Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Excitements and Disappointments and a Brief Book Review

Yesterday we set the date for my c-section! October 4th will be our Little Lady's Birthday, provided of course that she doesn't choose to come earlier than that. I'm excited to get a date set.... I look forward to having this little bundle of joy outside of my body! Some women love being pregnant. I'm NOT one of them. It's amazing the way God designed it, but there's a reason why pregnancy was part of the curse of sin!

I've also had some disappointments lately. Some big changes are coming for me and I still don't know exactly what they look like. There was a part that looked SO good for awhile there. I was thrilled at the prospects in front of me, but the dreams have been somewhat dashed in the last week. The plan has changed and I'm not happy with the new situation. However I keep reminding myself that I have a good God that works all things for my good and His glory. He knows our situation and is working things out in a way that's best... for me, for my husband, for our Little Man, and for our Little Lady. So now I wait. I'm waiting on a lot of things, honestly all pertaining to work, but wait I must. Wait and trust that the Lord is working his plan in my life. Whatever ambitions I have or have had, he is working His plan and ambition in my life and I'm thankful that He chooses to use me at all.

By the way I just finished reading Church Planting is for: Wimps by Mike McKinley. Great read for those interested in church planting. He presents a side of church planting that I think often gets neglected in circles where church planting is the focus. (I work for the National Church Planting Office so I see a few resources here and there). He is gospel focused and right on target. I highly recommend it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just a few Pics

Just a few pics.... because my kid is so adorable!  We spent last weekend in Wichita, KS for a family reunion on Chris' side of the family and got a few really cute pictures of our Little Man. He is getting more and more fun the older he gets! Seriously... it's SO fun being his mom! My priorities go in the order of  bringing glory to my God (which I partly do by doing the next two things), serving my husband, then my Little Man. Those things are SUCH a joy! I can't thank the Lord enough for the opportunity to love 2 such incredible guys (and the little girl who's on her way!).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept

And so I've begun! Horray. I love starting new studies. The newness of them is exciting. I'll let you know when it wears off :) However for now, I'm going to enjoy the newness. I always read everything in the beginning of a book. The introduction and preface have good stuff in them. John MacArthur gave the introduction for this particular book and gave it high praise. Generally speaking I trust his opinion, so it only grew my excitement to dig in! It was followed by Acknowledgements, an introduction, and a section that was simply titled with the title of the book (and this blog entry). That final section is where I'll sit at for today. Dever breaks the New Testament down into three concentric circles: Christ, God's covenant people, and the renewal of all of creation. "First we focus on Christ; then we expand outward to the new covenant people; and, finally, we take in all creation." This section made me curious of Dever's thinking in the area of covenant vs. dispensational theology. I really don't know how he interprets scripture in this area. I'm thinking it may become more clear as we get to that section of the book and look through the Epistles. There were some great quotes I could share, but I hadn't gotten permission to highlight from my husband yet (he is particular about highlighting :) Now that I have done so, I'll have more quotes to share in the future. However he has some great reflection questions at the end of each chapter. I won't go through them all every time (there are roughly a dozen) but I'll share some that I thought really meaningful.

"What is the riddle of the Old testament. Explain how Christ alone solves that riddle."-"The riddle is this: how can God 'forgive wickedness' and yet 'not leave the guilty unpunished'? The Levitical priests could not solve the riddle by sacrificing bulls and goats. The answer is found, of course, in Jesus. Jesus came as priest, sacrifice, temple, and substitute, in order to interceded between God and man by taking upon his body God's punishment for sin. God could then forgive the wickedness of his people and yet ensure that their wickedness is punished. The New Testament provides the answer to the riddle posed in the Old."

"Surrendering the things we long for requires a kind of death--the death of a desire. And willfully choosing that death is hard to do. It requires us to believe--really believe!--that what God promises is even better. Can you remember a time in your life when God proved himself faithful to his promise of something better? Do you think he would do otherwise next time?" --I love his question here. Ok maybe I don't love it because let's be honest, I don't always want to surrender my desires. But it reminds me of a truth I recently learned, that in every instance where I choose sin it's because I'm not believing God's promises. I don't believe in that moment that what God has for me is better than whatever it is that I'm willing to sin to get in that moment. God's promises are always better than my desires in the long run. I've seen that over and over again in my life. Where have you seen it?

"In sixty seconds or less, what's the good news of Christianity?"--I love this. I've heard Dever state it before. In fact I think they require this of their members, to explain the gospel in 1 minute or less. It's hard to do! See if you can do it!

So there is the beginning. I began reading through Matthew this morning... in the Bible not Dever's book. I was struck with the number of women in the genealogies and it made me want to do a study on those particular women and why they ended up in the genealogy. Maybe a teaching serious coming?! :) We'll see. It's definitely one I want to mark down to go back to!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Ultimate Prize

This summer our church is going through A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent. Chris picked up this book a few years ago at a NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors) Conference in St. Louis that we attended. I had ignored the book all week. There was a nice lady in the hallway handing them out for FREE. But being the superficial girl that I am I thought the cover was pretty ugly, so I didn't take one. Chris on the other hand will take anything that is free and took the book and preceded to read it cover to cover, many times over. It greatly influenced his gospel focus and thinking and often times he would read me a section before bed at night. Well, I have had the privilege of reading it for myself this summer and there really is some great stuff in it. There are short little sections and we are to read one each day to help us focus on the gospel on a daily basis. Today I read this section that I'm going to quote and it really impacted me and the way we're so often taught about heaven. I've heard about the streets of gold and the pearly gates for most of my life, but never (in my memory) did someone remind me that those streets of gold are there to lead us to God himself, not just for our pleasure. Let me share this quote and you'll see what I mean....

