Nothingness

More of you and less of me.

It seems like the more I understand that I am nothing without Christ, the more He uses me and shows me my value.

I feel like nothing today. Beat down. Discouraged. Empty. Exhausted.

We lost another baby. I was at my 16 week doctor’s appointment and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. They did an immediate ultrasound and couldn’t even find the fetus. Empty.

I later learned I had a partial molar pregnancy, that there was a baby but it didn’t live past 7 weeks. I had a D&C procedure, and have to continue getting blood work done until my HCg hormone levels drop down to zero. Then it’s at least 6 more months of blood work to make sure it stays down. We were told we’d have to wait a year before trying for another baby. Following a pregnancy like this there is the risk that a tumor might continue to grow inside me that could even potentially become cancerous. It’s been just over a month and I’m still waiting for the blood test to come back zero.

Writing that brief version of the story, I’m a little detached. I’ve told it enough times by now, I can get through the facts.

But ask me how I’m feeling… that’s a whole different story. I can barely take one step up that mountain of a story. The pain feels too big to conquer, to even see the peak of it where I might be able to come down the other side with some relief. I’m still traveling up hill right now. One foot in front of the other. And the burden feels so heavy.

Jesus said to take His yoke upon us (Matt. 11:29). He said He would help us carry the load. I’m counting on that promise now. The child we lost was never meant to be, but for 4 months of terribly sick pregnancy the hope of that baby was what got me through. It’s been a horrible ending to a horrible season, and it’s just too much.

And yet, He’s called me to ministry. I’ll be co-coordinating the MOPS group of Valdez this year. It’s in the time I feel the most vulnerable, the least capable, the least prepared that He has answered the prayer and the calling I felt a year and a half ago when Teagan was just a newborn. A call to ministry. He laid the way, He set it all up, now I just have to say yes.

Never more than now do I feel like I am nothing. There is no silver lining to losing a child. How can anything good come out of it that was worth the loss? But the Lord still promises to USE it for good (Romans 8:28). He’s promised that the pain and suffering we experience now will create in us perseverance, faith, character, and hope (Romans 5:4). So I’m praying-

Use my nothingness Lord Jesus. Use this pain to produce in me more of your likeness, and heal me Father. Please heal me.

Amen.

Give and Gain

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” -Jim Elliot

When I was in 8th grade I did a project on a famous person from history. I chose Jim Elliot the missionary to the Auca tribe in Ecuador. He was killed by the tribe in 1956 while attempting to befriend and witness to them. A modern day martyr.

Today, while doing dishes at the kitchen sink (trying to load the dishwasher faster than my 11 month old could unload it), that quote by Jim Elliot popped into my head.

It was so profound to me as an 8th grader because it was his quote that explained so well and gave purpose to the tragic ending of his life. That was the year I got baptized. I decided I too wanted to be a missionary. And someday I wanted my death to count for something too.

But today, 13 years later, I realized that quote is so profound because of his life, not just his death. As a missionary to unreached peoples he gave his life up everyday. The harsh lifestyle of the remote jungle, the danger of flying small planes in rough terrain, and the daily threat of not being well received by the people. It was a sacrificial lifestyle, not just a sacrificial ending.

13 years later I still want to be like Jim Elliot. I’m not a missionary in a foreign land. I’m a stay at home mom in the U.S. I can’t tell you what my ending will be, whether I’ll die for the glory of God, but I can live sacrificially today. When I am tempted to be jealous at working women who seem to actually be contributing to society, I can rebuke that feeling and tell myself that raising God fearing babies is more than productive. I can choose to see my daily tasks of keeping a house and cooking meals as a way to love and honor the Lord, instead of feeling sorry for myself that my life is at times mundane.

I can give the hours of my time that I cannot keep to the little girl hanging off my leg. And in that sacrifice I’ll gain what I cannot lose, the delight of the Lord as I honor Him in motherhood. And I’ll be no fool to do so.

Thanks Jim;)

 

 

{holy moments}

Baby’s First Christmas!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Valdez, Alaska. Snow has fallen, our Alaskan spruce tree is up, decorated, and taking up way too much room in our tiny cabin’s living room. I’ve spent the last three days a slave in the kitchen baking tons of yummy goodies to give away. I’ve got lists of groceries to buy and last minute gifts to get since we’re hosting my family this year. I’ve been inspired to make this Christmas extra special because of one little reason I didn’t have last year –

Teagan Noelle.

