Category: jesus

Truth and Coffee

Growing up, we all made fun of my mom constantly for her habit of leaving half drunk cups of coffee all over the house.  I never understood how she could keep forgetting her cup and never quite get through it without having to reheat it.  Let’s just say the veil has lifted.

I am now the mother of 2 children under age 2 and can barely find time to feed myself, much less finish a cup of coffee before it gets cold.  I’ve found my forgotten half drunk cups all over the place from the microwave to the changing table and everywhere in between.  The other day I found myself complaining about never getting a chance to just sit down and enjoy my coffee and breakfast.  I felt an ache in my heart for my old job in full time ministry with Young Life.  I loved that job and pray that He calls me back to it when this season is over.  In that moment I felt the Lord’s gentle reminder that THIS is the season I am in right now and it won’t last long.  This season of 2 in diapers and nonstop breastfeeding and 3 hour intervals and never being alone and never having a completely clean house for more than 10 minutes – THIS is where He has me right now.  In a brief moment my baby will be a toddler and my toddler will be a big kid.  Before I know it their complete dependence on me will be gone forever and I will have all the time in the world.

I am so thankful for the reminder to be where He has placed me right now.  So today I am choosing gratitude.  I am thankful for 2 healthy children who need me constantly.  I am thankful for an easy childbirth and quick recovery.  I am thankful for a teacher husband who has only a few days left of school before summer vacation.  I am thankful for nap time.  I am thankful for this high calling to be a stay at home mama.  I am thankful for a God who loves me even when I choose to be a brat instead of a grateful child of His.

What are you thankful for today?

Travel Guest Post: Adventure in the Holy Land with Nicole of Three 31

While I’m enjoying a little maternity leave blog break, I’ve got a few awesome guest bloggers who’ll be sharing their adventures with y’all.  Today’s travel guest post is brought to you by Nicole of Three 31.  Enjoy!
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Hey BFOTD readers! My name is Nicole and I blog at Three 31 — connect with me on social media too! I am a sweet tea drinking, Jesus loving, country girl from Kentucky married to a Texan named Husband. (Well, that’s not really his name but that’s what I call him.) We live near Fort Worth on a small spread with a white horse named Blue. While I have never given birth to another human, I consider my eighth grade students (129 in all) to be my precious, annoying, and hormonal angel babies. When I’m not blogging or teaching language arts, I enjoy photography, cooking, target shooting, reading, mission and volunteer work, reality TV, and traveling. My most recent travel experience and passport stamp came from Israel where I toured the Holy Land. athens
If you have plans to visit the Holy Land, may I offer the following suggestions:

  1. lose all expectations
  2. become a dry sponge willing to soak up all the sights, sounds, and experiences
  3. wear comfortable shoes + sunscreen
  4. take your camera, extra batteries + memory cards too

