August 18, 2014

Celebrating and Reconnecting

This weekend I spent a wonderful day in Atlanta with dear friends- first connecting with someone I had not seen in a long time, then celebrating a new baby girl entering into the world!

I also connected with two friends on the phone during the travel time, even though I am not a phone-talker.

A pleasant reminder to me that friendships are so important, and as hard as it is to connect and re-connect, it's what we were made for.

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”  
Helen Keller


August 12, 2014

Restoring Lost Years

I try not to re-post articles on my blog, but this one left me really touched and I thought it might encourage you as it encouraged me.



Money can be restored. Property can be restored—broken-down cars, stripped painting, old houses. Relationships can be restored. But one thing that can never be restored is time. Time flies and it does not return. Years pass and we never get them back.

Yet God promises the impossible: “I will restore the years that the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). The immediate meaning of this promise is clear. God’s people had suffered the complete destruction of their entire harvest through swarms of locusts that marched like an insect army through the fields, destroying the crops, multiplying their number as they went.

For four consecutive years, the harvest was completely wiped out. God’s people were brought to their knees in more ways than one. But “the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.” God said, “Behold I am sending to you grain, wine and oil, and you will be satisfied (Joel 2:18-19).

In the coming years, God said, their fields would yield an abundance that would make up for what had been lost: “The threshing floor shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. . . . You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied” (Joel 2:24, 26).

This wonderful promise for those people meant that years of abundant harvests would follow the years of desolation brought about by the locusts. 

But God has also put this promise in the Bible for us today. 

Lost Years of Our Lives

What do “lost years” look like for us? Lost years (or locust years) are years that you can’t get back, and they come in many varieties.

Lost years are fruitless years. A lot of hard work was done in the years the locusts had eaten. After everything was destroyed, the people must have thought, All this work and what do I have to show for it? Some of you know this pain in the world of business—a failed venture, a bad investment, a misguided policy, and all the effort that you put in day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year led only to massive disappointment. You think, What has come of all my time and all my effort? 

Lost years are painful years. I’m thinking of those who have lost a loved one. You had plans for the future, but now you fear the coming years may be empty. I’m thinking also of those who live with illness in the body or the mind. You assumed that you would always be able to do what you used to do. You have to find a way to live with the disappointment that you cannot.

Lost years are selfish years. Here’s a story that’s been repeated thousands of times. There’s a person (let’s call him Jim) who made a commitment to Christ, but it didn’t run deep. Faith in Jesus was a slice of the big pie of his busy life, filled with all the things that Jim wanted to pursue. Then one day, God gets hold of Jim. He is spiritually awakened. He says to himself, What in the world have I been doing? There’s no substance in my life. I really want it to count for Christ. I want to live in the power of the Spirit. I want to make a difference in the world, but the locusts have eaten half my life! I’ve wasted my years on myself.

Lost years are loveless years. A division comes to a family, alienating loved ones. Children grow up, and those years cannot be recovered. A marriage quietly endures in which love has been burning low for many years. You see a couple who are really in love, and you say, “I wish I could be loved like that.” Or you have not yet met the person you would like to meet. It feels like the years are moving on. You can never get them back. The locusts have eaten them.

Lost years are rebellious years. Perhaps you grew up with many blessings, but in your heart you wanted to rebel. You didn’t fully understand this urge, but you gave yourself to it. Instead of bringing you pleasure, rebellion brought you pain. Now you look back on those years with regret, the years that the locusts have eaten.

Lost years are misdirected years. The path you chose in your career or at college was a dead end. You just didn’t fit. Often in your mind, and sometimes in your conversation, you say, “How did I end up here? If only. . . . If only I had made that move. . . . If only I had taken that opportunity. . . . If only I had chosen a different path.” But the moment has passed. It’s gone. You can’t go back to it. You’re left with locust years.

Lost years are Christ-less years. All Christ-less years are locust years. This point is worth thinking about if you have not yet made a commitment to Christ. Ask anyone who came to faith in Christ later in life, and they will tell you that they wish they’d come to Christ sooner than they did: “How much foolishness I would have avoided. How much more good might have been done through my life.” 

How God Restores Lost Years

Take heart! There is hope, because God can restore your lost, locust years. He does so in three ways.

God can restore lost years by deepening your communion with Christ. “You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God” (Joel 2:27). These people, who have endured so much, enjoy a communion with the Lord that is far greater than anything they had ever known before in their religious lives. Christ can restore lost years by deepening your fellowship with him.
Why not ask him for this? Tell him, “Lord, I have spent too many years without you, too many years at a distance from you. Fill my heart with love and gratitude for Christ. Let the loss of these years make my love for Christ greater than it would ever have been. Restore to me the years the locusts have eaten. “

God can restore lost years by multiplying your fruitfulness. The harvests for these people had been wiped out for four years, but God restored the years that the locusts had eaten by giving bumper harvests. 

This provision makes me think about the parable where Jesus spoke about a harvest that could be 30-, 60-, or 100-fold. There’s a huge difference between these three harvests. Three years at 100-fold is as much fruit as a decade at 30-fold.

