A Dwelling Place for Eternal Beings: Learning About Contentment in a Season of Searching

They say moving is one of the most stressful life events you can experience. I always thought that was because of the effort of physically dragging all your belongings from one place to another, and then finding yourself in a place where you may not have the same social circle you are used to and feel out of place and disorganized. Having actually moved several times since then,, though, I personally think the hardest thing about moving is all the stuff that happens before you actually start packing, that is, the house hunt. 

We’ve been on the house hunt for half a year now. I’ve found it incredibly challenging for a couple of reasons. I suppose there are the obvious difficulties, of identifying houses that fit your criteria, establishing that they are available and within your budget, visiting them, and potentially making an offer, but then there is the emotional element.

Every house we visit that seems viable, I start imagining. I envision our baby growing up there. I think about the things we might change, the furniture or decorations we might use, what we might do with the garden or shed, the opportunities we might have there to be a blessing to our church family or neighbors through hospitality. With each house, a new set of dreams is born, and each time we have to move on from that house, for one reason or another, those dreams have to die. 

As those dreams come and go, I find that I struggle more and more with contentment in our current situation. I visit a house and see that we could have a kitchen table, a bathtub, a garden, a sitting room big enough to have company, room for our daughter to crawl and toddle safely, storage (blessed, blessed storage space), etc, and naturally I am reminded that we don’t have those things right now, and it could be a while until we do. The emotions rise then, frustration, fear, doubt, and I have to reevaluate. What is really important here? Is it the convenience of a kitchen table, or the luxury of a bathtub, or is it something else? 

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil 4:11-12).

My husband works weekdays from our sitting room, which means my dog, my daughter, and I spend our days in our bedroom and postage stamp kitchen. Baby plays with her toys on the bed, or, if I have cooking or cleaning to do, she sits in her bouncer or plays on her mat (which covers pretty much our entire kitchen floor hahaha), and I scoot awkwardly around her to do my chores. It’s times like these that I think, man, it would be great to not have to trip over my baby in order to do my laundry.”

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16, ESV)

It was in one of these moments that the Lord stopped me in my tracks. I listened to my baby cooing as I stepped carefully around her on her mat, and was tempted as usual to dwell resentfully on the lack of space, but instead all I could think about was her. Suddenly I saw her, not just as my sweet little baby, but as an eternal soul. Her days were already laid out for her by the all-powerful God that made her, days that I was living with her even now. God planned that she should be playing on her mat in our tiny old apartment, and that I should be singing to her while I shuffled around her to do dishes and fold clothes. God planned that I should be her mother, and my husband her father, and my dog her canine pal. God planned that we should raise her up to know and love him, to teach her his ways, and God willing to prepare her for an eternity spent worshipping him in glorious daily activity in the new Heaven and new Earth. 

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

Joy filled my heart at that thought. I didn’t have to have a kitchen table to teach my little girl about Jesus, or to model his love to her every day. I didn’t need a bath tub to tell her what it means to be a sinner in need of forgiveness, or to share the Good News that Jesus took the wrath that we deserved and that we may have everlasting life in him.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

When I think about our apartment in the context of worldly standards, it is just a drafty, old matchbox, but when viewed in the context of eternity, it becomes a sanctum of holy joys, a place where God can be served and praised and delighted in, a place that may not be suited to comfortable dining, or entertaining any number of guests, but that is perfectly suited to entertaining the Holy Spirit, and all the work he has for us here and now as he intended from eternity past. I still look forward to moving, and I think we will still struggle from time to time with contentment regarding our housing, but I pray that every time my thoughts stray toward dissatisfaction, God would remind me once again of the incredible blessing it is to have his sovereign hand at work in our lives. Now is not a wasted season spent searching for a home while we are trapped in a cold and inconvenient living space. Now is a season that God has planned to prepare myself, my husband, and my baby for an eternity spent in the house of our Father. There is no house hunt more important than the one that ends there.

Give Me the Will of a Woman

It’s 2022… and you know what that means.

More posts at random intervals on semi-arbitrary topics written purely for the enjoyment of the process you say? Ha, wrong again… well, I mean probably right but first…

It means it’s time for another poetic reflection. The Lord taught me many things over the last year, and one of those things has been my desperate need for Him to reform my desires, to cause me “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13, ESV). This is my prayer for this year, that he would continue that refining process, changing my affections to reflect His, that I would hunger less after the things of this world and more for the things of His kingdom. I pray that he would do the same for you, and hope that you had a blessed Christmas and New Years.

I Need the Will of a Woman

I need the will of a woman,
Not the will of a wisp.
I need the want and the strength to do, like Ruth did, 
The thing I’m called to.