In regards to expectations, it is important to remember that the Holy Land has endured battles, uproars, disagreements, wars, and power struggles for thousands of years. Modern ideals (i.e. religious law, gender roles, clothing, food, etc.) must respectfully take a backseat during your visit. I also suggest you dust off your history books and religious texts. According to tradition, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (also called the Church of the Resurrection) sits atop Golgotha (Calvary). Visitors can kneel at an elaborate altar and touch the stone believed to have held Jesus’ cross. There is also a large stone slab in the Rotunda where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial, the Anointed Stone. churchofreschurchofres2 Once the tour group left the airport in Tel Aviv, we went to the coastal city of Jaffa, the oldest port in the world. According to the Bible, Jonah set sail from Jaffa before encountering the whale (or was it a fish?), and it was in Jaffa where Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. jaffasmall Inside most temples, cathedrals, and churches were the most beautiful tile mosaics I have ever seen. Along the Via Dolorosa, I saw this incredible mosaic (about 8-feet tall and 20-feet-wide) of Jesus carrying his cross. Every tile had to have been cut and polished by hand, then very carefully arranged to create this beautiful image. I’m still in awe. mosaicsmall The hill of Mount Zion, the highest point in Old Jerusalem, is dominated by the Church of the Dormition (left photo, below). According to Christian tradition, it is the place where the Virgin Mary died. Nearby is The Upper Room, where Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and served The Last Supper before being crucified, and King David’s Tomb. The Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu (right photo, below) is a stone’s throw from The Upper Room, located on the lower east side of Mount Zion. This Roman Catholic Church takes its name from Peter’s triple rejection of Jesus. The church has been rebuilt several times, the latest construction in 1931, and further connects Peter with the golden rooster on the roof. Inside are multiple underground caves and crypts. Some believe Jesus was imprisoned here. On the north side of the church is an ancient staircase that leads to the Kidron Valley and many Christians believe Jesus followed this path down to the Garden of Gethsemane. chapelsfirstcenturystepssmallgardengethsemanesmll There were so many wonderful, magical moments on this trip. I had a blast following the footsteps of Jesus and visiting places important to his ministry. However, walking along the stone streets of Old Jerusalem put so much into context. I don’t know if it was the conglomeration of three major religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) or the sense of old world charm in a bustling metropolis, but I loved every minute of it. Luckily, my tour group spent the last day of our pilgrimage in Jerusalem. We even shared Holy Communion in the Garden of the Empty Tomb. Even though the final day focused on the Via Dolorosa, I intentionally stayed at the back of the pack (like I normally do in large group settings) to capture lifestyle shots. Anybody can Google the places I’ve seen, but I wanted photos that captured the essence of the people who live and thrive inside the ancient city’s walls. There were open-air markets and street vendors selling shawarma (meat prepared on a rotating spit), brightly colored scarves blowing in the breeze, a variety of candies and sweet treats displayed on tables, and more fresh produce than this country girl could ever imagine! It was truly a magical day, an unforgetable experience. oldjerusalem More highlights of my Holy Land trip came from experiences with water. Where there is water, I usually find a way in … literally! I
swamfloated in the Dead Sea (which was so cool and made my skin feel AMAZING!) and another day I ate Saint Peter’s fish (similar to tilapia) beside the Sea of Galilee (which is really a big lake and fresh water, not saltwater). After lunch, I snuck away from the group to dip my toes in the very chilly water. The large rocks provided perfect coverage for my secret mission. I was eventually discovered and joined the tour group on-board a cruising vessel. The skies were a perfect shade of blue, the water was calm, and the captain turned off the engines to play a soft melody of It Is Well With My Soul over the speakers. seaofgalileesmallseaofgalilee If you get the opportunity to sit atop a camel, just do it already! There were 54 adults standing and gawking, talking about how cool it would be to ride a camel, but nobody was willing to get on the furry animal until Yours Truly demonstrated it was perfectly safe. And no, Mister Camel did not spit or bite me. camelridesmall


I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe you learned a few things too. I’d love to visit Jerusalem and the Holy Land again sometime. Have you traveled to the Holy Land? The Middle East? What were your favorite spots? What other destinations are on your dream list? Someday, I want to travel to Africa and Asia. 2013
Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us, Nicole!  I long to visit the Holy Land and see all the places I’ve read about since childhood.

On Lent, Spiritual Discipline, and Rebellion

Although I’ve been a follower of Christ for 14 years, my rebellious spirit hasn’t changed.  The season of Lent is so good for me because it causes me to embrace spiritual discipline and die to myself over little, insignificant sacrifices.  As any good rebel knows, our instinct is to fight anything that goes against us having our own way, sometimes to our own detriment.  Lent is just that.  We are supposed to give up things that get in the way of our relationship with Jesus and be reminded of His sacrifice.  My very nature fights this so hard.  I’ve come to the conclusion that for me at least, Lent is less about what you give up and more about the spirit of sacrificing a bit of what you want on a daily basis to have a bit more of Jesus.  For me, Lent is not about dogma or rules or punishment.  Lent is about reminding myself of the suffering my Savior endured so that I could have the life of freedom I embrace the other 325 days of the year.

It is for this freedom that Christ has set us free.  Do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galations 5:1).  I refuse to let myself become a slave to anything, not my own wants, not religion, not anything of this world.  Lent reminds me of how selfish and sinful I really am, and makes me ever so much more grateful that Jesus died for me WHILE I am still a sinner.  Not after I cleaned myself up.  Not after I got my act together.  Right in the middle of my mess He gave His life to pay the ransom for mine.  And yours.  While I’m still sinning.  Amazing grace indeed.

Will you sacrifice anything this Lenten season?  I plan to, but I know I’ll mess up, cheat, give in, and start again, probably by the end of this week.  You probably will too, but remember this spiritual discipline is teaching us through our mistakes and helping us to grow in our faith as we struggle against our own sinful self.

Scripture and Prayer of the Week: Colossians 3:15-17

Thanks for joining me for the scripture and prayer for the week.  I try to bring a little focus to my life and my home with a specific prayer and verse every week.  You can find past verses of the week here, and other posts about following Jesus here.  

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)

How am I cultivating thankfulness in my home?  Certainly not when I show my frustration over tiny, insignificant things, or when I yell at my husband or child.  I want this verse to be true in my house, but it is sooooo far from it on some days.  Ann Voskamp has it right, thankfulness is the key to understanding grace and finding peace with God.  The problem is my own selfishness.  I don’t want to be thankful and joyful when I want to be mad and I want to be right.  Anybody?  My prayer this week will be that the Word will have the run of my house, not me.  We will be thankful, because God has blessed us beyond all reason.  We will sing with joy and through pride out the window.  Hopefully.  Pray with me.

