Trippin’ on Friday

{This post contains affiliate links}

My friend Linda gave me the best gift this year. New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp has been a much needed, gospel centered companion this year. In fact, she gave the book to me but Steve and I arm wrestle for it every day.

Here is an excerpt from today’s reading:

“So many Christians load onto their shoulders a burden that they do not have to bear. They get up every morning and pick up the heavy load of trying somehow, some way to achieve something with God. They work hard to exercise what they do not have in hopes that they can achieve what is impossible. It simply cannot work. So where does it lead? It leads either to the scary pride of self-righteousness – a culture of moralistic self-backslappers, who have no problem judging those who have not achieved the level of righteousness they think that they have – or to fear and discouragement – a culture of people who don’t run to God with their sin because they’re afraid of him.”

What do you think of this?

When I read things like this, my mind immediately goes to all the legalistic people that drive me crazy. I am less inclined to see how it actually relates to me and how I measure my own value by “how I’m doing.” Ouch.

Here’s how he ends it:

“So stop trying to measure up to get whatever from God. Stop hiding from him when you mess up. Stop comparing yourself to other people, wondering if God loves you less because you’re not as “good” as them. Stop naming the good things you do as righteousness that not only gets you closer to God, but also proves to others that you are. Just stop asking the law to do what only grace can achieve, and start resting in the fact that you don’t have any moral bills due because Jesus paid them all on the cross. And when you sin, don’t pretend you didn’t, don’t panic, and don’t hide. Run to Jesus and receive mercy in your time of need, the kind of mercy he paid for you to have.”

How do you measure yourself? Is it with the measuring stick of grace or the law? Or comparison to those around you?

Do you know how beloved you are – just as you are?

 

 

What I’m Into {February 2014 Edition}

It’s been a long time since I’ve tended to this blog so today I am jumping back in and joining Leigh Kramer with her “What I’m Into” link up.

Okay so not going to lie… this year has been a little rough so far.  I was not kidding when I thought the reason behind choosing the word “fun” for the year was going to be out of necessity.  We’ve been to more funerals in 2014 than we’ve attended in most single years.  Many of our friends are suffering loss, illness and broken relationships. It’s been hard.

Also, I think I’ve come to terms with the fact my new year doesn’t feel like it starts until after our annual women’s retreat, because it pretty much just consumes me the first month of January and most of February. Now that March is upon us, I’m coming up for air and hopeful in a springy sort of way.  So cheers to February and all that came with it:

Books:

Sticky Faith  got me thinking a lot about the way we do youth ministry and community in general. It is spurring me on to better and more honest conversations with my boys about faith and being open to new ways in which we can bring their community into ours. I’m reading it slowly and thoughtfully.

Real Life Discipleship: Building Churches that Make Disciples is what I used to prepare for a leadership training session at the retreat. It’s written well and helps you learn how to walk with people the way Jesus did.

Blogs:

I’ve missed so many of my favorite blogs lately but one that I keep up on is the KHC Women’s Blog. We’ve got a growing group of contributors and it excites me that more women are lending their voices to strengthening our community in this way.

Music:

My sons are really into Lecrae and I’m just thankful there is actually really good and legit rap made by Christians that my kids can listen to. {Let’s not talk about the 80s and 90s} I also got the opportunity last week at the Justice Conference to hear The Brilliance and Josh Garrels.  This is a point of contention in our marriage because it makes this my third time to Steve’s zero on Josh Garrels live.

Things I Love:

  • Women. Eight years ago when the idea was stirring about for me to lead women’s ministries at my church, I was so reluctant.  I was worried about being with women all the time and having all my work be about women.  Now I can honestly say, my heart has been changed because I just adore them.  I love sitting and talking, listening and walking alongside them.  Our recent retreat confirmed so much about how much God loves and uses women to advance His Kingdom and bring about restoration.  There is something stirring in the waters here on earth and I love being part of it.  Remembrance Community, a nearby church that planted from us had their retreat the weekend before ours. The IF Gathering happened the same weekend as ours and it was good to hear much of what we were all talking about and praying were similar.  This is so much bigger than any of us or our imaginations.
  • Young Women.  We made a more purposeful effort to include young women 13 and up at our retreat this year and it is amazing to see the response and include these women in our community. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see young women raised up knowing who they are in Jesus, with a community that shows them loving Him is way more fulfilling than what the world will lure them to love?
  • Brides.  Several special people to me are getting married this year so #Bridalbootcamp2014 was a day spent on a local road trip visiting wise women who collectively have at least 100 years of marriage between them, teaching us about wifing.  I thought it was for them… to prepare them for marriage and how to be the best wife they can be.  I came home more encouraged about my own marriage and proof that what you pour out will be refilled to you thousands of times over.

photo(2)

  • Baseball. ‘Tis the season and the boys seem to enjoy the game more and more as they grow up. Steve is coaching the Junior Varsity Pirates at San Pedro High School and caught this sweet moment from one Pirate to another on opening day.

photo(1)

  • Voxer. Sarah got me using this app and it’s so fun. 
  • Rain.  We’ve got threeish days of here in SoCal and though it’s raining out our baseball games, I feel for the farmers, so I’m praying for more.