"The essence of eternal life is not found in having my sins forgiven, in possessing a mansion in heaven, or in having the streets of gold on which to walk forever. Rather, the essence of eternal life is intimately knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Everything else that God gives to me in the gospel serves merely to bring me to Himself so that this great end might be achieved. Christ died for the forgiveness of my sins so that I might be brought 'to God.' Christ is preparing a place for me in heaven so that He might receive me "to Himself" and have me forever with Him where He is. And yes, there is a great street of gold in heaven, but is there any doubt where the street leads? Unquestionable, it leads straight to the throne of God Himself, as do all of God's gifts to me in the gospel. As I meditate on the gospel each day, I find my thoughts inevitabley traveling from the gifts I've received to the Giver of those gifts; and the more my thoughts are directed to Him, the more I experience the essence of eternal life. The "gospel of God" is from God, comes through God, and leads me to God; and it is in Him that my soul finds its truest joy and rest."

It seems that at times in general teaching the focus just ends up in the wrong place... on me and what might benefit me, and the same is true of teaching on heaven. True heaven is much better than hell and I certainly desire to go to heaven over hell. But heaven and all the benefits of it are not for me, they are to bring glory to the one who created and sustains it all. Heaven is all about God and just as Mr. Vincent says "The 'gospel of God' is from God, comes through God, and leads me to God; and it is in Him that my soul finds its truest joy and rest." Truly heaven would be nothing without our God and it is only in him that I will ever find any satisfaction. The streets of gold or the 'big' mansion I will someday reside in are not the ultimate goal. He is the Ultimate Prize.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Study Adventure Coming Soon

I'm really excited about my next 'study.' For some time now I've wanted to read through the Bible along with Mark Dever's The Message of the New Testament and The Message of the Old Testament. A few years back Chris and I visited Capitol Hill Baptist Church where Mark Dever pastors and heads up the 9 Marks Ministries. We had the opportunity after that Sunday evening service to visit with him for several minutes and he was kind enough to give us copies of several of the 9 Marks books, The Message of the New Testament being one of them. Ever since I've wanted to read it while reading through the corresponding sections of Scripture and I'm excited to finally get to do so! Mark Dever does an excellent job expositing the Word and has had a a big impact on Chris and I as we considered church life in a more Biblical light over the last several years. In this particular book he gives an overview, kind of a bird's eye view of each book of the New Testament. Instead of breaking it down verse by verse, he strives to capture the message of the book in its entirety. I think it will be a fun way to move a little more quickly through the New Testament, while keeping my eyes fixed on the theme and message of each book. A friend of mine, Susan Heck, challenged me a few years back to take some time to sit down and read through whole books of the Bible at a time in one sitting. She said that she picked up new themes in Scripture when doing so. I'm hoping to make the time to do some of that during this study. That won't be an easy feat with a 15 month old son and another on the way! Fortunately there are several shorter books in the New Testament that I can choose from. Join me as I work through the New Testament (with Mark Dever's help!). I'd love to share with you what I'm learning!

By His Wounds You are Healed-finished review

Last week I finished going through By His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman's Idenity by Wendy Horger Alsup. Having finished it I wanted to give my thoughts. Sadly, my initial reaction to the whole book was that I was a bit disappointed. I'll share why, then explain what I really liked about it. I think my disappointment stemmed from 2 key areas. 1) She skipped over a lot of the book. Ephesians is packed full of amazing deep truths and she hit on many of them, but also skipped over a lot and left me with some questions that I'm going to have to go back and study some more. Some of the more difficult passages to understand didn't become any more clear to me, mostly because there was little to nothing written on them. That's ok, but I was hoping for a bit more I think. 2) Wendy seems to have had some difficult times in church. And while we all have a history that plays into our sanctification process, I don't know that we need to hear about it as much as Wendy seems to bring it up. She'll mention how it was done wrong in the past in churches she's been a part of, and move on fairly quickly to the right way, but I don't know that the mention of the wrong was necessary. It adds a negative tone to her writing that I've noticed on her blog as well and has made me a less frequent visitor. 3) I was hoping for more application both at the heart level and at the behavior level. She leaves a lot of the application up to the reader. Granted I didn't do much with the questions at the back of the book, I think because they were at the back. I enjoy questions placed with the chapter they go with. Perhaps even some reflection space throughout the paragraphs.