She turned 10 months old on December 2nd and stares with wonder at the lights on the Christmas tree (before yanking down the lowest hanging ornaments).

Her middle name is appropriate for this time of year- Noelle is the female version of Noel which means Christmas in French. It’s the name of theologian and pastor John Piper’s wife. Tyler and I both thought it was beautiful. She was born in February but she’s our Christmas girl.

This time last year, December 2015, I was 8 months pregnant. I couldn’t help but think of Mary awaiting the birth of her first born son as I waited (impatiently) to meet our first born daughter.

But as much as I thought about Mary carrying baby Jesus in her womb last Christmas, it doesn’t even compare to the connection I feel to her this year. I think of her in the holy moments of motherhood, like when Teagan falls asleep in my arms. Moments like that bring a new found sense of wonder at the story of that other young mother holding her own sleeping baby over 2,000 years ago.

Mary and I. We have so much and yet so little in common.

Her baby was born in a stable or a cave and laid in a manger. Mine was born in a comfortable birth center and laid in a padded cradle.

Her baby was greeted by unknown shepherds from a field nearby. Mine was greeted by a large family who waited expectantly for her arrival.

But her baby had flesh and blood and new baby skin, and so did mine.

Her baby was fed by the breast milk of his mother, and so is mine.

Her baby had wet diapers and took first steps and said first words, and so did mine.

But Mary’s baby was born to die, so that mine might be born to live. Her baby came to take on the task that no one else could. For he was all human baby but also divine.

“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:7

While Teagan didn’t have a choice… Jesus didn’t have to be born in painful childbirth. He didn’t have to grow up in the harshness of the first century, or to parents who had to work so hard to survive. He was God. He was the king of the universe. But He gave it all up at a certain time in history, at a certain place on earth. In Bethlehem. All so that he could die at a certain time in history, at a certain place on earth. At Golgotha. Death by the cross.

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8

Her baby was born to be obedient to God, to the point of death. So that He might rise again in victory over it and be shown as the Son of God, as Jesus Christ the Lord.

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Her baby was born for a tragic purpose. He died a horrific death. Mary didn’t choose this for Him, His Father did. God had it all planned, and Mary acting in trusting obedience played her part of the story and then had to watch it all unfold. Maybe she didn’t know what it was all for, maybe she didn’t know it was God’s great love to send His son to die. She certainly couldn’t just turn to John 3:16 and read…

“For God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son that who so ever believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3:16

Eternal life with God.

Mary may not have known the great purpose for her little baby’s life. She was a woman living in a pivotal time in history when God came down to dwell on the earth. But we don’t know what Mary did or didn’t know. We only know that she obeyed. When given the news of her part to play, the news of what her life would become if she said yes to God, she said,

“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Like Mary, I don’t know the exact purpose of my baby’s life. I don’t know exactly the hardships or tests that she will face. Like Mary, I can’t stop the pain and suffering that will inevitably effect my child. The only thing I can do, is act in obedience to God myself. To be like Mary and live obediently. That’s the best thing Mary could do for her son Jesus. Because she submitted to God’s will she got to be directly involved in God’s work, and the whole world benefitted.

I don’t expect my obedience to be that far reaching, to change the whole world. But I do think that my submission to God in obedience might at least affect my little girl’s world. I want to teach Teagan His ways by directing her to His word, so she will know the truth about Mary’s son Jesus.

Despite what other traditions believe, Mary was just young woman. There was nothing really different about her that set her apart for the high calling of being Jesus’ mom. She simply obeyed God. So by her example as an ordinary mom I’ve learned that I too can obey God, I just have to listen to Him like she did. I can do that by reading His word . And I can pray, as Mary also prayed. Now that I am a mom, I pray. I pray every night for my baby. I count on the promise in 1 John 5:14 that if I pray according to His will, He will hear me. I pray every time it comes to mind that MY baby will kneel and bow before the one true God. I pray that once we teach her the truth, her tongue will confess that Mary’s baby is Lord. That Jesus is God. And that she will know, He alone gives purpose to her life. That by trusting in Him, confessing, and believing she will rise with Him again and live forever too.

The Christmas season is so fun and so busy. It’s full of traditions, and events, and food, and family. I’m enjoying it and looking forward to more. But this year, my first year as a mom, I’m stealing away holy moments. I’m pausing in the car on my way to the post office, in the kitchen washing cookie sheets, to let the Lord speak and remind me what it’s all for. What it’s all in celebration of- Her baby.