I need the Word, sung and sewn in my heart by the “Great Gardener”,
Who will change my will.
Would that he would. 
Would HE so that I could 
Walk on The Way that is narrow,
And plant the seeds he has placed in my hand.
My shepherd knows all of my faults.
He knows that I strive and fumble and fall.
He knows my will is the worst of them all,
And it is a wisp.
It is a whim that blows only one way,
And that only against.
It tantalizes, teases, whispers delights,
But they are always fleeting,
And always come at the price 
of blood.
I need the will of a woman like Mary.
“Let it be unto me as YOU have said.”
And let my will be dead.
Let my will be yours, And your will be done.
Give me the will of a woman.
Like Lydia who with her whole household sunk
Beneath the water and then rose up,
And left her old desires there in the sea,
To follow her Jesus to the cross,
To count every other thing as lost…
For the sake of Christ,
May He renew my mind,
And give me
The will of a woman of GOd.

Behold the Child Christ at Rest | A Christmas Reflection

I wrote this a few years ago as I reflected on the scene of the nativity. To think of God himself, come to Earth as a tiny newborn babe, with the weight of all the world’s sin upon him. To think of that little, perfect body that one day would be spent and scarred and ruined for the sake of people who defied him. TO think that he would choose to lay down his glory and power to become the humble son of a carpenter, and then refuse to take hold of that power even in order to escape a torturous and gruesome death on the Roman cross. It is just beyond comprehension… but I suppose I should let my little rhyme speak for itself.

Behold the child Christ at rest,

Whose hands and feet yet whole,

Will one day bear the mark of sin,

To save my wretched soul.

Behold his yet unblemished brow,

The promised king just born,

It’s there he’ll bear the royal crown, 

But first a crown of thorns.

This infant palm that man will pierce,

So filled with rebel pride,

That man will flog his maker, God,

And hang him there to die.

Behold the son of God who’s power,

Yet hid in swaddling cloth,

Shall reveal himself the Lord,

who heaven and nature rot.

And yet his power he will not use,

To save himself from pain,

but bow to the father’s will,

For broken sinner’s gain.

Rejoice oh darkness dwellers,

For now has come the light,

This lamb of God was slain for us,

To make our sin-stain white.

Enemies of God we were,

And slaves to evil deeds,

But christ  has one us to himself,

And set his people  free.

This infant king will grow to be,

Redeemer, friend, and guide,

And rule in us with grace and power,

Man nevermore to die. 

When Mama Is Not Enough

I was spending the afternoon at a friend’s house a couple of months ago. Her son, who was about 16 months at the time, loves books. I’d sat next to him and his mama while she read to him, but this time, he brought the book to me.

Woman reading a book to a toddler. Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

“Uh-oh.” I said, as he put the book in my hands. I wanted to read it to him, but it was in print, and I couldn’t. My friend laughed at my expression. 

“It’s okay. Just make it up. He won’t know the difference.” 

I did, with the book upside down for a while hahaha until he went and chose another book. I kept making things up, and my friend was right, he didn’t seem to mind. Still, I shuttered to think about the moment, months or years down the road, when my child would bring me a book that I couldn’t read to her. Would I react so calmly in that situation, or would I break down because I couldn’t do it for her. 

It makes me sad that I can’t read any old book to her, that I have to have specific books brailled out or in digital formats to be able to share them with her, but that’s not going to change, and in reality, it wouldn’t be any different if I were a sighted parent. Sure, I could read books to her without a problem, but I’d have other failures, distractions, difficulties as an individual that would be challenging in other ways, a detriment to her. I know without a doubt that my blindness has shaped me as a person. Would I be as good of a mom to my baby if I hadn’t been molded so? Considering I believe in a sovereign God who shapes every one of our experiences I don’t think so. He made me the way I am for a purpose, and he chose me, out of billions, to be my daughter’s mama. 

When encountering those moments, I think it is important to remember a couple of things.

1 God will use my deficiencies to shape my daughter, just as I have been molded by them and those of my parents. He is a good God, and he will redeem every one of them for his glory and good purpose.

2 It is inevitable that I will fail my daughter, and frequently, but when she feels the weight of my failures, she has a heavenly father to run to who will never fail or forsake her. Every single time I prove inadequate in some way, there is an opportunity for her to turn to the one who lacks nothing, who gives graciously of his own perfect being to each of his children in abundant measure.

And thus, what appears to me utter insufficiency will become for her wholly sufficient, not because she has all in me or in any created thing, but because she has Christ, and in him, she has everything.

