Choose to Show Up

I sit down with my coffee and my Bible. I get settled in and open my journal and my Bible. I hear stirring from the baby monitor. The baby woke up. Again. 

Sound familiar?


In high school I used to spend long stretches of time reading my Bible. In college, my workload got more intense, and I didn’t have as much time to spend in the Word. At the time I didn’t understand that different seasons of life mean that our time in the Word may look different. Instead, I felt guilty and would often go through long periods of not reading my Bible at all because I thought if I couldn’t spend the time that I was used to spending then I shouldn’t spend any time at all – I was wrong, by the way.

It’s so easy to get frustrated when different seasons of life make your “quiet times” with the Lord look different. It’s easy to just not show up. Something to remember, however, is that God values faithfulness. He honors when we choose to show up, whether we have an hour or just ten minutes. I believe time spent with God is never time wasted. God can bring fruitfulness out of both situations, even if we don’t necessarily see the fruitfulness right away.


So I take a drink of my coffee, set my Bible and journal aside temporarily, and go get my sweet baby. My quiet time is different than it used to be, but that’s okay. Seasons of uninterrupted time in the Word are beautiful, but so is this season.

There will be times as my daughter gets older when I wake up early to spend time with the Lord and the little pitter-patter of feet come down the stairs before they are supposed to, and that’s okay. Maybe I’ll pull her onto my lap and we can read together. Or maybe I will take a break to make her breakfast and then resume – maybe ten minutes later, maybe two hours later. But what I won’t do is get frustrated. I want my children to see their mama meeting with God regularly, and that may mean my quiet times looking much different than they did when I was fifteen. And that’s perfectly okay.


Friends, be willing to meet God where you are, no matter the season. Seek His face no matter what, and remember that your time with God is never wasted. 

With love, 

Photo credit: 

unsplash-logoAaron Burden
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Work With All Your Heart

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

Since I started working when I was 16 I have always tried to keep this piece of Scripture close to my heart. In fact, before my husband and I even dated we often reminded each other of this verse when one of us was having a difficult time at work.
As I have gotten older, however, I’ve realized how truly powerful this piece of Scripture really is. The verse says that whatever we do, we are to do it with all of heart.
If we truly do the work that comes into our lives as if we are doing it for the Lord, or when we simply realize that what we are doing is a way of serving the Lord, it changes our perspective.
I hate doing laundry. With a passion. And vacuuming. And doing the dishes. Really, I hate most forms of housework. But when I stop and remember that doing these things better helps my family function better and better helps me be hospitable to guests in our home (we love to have people over), I do it with cheer (Note: I am not a house-cleaning guru. I would be a complete liar if I said that our apartment was not a total wreck during my first trimester of pregnancy. I would also be a complete liar if I said I held this attitude all the time).
The real difference comes when I’m not making it about me. Sure, it’s nice when our place looks nice – it makes me feel good – but it’s not nearly as motivating to me as knowing that I am serving my family, God, and others.
Whatever you do, whether it be raising your children, working in your job, cleaning your house, going to school, do it for the Lord. Your stocking job at the grocery store may not feel a job in which you serve the Lord, but the attitude you have speaks volumes. Everywhere is a mission field.
Go forth and do whatever you do with all your heart, and remember to give yourself grace because we are never going to have it all together all of the time.
With love,
B

Photo credit: unsplash-logoBen Kolde

It’s Okay to Slow Down

Living in the age of technology, we expect everything to be done fast. It’s reflected in most aspects of our life:

This person is driving too slow.

The wait is too long.

My phone won’t load fast enough.

The list could go on and on.

What I have realized recently, though, is that slowing down is a beautiful thing. Sure, there are deadlines and time-sensitive things, but why does everything in our lives have to be done at an accelerated pace?

One of the most beautiful ways that I have noticed the beauty of slowing down has been in my time with God.

