Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Look to Jesus & let His sweetness change you

At the end of each day, I find myself thinking about the day and how it went; how I was as a mother. Was I kind and gentle? Did I exude the love of Jesus to my kids, my husband? How was I in the secret places that no one sees but God?

I tend to be overly introspective when it comes to my spiritual walk, but I'd rather be overly than not introspective at all. 

Truthfully, most days I am disappointed in my ability to shepherd the kids, love my husband well, and be a good steward of my time in the secret places. I struggle with mean-spiritedness and lack of self-control at times and I absolutely hate it.  I often can relate to this Psalm: 

“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭19:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/psa.19.12.nlt

Why do I share this with you? I share because this blog is mainly about sharing the gospel. The gospel invites messy people, people that are sick and need a doctor. And my life is a perfect picture of the gospel. My struggle with my flesh, daily. Yuck. I swear... the further along I get in my walk with Jesus, the stinkier my sin gets to my nose. I see it better, clearer, and it's so ugly. I hate it. I want it gone. 

I told Kalen tonight "I hate my flesh, I just want it gone. I want to be sweet all the time." And he graciously encouraged me that he sees me growing and he believes in me. 

The thought hit me after I shared that statement with Kalen; "this is part of the gospel Lindsey!" God never promises the stink or the struggle with sin to be taken away from my earthly body. Though Jesus paid for my sin on the cross, the Bible is actually very clear that sin still plays a role in my mortal body. That there is a struggle. There will always be a struggle until Heaven. Paul, the great apostle says: 

 “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature... I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:18, 21-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/rom.7.18,21-25.nlt

Then it hit me again, Jesus died to take on sin Himself. Let's get this straight: There is ultimate victory over sin in a believers life, but that doesn't mean we don't struggle with sin anymore after we get saved. When Jesus died, resurrected and sent His Holy Spirit, there suddenly became a struggle with sin in our beings as believers. Before Jesus, we didn't know the power of sin or how it affects us. Because of His grace in our lives we suddenly begin to realize the sickness of sin. This is part of sanctification.  

He died for me, for us, so that sin WOULDN'T be comfortable for us anymore. He paid for our sin so that we couldn't sit in it and find peace in it anymore. The sin that kills and destroys, Jesus paid for so that by the Holy Spirit, we would struggle AGAINST it! 

So, the desire for my sin to be gone is definitely a holy one, but I still live in my earthly body where sin abides, so therefore the fight is going to be there whether I like it or not. 

Coming to this realization can be freeing. In a sense  embracing the battle is the first step. I don't think I really want to come to terms with battling sin in my mortal body for the rest of my days on earth. I want to be free from this sickness so badly. I don't want to fight. I want it to be easy. But... it's not going to be. And I think I'm finally starting to get it. It's starting to sink in. 

A sweet truth that has been coming to my mind lately is this: 

                        "Look to Jesus"

It's been a theme for my quiet times the last few weeks. And it's like little bits and pieces of what God is revealing to me is coming together like a puzzle. 

Yes the struggle is real, but we have a Redeemer, a Savior. The fight has been won, so we need only to look to Jesus. As I've been meditating on this, another thought came to me as I was running the other day. 

 
This thought has been marinating in my brain for days. 

As a Christian, how do we look to Jesus and let His sweetness change us? Truthfully as Christians it can be  easy to find ways to try and clean the "outside of the cup" (cleaning up our outside appearance/ actions but still harboring ugliness in our hearts like the Pharisees), only a few days later to see the ugly sin pop up again. I'm at this place in my life where I'm tired of trying to manufacture The fruit of the Spirit. I'm tired of trying to make myself be Christ-like by my own strength. Doesn't it get tiring? Does anyone know what I'm talking about? If salvation itself is a
Miracle and supernatural, then growing fruits of the Spirit will also come by supernatural means of His grace. I want His sweetness to just flow from my heart like living water. 

But how do we look to Jesus?... I believe it simply begins by turning our hearts in loving faith towards Him. We rest, we trust in Him. Then as we look, We obey Him in any areas He is leading our hearts. We may sense we've been walking in self-reliance and need to repent. We own our sin. We call it what it is and look at it at face value. We lay it at the cross. We don't blame our sin on others. We take responsibility and ask forgiveness. We make amends by the Cross of Christ and the example He set for us. We beg Jesus for purity of heart and motives. We pray Psalm 139 "create in me a clean heart Oh God!" We spend time with Him seeking Him before the world, we joyfully obey Him because we love Him. We smother ourselves in His Word... we take 10 looks to Christ for every look we take at ourselves. Essentially... we don't look to ourselves, our abilities, our strength to save us or to help us be holy. We only have to Look to Jesus by faith. And by looking upon Him, we behold His glory and are changed. His sweetness changes us. As God's glory made Moses' face shine (Exodus 34) on the mountain, our faces and hearts shine Jesus to all around when we spend time with Him, and offer ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice. 

