Friday, July 31, 2015

July Blessings

July has been full of challenges, but also full of blessings as God teaches us everyday. It's nice to look back during this crazy month and see how God has given us so much that we don't deserve.

  1. Getting 4 hours of sleep
  2. Taking a nap
  3. Getting adjusted
  4. Getting the ball rolling for taking care of lead outside
  5. Going dress shopping with the girls
  6. Frozen yogurt
  7. Time to read and pray
  8. Free Chick-fil-A breakfast sandwiches
  9. Nehemiah having a good doctor appointment
  10. Time to nap
  11. A little time with Jim
  12. Gabriel greeting Nehemiah in the morning
  13. Lillian doing catechism with Nehemiah
  14. Taking J, L, R, and N to see "Inside Out"
  15. Thinking about emotions more and what mine are doing
  16. Sleeping in
  17. Panera for lunch
  18. Hanging out
  19. Watching the kids and my sisters dance
  20. Sam dancing with everybody
  21. Great sermon on prayer
  22. Remembering prayer is about relationship
  23. Restful afternoon
  24. Taking a short nap
  25. Robin bringing us dinner
  26. Watching the women's World Cup final
  27. Nehemiah doing 2 four hour stretches
  28. All of the kids napping in the afternoon
  29. Pizza and a movie
  30. Nehemiah only getting up once to eat
  31. Going to playgroup for a bit
  32. Starting Nehemiah's calendar
  33. Going to CG
  34. Talking with Jim and spending some quiet moments together
  35. Working on journals
  36. Nice and productive date night with Jim
  37. Ice cream pie
  38. Sharing my heart
  39. Hearing great news from Robin
  40. Sleeping until 9
  41. Lazy day at home
  42. Reading together
  43. Jamey reading to his siblings
  44. Gabriel sleeping in the bunk bed
  45. Nehemiah sleeping 6 hours
  46. 9 hours of sleep
  47. Meeting with Dawn
  48. Meeting Josiah
  49. Yummy sandwich
  50. Jamey getting school work done
  51. Relaxing family day at home
  52. Having Ryan over for dinner
  53. Watching "Mom's Night Out" for a double date night in
  54. Learning about God's Kingdom and what it means to pray for it to come
  55. Attempting to take family pictures
  56. Getting to sleep until 10:30
  57. Robinette's bringing us dinner
  58. Writing some blog posts
  59. Good conversation with Jim
  60. Nehemiah sleeping 7 hours
  61. Going to playgroup
  62. Good conversations with friends
  63. Fun girls night
  64. Getting more blog posts written
  65. Family outing to Krispy Kreme
  66. Groupons
  67. Sam turning 15 months
  68. Getting a few more pictures made
  69. Making it through Jim's first day back at work
  70. Everyone napping but Lillian
  71. Lillian reading all the books downstairs
  72. Sarah and Klyde coming to hang out
  73. Making it through Jim's second day back at work
  74. Encouraging words from Audrey
  75. Sara and Kelsey bringing a delicious dinner
  76. Positive answers to prayers
  77. Getting our to-do lists done
  78. Going to the library for a bit
  79. Great sermon on Radical Faith
  80. Reception for the Honay family
  81. Being around international missions people
  82. Making it through the day on little sleep
  83. Time with God
  84. God never leaving me
  85. All kids napping for 4 or more hours
  86. Book Club
  87. Jamey changing Sam's diaper
  88. Kids' playing well together
  89. Sleep until 9
  90. Really sharing my feelings with Jim
  91. The kids playing on a sprayground and enjoying it
  92. Nehemiah sleeping 8 hours
  93. Fun time at CG
  94. Making it through the day without extra hands
  95. Jamey caring for Nehemiah
  96. Wanting to be with Jim
  97. Being able to share my heart with Jim again
  98. Having a God who knows and understands me perfectly
  99. Reading with Becca
  100. Dancing
  101. Talking with Jim about irrational feelings
  102. Learning to be OK with the unknown
  103. Kids playing in the water at the park
  104. Time to talk with Ashley
  105. Meeting another co-op mom
  106. Time to work on things
  107. Good date night
  108. Talking with Jim
  109. Meeting with other women to talk about food and glorifying God
  110. Productive afternoon
  111. Relaxing evening
  112. Learning more about prayer
  113. Taking a nap
  114. House napping
  115. Reading with Jim and talking
  116. Signing up for co-op classes
  117. Sleep
  118. Really productive day
  119. Cleaning and organizing
  120. Getting coffee with Jim
  121. Just talking and laughing together again
  122. Breanne bringing us dinner
  123. Spending time with Audrey, Gemma and Jasper
  124. Getting calendar and journal done
  125. Nehemiah turning 1 month
  126. Jen bringing dinner
  127. Getting stuff ready for yard sale
  128. Sam making it through a long day away from home
  129. Julianne bringing dinner
  130. Half-priced cheesecake
  131. Jim and I growing in communication
  132. Nehemiah sleeping 7 1/2 hours
  133. Sam giving Nehemiah kisses
  134. Really encouraging visit with the Felix family
  135. Making it the majority of the day by myself
  136. Getting emails written
  137. Nehemiah sleeping 7 hours
  138. Taking 6 kids to the park solo
  139. Reading with Becca
  140. Talking to Brit
  141. Finding out she is expecting a healthy baby girl
  142. Jamey telling me I'm the best mom in the world even when I get mad

