed that you would be:

  • Calm. This may not seem like the list-topper of an attribute, but a calm woman who keeps far from drama is a blessing indeed.  I pray that you will be able to minister to others, remain hopeful and steadfast in every circumstance.  I pray you will not be easily angered or upset, but steady and calm.  May you bring peace into every environment.

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  • Cheerful & Thankful.  I pray you will be a woman who is thankful for everything (1 Thess 5:18).  I pray that each and every day those in your sphere will find you a cheerful woman. I pray that you will know the secret of contentment, whether in plenty or in need–a thankful heart.  May your countenance always be pleasant, and may you bring joy into every environment.

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  • Modest & Gracious. I cannot lie, my love–you have the most beautiful face I have ever seen. (But I’m biased)  I am afraid that you might be in for a life of compliments.  It scares me.  I pray with every ounce of my being that you will be a modest and gracious woman.  Everything you have is a gift from God, offer it all back up as a sacrifice of praise. God will use all that He has given you for His glory. Remember Whose you are.  Remember Who is the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. Remember our beautiful Savior. And bow daily at His feet. Remember grace.  Let Your life be all for His glory.

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This week has reminded me, The things we pray over our kids MATTER. Sure, they’ll have their fair share of successes and failures. We don’t pray to keep them from trials or struggles. But we pray to see God work wondrously in their hearts, minds, character, lives, to shape them into godly, kind, humble, wise, brave, beautiful beacons of LIGHT to shine in this dark world.

I’m encouraged all over again — let us not grow weary in praying for our kids. God hears. God answers. So much is at stake in their little lives. Let’s pray! 

Thanks for reading.

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Why a good marriage isn’t our goal

You know when you read a book or hear a teaching, and it’s like everything inside you jumps for joy, “YES! Truth!”

That’s how I felt recently when we (finally) discovered Francis & Lisa Chan’s You and Me Forever marriage book/study, which we’re super excited to have as the materials for the first ever Renew marriage group.  It reminded of me of this, from a few years ago, so I thought I’d share again, and if you’re looking for a resource to strengthen your marriage: Check out Chan’s book!

If we only want our marriages to flourish so that we’ll be happy, or fulfilled, or satisfied, then as soon as our marriage is no longer making us feel happy, fulfilled, and satisfied, we’ll quickly give up and move onto something else. If we’re really going to have the energy, motivation, enthusiasm and perseverance  to tend and cultivate a healthy, thriving, flourishing marriage, we’ve got to have a greater reason why. And I would suggest this is the reason why:

Because your marriage is part of a far greater mission.

I believe that the reason our marriage has flourished (it’s not perfect, of course, but I love it!) is because “good marriage” isn’t the end goal. We didn’t enter into marriage for the purpose of marriage. Here’s what I mean:

Our marriages are less important and more important than we realize. By less important, I simply mean that nowhere in Scripture does it say that your sole purpose in life is to get married and be a “good wife”. We are certainly called to be a helpmeet (ezer) to our husband and to be fruitful and multiply, BUT the greatest purpose of all humankind in scripture is to glorify God, to go and make disciples, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our ultimate purpose—showing the love of Christ to a lost world—is not dependent on whether or not you are married.

 However, IF you are married, then our marriage is part of that mission, and it’s a far more important part than we may even realize. Here’s what I mean:

Our marriage was meant to nourish us and the world around us by its beauty and spiritual fruit.  Fruit that we can enjoy, that our children can enjoy, that the world can enjoy—and that most of all puts on display what God is like. So our marriages are more important than we realize because our marriages are a picture of what God is like. It’s a picture of Jesus Christ and His church (Ephesians 5).

God is for our marriages. God created us to thrive in our marriages. He created marriage to be a picture of Christ and the church, a picture of His extravagant love for us. He wants the world to look at our marriages and say, “Wow! Now that’s love.” Our marriages are actually God’s evangelistic tool. He wants our marriages to be so beautiful, so lovely and strong and enduring, that everyone will want to know the God of our marriage. They will want a love like that.

And personally, I believe that this is the scheme of our enemy who wants to do whatever he can to discredit followers of Jesus and tarnish the beautiful picture of God’s love, by making their marriages are weak, wilted, defeated, discouraged. In other words, the health of your marriage is even more important than you think.

But as long as our goal is merely to “have a good marriage” we’re aiming too low and missing out on the deeper motivation, the God-given drive that will fuel our devotion and inspire us to grow in selflessly loving, respecting, submitting to, and honoring our husbands.

What if your marriage was the only picture of God’s love someone ever saw? What would they think? I pray God would grant us strength and grace to grow such grace-filled and sacrificially-loving marriages that the world can look and see a picture of God’s love. That’s a lofty goal. There’s no way we can achieve that on our own. It would take a miracle, a supernatural work of God to achieve a marriage like that. Which is why it’s the goal we need.  He’ll get all the glory.

