Reminders for When I’m Unsure of What God is Doing

I’ve been in a season of confusion. I feel like one of the psalmists. The surety I had even a year ago has been replaced by me alternately looking around in confusion and waving my hands, trying to get God’s attention as if I need to remind Him I’m still here, needing Him to guide me.  Because I’m desperately unsure of what God is doing. Plans that God laid on my heart seem to be lost through new obstacles that He is not removing. Everything feels smaller and less possible than it did a year ago when I felt God calling me to big plans and bigger dreams. So where is He now?  Is God still working in this mess? Did I misunderstand what God was wanting me to do or is this simply a trial of faith where I need to stand, trusting in a power not my own? My mind scampers down rabbit trails, frantically trying to control the world around me instead of trusting in the One who holds all things together. Even if I have failed, He does not. So in times of confusion, I remind myself of who I am and who my Savior is.  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  – Romans 8:26-27, ESV Even when I am confused and unsure of the path ahead, the Holy Spirit works on my behalf, praying according to God’s will and interceding for me. My ways are not God’s ways. Even my prayers falter because of my broken human nature.  Instead of living based on the assumption that all relies on me, I need to remember that God recognizes my brokenness. While I should strive to honor Him in all I do, in time I confusion I need to dwell upon the truth that God already knows I will not pray as I ought and is working on my behalf.  Especially when I am confused and uncertain of the road ahead, I need to trust that the Holy Spirit is praying for me in ways I cannot comprehend. My own strength is not enough,…

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How Winter and Hygge Help Grow My Faith

Living in Hawaii led to me miss the Michigan winters and seasons of calm that had marked my life. The constant sunshine and warmth (while welcomed at times) pressured me to constantly live life on the go. Winter weather gives me permission to live at a calmer pace, embracing the forced rest that being snowed in brings.  I often see winter weather as a simple mercy in a culture that demands more and more of our time and energy. The bitter winds and banks of snow naturally lead us to calm our hearts and settle into our homes. It is a season of building routines and embracing the people God has placed around us.  While the opposite of productivity is often categorized as laziness, I think these seasons can be better categorized as intentional foundation-building. If we use this opportunity to slow down, evaluate where we’re at and embrace the life God is calling us to live.  Winter works well with the practice of hygge in allowing us to slow down and embrace the simple pleasures in front of us. It helps us enjoy the simple lives that Scripture calls us to and opens our eyes to see what makes this season beautiful. During the warm winter seasons in Hawaii, the Lord worked in my heart. But during this frigid Michigan winter, I’m learning to embrace some new seasons and practices that strengthen my faith.  Evaluate Habits and Develop New Routine During summer, the lack of school routine often means that we travel and live generally more spontaneously.  Winter is a consistent, mundane time. It is the perfect time to develop new habits and rebuild lapsed habits. Take advantage of the steady schedule that accompanies winter to look at your spiritual life and see where you can start making changes. It is the ideal time to start a Bible reading plan, develop prayer habits, or invest in a Bible study or accountability group.  Deepen Your Relationships Winter is a wonderful time to practice hospitality and to spend uninterrupted hours with those in your home. Put on a pot of soup and spend time playing games and investing in conversations. Again, because winter typically brings a more reliable schedule, it’s easy to set aside time weekly or monthly to invite others into your home. Take this time of routine to incorporate hospitality into your life and to build friendships with those…

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Taking Time for Extravagant Sabbath Rest