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:6-14, 18‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/rom.6.6-14,18.esv


If you are like me and weary yourself by looking to self for security in who are in Christ - rest assured there is nothing in you that can save you. Only Christ and Him alone. You and I, we still struggle with sin. We will never be perfect on this earth. But there is hope in Jesus that our hearts and lives WILL become sweeter as we grow in Him, as we look to Him, as we behold Him in our earthly vessels. We must only continually look to Jesus and consider ourselves dead to sin even though we still feel sins LOUD tug on our hearts. This is my hope.... Looking to Jesus and letting His sweetness change me❤️️💝. 


I will end with a song God brought on my pandora last week... enjoy and God bless! 

Come Ye Souls by Sin Afflicted 
Indelible Grace VII



Lyrics are so rich: 
 

 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Journey is the Reward

Today me and the kiddies went walking on The Waterway.
 

This is one of our favorite places to go on Wednesdays after we drop dad off at work. I enjoy it because of the beautiful scenery, L likes it because there are ducks, and at the end of the walk we get Starbucks and she gets a treat :). 


Picture from sometime in October^ me and L :) 

Today was our first walk on The Waterway with little M in tow. L and I had made it a habit to go to The Waterway every week, but once M came back, there was some much needed adjustment time for all of us so we didn't venture out much (by myself at least!). But today, we did it! I'm enjoying watching God stretch my heart and my ability to be a mommy to these precious ones! He's growing me, and I'm thankful. 
 
Today it was super windy, so I found myself holding on tight to these two as literally the wind may just have knocked them over! Lol. At first, L was scared of the wind, then I told her God is just giving us a breeze, and she started to enjoy it more! 
 
They brighten up my life. 

As we were walking, I saw this quote engraved on an overpass. I know I've seen it before, but it hit me with a fresh perspective as I glanced at it today. It said 

"The Journey is the Reward" - ancient proverb. 

This journey with these two has been a crazy, hard, beautiful one. At times, I didn't like the journey, and still don't because it's still going on. I am humbled and baffled that I have no "control" (like I ever did anyways?) of the foster care process, or to know if these children will ever truly share our last name. All I know is that God has called me to give 100 percent of myself to them while I have them in my care. 

The journey though, you see, is of infinite importance to God. I believe that's what He tenderly spoke to me today as I read that quote. In the journey itself do we gain those eternal awards/treasures, not in the destination... but in the journey. 

In our world, it really is engrained in our brains to always be pursuing some sort of "arrival" state. When we "arrive" to certain points in life; graduation, marriage, overcoming a certain sin or struggle, the dream job, the dream house, the dream family, the adoption... etc. we have this sense that in that place of "arrival" we will finally be at peace and rest. So we're motivated every day by a sense of arriving at some point. But we all know, that rest/ peace/ happiness NEVER happens. There is ALWAYS another hurdle to cross, always another "point" to reach. It's never enough, because we aren't meant to find our arrival here in this world, but the next! We can only find that rest in Christ, our Heavenly Lord, day in and day out. 

So, this is my journey. These babies, are part of our (Kalen and I's) journey. And I wouldn't trade the hard or unpredictable to get them out of our journey. Loving these babes here now by the grace of Christ Jesus is the part of the reward. Adoption isn't necessarily the reward (even though our hearts are so knit together and we would LOVE that outcome!) 

The JOURNEY is the REWARD
❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️



With all that said, please pray for our little family. Though God brought great encouragement to my heart today, it is still very heavy for both of my babes situations. 

For L: please pray because we found out there was an appeal around 60 days (after the goodbye visit). We were initially told that there was only a 30 day appeal process, but apparently the attorney said it's actually 90 days. So, now with an appeal in process, the attorney said its def. going to take longer to adopt L (around 6 months). And with the appeal there is a small chance of adoption not happening. Also, the unknown fathers attorney has called for a RETRIAL. Which may actually happen. It's really unbelievable, because there is no evidence for the unknown father.  Pray for God's perfect will, swift and perfect justice to prevail for L please! We are weary. Thank you. 

For M: it is definitely headed toward termination of mom's rights. We don't know much as to why, but we were asked if we were willing to adopt him, and Of course we said yes! But now mom is looking for other placements for him, which there is a home study right now that's being processed for the paternal grandma, which we are told is likely to be approved. 
We want God's perfect will for M. We love him deeply. But know and trust God to be the Judge in this situation. We also know prayer is the real work so we ask for your continued prayers for little M - Gods swift and perfect justice to prevail. Trial for his case is Feb. 15th. 

 

You can add Kalen and I's hearts (to be at rest in Jesus) in your prayers as well, please! Thank you! 


Leaning again on Proverbs 3:5-6, and the God who never fails, 
Lindsey 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

When your holidays aren't as magical as you'd hope...

The holidays in America are so dreamy! I think of the movie Miracle on 34th street; the lights, the joy, the giving and receiving of gifts, all the fun activities, family time, company parties, yummy food, friends getting together, ugly sweater parties, the sentimental music, the shopping, the smells, the flawless/happy perfect family photos... and most of us are able to enjoy all these things. They are fun and help us create sweet memories.  But what if, due to some circumstances, part of the fun of Christmas is taken away and you're to look at Christmas at face value, without all the hype. Without all we have added to it?