Mary’s baby was born to die, so that my baby might be born to live.

Thank you Lord.

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reacting to authority

I read an article from Desiring God this morning by Stacy Reaoch, sited below. It’s about submission in marriage and the role that should play when a couple disagrees about an important decision. I’ve been there. Submission to my husband didn’t come naturally or easily in our marriage. It took about 3 years for me to wrap my head around the idea and what it was supposed to look like. Now, 4 1/2 years later I’m working at it…and I need God’s grace everyday.

What struck me about this article was the application it can have on our current political situation. We have a presidential election coming up next month and I, like probably a lot of Christian Americans, don’t want to vote for either party’s candidate. I just heard on Moody Radio that the American Psychological Association is now addressing what is called “Election Stress Disorder” since 52% of all voters (OVER HALF!) are experiencing elevated stress over the up coming election this year.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/10/13/people-are-so-stressed-by-this-election-that-the-american-psychological-association-has-coping-tips/

My first thought was, here they go again naming another CAUSE of stress a “disorder” so that sufferers can feel that their anxiety is normal giving them another excuse to pop a pill or seek medical attention when really what they need is to put their HOPE and TRUST in Christ who says in his word to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5-6. I don’t know whether the stress over the election for most people comes from having to choose the lesser of two evils, like mine does, or if it’s that we have way more access to conflicting information due to social media. Whatever the case tension is high this election season.

Unless God intervenes in a miraculous way in the election for President of the United States, I’m not going to like our next leader. The God of the universe could take control of our election process if he wanted to. It’s not beyond his ability, but I’m betting he’s going to let the process run it’s course and I’m betting the inauguration of our next leader will leave a bitter taste in my mouth. But I’m also betting that the Lord won’t be surprised at the outcome, that he won’t be worried, that it’s all part of his plan. So how will I deal with this stressful season and unavoidable and undesirable new authority? Stacy’s article about submission in marriage has some great ideas…

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/submission-is-a-mark-of-maturity

QUOTE:

The Ultimate Authority

The ultimate question really is not, “Can I trust the person in authority over me,” but, “Am I trusting that God is leading this person to lead me?” Yes, people are fallible, but God is infallible. He never makes mistakes. He establishes rulers and kingdoms. He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. And he has put those bosses, elders, parents and husbands in the positions of authority they are in. Nothing takes him by surprise. And he can be trusted. 

When I am whining and complaining to others about a “bad” decision someone in authority over me made, I am really whining and complaining about God. I’m not trusting God’s ordained leadership, and telling him that I have a better plan. And God does not take that lightly. “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:2).

How we respond to difficult decisions made by the leadership over us is a test of Christian maturity. We can choose to humbly submit or make a respectful appeal, or we can choose to grumble, gossip, and slander the very leaders God has sovereignly placed in our lives. 

Here are a few ways to move toward keeping a God-centered perspective on submission to authorities in our lives.

1) Recognize God’s authority structure as revealed in Scripture.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1)

2. Pray for the leaders God has placed over you.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1–2)

3. Repent of any grumbling in your own heart.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:14)

END QUOTE.

Not only do I need to recognize that the governing authorities, just like my husband’s authority, was place over me by GOD, I need to PRAY for that authority. I don’t have to like the next President but I need to quit complaining about it.

WOW. That was convicting. When my Facebook feed is full blatant criticism and rants about this candidate or that candidate I’m supposed to be submitting, praying, and not complaining??? I guess the Lord wasn’t kidding when He said we are to look different than the world. I don’t think that means we shouldn’t have opinions or shouldn’t be discerning, we’re called to engage in the world as Christians. But what that looks like must be different.

Set apart. 

I’m reminded of the story in 1 Samuel 8 when the Israelites asked the Judge and Prophet Samuel for a king to reign over them, like the neighboring peoples had. The governmental structure of a kingdom wasn’t in itself sinful, but the Israelites motivation for wanting one was. They wanted to be more like the world around them instead of clearly set apart as God’s people. Samuel wasn’t pleased, he felt personally rejected (he was an authority is God’s governing structure as a judge) and annoyed. But he sought the Lord. God wasn’t pleased, he WAS being rejected. He may have felt annoyed that his people wanted a man as king instead of him alone, but he wasn’t worried.  In fact he had foreseen this day and made his perfect plans of sending a Savior through the line of King David come about by way of the Israelites selfish demand for a king. Deuteronomy 17:14-20, written by Moses which took place generations before the time of Samuel, gave specific instructions to God’s people for WHEN they would insist on having a king. God knew his people would choose their own way and he used even the Israelites sin for his glory.