I did pick up some really cool things from Wendy's study though. I loved the initial definition of grace and the sister passage she uses to explain the greek term. It hit me hard in the way I consider God's grace towards me and the way I think I might be showing grace to others. Do they deserve this? Then it's not grace! I also enjoyed her emphasis on the church and the way we should be living life together as believers. Ephesians talks about this a lot so I'm glad she fleshed it out a bit. Again I might have enjoyed a bit more specific application, but overall I was challenged. I also loved the continuous thought from the beginning to end keeping in mind what we have in Christ from the earlier chapters as we consider the way we live life together in the ending chapters. It brings a whole new light to the life we live together as believers. I particularly found refreshing thinking through the armor of God in light of these truths.

I was hoping to recommend this as a good small group resource for our church. I don't know that I'll be able to... it's missing the kind of application at the heart and behavior level that we like to have, as well as had a few theological differences, but I think I could recommend it to individuals looking for a resource to use along with their personal time in the Word. Thanks Wendy for your hard work!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Ok... I'm still SOOO way behind on blogging about everything... I believe I'm a whole chapter behind. But I don't want to lose this one in the shuffle. I don't know that I'll go back to all the others.... So here we land. Ephesians 5:3--But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you as is proper among saints.

Purity has been a big deal to me for a long time. Not that I'm perfect at it... far from it. I've struggled in multiple ways too. Just to briefly share my 'story' concerning purity I'll start in my teen years. I went to a pretty conservative, cuollot (how do you even spell that?!) wearing, non 'rock' music listening, KJV only type of church growing up. Despite those things, it really was a good church that loved the Lord, it was just a bit hung up on a few of those things. We went to a camp that also taught the same way and I remember one speaker sharing several times how that he and his wife didn't kiss until their wedding. Now coming from the source it came from, I thought the guy was nuts! At this point I think I was probably in Jr. High. I had had one 'boyfriend' in elementary school and hadn't dated since.... so I was kissless.

In early high school I got hooked on a book series called the "Christy Miller Series" by Robin Jones Gunn. In it there is a Christian couple that had chosen not to kiss until their wedding day. Same information, new source. I made the same commitment. I was a little older and wiser... probably 9th grade and still kissless. I knew that I desired to honor God and stay pure and I saw that as the ultimate act of purity. I wouldn't even venture into the arena of sex. Looking back, that was the best decision of my life! Not that it kept me from every bit of sin, but wow, did it protect me from a lot.

Over the years I watched my Christian friends date, and I knew that many if not all of them were 'making out.' I really didn't think a whole lot about it being sinful, but I was glad that I wasn't doing it. I knew my heart and I knew that I'd desire more than just a kiss or even kissing if I went there, so I was glad to stay away. It was protection from at least the physical sin. It was kind of a big deal at my high school too. I was the girl that wouldn't kiss. Then I went to Bible College and it was just as much of a novelty, which looking back breaks my heart. Purity at a Bible college should be the norm, not the exception. Sadly, I fear that it was very much an exception, at least among my peer group. I was still labeled the girl that didn't kiss and even had one guy date me with bets as to how long it would take him to get me to kiss him! Praise the Lord that I never did and he eventually moved on to someone that would.

Then, after 6 years of college and grad school at the ripe old age of 23, I got married and got my first kiss (with many to follow!!). I've NEVER regretted that decision. More than anything else I chose to do in my life, I'm so thankful for that one. After I got married I started reading more about purity and studying it from a Biblical perspective and realized that while I didn't understand the heart motives behind my decision at the time, it protected me so much from sin. And don't get me wrong I struggled. I wanted to be kissed. I craved attention from guys, among other sinful desires of my heart, but I'm quite sure that it would have been much worse had I been making out with a guy through all of that.

Why I'm sharing all of this I don't know except that this passage calls believers to another standard. Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness should not be a part of our lives. When I teach unmarried girls about purity I ask them to think through kissing and making out with a guy that's not their husband... are we being 'holy' at that time as 1 Thess calls us to be? I can't fathom it! So why do we think it's ok as long as we're not having 'sex'? Would you want your married husband kissing another girl? No! So why do we do it before we're married? I don't get it. Where did we get that idea? I'm not going into much detail here and I hope I'm not sounding harsh, but somewhere along the line we aren't getting taught well in this area and it's causing so many brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble before marriage leading them to more struggles after marriage when God calls us to purity.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I admit it. My brain is in some kind of a summer mode right now. It. Does. Not. Want. To. Work. At anything... much less my disciplines of being in the Word. I spend my time in the Word at work right now. Is it ok to publish that on the world wide web? I have the luxury of a job that allows that I guess and it just works best for the wisest use of my time on most days. I tend to get my 'work' done quickly, but need to remain in my place of employment for the hours required of me and find that reading the word and good books at work is better than TV Watching on Hulu (which I also do way too much of). In fact I have two more days staring me in the face with, more than likely, plenty of free time to use wisely and I'm trying to figure out what would be the best use of my time and what I can bring with me to accomplish here... instead of staring at the new iPhone4 and lusting.