Today, was a day of extravagant rest. It was a day of lounging and eating delicious food and meaningless driving that was filled with meaningful conversation.  It was a day of idleness, but a day that left ready to face a new day. A day that gave me space to plan and dream and embrace the life I’ve been given.  While others were beginning new goals and starting weight loss challenges, I ate a giant plate of nachos and binged watched movies with my husband. But somewhere in the snuggles with dogs and vicariously living through an epic saga of courage in the face of trials, I breathed a deep sigh of relief and readied my heart to take on the new week.  Because the work of rest is indeed work. And that is why it has been commanded.  God gives us rest, not as a burden, but because He knows we are prone to neglect it. We are prone to just get one more task done, to get a jump start, to fill every day and moment. But we need to disconnect from our work, to embrace the beauty of our world and indulge in the things that make us smile.  Today, that looked like driving around and enjoying the last remnants of the Christmas lights in a nearby neighborhood. It looked like dreaming of a future home and the celebrations it would hold. It looks like an indulgence that filled my soul.  The goodness of God, seen in the common grace of friendship, storytelling, and Christmas lights, has given me a new view of the life that God is calling me to live.  And so tomorrow, I will embrace the work with a renewed vision.  I will set my hands to each and every task I’ve been given, striving to accomplish it in its proper time so that I may also rest in its proper time.  Work will be here, day after day, but taking time to rest reminds me that the work does not depend on me, it is fulfilled by God. Because when I work without rest, I communicate to myself and to those around me that I am more necessary than God, who took a day to rest and saw that it was good.  If God can take a day to rest and tells us to do that same, it is clear that our work…

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Dear Church, Stop Hiding Sin 

There is an icky, modern lie that worms its way into the hearts and minds of our churches. It is marring the Name of the Lord and denying Christ’s work on the Cross wherever it goes.  What is it? It is the lie that we need to protect the reputation of Christ by hiding sin in the Church. But it isn’t a new problem. It is a problem that has been lurking around since the beginning of the church. Satan has plagued us since the Garden of Eden when he wormed his way into Eve’s heart and made her question if God really meant what He said and if it was truly for her good.  And here we are, thousands and thousands of years later, still questioning if God really meant what He said about our conduct.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:9-12, ESV I think, like Eve, we are well-intentioned and want to do right. But God does not need us to protect Him from our sin natures. God knows we are a broken, sinful people and came to save us from that very sin. But when we as a Church hide brokenness, we deny our need for the mercy of God.  Scandals plague the church because instead of bringing them into the light and calling out sin, we minimize them and hide sin so that the world doesn’t think the people of Christ are broken. Whether it’s sex scandals, financial misconduct, or even “little” sins like drunkenness, anger, or greed, we tend to hide from it and point to others, not ourselves.  We’ve seen the effects again and again when sin is inevitably brought to light and the Name of Christ is scandalized not by the sin, but by cover-ups…

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5 Ways to Teach the Bible to Toddlers

A few weeks ago, I shared the article, “How Not to Teach Your Kids the Bible,” on my Facebook page. While it was helpful for some, it left others asking how teaching the Bible should look for toddlers who can neither read nor sit still for long.   While I don’t have children, I am the oldest of *put down your hot drinks so you don’t spit them out in shock* TEN children. Because of this, I grew up watching my mom implement several of these ideas with my younger siblings and using them myself to help teach the Bible to my siblings, nieces, and nephews.  Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. See my sidebar for my full disclosure.  Here are 5 ways to teach the Bible to toddlers:  1. Read Aloud Read the Bible together. Even if it is just a few verses, try to develop the habit of reading at breakfast or before bed. There are many options for wonderful children’s Bibles that keep the heart of the message of the Gospel but don’t be afraid to simply read them the actual Word of God. Children are capable of much more than we give them credit for! You might need to scale your expectations and start by reading simply a verse or two at first, but take time to read the Bible, even when they’re young. Crack open the Scriptures and read through a few verses together. Ask them what they think it means and guide them towards the truth.      2. Pray with Them Praying aloud with your children from a Biblical perspective (not implying simple moralism, prosperity gospel, etc.) is another way to slowly demonstrate a proper understanding of the Bible to them. If you’re not sure where to begin, pray Scripture over them and together. Read through the Beatitudes praying, “Blessed are the pure in heart. Lord, give us pure hearts. Blessed are the merciful, Lord, open our eyes to opportunities to show your mercy to others.” Read through the Lord’s prayer and memorize it together. It may seem daunting but if you make a habit of praying it together at the same time (before dinner, bed, in the car, etc.), it’s amazing how quickly they will learn it.  3. Use Music Start teaching your kids through music. Songs that teach scripture memory stick in their minds forever. Hide Em In Your Heart by Steve…

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