This tells me that once again there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The United States in now in a less than ideal political situation, just like the Israelites were when they demanded an authority other than God’s alone. But just like in the Old Testament, I think God is going to somehow use our situation for his glory, and for his ultimate plan. Because the circumstances might have changed, the presidential candidates today might look different than the Israelite judges and kings, the issues today might be unique to the 21st century, but God is still God. He is still on his throne and he is still carrying out the plan he had for the world since its foundation.

*sigh of relief*

So when I feel a bout of “Election Stress Disorder” coming on, instead of giving in to the panic I feel over who our next president will be or opening my mouth to complain about it, I will choose to recognize that God has allowed this current authority structure. I will choose to PRAY and not to complain. And I will choose to blare this song through my speakers in hopes that its lyrics will reverberate into my soul:

“Through it all, through it all

My eyes are on You

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

So let go my soul and trust in Him

The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul.”

I choose all these things because GOD is my ultimate authority.

better is a dinner of herbs

where love is, than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”

-Proverbs 15:17

I heard that verse on Moody radio the other day and it’s stuck with me.

It’s Monday and I have taken my own advice, that I first heard from one of my best friends. Meal plan. It’s annoying, it’s not spontaneous, but it is literally 15-20mins of work on one day that lessens my stress all week long.

I don’t do anything fancy, just look in the fridge and freezer and write down a different meat that we’ll have each night of the week for dinner. Then I look through the cupboards to see what kind of dishes and sides I can make with those meats. Then I fill in breakfasts and packable lunched for hubby based on some of the left overs from those dinners. I’ll cook a real breakfast a couple times a week and wraps and sandwiches go a long way in this household. If there are things that I need to supplement the meals I’ll head to the grocery store, but I’ve been pretty good about following the “shop from your freezer” rule first. I think it’s saving us money, but who has time to calculate that?! I mean people do, but I’m not one of them at the moment.

…45 mins later…

my 4 mo old baby girl needed me and that seems to be about the maximum amount of time I have to focus on anything besides her. 45 mins. And when the day is broken up like that it is loooong and it’s also hard to get much done. That’s why meal planning on Monday allows me to focus on other things throughout the week. And speaking of time savers… thank you Lord for the invention of the crockpot.

It’s my go to. Since having our baby I use it every other day. I think I’m going to start giving them instead of cute outfits at baby showers because… life saver.

So I’m learning that meal planning and crockpots are great because they help me with the goal- saving money and time by cooking healthy meals at home. But even more important than that I’m reminded again of that verse,

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” -Proverbs 15:17

My attitude in all of this had better be one of love or it’s not even worth doing. And that is so convicting. I’m a first-time stay at home mom and this new job is the most demanding and most exhausting I’ve ever had. And I don’t always have a good attitude about it. I don’t always do my duties with love. Meet me Jesus at the kitchen sink because I can’t do this without you.

It’s impossible to be the perfect wife, mother, house keeper…So why do I care to try and save money and cook healthy meals and manage my time wisely?

Because God called me, in this season, to be a “worker at home” (Titus 2:5) and he called me to work as if I am serving Christ himself (Col. 3:23-24).

And that’s actually what I am doing when I feed my family, I’m serving Jesus. Wouldn’t I give the King of Kings a healthy meal with time and thought put in to it’s preparation all with a loving attitude? Of course. So Lord help me see this monotonous task of meal planning and cooking as a way to love and serve you. And give me the strength to do it well.

Have I mentioned that I HATE cooking? 

This is Jesus meeting me where I’m at. He’s showing me it’s not about me me me anymore. It never was. It’s ALL about Him and He’s given me the task of cooking and He’s already blessing me in the kitchen.

So I’d better get to it.

What’s for dinner: Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup from The Pioneer Woman

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everybody needs mom

feeding at 3:30am, baby doesn’t go back to sleep until 5:30am, hubby asks if I want to get up with him at 6:30am, baby wakes up hearing our conversation…feeding at 6:45am, up for morning routine at 7am.