I had originally titled this post Chapter 4 Update and Catch Up. But I think I'll save that for tomorrow... or at least a post later today. Right now I just feel like sharing my heart. God has been really, really good to us lately. Chris has started this new job, for which we are immensely thankful for a variety of reasons. It also came to my attention (through Chris) that apparently there were SEVERAL applicants for his position. And they interviewed SEVERAL of those applicants. And in the end they chose Chris. Now, I know why. He's an amazing, talented guy. He'll be great in this type of position. I'm saying all that to brag on him. He was chosen from many interviewers because he's awesome:) And we're so thankful that God blessed us in this way. It hasn't been without it's challenges though. We still have just the one car and it's been fairly challenging getting him, our Little man, and myself all the places we need to go in a day. Like here in a few minutes I have to leave work to exchange the car with Chris, who is currently working at the location on north Glenstone and Kearney, all the way across town. Annoying, but necessary. And I think I'm annoying my bosses... which I hate. Hopefully it will come to an end though. And this process is a necessary evil. We have to have Chris' income to save for another car! So we'll get there in time. So I'm just praying that we can save quickly and find a good deal on a reliable vehicle that we don't hate. (I know I'm not going to LOVE whatever we get, but I just would like to not hate it!) All of this has its goods and bads... as do most things in life I guess. But in it all I'm SO very thankful for God's provision for us.

Next... lately I've become somewhat obsessed with organic eating. It started when I was pregnant with Landon. Like I said I have a fair amount of free time at my job and I spend much of it online. They recommend more than usual to eat as organically as possible while you're pregnant. That tiny baby can't handle all the chemicals like our bigger bodies can. So I started researching more and more and more and now here I am. I bought organic ketchup last night, mostly to get rid of the high fructose corn syrup that plagues most ketchups. Nonetheless though... I bought organic ketchup! I've also started buying organic apples because they fall in the 'Dirty Dozen.' I've been shopping at the Farmer's Market the last few weeks and I planted a garden! So far it's not really costing me any more than normal because I'm not buying a lot of processed stuff. I'm trying to eat whole, natural foods. Fruits and veggies, and products with the least amounts of ingredients possible. The next step for me I think is looking into different meat. I've been eyeing the grass fed beef and free range chicken (oh... I have been buying fresh eggs from a local farmer at a little nursery and garden store in Ozark and they are SO good! It reminds me of our fresh eggs when I was a kid... yes we kept chickens :) at the Farmer's Market and trying to figure out how to fit that into our budget. This year I want to save up so that next year I can join a local CSA... you pay for your meat up front and get a discount as your bring it home throughout the year. We'll see if I can talk my amazing hubby into that! So far Chris has been very supportive. I've had him read a FEW of the articles I've found and he's loving the fresh produce from the Farmer's Market. He says it's the best he's ever eaten. So he's all for it. Plus, we bought a grill a few weeks ago and we're just enjoying summer eating. If only I could get him to like tomatoes.... that will never happen though. Like I titlted this post... musings.

You've probably stopped reading by now so I'll stop rambling. In 24 minutes I get to leave to pick up my little man, Landon. I love my sweet little boy so much and can't wait to see him!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A little catch up....

Wow... I have a lot of blogging to catch up my Bible Study from where I left off to where I am now. Fortunately, I seem to have a little time this morning so I'll try to plow through it. It will be good review for me!

Ephesians 2:1-10 is the end of the first section of Ephesians and it takes us through a wonderful progression of thought that should at least cross my mind every day. It says that before salvation I was dead. I was a dead girl trying to find satisfaction in the passions of my flesh. (It kind of reminds me of all the dead pirates in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies that would eat an apple and never be satisfied with its sweetness. They searched and searched to fulfill their passions). I was in my very nature a child of wrath, deserving of all of God's punishment toward evil. BUT GOD stepped in with his rich mercy and in spite of the evil running through my body saved me, and raised me up to sit with him in heavenly places. He did this for his own glory, to show his kindness toward me in Christ. You see I am His workmanship, and long before I even knew I existed God created me in Christ to do His good works. I think I'm going to post that on my bathroom mirror as a reminder to myself every morning.

Wendy gives us a great reminder after thinking all of this through. "Paul goes on to point out that it is not only our salvation that is all of God and none of us, but that the subsequent good works that follow coming to faith in Christ area also the result of God's work within us. The implication is that our attempts to boast in any good work after our salvation are as naive as our attempts to boast in the act that brought us to salvation." H.U.M.I.L.I.T.Y. I do nothing. God does it all. Sure I 'work out my salvation.' I do make efforts toward change and sanctification, but when I really get down to it, I do nothing on my own. Even my own efforts are vain and futile without God's hand guiding me toward change. He does it all. I have to remember that.... constantly. I am nothing without him.

Section 2--Ephesians 2:11-3:21

The end of Ephesians 2 is full of some deep stuff, deeper than Wendy goes, and deeper than my cursory reading and study goes, but the main gist is this. There are Israelites and the rest of the world is Gentiles. I am a Gentile. At one time I was separated from Christ, alienated from the benefits Israel had and the promises made to them. But now, in Christ, I have been brought near to God. Christ is now my peace. Israelites come to God the same way now that Gentiles do. "And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to show who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father."

