Give Me Jesus in the Morning

God has given me so many beautiful examples of what it means to call in Him in my days. Proverbs 31 is full of reminders of how Godly women should occupy their time. There are countless Pinterest articles I could look to on how to set myself up for a successful morning. I could look to the New Testament or Psalms for guidance. But I don’t. Too often, my mornings are taken captive as soon as my eyes open. Dogs scratch at the door, begging for their leash and a quick walk. My mouth yearns for that first sip of coffee. My phone lights up with fresh information and demands. (Seriously, it’s amazing how many emails I get at 2am!) Before I even have a minute to think clearly, my days are taken captive. That’s why, as the old song says, in the morning when I rise, give me Jesus. The first part of my day is rarely devoted to Him. And when I miss greeting Him in the morning, the rest of my day tends to feel like a recovery mission instead of any sort of productive Kingdom work. When I rise, I need to see my King. Before the day takes me captive, I need to be captivated by His beauty and goodness. Before long, my phone will be flooding my eyes with images of reality TV star’s new lips and perfectly decorated homes. When that comes my way, I need to see the Man hanging from the cross and rising from the grave. I need to see true beauty and love. The sacrifice that’s been poured out on my behalf needs to be put before my eyes before anything else if I’m to truly love those around me. I need Him to meet me.  I need to feel His nail-pierced hands cupping my face, reminding me that I am His. Before the day starts making demands, I need to be reminded that, no matter what the day has to throw my way, Jesus is there. He has given His life for me and He won’t abandon me in the busy, mundane Thursdays. Whatever the day has to throw my way, He will work it on my behalf for His glory and my sanctification. So Jesus, I know I’m not good at seeking You out. I seek notifications to know that I’m not forgotten. I seek “likes” on…

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Rejoicing in the Lord: Celebrating the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

It’s no secret that fall is my favorite time of year. I love the crisp bite in the air. Picking apples and savoring the flavors of fall. But perhaps, my favorite part of fall are the fall feasts ordained by God in the Bible. When we have created new holidays to celebrate (Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.), I don’t know why we hesitate to celebrating the holidays given to us by God Himself. I know I’m in the minority of Christians who still celebrate these holy days, but I delight in the opportunity to proclaim what God has done to those around me. Unlike the Israelites, I am not bound by the law, but it is my privilege to reflect upon Gods faithfulness to His people throughout the course of history. One thing I am confident in, God never does anything arbitrarily. Each and every ordinance of His is filled with divine purpose. Rosh Hashanah, or the Feast of Trumpets, is no exception. So what is Rosh Hashanah? God commanded the people of Israel to take the day as a holy memorial. They were to spend the day not working, but savoring His rest. During their assembly, they were commanded to blow the trumpets, or shofar, together. Throughout the years, it has several traditional celebrations that have been added to this day of rest. We celebrate the harvest and God’s faithfulness in providing. When we blow the shofar, we remember how He has show up over and over again to defend us in battle and we celebrate His victories with praise. The trumpet sounded a battle call (Numbers 10) but was also to be blown by the priests. When we blow the shofar, we are both declaring war on the enemy and remembering the source of our strength, our God. Because not only is it a day to blow the trumpets, Rosh Hashanah is also the day traditionally celebrated as the Jewish New Year. So on this day, we also remember the beginning of the world and God speaking everything into being.. Rosh Hashanah has become very special to my heart. In my Hawaii home, we invited friends from all walks of life to gather with us in praise. Much to their surprise, I even bought a shofar and we all took a turn proclaiming God’s goodness. We spent weeks planning a special menu filled with the traditional, sweet foods of…

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Practicing Hospitality as Fall Begins

You probably know by now that I am passionate about simple hospitality. I believe that opening my home and my heart to those around me is just part of the way I live out my Christian faith. Now, I’m not talking about fancy entertaining. I have had my fair share of Pinterest-fail heartbreaks that have left me feeling like a less than worthy hostess and have turned that whole day on its head, making it about showing off my uh-mazing *insert cooking, decorating, activity planning, etc* skills instead of about giving myself to the person at my door. Summer lends itself to simple hospitality. Your yard can function as an extension of your house. Grilling (aka, preparing the meal) is something you can do with your guests. Messes inside can be ignored and messes outside can be washed quickly with a hose. Friends, I’m here to encourage you, keep the simple hospitality going into fall. Don’t neglect to invite someone over simply because there’s laundry on the couch that hasn’t been folded, invite them over and let them see that you live in real life too. Go deeper and let them see the parts of your home that are messy and real. I’m not saying there’s not a place for tidying up, I’m just saying you shouldn’t let the reality of actually living in your home stop you from enjoying it with others. Utilize potlucks. Break out the paper plates if you must. Do whatever you need to do to make it manageable for your home. But share your hearts. It doesn’t matter what you have to offer, it matters that, whatever it is, you offer it. In Mark 12, Jesus and His disciples witness people bringing their offerings before the Lord, some bringing an abundance, proudly, and a widow bringing only her 2 pennies. Jesus comments to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44, ESV). Like the widow offering her pennies at the altar, we are called to offer whatever it is we have to share. We all have different things we bring to the table, as we retreat into our homes, let’s be sure…