July Evaluation

Due to circumstances this past year, I'm not really changing my goals. Some will go that are not top priority, but I'm keeping the ones that fit with the overarching goal of having a God-centered life and the things I see Him leading me to right now. So thus far this is how it goes:

  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- Yes, I'm working more directed prayer into my day
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- Yes! 
  • Memorize verses with the kids - Not doing real well with this right now, a little hear and there
  • Memorize Scripture- Not much
  • Go out for a date once a week- Yes
  • Go on a night away once this yearYes we went away for our anniversary!
  • Read 3 books together this year- Have started 2 books this past week
  • Discuss plan weekly on Sunday Saturday afternoon- Doing much better with this on Saturdays and have begun making weekly schedules.
  • Spend 30 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- still need to work on this
  • Go to playgroup each Tuesday- I think we made it to all of them for at least a little while
  • Write in individual journals at least 3 times this year- Staying on top of them
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- Finally went through some of the stuff and looked at what I need to do with what I already have, nothing additional
  • Keep up with cleaning schedule- gotten off on this with adjusting to the newest one
  • Keep up with my calendar- Much improvement and continual scheduling
  • Being fully present when with my family- Getting better at this, but still struggling
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- Yes
  • Read a book a month for myself- I've made it half way through "War and Peace" and read "Very Funny, Elizabeth" with Lillian
  • Journal 5 days a week- Yes! God has really been giving me opportunity to do this in the morning
  • Write (books) 3 days a week- Did not work on this 
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing and research publishing options- No additional work on this during the month
  • Finish Rosetta Stone Russian level 1 - Have not worked on this
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- This did not happen this month
  • Blog 3 days a week- Between both blogs this happened
  • Go to water aerobics once a week- Not able to do this post-partum
  • Maintain weight until birthDid well with this, still gained some but far better than other pregnancies
  • Lose weight after giving birth- Have started this, but it's slow
June 28th we welcomed Nehemiah into our family, which was a joyous time. July has been adjusting to having a new family member. When in transition, many of these things go to the wayside temporarily. It has been a challenging month in many ways, but has also helped us in growing as a family. God is teaching us so much as we transition to a family of 8. I'm still working to keep up Childbirth Conversations  and seeking what else God would have me do in the months to come. Mostly we are seeking what God wants our family to look like and how He wants us to spend our time and resources. God has been so good to us as we work through things. We still have so many questions, but daily God is helping us to overcome and figure things out.

What was July like for you?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Praying With Jesus

This week Sojourn completed their sermon series on the Lord's Prayer, looking at the passage as a whole, Matthew 6:5-15

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners [a]so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day [b]our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [c]evil. [d][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
14 For if you forgive [e]others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive [f]others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

What is the goal of the Christian Life?
A life with God restored by Jesus
Being made fully alive
Remade into the image of Jesus
A transformed life right here, right now

The Orientation of Prayer
God and His Kingdom is where our prayers are to be oriented. Before we start asking for things, lets praise God and orient our prayers towards Him. Prayer is about orienting ourselves with God and the life we are doing together.
Let's get away from performed righteousness and establish a relationship and intimacy with God. We are being invited to live in another world, a world with God in His Kingdom.
Orienting our prayer towards God and His Kingdom confronts the language of choice. We subordinate our will to God's will who is over all things. This is asking for His Kingdom to come.

The Ordinariness of Prayer
We are to ask for what we need and seek forgiveness. These are everyday things and makes prayer part of the everyday life we live. Asking for daily bread reveals a heart of one who has seen provision. We are confident that God will give us what we need for today. We can trust God!
We live in a world of abundance that is given by God who loves us and takes care of us.