Teagan Noelle is 2&1/2 months old. I read “On Becoming Baby Wise” before she was born and have more or less stuck to their scheduled feeding routine that says will help teach your baby to sleep through the night by 8 weeks. And let me tell you- it works. Even more than a set schedule is their promotion of a set routine of Eat-Wake-Sleep which helps baby learn the difference between day time and night time. We really started implementing it when she was about 3 weeks old and by 7 weeks she was starting to sleep 7-8 hours at a time and by 8 weeks that was the new normal. I know everyone has a different philosophy about how to best meet the needs of a newborn, some say never wake a baby (we wake her during the day for feedings every 2.5-3 hours), but this has clearly worked for us and I’m so thankful.

All that to say…even with her sleeping 7-8 hour stretches at night I am WORN OUT.

Teag’s 7-8 hours of sleep means more like 5-6 hours for me after cleaning up dinner, bedtime routine, talking business with hubby, relaxing with him, usually massaging his back (he’s in construction), watching an episode of some crime show, and finally laying down in my sweet sweet bed and immediately passing out. Hubby’s love language is quality time, so when he comes through that door at 6pm (usually working from 6am-5:30pm) it’s HIS time and all he wants is MY time.

So when is ME time? I’m still trying to figure that one out. I’m stealing a few minutes now just to get some word vomit therapy in while bubba girl naps.

I’m a self proclaimed social introvert. That means I genuinely like being with people, am outgoing and friendly, but I NEED time alone. That’s how I get re-energized. And even when the person I’m with ALL the time is a baby it’s draining…maybe especially because she’s a baby.

I absolutely love being a mom. I think even more than I imagined. It’s come so naturally to me. I used to joke when we were first married that becoming a wife was the hardest and more challenging and that becoming a mom would be the easiest and most natural.

Well it’s definitely come more naturally, but it’s not easy. It’s so so hard. After giving birth naturally with a midwife I said, “I don’t care if you had a natural childbirth, no matter how it happened every mother should get a medal.”

Now after being a mom for 10 weeks I think every mother should get a medal, a million dollar bonus, and their own TV show…

Because there are SO many things to do that no one gets to see. No one appreciates. Yes, baby does but she can’t give me the verbal affirmation I so crave.

So I’m learning, once again, by experience a lesson that I’ve known forever taught by scripture- 

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Matthew 6:5-6

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, andyour Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

That it’s not for the praise of other people that I am learning how to be a good mom. It’s not for the fans of my TV show. It’s for Teagan, but not even primarily.

My work as a mom, the hardest thing I’ve ever done and continue to do day in and day out, is for the Lord. HE sees me. HE affirms me. And HE is honored by my faithfulness.

It is still hard. And it will still be hard when she’s 2 and 10 and 20. But that’s life. The greatest joys usually come from the things that are hardest. And motherhood is no exception.

I haven’t forgotten about my last post- about the strange timing of sensing God wants me to be open to something more. Well, lately I think it might be as simple as being open to accepting help. When I wrote that I assumed it would be me pouring out to someone else. But I think it was meant to teach me something else. My precious neighbor who has 2 little ones has offered to take baby a few times and I’ve taken her up on it. I’ve taken advantage of the alone time to go running and just breathe.

I don’t like accepting help. But I’m learning. And I am humbled.

Life is hard, but God is good. And baby just woke up….:)

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strange timing

Sometimes God’s timing seems strange. But that’s because His thoughts are not our thoughts. If we could see eternity past and eternity future we would probably have a lot more wisdom of opinion too.

Teagan Noelle Andersen was born February 2, 2016 at 12:13am. 8 lbs. 0.5 oz 21 inches long.

She’s incredible. The cutest baby on the planet (of course) and even more JOY than she is work.

But she is work.

Claiming a few mins of alone time by getting up before her this morning (my hubby’s idea) has my heart set on the things of God and for some reason today it’s a call to action.

Why now? How in this season of learning to care for a newborn, taxes due in one month, and holding the rest of the household together…how can I feel a call to action?

Because it’s not me. It’s the Holy Spirit in me and since he’s God I guess the perspective of eternity past and eternity future must be at play here.

So instead of feeling even more overwhelmed and burdened than I have in the past few days just doing my now normal life, I feel excited and expectant. Because God in His wisdom as a way of working all things for the good of those who love Him, and maybe He knows that a pouring out of His Spirit through me is just the kind of refreshment that my soul needs to encourage me in this season of new and heavy responsibility.

Maybe my own call to action to do God’s work is really His gift to me.

…Waiting expectantly on the Lord..