The Desire to Adopt as an Adopted Child of God | Reflecting on #WorldAdoptionDay

I have an adopted sister. She was adopted by her parents too, although not my parents. She was four years old when her parents adopted her as family, and 20 when I did. It’s funny when you adopt a sister apart from your parents, because there’s no legal process, no way to make the bond official to anyone else but yourselves, but the sisterhood is still there. She witnessed me grow up from a 16 year old, hot-headed kid to a 26 year old married, possibly still somewhat hot-headed mother. I have been there as she has navigated multiple college degrees, study-abroad, the loss of a parent, and marriage. God willing, we will share decades more of this life together, and she will be no less a sister when we are in our 80’s than she is now.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve always had the desire to adopt a child. There has never been any doubt in my mind that the bond between parent and progeny is far more than biology. On this #WorldAdoptionDay, I can’t help thinking about that desire. In some ways it’s frightening to acknowledge. No matter how smooth the process, adoption always comes from a place of brokenness, and there are consequences for that. I know even from adopting an adopted sister that the trauma of loss from those early days of life can echo throughout the rest of a person’s adult years. We know from the Gospel that bringing such a child into your family is no easy task. Christ had to die on a cross to do it for us. Thus the adoptive parent must also take up their cross, and that daily, even hourly. 

And yet, the love that Christ has shown to us beckons me to love as he did, to share, as our father in heaven does, the love of a parent with one who would otherwise be orphaned. So the desire remains, and I struggle in prayer as I ask God to one day make it possible. I know that the desire for children is a good one, and we believe that God will place whatever children he has for us in our lives through whatever means he intends, whether through birth or adoption or otherwise. We know also that he will provide for those children, so as doubtful as it seems now that we, a year married with an infant in a tiny one-bedroom and a rather limited income, will ever be able to raise the funds to afford an adoption or have the sort of house we would need to pass a home study, we know that God is capable of far more than anything we would ask or think. It seems impossible that we, rebellious and rejected children, could ever be accepted into the family of a perfect and holy God, and yet through Jesus, that is exactly what we are. I believe it is possible in this case as well. Even if legal adoption is not in God’s plan for our family, I know that he will give us opportunities to lavish His love upon other unofficial family members, like my sister. For that,I am thankful, and will praise God as I continue to pray in hope. 

“Behold what manner of love the father has lavished unto us, that we should be called the sons of GOd.” (1 John 3:1)

A Sinner Lies Beside Me

I have written about forgiveness before on this blog. It’s one of those things we always want for ourselves, but not something we find easy to extend to others. This is true in even the most superficial relationships, but perhaps particularly true in our most intimate ones. Around this time last year, my husband and I were working through a conflict. We knew that we had promised to love one another, and even in absence of such a promise, we had a Christian calling to forgive others, no matter how difficult it was to do. I wrote this as I was reflecting on that calling, and praying for the Holy Spirit to soften my heart and make me gracious beyond my own ability. I wanted to share it here in case one of you is struggling to extend grace to someone in your life.. Perhaps someone has wronged you, and perhaps very gravely. You do not have to pretend that the person’s actions were justified in order to release them of any debt to you. Instead, trust in Christ, who extended you forgiveness in dying for your sins, who can empower you to love when you have no love, and who has an answer for every injustice ever done, either through His saving work on the cross, or in the work of judgement at the end of the age.

A Sinner Lies Beside Me 

A sinner lies beside me. A sinner in my womb, 

A sinner at the grocery. A sinner in the waiting room.

A sinner on the TV talking, a sinner in the uniform,

A sinner with the law book, writing, a sinner dead, a sinner born.

A sinner in the jail cell, a sinner in the court,

A sinner who is laughing, and a sinner who mourns.

A sinner in the window, a sinner on the street,

A sinner every man, woman, child that I meet.

A sinner lies beside me, a sinner in my womb,

A sinner in the mirror, He bled for me and you.

While I was yet a sinner, 

He humbled himself to die,

To save the souls of rebels, 

And them to justify.

And will I now forget it,

The grace I have received?

Deny to give it freely to,

A sinner just like me?

I must extend as he did,

The crimson love he poured,

To rescue me from trouble,

That I might be restored.

A sinner is beside me,

And to him must be given,

The blessing of forgiveness,

For I have been forgiven.

Today, all well and good. Tomorrow? Next week? Five years? Ten? Sixty? Only by God’s grace, and oh Lord, that you would grip my soul so powerfully with your gracious hand, that I might never be released from its holy power. Forgiveness is in and through your spirit. Seventy times seven, you said. Oh let it be so in my life.