This holiday season due to sickness, I was in a sense, forced to do just that in a small way. Dec. 6th, I caught pink eye. The type of pink eye you see on those horrifying google pictures. The achy-oozy-puffy-bright red- someone-is-scratching-your-eye pink eye. The pink eye that people stop and ask if you're okay, pink eye. I went to the minute clinic dec. 7th, got antibiotic drops, and in the next few days my pink eye worsened. All the while trying to take care of two precious babes. My pink eye continued to worsen, then moved to the other eye, around the same time, my husband gets the flu and is knocked out in bed for 6 straight days. I go to a different doctor and get eye drops, find out they don't work either, so we're moving into week 2 with no relief of pink eye. For a social person like me, this is torture. At this point we had missed 3 Christmas parties. This was hard for me. I had to face the fact that if I believe Jesus is the reason for the season, then when I miss all the parties and all the things that CAN make Christmas sentimental, I should be just fine because it's not about all that stuff. It really is about HIM! 

But the problem was... I saw in my
heart that I find a lot of joy in the stuff/parties/fluff! Not only was I learning some hard lessons about being a mommy and being sick at the same time, I was also learning how much of my heart was in the things that I was missing out on. Also, we have M and L this season again (such a gift!), and so we were planning on doing professional Christmas photos (you know, like everyone does!), but every time we scheduled the photos, I had to cancel due to sickness (3 times to be exact). So needless to say, I didn't get my professional family photos that I was dreaming about. I had to face Christmas at face value without all the stuff/fluff/fun and parties! 

Don't get me wrong, I don't think all the fun is wrong at all. Hello, I love the parties and the get-togethers. It's sweet when the parties are centered around Jesus and the community that honors and worships Him. But when it becomes about all the parties and all the stuff then I do think it can become idolatrous and dangerous. Having to face my true hearts stance this season was tough! It's easy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is another story. Something I have learned with Jesus is that He is always sanctifying me from talking the talk to walking the walk.

The beautiful thing is I found so so so much comfort in God's word and His people throughout those first 3 weeks in December of sickness. I was reminded through the Word that Jesus was born in stable. In the cold. There wasn't room for him at the comfortable Inn. I mean can you imagine? In this day, some mother would probably get CPS called on her if she gave birth to a child outside in a stable. That is not comfortable or fancy or completely sanitary place, yet Jesus (our Lord and King and Savior) was born there. Thinking through this humbled me and my view of Christmas. I had to ask myself, am I going to let this (missing adult parties with babysitters and sickness and no professional photos) ruin my Christmas? Let it ruin my worship of this awesome season to glory in Him? And of course there was nothing in me that could possibly say yes... I had to let it go, humble myself before the cross. I had to go back to ground zero. To the cross... the stable. Jesus came to die. For us. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. Not all the hype. Jesus, the humble One, who came down from Heaven and left all the glories to save us. This is what it's about. I then, can surely lay down my "earthly" view of Christmas for His gloriously humble one. 

Thankfully around Dec. 20th, my eye started healing a bit, enough for me to comfortably go out. I was so happy to finally get out with my babies and husband. We had some baking fun at Nana's house... it was a blast! 

 

 

 


Then we enjoyed Christmas with my parents... and my mom got a photo of all 4 us that looks like a professional photo but it was taken on my iPhone!😂 (Hey! God is so sweet though- He gave me the desire of my heart to have a sweet family photo. It ended up just being by His means, not mine!) 



 

We went to the Christmas Eve Eve service at church! 
 
Our Christmas Day was pretty special too, just being with the kids and enjoying family. I am thankful that God allowed us to be well enough to enjoy Christmas day together!
 
 
 
Happy Birthday Jesus!

Right now as I type - Jan. 5th, my eyes are still not completely healed yet. I will be going to the optometrist tomorrow; it seems to be a mixture of bacteria and allergies, but I'm not sure. Thankfully, God in His mercies allowed me to partake in the true sweetness of Christmas with my family after it was all said and done. I have lessons though that I won't forget, hopefully! I also know of families who had loved ones in the hospital during Christmas, and many people that the Christmas season brings forth feelings of sorrow and reminders of losses. It's so good to have a humble view of Christmas. A Christ-like one. A stable-type one, in order that we can make sure and give people the right view of Christmas!

To anyone out there who had a hard Christmas, or the holidays didn't go as planned, be encouraged; Jesus is familiar with suffering. He's familiar with uncomfortableness. He's familiar with the lowly and the downtrodden. He's in the hospital with the sick, He's comforting the poor and feeding the hungry, He's clothing the naked. He's near during the hard times of the holiday season and into the new year as well! When hard times come, it's an opportunity to LEAN into God and His Word find reassurance there! He is FAITHFUL! And earth is not our home! Heaven is our home! What great news!

Finding hope, strength and joy in Him, 
Lindsey