Praying God’s grace for a God-glorifying marriage that only His power can achieve. Praying for you! Thanks for reading.

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MANNA: First Sabbath

As I type these words I’m tucked under this quilt, snuggled up warmly with my Bible and books at my side. My stomach just growled so I ran downstairs and grabbed the already-prepared protein shake I’d mixed up last night. I feel downright giddy, curled up here in my happy place with time to think, pray, read, write.  Glory!

What a gift to have an accidental Sabbath.

Of course it’s no accident to God, He said Sabbath should be a thing. Right? But we don’t make it a thing and so then we have to stumble into Sabbath and go, “Ahh! What a great idea!”

See, today (Saturday), I had all-day plans. They were good plans. Godly plans. But then some things fell through and details changed, and next thing I knew I was needing to make a last-minute decision whether to go away for 11 hours (doing good things!), or to stay home. I sometimes panicked and paralyzed by having to make hurried decisions, so I asked Jeff to pray for me, and as we prayed I turned to my regular Bible-reading spot for the day.

It was Jesus saying, “The Sabbath was made or man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). 

Ah, that’s right. Sabbath

In that moment, I felt God was giving me the impression that I was free. Just as the disciples were free to eat the heads of grain in the field, I was free to do what was best for the refreshing of my heart and soul.

My choice was clear: I stayed home. 

And now, I found myself facing an accidental Sabbath. See, I had already made-ahead my breakfast and lunch, to take with me. I had already prepared the food ahead for Jeff and the kids for the day. Thinking I’d be gone, I had already tidied the house, caught up on dishes, laundry, etc.

The whole day stretched out before me gloriously blank

Sabbath.

And as I sat down to read, pray, and write, the things that fill and refresh my  heart like nothing else, I was reminded of the MANNA story again, and realized with awe, something I’d never considered before:

Manna was the first Sabbath observation.

While we learn that God rested on the Sabbath in Genesis 3, and it could possibly be that Adam and Eve naturally followed His lead (especially before the fall), there is no Sabbath commandment given, and no mention of humans observing the Sabbath, anywhere in the Scriptures …

… until Manna.

Exodus 16 is the first human observation of Sabbath, and God goes to such great lengths to explain what Sabbath is and how it all works, that clearly they had never known to observe it before.

And how it worked was this: Each day they were to gather that day’s portion. No more, no less. But on the 6th day, they were to gather (and prepare), twice as much. God would miraculously provide exactly twice as much as they needed. Why?

Because on the 7th day, the Sabbath, there would be none

On the Sabbath day, they were not to go out to gather, because there would be no manna (it would be a completely fruitless endeavor, so don’t even try), and they were to rest and eat what had already been prepareby them the day before. So, one day did require a bit extra work, but the next day was sweet, supernatural Sabbath rest.

And of course, again, in classic Israelite fashion, just as some of them had tried to save some overnight and it stank, some folks went out to gather manna on the 7th day, and guess what?

They found none.

Trying to get ahead, trying to gather-up on the Sabbath is fruitless labor. Sure, you can do it, but it’s pointless.

You won’t have any more to show for yourself than if you stayed at home and slept. 😉 

God’s economics.

And, miraculously, even though before when they disobediently saved some overnight it got worms and stank, this time when they obediently left half of it over night, it did not stink and there were no worms.”

God says,

“By the way, my laws trump natural laws. My word wins over what you’ve seen before. No matter what your logical mind tells you about how things work, My way will always stand.”

God’s Word pleads with us: My plans for you are GOOD. My laws lead to LIFE. My restrictions REFRESH your soul. My child, listen to me. 

Granted, we aren’t part of a theocracy today. Religious rules don’t govern our work schedules. No one day is always off-limits for events. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t seem overly concerned about that. He reminds us that Sabbath was made for man. So if your Sunday looks like mine and it’s the busiest day of the week, perhaps another day might be better for rest. Or if you have six kids in soccer every Saturday, perhaps a worshipful Sunday morning service, followed by a crockpot meal and quiet afternoon nap might be just the ticket to make sure that even Mama gets the holy rest that every soul requires. What a great habit to teach our kids, that ceasing from activity is just as sacred as the greatest social cause or religious work.

It is in the holy rest that we remember, “Ah yes, He is God. We are not.”

So Father, teach us your ways. Grant us the humility to pull away and rest, to require our families to rest, to recognize our limitations, to learn your easy yoke and your light burden and let You be the One who holds the world. 

{Thanks for reading.}

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MANNA: Not heroes, just hungry.

So the Israelites complain, and God is so gracious that He hears their complaint, and graciously provides for them in this ingenious way that

1) Satisfies their legitimate need (hunger) while

2) NOT indulging their sinful cravings,

3) Teaching them priceless lessons on trust and obedience, and

4) Testing their hearts whether they will walk in His ways.

God is so smart. He says:

“Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” Ex 16:4

So, God provides food for them. It is a flaky substance, like wheat flour. It rested like frost, on everything, and they would go out and gather it up early in the morning, because by the time the sun was hot, it melted and was gone. So they had to gather it up in every morning, and then do something with it. 