Christ Identifies with Us in Pregnancy

Not far into pregnancy, I quickly discovered, as I’m sure many women do, that morning sickness is one of the great misnomers of our time. Morning sickness? You mean all day sickness? And if you’re referring to the time of day that it’s the worst, rather than the time of day that it is there (AKA nearly all the time), I would have to call it afternoon or evening sickness. The first time I threw up during my pregnancy was around two Pm. My husband noticed I was losing color, and encouraged me to lie down. He had to run out for a few things, so left me with a pot, just in case. I wasn’t expecting to do anything with the pot; so far over the last 12 weeks I only felt like throwing up, but never actually did… but only a few minutes after my husband had departed, I reached for the pot and clutched it to my chest. 

Maybe it’s called morning sickness because you throw up everything you ate in the morning, I theorized vaguely as fragments of my first meal made their rather uncivil reappearance. Why IS bringing new life into the world such a painful process, I wondered then, returning shakily to my pillow. Sin, I think, is the answer to that question, but we needn’t stop there. After all, there is an answer to sin, that is, Jesus, and he endured discomfort, pain, and humiliation to bring new life to all of God’s children. 

I am struck by the way pregnancy and birth, with all the associated difficulty and sometimes embarrassing side-effects, can point us to the cross. In John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to be saved, he must be “born again” (John 3:1-7). This is because Nicodemus, like you and I, was first born with a nature prone to hating and rebelling against God. That is, he was physically alive, but spiritually he was “dead in his transgressions” (Ephesians 2:1). 

But how, as Nicodemus quickly asks, can one be born again? How does this “second birth” take place? Jesus says that it is through Him. In order for us to be reborn, Jesus, the Son of God, became also the Son of Man. He was born into the humblest of human situations. He endured the difficulties of daily life, including being tempted in all ways as we are. Though he remained always without sin, he chose to take on the penalty of our wrongdoing and suffered death on a cross.

Christ knows, more than anyone, what it is to suffer on behalf of another. He knows what it is to endure discomfort and even agonizing, unimaginable pain in order to bring new life into the kingdom of GOd. When I remember what Christ did for me, that I might receive new life, the trials and tribulations of pregnancy not only become easier to bear, but become also an opportunity to share, if very shallowly, in the sufferings of my savior. Through my discomfort, I get the joy of bringing a new life into the world, just as through his suffering, Christ granted new birth to every believer.

It’s not the comparison itself that matters. Any potential pain in pregnancy and birth will be nothing compared to the infinite anguish born by our Lord, but only the fact that it points me to him, that in every step of this process, from headaches to nausea to labor, I can reflect on the things Christ endured to make me new. Not only that, but in the moments that I start to think “I can’t do this” (I’m sure that thought will come in labor if not before), I can throw myself upon the one who identifies in every way with my struggles, and in fact knows them far more profoundly than I. It is truly wonderful to have a God and savior who sympathizes in every way with our weaknesses.

“As the Lord Forgave You” | Reflections on God’s Justice and Our Call to forgive

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13)

I took a moment this morning to consider this verse. I thought about what it meant to forgive. I thought about the people I had had difficulty forgiving. Exhibit A. my speech teacher in college, whom we will refer to as Dr. X. I went out of my way that semester, a semester that I began with an emergency surgery and three day stay in the hospital, I went above and beyond in her class, and I received an “A/B” on all of my speeches. A/B? I had never received such a mark in my life. What did it even mean?

Person holding a red pen.
Photo by Roman Koval on Pexels.com

I requested clarification from her and she replied that she “hadn’t decided yet”. Keep in mind this was on assignments I had turned in over the course of weeks and weeks of classes. She hadn’t decided whether my assignments were worthy of an A or a B marking after that long? Why? And how could I improve without a clear understanding of where I stood grade wise?

In the end, she never gave me a proper answer, despite my repeated queries, and eventually gave me a B in the class.

The injustice of it all made me furious for years, and I had to take some time every time I thought about forgiveness to forgive her. She was just doing her best to grade her students fairly, I told myself… trying to quench my anger, Only to realize I didn’t believe that. I believed she was biased, I believe she graded me unfairly because she didn’t like the views I had expressed in speeches and didn’t like the fact that I missed three of her classes and still did well. I had plenty of evidence supporting those claims, and I stand by them. I don’t have to abandon them in order to forgive her. Our culture often seems to define forgiveness as finding a reason that someone’s behavior might be excusable, and then excusing it on that basis. But is that really forgiveness? Is that the pardon that Paul is referring to when he talks about forgiving others as Christ forgave us?