Favorite Instagram:

This one taken on Valentine’s Day with my boys. It says a lot about life right now.

photo

What about you? What have you been into lately?

 

Mammoth Mayhem 2013

We recently returned from some time away with friends and family known to all who were there as #mammothmayhem13.

TheRoad

I’m not kidding, twenty adults and fifteen kids is a lot of people but a whole lot of fun.  We weren’t all there at the same time of course, there was an open door policy with comings and goings according to people’s schedules but there were times when I would look around the room and think, wow this is a lot of people.

LotsofKids

SilasJudahTrees

It was jam packed with fun, especially on the rainy day that we were stuck inside, allowing the kids to watch more Disney Channel than we were comfortable with {which is a vacation to them} as we thought about how to entertain them and Chad and Kat taught them a much loved card game from their college years.  Once the weather cleared up we enjoyed some beautiful hikes, paid homage to the gold rush era and spent a couple of days beach side at June Lake. I knocked one thing off my bucket list by learning how to stand up paddle which is MUCH harder than it looks.  I enjoyed it though and hope I can go out again sometime if my coach will take me.

SUP

We ate and ate and ate. In fact, the trip was originally subtitled the Bread and Wine trip because several of us women are fans of Shauna Niquest’s writing and read her newest book leading up to our trip. I had these grand fantasies of the kids playing quietly and independently while the moms lingered in the kitchen cooking up meals and having readings from our favorite parts of the book.  Reality set in though and the meals were more like survival mode although we did cook up some great things like slow cooked tacos, chili, and of course grilled hamburgers. I made Annette’s Enchilladas for our first night and Sharon made the Blueberry Crisp for dessert another night.

While we ended up only having one reading at June Lake, I believe we lived the heart of Bread and Wine over the weekend.  We gathered around tables. The dining table, the coffee table, a make shift table {a towel on the sand} and we broke bread together, laughed and felt safe, welcomed and loved by and with friends who are like family.

The heart of Bread and Wine is on page 106:

“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they are longing to feel like they’re home.  If you create a space full of love and character, and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.”

There was nothing perfect about our time away. We had two trips to the ER, babies who wouldn’t sleep, siblings who didn’t get along and two boys who went missing at the lake on the last day.  Yes… we had two wondering fisherman who didn’t realize how far they had walked or how long they were gone leaving their two mothers in a state of panic with visions of helicopters, search and rescue complete with lights and dogs scanning the lakeside all night in search of their boys.  No, it wasn’t perfect but it was perfect for us because in the mayhem we found rest in the provision of God for every good thing. Every need, every conversation, every lesson learned from how another person does family, cooks their meals, and what kind of eggs they buy.  Every one of our families parents our kids differently but it was so obvious we all love our families immensely, have the same goals, hopes and dreams for our kids and are working out of the same grid with the same God who we are trying to get our direction from.

We were in Mammoth but we were home. There was love, character was built and there was lots of creativity and my soul was fed.  And when little Jackson came to our baseball game yesterday and flashed his big smile and told me he missed us… my heart was filled to the rim with gratitude.

Wonderstruck {A Timely Book Review}

One of my favorite authors,  Margaret Feinberg [www.margaretfeinberg.com], has a new book and 7-session DVD Bible study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God[www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck] (releasing Christmas Day)—a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life.

A Sneak Peek At Wonderstruck from Margaret Feinberg on Vimeo.

I’ve read many of Margaret’s other books and they have all been great.  Because I’m such a big fan, Margaret recently sent me the first few chapters of her book along with some insights into the back story for a sneak peak.  Here are some highlights from the interview:

Where did the inspiration for the Wonderstruck book and Bible study come from?

Have you ever had one of those seasons where everything goes wrong, and when you think it can’t get worse, it somehow finds a way? Most people who have worked in ministry have experienced those seasons—some may be in one right now.