Why not ask him for this? “Lord, the locusts have eaten too many years of our lives. You have called us as your disciples to bear fruit that will last. Too many fruitless years have passed. Now Lord, we ask of you, give us some years now in which more lasting fruit will be born than in all of our years of small harvests.”

God can restore lost years by bringing long-term gain from short-term loss. The effect of these great trials in your life will be that “the tested genuineness of your faith . . . may result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). The praise, glory, and honor go to Christ because his power guarded you and kept you through the hardest years of your life.
Thinking about “years that the locust has eaten,” years that have been taken, I think of something Isaiah said about our Lord Jesus: “He was cut off out of the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8).
Here was the Lord Jesus in the prime of life. He was three years into his ministry at 33 years old. You would think that a man launching a new enterprise at the age of 33 has everything in front of him. But Isaiah says, “He was cut off.” He was cut off because he came under the judgment of God, not for his own sins—because he had none—but for ours.

Our sins, our grief, our sorrows, were laid on him. Our judgment fell on him. Our locusts swarmed all over him. The life of God’s tender shoot was “cut off.” Then, on the third day, the Son of God rose in the power of an eternal life. He offers himself to you, and he says what no one else can ever say: “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.”

Source: Colin Smith, The Gospel Coalition

August 9, 2014

Praying for the persecuted Christians in Iraq, practically

My heart has always been burdened for the persecuted church. Many people believe that Christians are not or rarely persecuted, however they are in truth the most persecuted religion in the world.

Here are some facts that I've posted before:

Did you know that over 7 countries impose death as a penalty for converting to Christianity? That it is illegal to own a bible in 52 countries? That owning a bible alone qualifies you for death in Iran? That Chinese believers are regularly tortured and imprisoned for years for worshipping in their own homes? That China alone is seeing 30,000-40,000 new believers each day and without access to bibles even pastors don't have the Word of God? That discovered Christians in North Korea, as well as three generations of their families, are sent to death camps?

The situation is Mosul, Iraq is heartbreaking and consistent with genocide.

Atrocities like this often leave us, Christians in America, feeling helpless. Yet, intercessory prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can combat the destruction of lives happening in places like Iraq, right?

Scripture says:

"Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain and the earth produced crops. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
(James 5)

But often is the case that Christians, including myself, don't know HOW to pray for the persecuted church; we feel lost and the words don't come. Here is a practical and biblical guide I found that can help our prayers be more guided and effective. "Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body."  (Hebrews 13:3)

  1. For their physical protection and deliverance.
Matthew 26:39 “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

 Acts 12:5 “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

Philippians 1“For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance (from jail) through your prayers.”

Philemon 22 “I hope that through your prayers I shall be given to you (from jail)”

Romans 15:30-31 “Now I urge you, brethren… to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea”.

God predicted persecution:
Acts 20: 23-24 “the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course”

And the suffering came:
Acts 21: 30-31 “And all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together; and taking hold of Paul, they dragged him out of the temple; and… were seeking to kill him.”

  1. That God would give them the right words and that they would fearlessly make Christ known.
Here Paul tells how to pray for him when he was suffering for Christ in jail—notice his prayer was not for release.

Ephesians 6:19-20 “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

Colossians 4:2-4 “Devote yourselves to prayer… praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”

  1. That they will see God's grace as sufficient and God's power perfected in their weakness.
                          2 Corinthians 12:9-10

  1. That they would love Christ's appearing all the more
“2 Timothy 4:5-8 I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Hebrews 11:5 “…others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection”.

  1. That they will rejoice in sharing the sufferings of Jesus so that they will rejoice even more when Christ is revealed
Hebrews 10:34 “…accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.”

Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

1 Peter 4:13 "but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”

  1. That they will endure
 Hebrews 10:36 “For you have need of endurance.”

  1. That they will choose ill-treatment and the reproach of Christ, not pleasures of sin
Hebrews 11:24-26 Moses… (chose) rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures for Egypt.”

  1. That they will arm themselves with this purpose: to suffer so as to eradicate sin
1 Peter 4:1 “arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in flesh has ceased from sin.”

Hebrews 5:8  “Although He was  Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”

  1. That they will love Christ far more than life itself
 Revelation 10 “they overcame (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”

 Philippians 1:21“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Acts 20:24 I (Paul) do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course.”

  1. That they will love their enemies
Luke 6:27-31 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

  1. That they not enter into temptation—an easy possibility under the stress of persecution
                         Luke 22:39-40 - Jesus in the garden)

  1. That they will rejoice that they are considered worthy to suffer for HIS name
Acts 5:41“So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

  1. That they will remember they were made for such persecution.
Acts 14:22 “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.”

 Philippians 1:29 “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

  1. That they will live the joy of the Lord before their persecutors
Acts 16:255 “But about midnight Paul and Silas (in jail) were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”

Philippians 1:28 “…in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.”