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2016: why it’s worth it

January 12, 2016

Any day now there will be a newborn baby Andersen welcomed into the world. 38 weeks. Just 2 more weeks until the due date, but I think she’s coming early. I just came in from a walk in the snow and basically felt like she was going to fall out of me any minute…is that normal? ANY DAY now:)

(We don’t know for sure she’s a she, but I’ll be shocked if it’s a boy. We’ll see if my mother’s intuition is correct- So exciting!)

2016- a new year and a new baby, it’s got me thinking. 

Some people Tyler and I know actually do not want to be responsible for bringing children into this world the way it is now. Too messed up, too many dangers, no hope of things changing in our government, world economy, state of security, etc. and no point in subjecting new little humans to the pain of it all.

I mean they have a point….

Here in the homeland:

The top Republican candidate for the 2016 Presidential election has absolutely no filter or class and seems to enjoy leading American politics even further down the track of becoming a full-time venue for entertainment (ahem*DonaldTrump*) while

The top Democratic candidate (with almost 50% of the vote as of today) if elected would continue along with Obama’s plan to further impede on our 2nd amendment rights (new and unnecessary gun control laws that actually won’t do a thing to stop the prevalent shootings in our country), continue to fund the organization that is murdering millions of humans each year WITH TAX PAYER DOLLARS (Planned Parenthood), and will continue to back the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that turned a flawed capitalist healthcare system into a train wreck of a socialist healthcare system that is even more expensive and frustrating for the average American than it was before.

So…it’s not like we have much hope in the direction our country is headed.

Out there in the world:

ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant- the general geographical region) continues to wreck havoc worldwide as the radical Islamic group’s primary goal is to dominate the Middle East region by maliciously dominating local populations through violence while also promoting general jihadist behavior throughout the world.

Though last year’s most catastrophic jihadist initiated terrorist attack happened in Paris, France when suicide bombers attacked multiple public locations and killed 130 leaving another 300some injured, there is no telling where they might strike next.

Not only were the attackers Muslim jihadists, they were also reported as being almost all citizens of France; terrorists from within.

So with the current U.S. President (Obama’s) plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into our country without a foolproof vetting system, how are we to not expect that some of those seeking sanctuary in our country aren’t really members of ISIS or general Muslim jihadists intent on harming America?

As my current favorite radio show host, Janet Parshal of Moody Radio, says- God gave us hearts for compassion AS WELL AS minds for discernment. “We must be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove.” Simultaneously. So asking for our country’s leaders to figure out a better way of handling the refugee situation is not a matter of being uncaring or unChristian, but of being wise and informed about the reality of the global situation in which we find ourselves in 2016.

Oh baby. There are so many things wrong and evil and distorted in this world into which you are about to be born.

And yet…what God said in Genesis 1:28 (before the Fall) and again in 9:7 (after the Fall), “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it,” didn’t include the caveat when you think the world is safe enough for your children or when the economy is stable, etc., etc., etc. He just said to be fruitful, to multiply, to have children and raise them to follow His way.

So that’s what we will do, to the best of our ability in this messed up world. We’ll raise you with a Christian worldview that sees reality for what it is and yet has a profound answer for the hard questions of life.

And that’s exciting. Because as awful and perverse as it is in our world, God is here too. And ultimately He wins. Giving birth to a baby means that I get to be part of giving another human life with the opportunity to KNOW who God is and to be known by Him. And who am I to prevent that beautiful potential.

So baby, your daddy and I are as ready as we will ever be for you to make your way into this world. It’s not perfect, it’s not safe, it’s not even fair. But God is here. And you have the chance to get to know Him and serve Him and love Him as He has already known and molded and love you by making the ultimate sacrifice- letting his son Jesus die for the sins that are in your heart even as a newborn baby so that you might be able to have a relationship with the Holy Him.

That is the gospel truth, and that is why, even in this insanely messed up world, it is more than worth it to be ALIVE. 

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stuck in the secondary

The past few months I have been at home. Letting the Lord grow this baby inside me and taking on a more proactive role in running our household.

Just like anything this off time has it’s pros and cons. I have plenty of time  which has been used either to feel sorry for myself that I am not out living some grand adventure or to really DIG IN to scripture and learn to live in awe of this grand adventure as a daughter of the King that I actually am on…thankfully the days filled with the latter outweigh the former.

The word has come ALIVE to me in this season. Why now? Why do I suddenly hunger and thirst for more of it? Because I’m reading it.

Ironic? The more I GET by really studying and meditating and taking TIME, the more I WANT. It’s such a no brainer, and yet so profound. God really does know me and want me to know more of Him and He WILL reveal Himself through His word. The catch is I have to BE IN IT! duh.