My husband, Leif, and I had just gone through one of the roughest years of our lives. In the aftermath, as we processed the pain and loss, I had an unexplainable desire in my heart. I began praying for the wonder of God. In essence, I said, “God reveal yourself, your whole self to me. I want to know you as Wonderful. I want to know you as I’ve never known you before and see you in places I’ve never recognized you before.”

God did not disappoint.

What do you mean by “the wonder of God”?

Sometimes talking or writing about wonder feels like tying kite strings to clouds. It’s ethereal, and you can never quite get a grip on it. But if you look in the dictionary, the two main definitions of wonder are: “being filled with admiration, amazement, or awe” and “to think or speculate curiously.”

Those definitions come together beautifully in our relationship with God. That’s why I define the wonder of God as those moments of spiritual awakening that create a desire to know God more.

In other words, the wonder of God isn’t about an emotional experience or having some cool story to tell your friends, but the wonder of God makes us want more of God—to go deeper and further than we’ve ever been before.

Why are you calling people to #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK?

If you look in the Gospels, what you’ll discover is that those who encountered Jesus were constantly left in wild amazement. They were awestruck by the teachings of Christ, the healings of Christ, the mind-bending miracles of Christ. Within the Gospel of Luke we see words like “awe” and “wonder” and “marvel” at every turn. If this is the natural response to encountering Christ, how much more should it be for you and I—who are invited to live in relationship with Christ as sons and daughters of our God Most High?  We even created a free PDF that looks at some of these Scriptures. For a free copy, email us at wonderstruck@margaretfeinberg.com and we’ll send you one.

Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter [www.twitter.com/mafeinberg], Facebook [www.facebook.com/margaretfeinberg], or her blog [www.margaretfeinberg.com].

I’m personally looking forward to my copy tomorrow to enjoy during our Christmas vacation. There is no time like the present to awaken to the wonder of God.

5 Conversations: Pleasing God

This is the fifth and final week of our study, 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son.  Here is where we converse about the daily study.  Contribute to the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comment field.  Answer one question or answer all… feel free.  Make sure you check the box for “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” so the conversation isn’t just one-way and you can also respond to comments.   If you have insight into parenting boys but aren’t necessarily doing the study with us, you are also free to join the conversation!

I can hardly believe how fast these five weeks have gone.  Part of me really wishes the study was longer because many of the insights I’ve gleaned from Vicki Courtney as well as from all of you who have commented and shared your thoughts and wisdom on and off-line have been priceless.  This is definitely a study I will return to from time to time to bolster my courage as these 4 boys grow into men.

Of every value and moral code we hope to instill in our sons, the most important thing is undeniably the hope and prayer we have for them to please God.  Our family sat all together in church this last Sunday and as we were worshiping, I was overwhelmed by the desire that each of my sons would love Jesus and follow Him all the days of their lives.  By the end of the morning, I had peace.  Not that everything would turn out perfectly according to my plans, but according to His plans and I must trust God for the outcome.  Peace for a fleeting moment in the life of a mom is worth something and I will take it!

The message in this fifth and final week that rang loudly in my ears was humility.  Without humility, our boys will not be able to hear from God, put others first and make decisions with a heart submitted and yielded towards God.

Isaiah 66:2:

“All these things my hand has made,
    and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit
    and trembles at my word.”

Humility and a contrite spirit is the only way we can actually become people who tremble at His word.

Teaching our boys humility and pleasing God comes largely from our own example of how we approach God.  Humility requires me to give up control and submit to the truth that God’s ways are better than my own. It calls us to daily put down our own desire and put God first. It’s considering Jesus and giving Him the first fruits of our lives, trusting Him for the abundance.

As the author pointed to I Corinthians 3:4-11, it’s up to us to plant and water and trust God for the outcome of growth.  A good friend of mine reminds me from time to time that you cannot thwart God’s plans for your children.  If we believe what we say when we whisper in their ears, “God has a plan for your life, a plan to prosper you, not to harm you but to give you hope,” then we must trust Him for that plan to come to fruition as they walk out their days here on earth.

I appreciated the author pointing out one of  the characteristics of chivalry early on to include courage.  We moms need courage to show our boys the way of Jesus, pointing out His presence in their lives and teaching them how to recognize His voice. If we believe the Spirit of God dwells in them, we need courage to trust Him to lead them in the everlasting way.

In eleven years short years of mothering boys, I’ve learned courage is something I need to ask for daily.  Courage mingled with humility knowing I’m planting and watering but it’s God who will make them grow.

Raising these little men is not just my story, or their story… it is the story of God.

How do you practice the discipline of yielding to God, giving Him full control of your life?

In the five weeks of the study, where have you learned you need courage the most?

How can we pray for you?