  1. That they will remember their unbelievable future glory
Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

  1. That they would learn to more completely trust in God
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.”

  1. That they would rejoice that they bear in their bodies the “brand marks of Christ”
Galatians 6:17 “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.”

  1. That they would rejoice in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's sufferings
Colossians 1:24  “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ' afflictions.”

Note: Our sufferings do not add to the atoning worth of Jesus' sufferings. Rather, His sufferings are not known to the world, and so we suffer to bring that news to those His sufferings were meant to save.

Source. This Biblical study on how to pray for the persecuted church was submitted by a friend of Films for Christ, a pastor who prefers to remain anonymous.


You can also give to Voice of the Martyrs, an amazing organization that enters the trenches to provide for these suffering, often through natives of the each country. We have been giving financially to them for years and feel passionately about the work being done through them. Read more about what Voice of the Martyrs is doing for Christians fleeing Mosul here.

(They also give an opportunity to write letters of encouragement to prisoners of the faith. This is a great ministry for kids as well as adults to take part in.)

Their most recent prayer guide map


August 7, 2014

Things I'm Loving

I'm loving a lot of things right now! Here are some of them:

If you get short of breath everytime you have to spend $15 on a cartridge of razors, this will be music to your ears. For only a few bucks a month, the Dollar Shave Club delivers a razor cartridge to you in the mail (free shipping) every month or every other month. You can choose from two blades, four blades, or six blade razors. The handle is free. And the razors are awesome. I do the three blade once every two months, because they last for-eeeeeever.
Puddle jumpers are a seriously revolutionary flotation device for kids. Kind of like arm floaties on steroids. They can keep a kid completely upright in the water without any assistance. The girls love to swim around the pool in them, and since they are virtually un-tippable, my anxiety level of managing two toddlers in the pool at once is nill.
Cocoa powder. There is something called dry shampoo (or cornstarch for some) that, when rubbed into greasy hair, can transform it to non-greasiness. Unfortunately this only works well with fair-haired beauties. Dark haired girls like me end up looking like a gray haired granny. I've always been super jealous of people who can use this trick, because I only wash my hair every other day but the strands around my face can get greasy. Now I pull them back in barrettes while I sleep, and if I need to, I rub in well some cocoa powder (plain, the unsweetened stuff) into my hair and roots and it absorbs the grease. And I don't look like a granny.
I found this app through an add on Facebook that I actually clicked on (a first). It's awesome. You can send a high-quality postcard right from your phone, using a picture in your photo stream. I only recently got a smart phone (I was using an old flip phone for years until I inherited a used iphone and switched to a plan that was the equivalent of what I was paying for already- score!) Tangent aside, you can send all sorts of personal cards with fun photos.

Aldi is my grocery store savior. With the cost of food rising exponentially, I have been able to avoid marking up my grocery budget by adding Aldi to my weekly shopping trip. Originally I started going there because they have milk free of growth hormones at the same price as hormone-filled milk at other stores. Then I realized the great deals they had on other items. So far, their store brand has been excellent (only one dud- I don't recommend the baked beans). We now get their generic cereals (they taste great), canned veggies, frozen foods, dairy products, etc. On average they are 30-40% less than the grocery store. Crazy I know. You just have to get used to the self-service (self-bagging and grocery carting). They also have great deals on produce. It depends on what's in season, but most of it is locally grown and they have organic options on and off. For a while I got a huge bag of organic apples for 5.99 and a whole box of organic grape tomatoes for .99. I will say that they keep their produce out for a while (at least at our local store), so you have to make sure it's not on it's way out when you buy it or you will end up with a spoiled vegetable in a few days. Oh, and they taste fantastic. The strawberries were the best I had all season. Ditto on the grapes. We usually hit up Aldi first and then finish at Kroger. You can't rely only on Aldi since they don't carry all the traditional grocery items and their stock varies from week to week.

Our wedding dresses. Can't wait for the family wedding in a few months! Our whole family is going to be in the wedding so it should be a lot of fun! (This is my dress but not the actual color, though I do love this color)


 Charleston, land that I love.

 Good Reads for Kids
My new job!
I got a part-time job working for a private child psychologist! It took a long time to get there but I finally reached my destination. I had been praying for a part time flexible job, doing what I love, one that would contribute financially to our household, and where I had the potential of working more later in life when the girls go to school. Scripture supports a woman helping support her family financially if it doesn't interfere with her role of caring for her household and teaching and nurturing her children (Proverbs 31). I wasn't willing to compromise on the child care aspect. I wanted something where I could drop them off at school and pick them up or be there soon after. This job is one that I can do while the girls are in preschool and, if I am a little late, their teacher agreed to keep them at the school until I can get there (which shouldn't be long at all). Once the girls are in public school, I can head to work right after I drop them off and leave before they get finished. I can basically set my own schedule and schedule clients whenever I am free. I feel like God has given me so much favor!
My Book Club
Things I am NOT loving right now:
Lawn mowing and weeds in our yard and garden. We are about to throw in the white flag and surrender. NOTHING has helped rid us of them.
Medical bills