A girlfriend I met at church here in Valdez and I would go on regular coffee dates almost since we moved here last January. We’d mostly vent to each other and then offer some encouragement for whatever crisis what currently taking over most of our brain capacity that week. We both longer for great fellowship and to get back into studying the Word. So we started meeting at her house on Tuesday mornings and decided to read through 1 Corinthians together instead of just venting:) Whoa. What a difference.

Not one week later we had grown from the two of us to 5 of us women. With each new addition our individual eagerness to glean something from these Tuesday mornings really grew. Now every Tuesday at 10, we all come on time, we all ask for prayer, we remember what the others had asked for last week and genuinely want to know how God is working in each other’s lives. We all do outside reading and studying of the agreed on chapters so our discussion can be more than just speculation and opinion based. It’s so refreshing.

And it’s hilarious that I’m so surprised by this development in my life- By this group of young women who really don’t have much in common besides the primary thing. I have had this before. I have LIVED this before. But it’s been about 5 years and it’s a much different context than a dorm full of best friends who not only read together but eat, sleep, dream, study, laugh and cry together too. I spent the first 2 years of our marriage really mourning the loss of community I had with my besties and roommates who really are my sisters in Christ. It had a lot to do with the fact that I transferred colleges to finish up at the University of Alaska and get married in the meantime. My husband was now my live in community and whoa was that a change. But it was so purposeful. Leave and cleave. It was harder for me, but now we both see the immeasurable value of literally moving away from all of our friends and family to a small Alaskan village to learn how to be married. That was such a tumultuous season, but so necessary.

Now, in our 4th year of our still imperfect but now solid (PRAISE THE LORD) marriage I have been blessed with female community again. Not the live in kind (gosh I still miss them) that knows immediately if I get a zit, that shares groceries but makes me buy my own jar of peanut butter, and knows first hand my guilty pleasure of sleeping 10 hours a night. But the adult kind that knows what I mean when I say meal planning on Monday morning has changed my life. It’s a new season and the Lord has brought along new friends for a new time.

But the POINT IS whether it is for a grade in Exodus/Deuteronomy class sitting beside my roommate in front of Dr. Yarchin, or whether it is to have something to share around the coffee table with the ladies on Tuesday morning- studying the word in community is the kind of accountability that I need.

It’s given me a renewed excitement for the text, a renewed surprise for the constant application it has for my life, a renewed JOY at the guidelines for living God’s way.

I WANT MORE.

And it literally brings me to tears what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me about that desire. That THIS is what this time off was about all along. THIS is the preparation I need before becoming a mother. The do-to lists before baby comes on Pinterest are NOTHING compared to the preparation of the heart that the Lord is working in me through this time of study.

Because more than being the mom who has all the answers, who has it all together, I want to be the mom on her knees before the living God day after day after day running the race for an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25)

Because even this profound new role of mother is SECONDARY.

I am first, and foremost a child of God set on this earth to bring glory to HIM by becoming a partaker in HIS gospel (1 Cor. 23).

As Paul answers the Corinthians urgent questions of circumcision (1 Cor. 7:19), of the eating of idol meat (1 Cor. 8), and marriage (1 Cor. 7), he does have answers that helped guide them in the direction of God’s will but the overall theme is clear- these aspects of life are ALL secondary.

The SECONDARY question should be- should I get married?

The PRIMARY questions should be- how can I honor God in my earthly relationships?

The SECONDARY question- Do I buy the Chicco key fit carseat or the Graco snug ride?

The PRIMARY– Am I living as an obedient daughter of the Lord so that even from an infant my child will learn from my example?

And so my prayer in this season of life is that I would be no longer STUCK in the SECONDARY.

That I might be so in tune with the Holy Spirit in me through the spending of TIME in His Word, that I might start to live with the PRIMARY in mind. That I might care more about the spiritual growth of my child than his or her worldly performance, and on and on.