Prayer of the week:
Father God, Have the run of my house with your Word.  Fill us with joy and thankfulness.  You have given us grace we don’t deserve, and more than anything we want our little one to grasp that.  How can he if we are selfish, yelling, frustrated parents who reflect nothing of you?  Remind me to sing to you this week.  Remind me to be consciously thankful, out loud, in front of my family.  Help me get over the need to be right and to be justified.  We want to give you plenty of room in our lives, but our own selfishness takes over.  Help me to get over myself this week.  Amen.

What are you thankful for this week?

Scripture and Prayer for the Week: John 15:4-5, 7, 10

“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:4-5,7,10)

One of my summer staff ladies from Trail West, Susannah, posted this verse on our group wall on Facebook.  It was a great reminder of what our mission in this life should be, to abide in Jesus.  He is the one who will cause us to bear fruit.  Without Him, we are dead branches produce nothing.  This weekend the Bear and I watched as Jed pruned the shrubs in front of our house.  The Bear loves watching his daddy do yard work, and Jed explained to him that the shrubs would grow much faster the more he prunes them.  It was such a picture of how our Father prunes us so that we can grow and bear fruit. 

Prayer for the week:
Father God, I long to abide with you and your Son.  Teach me what that means and how to go about it daily.  I hope to obey your commandments.  Help me to be faithful.  I strive to bear fruit for your glory.  Lord, make me fruitful. Prune and shape my life so that it can bear much fruit. Amen.   

How is God pruning and growing you right now?

Scripture and Prayer for the Week: Psalm 4:8

“I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety.” 
Psalm 4:8
I’ve struggled with insomnia off and on throughout my adult life.  So often it comes from a lack of peace and trust in God.  I lie awake fearful about something I want desperately to control, and refuse to let go of it.  This week my prayer is for peaceful rest in the Lord.  I want to hand over my worries to Him every day and every night.  I can’t control anything, and worry only makes me trust less.  If this is a struggle we share, pray with me this week, and lean on this scripture with me this week.
Prayer for the week:
Father God, I love you so much and I want so desperately to trust you completely.  Give me peace as I rest, and help me to be confident that I am resting in your arms.  Help me to trust that your plans are the best for me and for my family, and to know that you alone are my rock and the only one who can make me dwell in safety.  Amen.  

Scripture and Prayer for the Week: Matthew 6:25-27

With this new phase in life I am forced to trust.  
Trust the Lord to provide for our family.
Trust that He has us right where He wants us.
Trust that we are doing what He has asked us to do. 
All this trust is just plain SCARY.
I’m a worrier.  
About everything.  
But I don’t want to be.
I want to live a life of dangerous dependence on my Savior.
My plan is to start every week with a scripture and prayer theme for the week.  I’d love for you to join me, if you’re interested.  I need accountability.  Don’t we all?  
This week I’m meditating on this verse, to remind myself that He has me in His hands and is capable, loving, and generous, and sees me as His precious daughter.
Scripture for the Week: 
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important that clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
~ Matthew 6:25-27
Prayer for the Week: 
Father God, Help me to trust you more every day.  Remind me of your extravagant, generous love for me and my family.  Give me clarity and confirmation that we are on the right path.  Let me lay my worries at your feet and not take them up again.  Thank you for being faithful and worthy of my trust.    
Do you ever struggle with trusting God? With what?

Of Spring and New Life

You Have Redeemed My Soul 
by Don Chaffer of Waterdeep/Enter the Worship Circle
You have redeemed my soul
from the pit of emptiness
You have redeemed my soul
from death
I was a hungry child
A dried up river
I was a dried up forest
and no one could do anything for me
You put food in my body
water in my dry bed
and to my blackened branches
You brought the springtime rain
of new life
nothing is impossible for You

Love is…

Do you read Ann Voskamp?
You should.  
She has a totally unique voice and daily challenges me to bust out of my normal and be revolutionarily thankful.  Her book, “One Thousand Gifts” is phenomenal and her blog is a great read.  I read it from my inbox, but sometimes skim and miss the point.  A friend sent me today’s entry and I took the time to really read it.  The quote above stuck out to me so much that I made a little printable of it.  I think it will go on my mantle.  Feel free to print it, too.  You can copy it from above or click on the free printables link at the top of the page.    

A Nap Time Prayer

Father God,
Thank you for this sweet baby that you’ve entrusted into my care.  Help him to sleep well and wake up refreshed and rested.  Protect him as he sleeps and give me peace of mind to know he is safe.  Help me to be the mom you have designed me to be.  Give me wisdom as I raise him and help him to see you.  
In Your Son’s Name I pray,