I have had a relationship with Jesus for almost 7 years now. For 6 of those years I read my Bible the exact same way: a chapter a day (unless it was a super long chapter, then I would break it up). Last year around this time I decided that I wanted to read chronologically (in the order that events happened, not necessarily in the order the books occur in the Bible) and in larger chunks to get a better sense of the bigger picture, and I loved it!

In this season, however, I’ve started studying my Bible in a completely different way than I ever have. I spend about 30-45 minutes a day on around 10 verses of Scripture just breaking it apart. It now takes me 2-4 days to read a chapter rather than 1.

At first, it almost bothered me actually. I felt like I wasn’t reading enough. In reality, though, I’m digging in deeper than ever before. Reading the Bible, like many things in life, is not a race. I’m loving this season of just slowing down and really meditating on the Word of God. It has made me realize it’s okay to slow down in other areas, too. It’s okay to stop and appreciate the simple beauty in your life. It’s okay to leave the dishes unattended for a little bit to spend time with your spouse or kids. It’s okay to not always be in the fast lane.

With love,

B

Silver Linings

For the most part, I have always been one to try to find the bright side in every situation. Several weeks ago, however, my husband – very gently and with grace – pointed out that I had been only seeing the negative in practically every situation. He reminded that I was always the one who found the silver lining no matter the circumstance, and that was not who I had been lately. And he was right. With taking 6 classes, working 20 hours a week, and being horribly sick in my first trimester, I was overwhelmed, over-stressed, and just done. 

It was a real wake up call hearing it come from him, but I really had become the ultimate Debbie Downer. I made a decision that day, however, to not let negativity rule my life anymore because it made me – and surely him – miserable. Because that’s the thing: being extremely negative about an already difficult situation is going to make the situation immensely worse. I remembered the power of simply being grateful for the things that we do have and for the things that are going right. When you do that, you realize you are much better off than you thought!

I still have a tendency to overreact and become overly stressed about certain things (thanks, pregnancy), but my sweet husband is always there to gently remind me to focus on the things that are going right, because what we look at – what we focus on – greatly determines our outlook on life.

So if you’re in that place right now where the world seems to be against you and you are in over your head, I’d like to remind you that for every negative in your life, there is a positive (I promise, they’re there); there is always beauty among the ashes. Focus on those things. Give thanks for those things. Hold onto and focus on the One who never leaves you and is always there even during the rough things. You can still have joy during those things, don’t let anyone – especially yourself – take that away. Find that silver lining.

With love,

B

Photo credit: unsplash-logoDaniel Páscoa

Worship

What do you think of when you hear the word “worship”? For a lot of us I would bet we think of singing in church; we think of giving ten to twenty minutes once or twice a week singing words that may or may not mean something to us. Or perhaps we think of our tithes and offerings as worship. Both of these things are worship, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.

So then if we’re missing the point, let’s ask some questions.

  1. What is worship? 
    • Worship is the expression of adoration or reverence.
    • Worship is something that God alone deserves (Exodus 20:2-6).
    • John 4:23-24 says that “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”(emphasis mine)
    • 1 Samuel 15:22 says, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”
    • Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (emphasis mine)
    • Isaiah 29:13 says that if we are only honoring God with our lips but not our hearts, we are not truly worshiping.

    Essentially, worship is not something that we do once a week, it is something we are to do through our lifestyle. We are to worship in Spirit and in truth, two   things that are forever inside us when we allow Jesus to take His rightful place as   king of our lives. Offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is not something you do once, it’s continual dedication of ourselves to the Lord.

  2. Why do we worship?
    • If you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone you really like you know what it’s like to desire to get to know someone. You want to know everything about them – what they like, what they dislike, what makes them tick, their middle name, everything! – and the more you know the more you want to know. Our relationship with God is similar: when we spend time with Him and get to know Him, it stirs up the desire to get to know Him more, and when we get to know Him, we can’t help but worship Him.

•••

Worship is so much more than singing songs and giving money, it’s continually honoring God with our lives.

When we obey His command to love our neighbor, that’s worship.