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he didn’t die for a bunch of things we did without knowing any better. We have the law. We knew what was right and wrong and we did The wrong thing over and over again anyway, and he forgave that.

I must conclude, then, that merely excusing behavior as somehow acceptable when it was not is not what is meant when we are told to forgive others. God, even in his magnificent grace, does not abandon justice in his response to wrongdoing. He does not explain away our deceit or adultery or covetousness as “understandable in our situation”. No. He is the righteous judge, who demands a price to be payed for all evil.

Wooden cross.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For the believer, this price is paid in full by the blood of Christ. We are declared innocent not because we are, but because Christ took on the sentence we deserved. This means that any evil committed against me by a fellow Christian has not gone unanswered. Like my own sin, their’s has been paid for by Jesus. A sobering thought. Can I really remain unforgiving when I realize that the same blood shed for my own evil was shed also for their’s? Equally sobering is acknowledging God’s answer to the non-believer’s sin, that is, hell. 

God’s response to evil is wholly sufficient, whether through the cross or through his eternal judgement. Thus, I need not fear recognizing my neighbor’s offense as truly wrong. As angry as I may be, reflecting on God’s provisions for perfect justice must lead me to forgiveness and even tenderness, not because what they did was okay, but because what they did has been, or will be, rightly dealt with. I cannot, and need not, add anything to God’s justice through my own retribution. Furthermore, if the offender was a non-believer, I should, at least at some level, be moved to compassion knowing that this person is facing eternal damnation. This is someone who, like me, needs the Gospel and if I, a Gospel believer, respond to them with hate and vitriol, I venture to say that they will be no more likely to turn to the one I claim as savior. 

Forgiving a professor for an unjust grade may be a small thing, and indeed it is, but God’s answer is the same for little injustices as for immeasurably grievous ones. The Lord does not ask us to excuse evil. He commands us to forgive, knowing that he will handle every evil great and small with righteous judgement. I think that is a much more satisfying model of mercy than anything our culture could offer.

Thankful for a Compelling Savior

One thing our culture hates about God is that he is uncompromising.  He demands certain behaviors of us, and condemns others, and there are consequences if we do not respond.  We see that here.  The master of the house invites several people to come in and be a part of his banquet, but each refuses, citing some excuse.  Thus, the master says that none of those who were invited and denied his invitation will taste anything of the feast he has prepared.  So uncompromising? Yes.

But he is also a God who compels.

“16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.

17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.”

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.”

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.

24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” (Luke 14:16-24)

Though some refused him, he sends out someone to compel others to attend the feast.  Someone, like Jesus himself.  Yes, God has standards, the highest ones imaginable, but God knows that we are broken, and in his great love for us he does not abandon us to our brokenness.  We are poor.  We have nothing to offer the God of the universe, and yet he does not simply leave us to suffer in our poverty.  We are blind, but we are not condemned to darkness.  We are lame, but we are not resigned to a life of immobility.  Jesus moves us through his sacrifice, which demonstrated his love for us and atoned for our sin.  He compels us through the Holy Spirit, who moves in our hearts that we might be able to hear and respond to the master’s call.

“If today you hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts.”  If we feel convicted over our sin, we should not be angry that the righteous creator God has called us out.  Instead, we should recognize that such conviction is a mercy.  It’s a call to come in and enjoy the feast of grace that God has prepared for all who are willing to partake.

When Weighty Cares Beset Your Soul — A Prayer for 2018

This is just a small bit of verse that came to me as I prayed that the Lord would use this year as he pleases.  Undoubtedly amateur in terms of poetry, but I’d thought I’d share anyway, since the sentiment is sincere, if nothing else.

 

 

When weighty cares beset your soul

Rejoice, oh heart, the Lord extol,

For in his hands each trial finds rest,

To ease the anxious, grief-burned breast.

 

And when the swords of men draw near,

Remember then his side, the spear.

He took for you the shame for sin,

And granted you new life in him.

 

And if one day the tempest rage,

Should cast you out into the waves,

Look up to see your sleeping Lord,

And know his peace means you restored.

 

For never did he like Jonah stray,

Or from his father turn away,

The righteous life we could not live,

He by grace through faith will give.

 

“Your faith,” he’ll say, “has made you well.”

So we need never taste of hell,

For though we only death deserved,

Jesus came to heal our hurt.

 

Oh let me never forget thy grace,

That cleanses me from every trace,

Of sin and every evil thing,

Which kept  me from my God and king.

 

Oh that. thy Word and thine alone

Might be for me foundation stone

And when the mighty waters come

I shall say, “Thy will be done.”