Moving into Chapter 3 Paul addresses the 'mystery' that he has referred to a few times. Building on what he said previously, 'we are reminded that.... the reason Paul is a prisoner for Christ on behalf of the Gentile believers at Ephesus is found in the closing of Ephesians 2--namely that the Gentiles are no longer strangers to God's promises, but are now being built together with Jewish believers into a temple or dwelling place for God the Spirit.' Paul goes on to explain that he has been made a minister of that truth. Basically it's his job to share it with the world. I would be saying 'seriously?!!' Not a job that i would want, but Paul took it and ran with it and we can see two character qualities in him that we should emulate: humility and confidence.

Paul knows himself. He says that he is the 'very least among the saints.' This job has nothing to do with his qualifications. Although let's face it he had a few--but he wasn't proud of them. He didn't revel in his own glory. He saw himself for what he truly was spiritually... nothing. I love how Wendy says this, "In reality, Paul has been entrusted with possibly the greatest message ever communicated. But instead of becoming puffed up with self-importance as so many of us do when entrusted with a great stewardship, he keeps an accurate assessment of himself. He is a good model for us here. He is not dwelling in self-condemnation. He is not insecure, searching for compliments to make him feel better about himself. Instead, he gets both the depth of his sin and the great grace that God has poured out on him." Paul was right on in his assessment. But instead of wallowing in self-pity over his true spiritual state, he trusted the riches of Christ and the grace that God had given him, which in turn produced confidence. Not in himself whatsoever, but in Christ. He is preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ! We should have the same confidence!

I also cannot move on without sharing the Tim Keller quote she uses. I've read it before, but it never gets old: "The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less." Enough said.

In closing out chapter 3 Paul wanted the Ephesians to be profoundly moved by the immeasurable riches of the grace of God through Christ Jesus. He wanted them to comprehend the breadth, length, height and depth of God's love--a love that surpassed their (and our) ability to grasp. But oh how we should try! Wendy explains that the last two verses in Ephesians 3 are verses often used to closes services in the history of the church, often called the benediction--Latin for a good saying. Paul is closing his thoughts on the mystery revealed of God's double reconciliation of Gentile believers to both himself and Jewish believers, focusing on the glory of God that is continuing to reveal through all generations, for all time. We are a part of that! And the same power that is accomplishing this is at work within each believer, day in and day out. Praise the Lord that he has revealed this part of his plan to us!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

I've been a bit absent on my blog lately.... I have been doing my Bible study though! Two weeks ago we were in Kansas City and the hotel charged more for internet for the week than we pay for a month at the house, so we decided to skip it. Then last week, I felt so behind on blogging that I never just sat down and caught up! I'm hoping to remedy some of that later today and throughout the rest of the week. However, I just wanted to share about our little weekend....

I just had the best time this weekend. Chris spent Saturday at the church in a Counseling Training session with Dr. Bob Smith. He said it was great. I however, hung out with our Little Man, which I always LOVE! We went to the Springfield Farmer's Market, where we picked up some fresh asparagus, new potatoes, strawberries, and green beans. Yummo! Then we went to the park. Landon loves to go down the slide and to swing! We seriously had a great time! While Landon napped I spent the afternoon working on a little tan (this preggo girl needs some color on her legs!) while I put together our new grill. We have been without a grill for over a year now. Our last one caught on fire (I guess we didn't clean it enough) and became way too much of a hazard to use! We had put off purchasing a new one for so long, but finally we purchased a charcoal grill and we're LOVING it! We used it a few times throughout the weekend. I had forgotten how good charcoal makes meat taste. Fantastic!

Later in the weekend we planted a new garden. Now I know... gardening and Abbie haven't really mixed for a long time. When I was a kid we had acres and acres of garden and I hated it. It was way more than we could keep up with (as far as weeding) so it was very burdensome (to me... apparently my parents loved it). I did however develop an appreciation for fresh veggies and berries and I've really missed them over the years. So this year, I decided to try my hand at it. Now our ground in Ozark is basically a gravel pit. So I had planned to purchase a small kiddie pool for my garden, but ended up with a neat little garden kit with a round outside container that we lined with newspaper and filled with organic dirt. Literally our ground is so rocky that all four stakes curled over as we pounded them into the ground. Ah the joys of the Ozark mountains! But we finally drove them in. I picked up a few plants that were already started at a local nursery... heirloom tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, and one butternut squash. I thought the squash would be great to get some baby food made ahead of time and in the freezer for baby #2. Then from seed I planted some spinach, lettuce, green beans, cucumber, and zucchini. We'll see how it all turns out. I'm afraid I put way too many seed in such a small place, but I figure that if I need to pull some out I can later on. It's all quite a learning experience for me. I don't remember anything from our gardening when I was a kid except pulling weeds taller than me and eating the yummy food! I may post pics on here or on Facebook at some point.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In God's Grace....