When we choose to be like Jesus and pray for those who persecute us, that’s worship.

When we take the high road instead of stooping to the level of those who hurt us, that’s worship.

When we extend grace, that’s worship.

When we choose not to compromise our values, that’s worship.

When we stand and sing and pour out our hearts to the Creator, that’s worship.

When we use our gifts to further His kingdom, that’s worship.

When we die to ourselves and live solely for Him, that’s worship.

Our lives are meant to be continual acts of adoration and reverence of our Creator and King. Worship is not something you get away from life to do, worship is something you do amidst the messiness of life. Everyday is a blank slate. Everyday is a chance to choose God or self. What are we going to choose today?

Photo credit: unsplash-logoAnubhav Saxena

 

Heart-Matter

When we invite Jesus to be the Lord of our lives we become free from not only the penalty of our sin but from the Law as well. Though the books of the Law are still important and give us wisdom, we are no longer bound to it. While of course there are things that are simple – I mean, we really shouldn’t be out thieving and murdering – our lives are no longer solely painted in black and white.

This being said, a lot of people don’t live this way. The message of the church often seems to be full of dos and don’ts, cans and cannots. We have freedom in Christ and God has given us free will, but not everything is beneficial to us (1 Corinthians 6:12). The Bible also instructs us to use our freedom wisely (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16). Freedom in Christ isn’t about legalism, it’s about motive, which took me awhile to understand (Phylicia Masonheimer is very helpful with this topic).

The Bible lays certain things out clearly for us, but other things are vague or not mentioned at all, and what it boils down to is our motive. Is what we’re doing beneficial to me? Is it hurting someone else? Is it hurting my witness to someone else? And perhaps most importantly, why am I doing it? For example, there’s a lot of controversy over whether or not Christians should drink alcohol. Firstly, the Bible does not prohibit drinking alcohol, it prohibits drunkeness. That leaves us each with a choice of whether or not we choose to drink. Are we prone to making irresponsible decisions? Are we drinking because it’s “cool”? Are we drinking as a coping mechanism? By drinking are we encouraging a friend’s alcoholism? What is our motivation?

We have great freedom, but with it comes great responsibility. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be caught up in legalism – in fact, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for that very reason!- but we should exercise our freedom wisely through prayer and self-examination.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoFlo Karr

Free Will

From the time humans were created, God has given us free will. Every day we use our free will to make choices on what we do, what we say, how we act, and how we react. Each and every one of those choices have consequences, whether positive or negative. This is a basic concept that people often teach their children as they are growing and learning (For example, if you don’t eat dinner, you can’t have dessert), yet we as adults sometimes have trouble grasping this concept.

We can’t blame God for the consequences of our own actions. If a relationship ends because you do not treat your partner well, that is a result of your own choices. There are things that happen outside of our control, but that is a post for another time. If we are ever going to grow and mature, we have to be willing to accept responsibility for our actions. Not only that, but we have to remember that others are prone to sin, and we have to extend grace to them.

Thinking about it this way makes free will seem like a drag, huh? It’s not. Free will is beautiful: if we didn’t have free will, we would never be able to love genuinely or really live. Yes, there are consequences for choices we make, but not all of them are bad: I choose to pour into my marriage, and as a result it is flourishing. That’s a beautiful consequence!

Free will is a gift, and we should use it wisely because our actions and words have tremendous power.

With love,

B

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Photo credit: Ryan Clements

We Are Meant to be Different

In last week’s post, I talked about how we are to be Christ-like, not necessarily Christian-like. This being said, I think there is a common misconception from both believers and nonbelievers that to be a Christian is to be a carbon copy of every other Christian. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ephesians 2:10 says: “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” (NLT, emphasis mine). Does every masterpiece look the same? Of course not. So why do we think that we should look exactly the same as our brothers and sisters in Christ? God has given us each different talents, gifts, and passions so of course the way we live out the attributes of Christ are going to come across differently. Some people have a passion for opening their homes and leading Bible studies while others have a passion for working with the homeless while yet others have a passion for traveling as missionaries. Are all of them glorifying God and being Christ-like? Yes.

