Category - Uncategorized

1
Receiving My Gift
2
Motive of Conversation
3
Do You Still Love Me?
4
Embracing Our Adoption
5
What is “Normal?”
6
Best Time Has Passed
7
Lessons Learned: What Charlie Brown Could’ve Taught the Israelites
8
Mom’s Lasagna Pan

Receiving My Gift

 There have  been plenty of days we sit at home bored because the baby needs to nap and I have been a referee to more than my fair share of girls bickering.

However, this has been my best summer with the kids.

As I’m learning to accept more of His grace freely, I’m able to give grace more easily.

 Let’s face it.  With school and chaotic schedules beginning in just three weeks, there will be more grace required for all of us.

Ephesians 2:1-10

By Grace Through Faith

2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

What stood out to me…..

For the 6th birthday of one of my girls, I bought a hot pink sleeping bag, had it embroidered with her name in neon green, and wrapped it up with a nice bow.  I was so excited to give it to her!

The look of disgust I received after she opened it……well, it made me realize why after Christmas there are parents who sell their kid’s entire lot of gifts on eBay.

My daughter had wanted a sewing machine for her birthday (not a toy one, for the record) and I had missed the mark of her expectations.  I spent a lot of time and thought on a special gift meant just for her, and she couldn’t even show a shred of thankfulness!

When our response is one of entitlement, the transaction becomes about compensation rather than gift giving.

 

imageDoes the way I spend my moments today echo my gratitude for the Father’s gift of grace to me?  As I rush through emails, activities, and phone calls, have I taken moments where my posture is of surrender to the Giver of all?

 

Thank you notes can sometimes be as painful as pulling teeth in our house.  While the girls understand the need to do it, they also know mom generally doesn’t accept generic one sentence accolades.  I recently heard myself say something along these lines: “When someone takes the time to think of you, it is important to tell them how they made you feel and why the gift is special to you.  There should be something unique in the note specific to the gift and if you plan to use the gift in a certain way, make sure to mention how.”

Reading Ephesians today, I can hear my own words reflecting back to me.

His grace and the gift of Jesus is special.  He delights to hear how it makes us feel and grace has impacted us.  As we recognize special moments or things from Him, stop and call them out in the moment, thanking Him for seeing our unique qualities.  When He equips us to partner with Him, show our trust by taking steps of participation.

Father, thank you for Jesus.  Help the words on my lips and desires of my heart come from a place of gratitude.  My life is different because you loved me long before you knew me and in the moments I deserve it least.  It is almost more than I can speak because I can not fathom the measure of your love.  Today, I am thankful for the slow start to the morning, laughter with friends, and family to stand in the gap and make memories with my girls.  While I may not understand the “why” of writing for this blog, thank you for giving me the grace to take steps, one post at a time, and reminding me you will be with me in each and every word.

Amen.

For Thursday, July 23, read Ephesians 2:11-16

 

Motive of Conversation

Taking the journey through Ephesians with friends both in person and online has been truly rewarding for me.  I have been kept accountable to listening to the Lord through His word and He has been faithful to encourage me through others.  Today, I love Kristan’s reminder to not be discouraged. “If you fall behind don’t worry. The enemy would like you to believe someone is keeping score somewhere and too many missed days leads to automatic failure. That simply isn’t true. A step forward is a step forward, take as many as you can. Go at your own pace. The blogs are up and they won’t be taken down so if you do fall behind, pick back up right where you left off.”  I’ll second her sentiment!

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

 

What stood out to me…..

More than ever, I am aware of the differences people have; differences in style, looks, skin color, preferences, opinions, etc.  I’m also cognizant of what seems to be a sensitivity by all of us as a society to all of the differences.

My girls should have earned credit hours in sociology for all of the conversations they have endured with their parents about the perception of others and political correctness.  I’m no professor, but I would guess 95% of the serious conversations Jason and I have with the kids, the parents of our generation (and all those previous), didn’t happen.

Honestly, while there are many great things about increased communication from a young age, my motives aren’t always pure when I discuss important issues within my family.  Sometimes, I find myself coaching the words or thoughts of my kids from a fear of embarrassment.  I don’t want them to offend someone who may not be sensitive to the naivety of kids or give our family a name of being unkind.

But, as I let the Lord show me more of who He is through His word, I’m learning He isn’t seeking a behavior modification from us or for those around us.

 

 He is seeking a heart transformation and a renewal of our thinking through the wisdom only He can give.

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We are seeking His Spirit, so we can know Him better.  When we know more of who God is, we can see Him in ourselves and others.