We talked a few posts back about grace, particularly God's grace. Grace is getting something that I totally don't deserve. I don't deserve forgiveness for the multiple ways I sin against my savior. I don't deserve the spiritual blessings that are mine in Christ! I don't deserve any semblance of joy in my life. I don't deserve such a great, faithful husband. I don't deserve my amazing little boy. Yet, I have a gracious God who has given me all of these things. Well, in God's grace he has given us more blessings. Not only has the Lord provided a new job for Chris (one that looks like it will be a good job), but he has also provided a great blessing in the area of Chris going back to graduate school. He has this week been selected as one of the graduate assistants at Baptist Bible College and the payment for those services come in the form of tuition at the graduate school. We are thrilled with this opportunity, as Chris finishing his Master's Degree was one of the main reasons we moved back to the Springfield area. For a variety of reasons going back to school has not been possible yet, but now, in God's mercy

it most certainly is and we are so thankful for the opportunity! I've included a picture of Landon swinging as well just for fun. He loves to play outside!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Ephesians 1:15-23 is such a powerful prayer. Paul prays some really big things for the believers in Ephesus, all of it based on what he had just told them in verses 3-14. "For this reason"... I pray all of these things. I really liked how Wendy summarized it, "Because God determined before time began to adopt us into his family, to redeem us from our sins, to lavish his grace on us, to reveal his plans to us, and to give us his Spirit as a seal to us to guarantee our inheritance as his children, we enter this prayer of thanksgiving." There is so much to unpackage here and I won't pretend to hit on it all, but a couple of things stood out.

Paul prays that the believers in Ephesus would have a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened. I think I forget at times how much I need the Holy Spirit to open my eyes as I dig into the Word. I can study and study and study, but unless God opens the eyes of my heart to understand the depths of the truths I'm reading and studying about, I'll never get it! I need the Spirit to work in me through the Word. I can do nothing on my own.

But there is a reason he asks for that for these people. There is a nice little word in there, 'that.' 'That you may know...' Oh there is so much to know about God!! And Paul gives us quite the list here. "That you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe." Three things: our hope, our inheritance, and His power.

Wendy started off talking about our hope in a neat way. "In verses 3-14, Paul dealt with the facts of our calling. Now he calls on us to attach to it an emotion--hope." This hope has a foundation. We can have hope because of all that we learned in verses 3-14. We have hope because of the grace that God lavishes on us, because of the inheritance we have, because the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance, because of the spiritual blessings he pours down on us. These and more are the reasons for our hope! The emotion of hope emerges as the substance as these facts get driven deep into our hearts and minds. I must continually bring to mind these truths to have the hope that emerges from my calling in Christ.

We also have an inheritance. A rich inheritance at that! Sometimes I am the spiritual miser that Wendy described with so much spiritual wealth at my fingertips but so wretched and unhappy. Why or why do I get that way? Duh, Abbie! I let myself forget about my inheritance! I am wealthy beyond imagination because I have been left a huge spiritual inheritance. Forget about inheriting money. As nice as that might sound, how much better to inherit the rich, eternal, spiritual inheritance that God has left for us!

And lastly, power. God doesn't leave us wondering what power he's referring to either. He reminds us that the power we have access to is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, seated him at the right hand of the Father, above every name that is named at any point in human history or the future. All things are under his feet! This is THE GOD. The one and only most powerful God and His power is directed in our favor!

This is kind of a lot for one day. There is so much here! But as I meditate on these things, even in their limited scope that I understand them and describe them here, hope truly is the result. I have SO much in Christ!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Adoption... to the praise of HIS glorious grace!

I'm going to make some more comments about Ephesians study I'm going through. Nothing huge stuck out to me last Friday in my reading and study in Wendy's commentary... that is until I went back to look for something to write about. And she didn't even talk specifically about it in this way, but as I read through the passage and put together some of what she had talked about, verses 5-6 really impacted me.

5 In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Wendy says, "God has not rationed out his grace on us. Unlike me he does not calculate exactly and round to the nearest cent. He abundantly exceeds our needs. He pours his grace out on us so that it overflows. He furnishes us in rich measure." Remember what we talked a few days as far as grace goes... It is something that we absolutely, completely do NOT deserve! We have done nothing to deserve what God gives us in his glorious, magnificent, splendorous grace... But what sparkled to me so much in this passage is what was given in grace: 'In love he predestined us for adoption as sons'!!!! Not only are we adopted, but we are not destined to live in the attic like little Sarah Crew in A Little Princess (Sorry, too much Shirley Temple for me when I was a kid). No... we are adopted as sons and daughters of God to reign with Him! All this is part of HIS will and it for the praise of HIM and HIS incomparable grace that HE continually blesses us with (notice how it's all about him... not about me)!

Wow, what a God we have to choose us to be his children. We are hand picked to receive redemption through Christ's blood, have our innumberable sins forgiven, and it's all because his grace is so rich and deep. He lavishes that grace on us. Note that he doesn't just sprinkle a bit here and there. No, he spreads it all over us (maybe like I do cream cheese on a bagel? Ha! There is no comparison!) He pours His grace out so that it overflows in the rich blessings of a loving Father. I just want to revel in that truth!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spiritual Blessings

I continued in my study through Wendy's commentary on Ephesians this morning and am really enjoying some of the details she draws out. I don't have the book in front of me to give any direct quotes, but particualry the Lord convicted my heart this morning of the way I've been looking for his blessings. Ephesians 1:3 says 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places' (ESV).