Additionally, while our core values may be the same, other values we have and the way we express them may look different from other people’s. For example, some parents choose to allow their children to watch television while others do not. Is either of them right? If each is doing what they are convicted about and believe is best for their own family, then they are both right.

For years this was a very difficult concept for me to grasp, but as I’ve grown and matured, I’ve realized it’s okay to look different than those around me. In fact, that is how it should be. There have been times that I have done things simply because it worked for other people, because someone else was convicted about it, or because someone told me to do it. While seeking wisdom from others is certainly important, we need to check this wisdom against Scripture and against our own hearts and then ultimately make the decision for ourselves.

•••

I love seeing the diversity in believers around me: no one’s life or home looks exactly the same. It is beautiful to see how so many different people can glorify God in so many different ways.

You are not called to look like everyone else, you are simply called to live a life that glorifies God, whatever that looks like for you.

With love,

B

Photo credit: unsplash-logorawpixel.com

Christian-Like

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:4-6, HCSB, emphasis mine).

•••

When Jesus was on Earth, He was the living, breathing embodiment of God. Not only is that mind-blowing, but we are lucky enough to have records of His ministry easily accessible to us. As Christians we are called to model our lives after Christ. Often times, though, I find that we end up trying to model our lives after other Christians. This in and of itself is not a bad thing; Paul even tells those in the church of Corinth to imitate him because he is an imitator of Christ. The problem lies in the fact that other Christians are human and just as prone to sin as we are.

When we are modeling our lives after other people there are a few things we should take into account:

  • Is the behavior we are wanting to imitate consistent with Scripture? If we are looking to another person to try to be Christ-like, we need to make sure that they are behaving in a way that is truly reflective of Christ.
  • Are we idolizing them? If we become obsessed with trying to model our lives after a person or persons, we are essentially worshiping them, making them into an idol. If this is the case, our focus is misguided.
  • Are we looking into Scripture for ourselves? Are we actually studying the Word and trying to understand what it means to be Christ-like, or are we simply letting others do the work while we copy and paste?

•••

We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1). Within us is the capability and responsibility to reflect Him. Other people can aide us in living in a manner worthy of Christ, but they can not be our only source or our faith will crumble. This is why so many people get “burned” by the church: they think that the actions of other humans are always reflective of the actions of God, which is simply untrue. If our view of God is only through other people, we are going to have a misconception of who God is because humans are imperfect and are bound to mess up, unlike God.

As followers of Christ, we should be encouraging our brothers and sisters and be making disciples. We should also allow ourselves to be encouraged and be discipled. This, however, cannot replace seeking God ourselves; we need to go straight to the Source.

•••

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 HCSB

Photo credit: unsplash-logoAlexandre Chambon

The Social-Media Christian

What is Christianity? A label in an Instagram bio? A t-shirt? Church attendance? A list of rules? Something you are because your family is? Tweeting Bible verses?

Being a Christian isn’t something you do one day a week, or something you present yourself as on social media; it’s something you are to the core of your being.

I imagine if I had this shallow attitude towards my husband when he and I were dating:

What if I posted about how great our relationship was on social media yet rarely talked to or interacted with him?

What if I saw him every once and awhile yet never invested?

What if I talked about how much I loved him yet never showed love?

If this were the case, there wouldn’t have been much of a relationship behind the label.

•••

Just like human relationships, Christianity is meant to be a relationship, not a label. Because of Jesus we get the privilege of having a direct connection with our Creator. We get to learn more about Him, how much He loves us, and what He calls us to do. We get to draw into an intimate relationship with the One who will never leave or forsake us. If this is the case, why would we ever settle for less?

Are we going to choose to actually invest in a relationship that changes our hearts, minds, attitudes, and lives, or are we going to settle for a shallow label that changes nothing?

Photo Credit: freestocks.org