The Outcome of Prayer
We are bearing witness to a King and a Kingdom. In prayer we are making a connection between a the Kingdom of God and the ordinariness of life. God has given us life and His Kingdom comes in our everyday life.

God gives us a life worth living.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Radical Faith

This Sunday Sojourn had Brother Bob Russell, former lead pastor at Southeast Christian Church, come and preach on a radical faith. It was excellent and reminded me of how I really want to live. I want to have a radical faith!

We need radical Christians who die to themselves. Our nation is becoming hostile toward Biblical truths. If we are going to be effective in passing on our faith to others and the next generation we need a radical faith that stands out in the world. When we capture the radical truths from Scripture, we will then be able to stand when the truths of God are challenged.

Luke 9:23-26

23 And He was saying to them all, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his [a]life will lose it, but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

A Radical Faith Follows Jesus Exclusively
The Truth of Scripture is that Jesus is the Only God, not just one of many gods. Acts 4:12
We are exclusive because we say that it is God's way, not our way
Our faith is inclusive, though, because no one is barred. Anyone can become a follower of Jesus.
Only Jesus claimed to be God and proved it by His miracles, His death for our sins and His rising from the dead. Jesus is who He says He is!

A Radical Faith Demands Self Denial
This is more than a mental ascent. It is how we act.

We Deny Carnal Desires Romans 13:14
We all have two natures in us. We are made in the image of God and desire to be like God; this is the Spirit. But we are polluted by our sinful nature; this is the flesh. The flesh and the Spirit are always at war within us.
Galatians 5, Are we willing to lose our life for Christ?
If you do what you want all of the time you will hurt many people including yourself
"If you act the way you wish you felt, you will eventually feel the way you act." William James

We Deny Out Intellectual Pride
1 Corinthians 1:20-21
We need to humbly accept the truths of God like a little child.
In our pride we have no room for God. The fool says in his heart there is no God.
If we believe the truths of God we will be rejected by the intellectual community.

We Deny Worldly Ambitions
Luke 9:25
The world measures success by possessions, wealth, achievement, beauty, etc.
This is not our aim. We find our satisfaction in God, in His peace, joy, and love.
He is our treasure. Where our treasure is, that is where our heart is.

Where is your heart?

Some books to check out on this topic are, Radical by David Platt, Crazy Love by Frances Chan and Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The 5 Year Plan is Up...

...And we are still in Louisville. 

It's been said numerous times that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. I don't even know who gets the original credit for this because it's such a well known statement. How much I feel this today.

Five years ago we packed up our small family of four and headed to Louisville with our five year plan in mind. Our plan was to come here, for Jim to finish seminary, maybe have a couple more kids, and be on the international mission field in Moldova by this year.

Well, we are still in Louisville, Jim is not finished with seminary yet (he has 6 classes left), we have had 4 more children, and we are not actively headed to Moldova. We still plan to go overseas, but currently, God's specific plan for us in this area is unclear.

What is clear is that God's plan for us is to make us individuals and a family that seek His face, seek to be more like Jesus, and spread His Name to anyone and everyone so that God alone will be worshiped and adored.

The past five years have not been at all what we thought. They have been challenging. They have been full of life, heartache, learning and growing. I, personally, have learned so much about what it means to love as Jesus loves, to forgive as God forgives us, and sacrifice as Jesus sacrificed. I have learned more about God's heart for His people and just how deep and wide true love goes.

Our family size has doubled from four to eight! Just two and a half weeks ago, we welcomed our newest addition, Nehemiah. We have been so blessed by God in spite of ourselves. When I look at our children I am reminded of God's love for us and how much I do not deserve to be blessed because of my sinfulness, and yet God continues to bless us anyway.

We started out in Louisville in a three bedroom apartment, with the intention of staying there until we left Louisville. Two years later, God blessed us with a four bedroom house in Germantown near Sojourn to be part of the area a local church is reaching. It has been an adventure and we are still learning and growing in reaching our neighborhood for God.

Three years ago, my sister, Becca, moved up here to go to school, help out and learn. It has been fun and difficult learning in this relationship and watching her grow in her relationship with God as well as growing together not only has biological sisters, but Sisters in Jesus.

We are continuing to learn and grow as we seek what God would have for our family. This past year in particular has been challenging as God has brought sin to light and taught all of us more of His design for family and what that means for us. We know there is still much more to learn before we head overseas and don't know if it's a year away or another five. But we know that God will not send us on, until He is ready for us to move on to another place.