What did they do with it? Boiled it or baked it. So their choices were basically pasta or bread.

But here was the beautiful thing about manna. There was always exactly the right amount.

“Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as they could eat” (v. 19).

You weren’t to gather more than you needed, just what you needed. 

And there was no hoarding, or stocking up, or saving some for tomorrow. Each person had to get their own, every day, and they were strictly commanded NOT to save up any of it for the next day. Why? Because God had told them that tomorrow He would give them more. That’s why. He said each day He would rain down a day’s portion.

See saving up extra would be essentially saying to God,

“I don’t trust that you will do what you say you’ll do. I don’t trust that you’ll make good on your promise. I don’t trust you, and I don’t believe your promises. So I’ll do it myself. I actually trust my own ingenious methods more than your promises.”

Yikes. Right? So what happens? In classic Israelite fashion, they ignore his warning and …

“Some left part of it until morning (saved) and it bred worms and stank.”

See, this is no ordinary bread. God’s miraculous manna probably had the fiber of grains, the protein of meat, the vitamins of fruit, and the antioxidants of vegetables. It probably had the best enzymes and nutrients we can imagine, yet all miraculously wrapped up in a wheat-like flake that tasted like a honey-wafer (Ex. 16:31).

Did you catch that?!

Manna tasted like vanilla wafers!

Vanilla wafers that give me the nutrients of spinach and steak. Yes please!

But, immediately they have to trust that if they use up all their resources for any given day, God will give them the resources they need for the next day. But if they don’t, if they hold back from distrust, if they clench onto what they have, fearing tomorrow, anything leftover will rot, and the next morning will stink.

No rollover manna. No rollover food. No rollover resources. No rollover energy.

You have today’s. Period. That’s it. You have now. You have what you have. You have here. You have this reality. You have this life. You have this day. You have these children. You have this house.

Use it. Spend it. Cook it. Serve it.

Now, let’s talk as moms, just for a moment: Who do you think was cooking that manna? Who was kneading it, mixing it, boiling it, baking it? Who was tempted to save some for tomorrow? Who was the one responsible for feeding those babes, who was ever-mindful of the many little tummies in her care?

Mama. It was Mama’s manna. This was a test for everyone, of course, but I’m going to venture to say that the mamas felt it most keenly. Those mamas needed to trust that every single day, God would provide everything she needed for her whole family.

Which makes me wonder: What do we gather?

See, we will gather what we believe sustains us.

God’s Word actually fills and sustains us. So often we turn to what gives us a little jolt, a high, even if it’s negative. Just today in school we read about the propaganda of the Spanish-American war, how newspapers would print false information, making situations seem worse than they were, just so sales would go up. That tells me how much we often crave controversy, drama, conflict. But so often those sources actually drain. We might feel an initial buzz. But they leave us emptier.

Only God’s Word, His unchanging truth, His spoken word to our hearts in prayer, only this has what can sustain our hearts and souls.  Jesus said man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds by the mouth of the Lord.

This gives a whole new perspective on “quiet time,” or spending daily time with God, in His Word and in prayer.

It is not another thing on the list. It is FOOD.

See, If the Israelites thought that gathering manna was just an arbitrary chore they had to do, like God was trying to think of things to keep them busy, another box to check off their daily to-do list, they wouldn’t have gathered it. Time is too precious to waste outside gathering white flaky stuff off the ground.

But if they believed the TRUTH, that it was FOOD, you better believe they’d be out gathering it up!

We will gather what we believe sustains us.

We will make time for what we believe benefits us. What truly nourishes us and energizes us. What helps us.

They were out gathering up white flaky stuff because they were needed to eat.

See, never do we say, “Wow, can you believe how disciplined those Israelites were? They went outside and gathered manna every single day for 40 years. Wow, what heroes!”

We never say that.

It wasn’t that they were so disciplined, it’s that they were desperate. 

They weren’t heroes, they were hungry

Are we hungry? Are we desperate for God? Or do we think we’re so wise we have all the answers ourselves. Do we think we don’t need His wisdom, His insights, His direction, His guidance, His strength, His love.

See, the reason I get into God’s Word and spent time in prayer each morning is not that I’m a disciplined person. I’m a desperate person. You wouldn’t believe the junk I have in my heart sometimes. It’s ridiculous. You wouldn’t believe how clueless I feel when I face each day and the complexity of so many situations. You wouldn’t believe how NOT NATURAL this living-by-faith thing is, and how lost I am without His love and constant guidance. You wouldn’t believe how unqualified I am to lead or serve or speak or do anything.

Let’s not settle for being disciplined. Or having the right answers. Or finding a verse to tweet. Or checking off a box.

Let’s be desperate. Let’s be hungry. Let’s recognize our need and turn to the only hope. Our Manna. Our source. Our daily bread.

Thanks for reading.