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spiritual growth

younger me, don’t live so afraid.

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Lately, I’ve had reason to look back into my middle and high school years and self. And those are the words that come to mind:

Girl, don’t be so afraid.

This past weekend we celebrated my only niece’s 13th birthday with a blessing brunch, we dubbed it. My encouragements (things I would’ve told my 13-year-old-self today) to her were:

  1. You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, and not everyone will like or love you, and that’s okay.
  2. You will never regret choosing Jesus and His way of doing things, over the temptations, tendencies, and promotions of the world.

In all honesty, I walked through middle school and early high school years timidly, paralyzed with fear of making a mistake or being thought of as out of the culture-loop. I was insecure about my appearance because I was afraid of being confident and feeling beautiful exactly as I was, believing the lie that comparison was better. I was afraid of letting the weight of who I was – my hopes, dreams, quirks, passions, interests – bear on those around me, for fear that I’d be judged or put on the spot.

I didn’t idolize the ‘popular group,’ or even want to be one of them, but I did want to blend in, and be someone other people wanted to be around. 

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thoughts from a sick day

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I write this post from my couch.

Where I’ve been sitting for the past 8 hours.

Surrounded by books, pillows and blankets, a tea mug, a water glass, and tissues.

Yes, I have a cold, with a fever attached.

Although seriously bummed I couldn’t go about my normal day, for it was full with a need for productivity and a fun meeting over God’s Word, Holy Spirit has been teaching.

First, I struggle with sitting still. I’m fidgety, restless, and almost always multi-tasking.

“We often use outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises.” Henri Nouwen

In the quiet is where I experience His presence, because He doesn’t shout over the television. On a day like today, stillness is where I encounter Him. Reading His words, I am refreshed, and challenged.

Second, a friendship with Jesus means honesty with Him.

This is a lesson I learned earlier this year.

“God insists on artless transparency to enable Him to mold me into a woman of grace and beauty, a woman who listens and hears and knows Him down deep… When I confess my flaws, my guilt, my failures, my frustrations, to God, He takes the softest washcloth to my mess and bathes me in beauty. I lean into His warmth, breathing in the scent of Him, wanting more.” Diane Comer

It took multiple circumstances, and Holy Spirit’s gentle convicting, to help me see that I’m not honest with God. It’s a funny idea, though, since He knows my thoughts long before I think them. I held things in own strength, pretending for appearances, weighed down by legalistic guilt and fighting spiritual battles on the grounds of deeds. 

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experiencing God in everything

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Loving God with all our mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things. John Piper

It’s amazing how uncluttered and settled my heart becomes when I savor Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.

When I relish in the Truth that I am deeply loved, adored, cared for. That I have a rich and valuable purpose on this earth to spread God’s glory.

God is the greatest thing that exists, ever has existed or ever will… for us to glory in anything else, would be sin, as there is nothing greater than God, there is no calling greater than praising God. John Piper

How much sweeter does a moment become when our efforts, desires, and energies are given to Someone outside ourselves.

We are free. Free to love selflessly, free to give generously, free to choose joy instead of discouragement, faith instead of fear.

All of real life is in God.

When I recognize that God is the greatest thing that exists, when I talk to Him as such, when I think about Him as such, it transforms my being.

I will not live and die by the approval of man, but lose myself joyfully in praising God.

I will not be mastered by sinful tendencies, seduced by worldly pleasures, but will stand strong on the rock of God’s promises to fill me up and satisfy me with things much better.

I will not be so easily offended, but will surrender my causes and concerns to a God who knows best.

Father, help me treasure You above everything else.  Please teach me what it looks like to adore You.

Jesus’s longing and goal is that we see his glory and then that we be able to love what we see with the same love that the Father has for the Son. And he doesn’t mean that we merely imitate the love of the Father for the Son. He means the Father’s very love becomes our love for the Son—that we love the Son with the love of the Father for the Son. This is what the Spirit becomes and bestows in our lives: Love for the Son by the Father through the Spirit. What Jesus wants most for Christmas is that his elect be gathered in and then get what they want most—to see hi glory and then savor it with the very savoring of the Father for the Son.

I love the language of Advent. The adoring of Jesus can thrill your heart if you let it. Even though I’ve been a Christian for a long time, I’ve never experienced Him like I am these days. His Spirit has been super gracious is revealing new Truth to me, setting fire in my soul for God. The above quote is from Desiring God’s “Good News of Great Joy” Advent readings.