For now we are still here, exactly where God wants us, whether the day is good or bad, going smoothly or is the hardest day we have faced yet. God is with us and growing us right where He wants us.

So here's to another year in Louisville and what God will bring with it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Your Kingdom Come

The second sermon in our series on prayer was preached by Pastor Mike Cosper on God's Kingdom.

Matthew 6:9-13

Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day [a]our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [b]evil.

What is a Kingdom?
A kingdom is a range of effective will or the realm of authority.
We all have a kingdom and each of our kingdoms exist in and/or under another kingdom. My kingdom has limits. In our kingdom we experience resistance. (If you are a parent, you are quite familiar with this.) We have authority and are under authority. This is the nature of kingdoms.

The Kingdom of God is where what God wants done gets done
Creation displayed this perfectly. When God created the world everything worked together under His perfect dominion. Then sin enters the picture in Genesis 3. In verses 17-19 we see a new kind of resistance that comes from sin. Life is now frustrating. We were put over creation and now creation resists our dominion.
Satan has unleashed the kingdom of darkness and death on the world. Death has reigned since Adam (Romans 5). We pray "Your Kingdom come" from a place of oppression.

We see the Kingdom of God best displayed in the life of Jesus.
Jesus hangs out with sinners and the oppressed. The life and ministry of Jesus is a direct assault on the power of death. This is seen throughout Scripture. Two examples in Mark are from Jesus casting out the Legion of demons and raising a little girl from the dead. Wherever Jesus goes, the kingdom of darkness is being rolled back.

We need to seek life in the Kingdom of God Matthew 13:44
The Kingdom of God is a mystery to the world and it looks foolish to those outside of it. (Colossians 3:3)
Intimacy with God is cultivated in hiddenness. Seek your Father. We are not to do this on display for everyone to see. We live in a culture where everything is on display. Let's seek to hide ourselves in Christ for our benefit!

Let's be compelled by the beauty of God's Kingdom. 
Are we willing to sacrifice all to gain the Kingdom?
In our culture we become an outcast by saying something about what others do. Our culture has put so much value on authenticity and being your authentic self. This is our cultures ultimate moral value. We are primed to think this way; "What matters is what I want."
Are we prepared to follow God even if He disgraces us in the face of our culture? Are we willing to give up our desires to follow God's ways?
If we never disagree with our God, we might be worshiping an idealized version of ourselves.

To help seek the Kingdom of God there are practical things we can do.
Gather with the church
Open the Bible and read a chapter from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
Ask God to see His Kingdom
Pray the Lord's Prayer

God does not demand anything of us that He did not demand of Himself
Jesus obeyed perfectly and drank the cup of wrath so that we can drink salvation

How are you seeking God's Kingdom in your life?
What do you need to give up?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Our Father In Heaven, Hallowed Be Your Name

Sojourn started a 4 week study on the Lord's Prayer last Sunday and the first two sermons have been amazing. I'm a week behind on the first, but must share. The Passage for each week is found in the Lord's prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13:

Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day [a]our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [b]evil."

Jesus is giving us an example of how we are to pray, not specifically what we are to pray. Before this passage, Jesus gives 2 warnings about prayer.
1. Do not make a public spectacle of prayer
2. Don't pray to just babble to God, or treat prayer as some magical incantation to try and manipulate God

The Foundation of Prayer
Adoption is the foundation of prayer. God is our Father and prayer is how we get to know Him better, developing intimacy with our Father. When Jesus said this back then, it was shocking to His audience that He was inviting them to call God Father, and He extends that invitation to us today.

Our confidence in prayer and desire to pray is based on adoption, not performance. God desires for us to relate to Him the way our kids relate to us. We can go to Him with anything because He is our Father. He knows what we need before we say it, so we are free to just talk to God. Have a conversation with Him. Don't try to bargain with God.

Prayer is all about relationship. We need to be poor in spirit to recognize how much we need God.
Prayerlessness points to our sinful need/delusion of being in control. When we pray we are acknowledging we are not in control and that we need God.

Priority in Prayer
Our primary purpose in prayer is adoring God. "Hallowed by Your Name" reminds us that we are to adore and revere God above all people and things. God is not just our number 1 priority, He is to be far above all of our priorities. We are to love and adore God so much that our love for all other things seems like hatred.
When we so desire things outside of God, our view of the world is skewed because our perspective and those things become hallowed instead of God. God is over all things and He alone is to be hallowed.

Which of these principles do you struggle with?

Let's grow in prayer together!