God continually blesses me beyond my comprehension, but so often I'm looking in the wrong places for it. Paul says that he blesses us with spiritual blessings. I realized this morning, just how much of that I've overlooked over the last year and half. Chris had been in a job with little income coming in and we purposefully chose for him to tough it out, looking forward to that income growing. And while it did, that growth was slower than expected and put us in some pretty precarious financial situations. I did not see God's blessings very easily during this time. Now, God provided.... we never went hungry, always made it to work on what gas we had, and really never suffered. God was good to us. But it was often difficult for me to feel 'blessed'. Mostly I think I was just frustrated wondering why on earth a good God was letting us go through this time of struggle. I knew that God was good and that this situation would be to our benefit, but I think I was looking for the material blessings, and even though I was trying to look for them, totally missing the spiritual ones! Having experienced this season of little, I know I will have more empathy with others who struggle financially in the future where in the past I might have been more unkind (at least in my heart). I know that God has shown me He IS good, even in the hard times. I don't have to wonder if He is pouring out his wrath against me. He has already poured it out on His Son! (Thank you Elyze Fitzpatrick for helping me to understand that in Because He Loves Me!). I have never been good with managing my or our family's finances, but after this difficult season, I'm ready to live within the means God has has given me and be thankful for that means, however big or small it may be.

There are so many other lessons learned and things I will carry on with me and maybe, just maybe these are the spiritual blessings that God has been granting me through what was one of the most difficult seasons of my life. When I see in Scripture that God blesses us, I need to look for the spiritual blessings. They are so much greater than anything material He could give me!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I started a new study last night through Ephesians using a study guide by Wendy Horger Alsup called By His Wounds You Are Healed: how the message of Ephesians transforms a woman's identity. I've been really excited to read through her commentary on the book of Ephesians as I really enjoyed her other published book Practical Theology for Women. She seems to have a genuine desire to understand the text of God's Word in it's literal translation, not adding to it, nor taking away from it, and not bringing any preconceived notions with her. And I appreciate her desire for strong, deep theologically rooted writing for women that is true to the text, as that can be hard to find.

As I read through her notes in the first chapter of the book she presented grace in a way that I'd never thought of it before and I found it refreshing as well as convicting and I wanted to share what I've learned. In the second verse of Ephesians Paul is greeting the saints in Ephesus and says to them 'Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ' (I want to study out the greek for myself, and haven't done so yet, but at this point I'm trusting Wendy's research.) She says that the Greek word translated grace in this verse is charis and is used throughout the New Testament in Ephesians as well as other books. Many of us know the basic definition of grace. It's a very important term for believers! Basically grace is loving kindness, favor, or a gift. Many of us grew up learning grace as God's Riches At Christ's Expense. But what struck Wendy the most (and me!) is the way charis is not used. Grace or charis is NOT about giving what is due. And it really hit me when she showed the use of the greek word charis in Luke 6. I'll quote it here with what the words charis is translated into in italics.

Luke 6: 32 If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

This passage really drew out for me what grace is NOT! I'll quote Wendy's response. "When you give back what is earned or deserved, it is not charis--it is not grace. It is not favor or benefit, and it is not credited toward you as anything other than exactly what you are expected to do. Instead, grace does what is unexpected, undeserved, and out of line with reasonable responses."

All this really made me think... do I show others grace or do I simply show them what I am expected to? "Jesus says the evidence of our understanding of His grace is the way we show grace to others."  I have shown grace. Forgiven when I didn't have to. Loved when I was not. Given without expecting anything in return. But how often do I only do those things when I expect to get it back, or when it's already been shown to me? Ouch. This convicts me and I hope makes me continue to question the way I am treating others. God has shown me much grace and I need to share it with others.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Waiting and Praying

God seems to often make life uncertain. I feel like much of my life has been that way and I don't think I'm alone in that camp. Perhaps it's what so many of us need to trust Him more. As I mentioned in my last post, my husband is making a career change... to what we don't yet know, but he has left his last position as a Benefits Consultant selling Health and Life Insurance. I am happy about this change for reasons that I don't need to elaborate on here. We had hoped that it would be a career move that would allow us to achieve some goals, some financial, some educational, some just pertaining to the freedom with your time in that kind of work. Unfortunately, none of that panned out and it had become apparent that for those reasons among others, it was time to move on and move forward with our goals. So the job hunt is on and when your degree is in something that you're not looking for a job in, finding a good job can be challenging. Today Chris had a good interview. I'm hoping he gets called back for a second. Either way though we're trusting the Lord to provide in such a way that we can move forward. I feel like we've been standing still for the last three years, not doing what we should have been doing somehow. Not that we were 'out of God's will.' I don't see in Scripture where that can happen. He is sovereign. Totally in control. And he has His perfect reasons for the last 3 years. I've learned things that I never would have, felt things I never would have. And I know that I'll be a better tool for him because of these experiences. But I think we're ready to continue moving now... at least I hope we are! Lord, please let this be the time! So we're waiting and praying and fervently filling out job applications and hoping for phone calls for interviews. Pray with us if you will.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Perry Baby #2