Lord, let us see the delight You have for Your children as we encounter others today.  May the tender grace you offer us for inequities be seen in our treatment of others.  May we not seek kindness for others as a means of a societal rule, but in obedience to Your nature.  By your Spirit, help us to look more like You today than we did yesterday Father. Amen.

 

For Monday, July 20, read Ephesians 2:1-10

Do You Still Love Me?

You know the feeling you get when you meet for dinner with your best friend from high school and your conversation picks up as if there hasn’t been a year between you and a life with responsibilities?  Five hours over a bowl of chips and salsa feels like you’ve only been there for 20 minutes.

Studying Ephesians these last two weeks with Kristan has felt similar to this.  Life has taken us to different locations in ministry in the last year and we are both learning different things.  But the Lord is so good to us to remind us where are friendship becomes the richest; in conversations with and about Him.  It seems about right Kristan and I would be writing about the same type of thing standing out to us, only coming from different perspectives.  I love how today she reminds me “He isn’t finished with me yet.”  I’d love for you to comment below with what you are learning from the person you are walking through this with.

Our reading for today: Ephesians 1: 11-14

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭11-14‬ MSG)

 

What stood out to me….

 

In ancient times, a signet ring would be used to seal a legal document or binding royal order.  The ring itself would have the unique symbol or signature of royalty and there would be a little dot of a wax material dropped onto the document.  The King would take his ring and press it into the wax to show he was personally the one to send it.  It was sealed by the king and only the king himself could reverse the rule.

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The Holy Spirit is the Father’s signet ring.  Because we are sealed with it, there is nothing we can do to negate His promises or unravel His intentions for us.

 

 

My oldest daughter, Ashlyn, is a perfectionist.  When she faces a consequence in our home, she goes through a predictable emotional cycle with Jason and I.  First she tries to skirt responsibility, next she becomes frustrated with us, and finally her pride breaks and she repents.  To get to the repentance, Jason and I often have to use our firm parent voice (and maybe on more than one occasion I have to ask forgiveness from taking it from firm to scream…just keeping it real).

On the flip side, we are often faced with the question, “do you still love me?”

What my sweet 10 year old has still failed to realize is….I get it.  She not only has my semi-wavy hair and thick eyebrows (truth), but she has my fiery spirit and stubbornness.  Sometimes, when she stumbles, I see myself so much in her it hurts my heart.  As she repents, I cheer.  Not because I only need her behavior to change, but as she lets the Lord soften her heart, I am learning too.

It is a win for both of us because I am a part of her.

Yet in my own blunders, in spite of all I learn about the Father from my own parenting journey, I find my heart asking God, “do you still love me?”

When the Father sealed us with the Holy Spirit, He became a part of us.  He carefully corrects us by His Spirit when we need it, yet when we turn from anything not of Him, He is cheering for us. Because He is in us, our win is His win.

Father, my heart is stirred today for those of us who have held a view of Your Spirit as mostly condemning.  In the name of Jesus, help break the myth any of us may have in our hearts of You waiting for us to fail; You don’t hold our inequities over us.  Today, may we embrace Your goodness.  Remind our hearts it is your kindness that leads us to repentance, not your wrath.  You are a good Father who celebrates with us and loves us.  Amen.

 

Reading for Thursday, July 16 will be Ephesians 1: 15-23

Embracing Our Adoption

I am beyond excited to start this journey together through the book of Ephesians.  The idea as we dive into this together is at the end, we will be different.  We are taking small chunks of scripture and spending time in prayer over it, seeking transformation, not simply absorbing information.  If you’ve never tried this before or you need a refresher, check out this description of Lectio Divina.

Ephesians 1:1-1o

Greetings from Paul

1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Spiritual Blessings

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

What stood out to me…

Lucy Pearl

This is the name listed on my mom’s original birth certificate.

In the mid 1950’s, a priest came to my grandparents and told them of two unwanted babies, born as addicts due to the choices of their parents.  Two days later, the family of Jim and Carol doubled in size.

Through adoption, my mom had the promise of a new family lineage, access to the love of her new family, as well all of the legal entitlements of a child, not just for a single day, but for her entire life to come.  She was an heir to the family estate.

Just as my mom had a promised inheritance, we stake claim to the estate of the Kingdom of Jesus.

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Through adulthood my mom searched for love within a biological family who didn’t embrace her.  Multiple times I watched my grandparents mourn her rebellious choices, yet each time she returned she was welcomed back with love.