God reveal to me the areas in my life where I put primary what you put secondary so that I might live in greater communion with you…

That I might “run in such a way, as not without aim; box in such a way, as not beating the air; but (that I might) discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others (after I have lived out my life in this secondary realm with YOUR primary focus), I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Cor. 9:26-27

There is SO much more. Take me deeper in. 

knit me together

i’m pregnant. again! going on 13 weeks. I’ve heard that little dribbling basketball heartbeat and have been promised there is now less than a 1% chance of miscarriage since we found that fluttering little organ’s beat. what a relief. 

my husband was at work, but my sister was with me to hear that amazing sound. That was at 11 weeks. But it’s really only hitting me today. this whole thing is just starting to feel real today.

i’ve been incredibly sick. throwing up sometimes more than 6 times a day. not just morning sickness but all-day-long-barely-hold-it-together-to-leave-the-house nausea. i’ve already used a lot of my sick leave from work. i think the previous miscarriage and then the non-stop puking both contributed to the lack of head/heart connection so far in my pregnancy. somedays i could only just pray “help God.” He hasn’t even really been on my radar. it really made me wonder how people in extreme and constant physical pain even have room for God in their struggle. it’s kind of a catch-22. i desperately need God in those days of severe discomfort and yet i can’t make my mind focus on a prayer longer than those two desperate words. and i guess maybe that’s the point. maybe those in severe conditions like poverty and life long physical disabilities are closest to Him in their prayers of “help God.” maybe there is MORE room for Him in that short desperate prayer than in my hour long “devotional session” where i journal pages of thoughts and read chapters of the bible and then close them and move on with my day.

i was doing the dishes just now and making lunch for my hardworking honey who works on Saturdays, and the tears just started ROLLING down my face. i’m so incredibly humbled to say that i think i’m starting to GET it. I’ve felt disconnected with what is happening to my body and disconnected from God lately, but

He met me this morning at the spot where my sponge met the pan.

Confirmation and love and confidence and a job well done is what I received. immediately praying against pride that it has anything to do with my own efforts (because I REALLY struggle with thinking i can do everything on my own), i thought about where i’m at today and where I’ve been and how i’ve gotten here and i’m just so humbled by what God has done and is doing in my life and in my heart.

they always say that you know you really know something when you can teach it well. you know you really know something when you can explain it to someone else. i got to do that this past week. my sister is dating the one. the one she met on the mission field with the same passion for life and adventure and service and the Lord. they were going to get engaged this summer but she’s panicking and saying she’s not ready for a variety of reasons (that seem to change depending on the day). as the one who she really listens to i knew i had a serious responsibility in how and what i would share with her as my opinion on the matter. I also got a talking to from my wise husband reminding me that this was my chance to really point her to God or not.

it’s almost funny what i ended up driving home; funny because it’s SO not of this world. it’s LAUGHABLE to this world. I said, “Sar, getting married is not that big of a deal.” She knows I don’t mean that if she doesn’t end up liking it they can get a divorce…no. We both come from the worldview that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man, woman, and God where the two become one flesh under the power of the one who created them both. So in that sense it is a VERY big deal. What I meant is that it doesn’t really matter what you do with you life. We’re simply called to wake up everyday and make the conscious decision whether we are going to live for ourselves or whether we are going to live that day for God. She could do that married or single. Living in a third world country or in the U.S. And what God brought forth in my mind this morning over that soapy pan is that the same is true for me and he’s allowing me to live that out day by day.

there was a time not long ago, at all, that i was motivated to live by what I could be, what I could accomplish, what mark I would make on this world, what I would be recognized for.  but today at the dish sink i saw that my heart cares now more about who HE is, what HE has already accomplished, what marks HE makes on this world, and what HE should be recognized for.

I see this lived out this week in a few maybe seemingly insignificant ways: by my willingness to let go of my job earlier than I expected (i’ll probably quit in 6 weeks instead of 6 months and just focus on being a wife before becoming a mama) and by giving up the grad classes I was going to use my tuition waiver form work to start my graduate transcript (a personal and selfish dream). What i want to highlight here is that this did NOT come from me. If it were left up to the me without the Lord I would maybe give up those things but not without much kicking and screaming and probably bitterness.

so PRAISE the Lord for what He is doing in me. and PRAISE Him that I am learning to find my identity in Him alone and not from my role as a sister, daughter, student, employee, wife, or now mom. That’s something that my own mother has struggled with and has always been on my radar to try and avoid. I won’t put it far from my mind, but it’s so encouraging to know the presence of the Lord in my kitchen and the comfort of his praise of me that I am learning what it means to be his daughter. Besides the choice to live for Him and not for myself today, the effort to do so isn’t something I can muster up on my own with enough caffeine and self-determination. It is simply the work of the Holy Spirit and today I got to see myself through His eyes. Thank you Jesus.

and thank you for this new life growing inside me. I now feel the weight of Glory in the phrase from Psalm 139: “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well.” 

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