So I have been VERY absent from my blog as of late simply due to the fact that I'm spending most of the 24 hours of a day feeling like I'm going to puke. After just over 2 months of this nonsense I'm finally starting to feel better and can actually THINK again! It's amazing how sickness just wipes everything from you. I couldn't read, I couldn't think, all I could do was come home each day after work and lay on the couch while my husband cared for our one year old son, made dinner, did the laundry, the dishes, and everything else that I usually do in my attempt to be a housewife, at least in the evenings. With that said, the sickness is due to a good thing, I'm pregnant with Perry Baby #2!! As much as I dislike being pregnant, I'm really excited for our second child to come on the scene. We wanted to have our children close in age as Chris and I both are 4 years older than our next sibling, with me being 15 years older than my youngest sibling. Growing up I greatly disliked my sister next in line because she was just annoying. I mean as I was entering high school she was starting 5th grade. It wasn't until I went off to college and she entered high school that we really became anything resembling friends. Now we're the best of friends, but it was a long time coming! My youngest sibling of my mom and step-dad doesn't even remember me living at home with her because she was barely 3 when I moved away to college. And of course I never got the chance to live with my dad's three kids who are my half siblings. I hate these facts because I'd love to have a closer relationship with all 7 of them! So.... with that said I'm really excited that our first two kids will be only 18 months apart! Not that siblings being further apart in age is bad because we both love our siblings very much, but we're excited to have ours closer. Admittedly I'm hoping for a girl... all the bows and ruffles, ballet shoes and tulle skirts make my heart skip a beat, but brothers that close in age would be great fun too. We'll find out on June 3rd which it will be.

We're going through a lot of transition in our family right now. Chris is making a career change and there is so much on my mind but I'm just starting to process it and dig into God's Word to find the strength needed to walk through it all. I've put it all on hold in my head, but I'm ready to start digging in! Hopefully you'll walk through it with me. Talk to ya soon!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Much to share....

I've been missing for some time now. I do have an excuse, but it'll have to wait till next week. Until then.... keep growing! This weekend we are celebrating Landon's 1st Birthday! I can't believe our little man has been around for a year now. It just seems crazy that that amount of time has flown by so quickly, but alas it has and here we are with a one year old little boy. I'm excited to celebrate with family and friends in just a few days. I hope he enjoys it as much as I plan to!

Monday, February 1, 2010

False Expectations

Through a series of events, things I've read, and been taught recently I've come to a realization. Somewhere deep inside myself, at a level I don't think I've ever noticed, I've had a very distorted view of God and the way He works. My thoughts started with a blog post I read a few weeks ago here. In this blog post she makes the point that many young girls (and I'll insert guys too!) grow up in church doing all the right things and through what they've been taught form certain expectations of the way that life is supposed to go as a result of their good choices. However, many of them end up grown up and dreadfully disappointed. They did everything they were told to do, but life didn't turn into the fairy tale they expected. Insert me. I'm pretty sure that I was one of those girls. I don't know that these things were ever verbalized to me by anyone. I think I was taught it more by innuendo of some kind. In fact I don't know that I've ever even let these thoughts turn into actual words in my mind! But none the less I really think they were there.

I am thankful for a good church and a great group of pastors that watch over our souls and teach us the truths of God's Word even when it's not what I want to hear. Sunday two weeks ago was kind of one of those days. I didn't walk away from the service particularly happy, or filled with pleasant emotions. In fact I was even more frustrated on some level, but also full of faith and trust. You see my eyes were opened to a piece of myself I've never known before, a piece of me I didn't really like. However it's a piece of me that makes me all the more thankful for the blood of Christ and how it covers my sin. We covered Ecclesiastics 7 and talked through this very obstacle. For some reason many of us think that if we do life a certain way (the way that Scripture teaches) that X, or Y, or Z will result. But then D happens and we're left wondering what the point of following God even is. Only Scripture doesn't promise X, Y, and Z. In fact, Ecclesiastes 7 makes that pretty clear. Good things happen to evil people and the righteous sometimes end up suffering, but that doesn't change who God is. He is still righteous, He is still just, He is still kind, He is still full of grace. And the D situation that really makes life seem unbearable right now is all a part of God's plan to make me more like him. He is sanctifying me day by day through the circumstances that I never thought I'd be in because I did it 'His' way. Maybe in the beginning I wanted X, Y, and Z more than I actually wanted Him? I don't know. I don't remember those days well enough, but right now, today, I want Him in the midst of these circumstances and I'm trusting Him to do His work in me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When I need wisdom.....

Today I realized how desperately in need of wisdom I am. Chris and I are facing some circumstances that we just aren't quite sure what to do with. There are several options, all of which look wise in their own way, but none of them seem just right, leaving us not really sure what to do. And while I've certainly been praying for these decisions I realized on the way to work this morning that I hadn't been asking for one thing that I very much need... wisdom. God, in his providence, has this whole thing planned out perfectly, but I don't know what He's got up His sleeve yet, and we very much want to make choices that will honor Him and sustain us in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. It reminded me of James 1. Starting in verse two it says,

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways....
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."

"Lord, today we desperately need your wisdom, which You promise to give us generously! Please allow us to know enough information to make clear which path we should take. I trust You to lead us down the path for our lives that will bring you the most honor and end up for our good, our sanctification. Please sustain us in these days and weeks ahead as your plan for us unfolds and allow us to make the good choices you have for us! We are so grateful for your unfailing love and graciousness toward us!"