When we look to job titles, items we own, or the people we surround ourselves with to define our identity, I believe our Heavenly Father grieves.  No matter how many times we put our hope in something other than Him, He never fails to embrace us on our return.

Susan Marie is the name sealed on the birth and death certificate of my mom. She was given a new name through adoption.

We have to choose to walk forward in our adoption daily and remember our identity with every breath. We are loved, accepted, restored, redeemed. We are His.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1‬:‭21-22‬ NIV)

Amen

Reading for Monday, July 13 will be Ephesians 1: 11-14

What is “Normal?”

Grounded for an entire week! At 11 years old, this consequence kept me from a friend’s birthday party and added chores to my weekend list. The crime….there were only 10 cold cans of cola in the refrigerator for my mother, rather than the required dozen.

I can now see this was an abnormal punishment not fitting of the infraction.

As adults, we can look back and analyze the best qualities of those who raised us and the elements we would choose to leave behind.But as children, “normal” is whatever is happening inside the walls of our homes; we think everyone has the same experiences as us.

It would be great to say the cola rule was my mom having a breakdown on a terrible day; we’ve all been there as parents. However, the call to my perfectionism was the norm. Since I thought this was typical in all households, it was easy to assume my friends had similar expectations levied upon them. Nothing less than an A in school, being the best at every position in sports, and keeping everyone happy I was in contact with was the goal in life; no shortcuts and no exceptions. While the voice of my father said “as long as you try your best,” the weight of my mom’s expectations surpassed his efforts.

No matter what I did, I never felt good enough.

Subsequently, as a follower of Jesus, I have struggled to grasp the concept of a loving Father in heaven who loves me “just because”.

 

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The Amplified Bible describes “poor in spirit” as humble or those who rate themselves insignificant. 

I wonder how many others have felt insignificant because the distortion of someone near to us was our normal for far too long.

The world would have us believe it is through striving and having it all together we are considered worthy. Thank goodness the Lord sees everything through a lens considered backward by the world! While on our worst days we may feel minuscule, His word tell us we have the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen!

Today, let’s choose to not believe the deceit of man, both past and present.  Spend some uninterrupted time with your Heavenly Father today and let His word whisper sweet reminders of who He says you are.*

~Angie

Kristan has been one of my best friends for several years now.  We have shared what the Lord is putting on our hearts and encouraged one another to take tough steps He was asking from us. Because our friendship is grounded in our relationship with the Lord, I have experienced more transformation in Him due to our discussions and accountability.
When Kristan asked me if I wanted to blog through the book of Ephesians with her, I was all in.  She and I will be discussing what the Lord is saying to us a week ahead of time, and then we will share on our blogs.  We want you to join us!  Find a friend, set a reminder to check both Kristan’s blog and mine each Monday and Thursday, and let us know what the Lord is saying to you personally and what you might be learning from a friend.  Check out Kristan’s blog here for more information about our reading challenge with Ephesians, and make sure you read up on how to practice hearing God through scriptures through Lectio Divina.

*On Thursday, we will be discussing Ephesians 1:1-10.  Jump in whether you’ve read it 100 times or this is your first time reading scripture.

 

 

 

Best Time Has Passed

trees

When we moved to the suburbs of Cincinnati from rural Indiana, one of the most difficult aspects of searching for a house was my husband and my desire for trees in our yard. While it was one of the compromises we made with our first house in Ohio, when we bought our second home, we thought we hit the jackpot with a partially wooded lot (aka, about a 5 ft. deep line of trees and shrubs at the back of our lot, and a few trees in the yard). Unfortunately, a few years later we learned some of those trees are ash trees and southwest Ohio just happened to be having one of the hardest hit times EVER of the wild ash borer (read: ash tree killing insect). As we learned some of our trees would soon die and need removal, we called in an arborist. My question to him, “When is the best time to plant new trees in the yard?” His response, “20 years ago. The second best time is today.” I of course meant “which time of year,” and while his answer was lighthearted, he was also right.

Trees planted 20 years ago would already be providing us privacy and shade from the heat.

5 years ago during my daily shower I started hearing this nudge from God to start a blog (yes, God and I have had many shower conversations over the years because when there are young kids in the house, this IS the quiet time, if you are lucky enough to have one by 10 p.m.!).When I felt this nudge, blogs were not popular, not to mention the fact I NEVER had a desire to write as a way to honor God. Over the years, God nudged me, gave me a picture of it in greater detail and after a couple years, I even tried my hand at writing a few here and there. But, I never stuck with it and nothing seemed to come of it.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Luke 8:5-8

I threw a small seed of obedience out here or there, but it always landed in rocks. My roots were shallow. I wasn’t spending an extended time with God allowing Him to till the soil of my heart; I was simply trying to check the box to appease Him.