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Beginnings and Endings: Holding Joy and Sorrow in Each Hand

Life is full of complicated mixed emotions. Joy and sorrow do not fit into neat little compartments but are often jumbled into one big casserole with a little bit of everything mixed together. Heartbreak takes over on what should be a joyous occasion, sprinkling a bit of pain into the happiness and visa-versa. It’s a hard line to walk. We rejoice and we weep, sometimes in the same breath. It feels unnatural and sometimes even disrespectful, but yet, it keeps coming. My life has experienced several new beginnings and many painful endings in the last few weeks. In the last month, I have moved out of my first house, left the job at my little island church that I loved, and said goodbye to friends who have become my family in the Pacific. Tucking away all of my possessions, not quite sure when I’ll be able to unpack them again, brought more tears than I anticipated. I kept reminding myself that they were just things but tea cups passed down from generations and photographs from my wedding felt a lot like burying memories deep down. Goodbyes were filled with hope and many alohas (as a friend reminded me, we don’t say goodbye on the islands) but my eyes still brimmed with tears on more than one occasion. These moments were filled with a tense balance between love for each other, gratefulness for the friendship we’ve had, and sorrow for the distance that military life brings over and over again into these relationships. But there is also joy overflowing in the moments of these days. Joy that looks like my 2 year old brother, who I haven’t seen in a year, squealing my name repeatedly as I load my bags into the trunk of the car at the airport baggage claim. The joy of a dozen children, siblings and cousins, giggling behind the door waiting to yell, “Surprise!” when you finally reach the end of your journey. It looks like enjoying the warmth of a cup of coffee while watching your brother score his first touchdown of the season and sitting around the dinner table with family. Holding my new little family members in my arms and watching their tiny, infant lips curl into a sleepy smile, fills my heart to bursting. Even simple things, like truly being able to curl up with a book or put on fall boots, bring…

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Fall: When Life is Renewed Through Death

This is my first fall in three years. When I got married and left my home state of Michigan, the military decided to send us to the Hawaiian islands. I traded lakes for the ocean and the constant change of seasons for daily sunshine. It was beautiful, but my heart died a little bit as the years went on. I felt like a child, wishing for Christmas everyday but then realizing that when every day is Christmas, Christmas loses it’s mark. The daily dose of sun satisfied me for a little while, but come October, I was aching for more. No one from Michigan gave me any sympathy, but I missed fall. I missed the rhythms of the seasons. I missed change. The Hawaiian sun beat down on my heart and scorched my spirit. I was in a spiritual desert. I wanted to stop, curl up, and draw close to God. But the beach kept calling and the perpetual rays of light dancing through the windows made me feel guilty for wanting to stay inside. There was work to be done and the Kingdom work of hospitality and fellowship were constantly knocking. It was a wonderful thing, but it left me drained, relying on God for the manna of endurance daily. There are mornings where He met me and lead me gently to the stillness of the sunrise by the ocean’s edge, but now I sense Him calling me into a new season, a season of rest. Fall is the time when things die. The trees paint a tapestry of gold and red and burnt orange. The leaves let go of the branches they’ve held so tightly too and fall to the ground. We watch our gardens curl within themselves and, if we are really prepared, we might even begin to bury next year’s beauty beneath the soil. Death is not always painful, sometimes it is a beautiful release. Fall brings the death of summer spontaneity and calls us back into order. It trades outdoor adventures with friends for fireside conversations with soup or tea. It calms us and brings a much needed rest to our lives. Ultimately, as believers, we are restored through death. Through death, our lives have been restored. We no longer fear the grave because we know the one who has conquered it. We have seen the end. The victory has been assured. This victory means…

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