Often God casts seeds of encouragement or ideas into our minds, yet we fail to push past the layer of old mulch to help the seed take root in good soil.

Often, we expect Him to find the good soil for His seed without allowing Him to pull the weeds and work the foundation of our hearts with His hands.

In the last two years, I’ve been more intentional about letting God work inside me. I am starting to gather some shade from the heat of the world as my roots spread in His goodness.

While the best time to begin this site was 5 years ago, I’m confident I’ll be able to look back and celebrate the second best.

Lessons Learned: What Charlie Brown Could’ve Taught the Israelites

The most referenced football clip in our house is the one from Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; the part where Lucy is holding the football and convinces Charlie Brown, despite her lack of dependability in the past, this time, this one time, she really is going to hold the ball still for him while he tries to kick it.
charlie brown
Picture it along with me; Charlie Brown ends up flat on his back, having made the mistake of trusting Lucy AGAIN. In our family, when we are having a discussion we’ve had before, we will often say “are you going to be Charlie Brown with the football?” ie…

 

Are you going to make the same mistake over and over again?


Sometimes when I’m reading or studying Old Testament scripture I find myself wondering, “Really? WHAT were the Israelites thinking?” Are they going to make the same mistake again?

After God delivers His millions of people from slavery in Egypt and they cross the Red Sea, there is a point when the people are on the edge of the Promised Land. God says to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.” (‭Numbers‬ ‭13:2). When the 13 men came back 40 days later they told the whole assembly of people how amazing the Land was, but also emphasized the Promised Land was occupied by a sizable group of people and they feared Israel would be defeated. Immediately we read about the emotional defeat experienced by the majority of the crowd; tearing of clothes, weeping loudly, and blaming Moses for bringing them to the point of certain death. In fact, they were so paralyzed by fear, they were willing to return to the “comfort” of slavery in Egypt!

Really??? Did they miss the part where God said “which I am giving to the Israelites?”

Go ahead and Google how many times God told the Israelites up to this point “the land which I am giving to you.” Dozens of times the Lord promised this and dozens of times He made the impossible happen to get them to the edge of Canaan. Yet when faced with a difficult situation, the Israelites end up missing the football again by trusting in the opinion of a few, giving into fear, and admitting defeat before giving God a chance to intercede on behalf of His own promise and nation.

Do I let fear keep me from the next step forward? Do I trust in opinions of others? Do difficult situations make me want to settle for being in the “comfortable bondage” I’ve always known? My reasoning skills have looked more like the Israelites in my lifetime than I like to admit. The people of Israel needed to trust God was holding the ball steady. The Lord wasn’t worried about the size or strength of the Canaanites. He was giving His people the land; they only needed to say yes to Him to receive it.

Lucy was never trustworthy with the football. She always brought Charlie Brown to the edge of victory, only to rip it away. Whenever we trust anyone or anything to hold the ball steady for us other than the One who created us, we are setting ourselves up to be disappointed. This year, as you think on how to move forward with the steps God may be asking you to take or the goals you’ve set, how can you stay standing? How can we make sure we only allow Him to clutch the ball of our future?

Can we ask Him what our first yes of obedience needs to be? Then friends, let’s be brave enough to go after the kick.

Mom’s Lasagna Pan

lasagna panI cried as I pulled my favorite Christmas present in 2011 out of the heavy gift bag at my grandma’s; it was my mom’s 1980’s Corningware lasagna pan. To be honest, the relationship with my mom was turbulent at best, a complete storm at its worst.  When she died in March of 2011, there weren’t any physical possessions to take,

so I struggled to clench my fist around a fun memory or a kind word, neither of which I could recall.

My grandma understood during the stormy times, I would have likely thrown the pan out with the trash.  But in 2011, the year of tender firsts, it was treasured.

While there is no recipe I remember from my mother, I do have a favorite lasagna recipe I make in her pan, especially around the holidays.  This semi-homemade recipe can be made ahead of time and placed in the freezer.

Free-Printable-Recipe-Card-from-Home-Cooking-Memories1-300x200

As you gather those you love around the table sharing this lasagna or your own favorite dish, my prayer is that you will light a candle in remembrance of those you miss and burn into memory of the laughter you enjoy this holiday season. Love, Angie

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

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