A Christ-like Response in a Chaotic Time

Question #1: If God is sovereign, why is the world in upheaval?

It is a question that has been asked in one form or another since the beginning of time. All throughout scripture we uncover people in desperate, dark, and confusing situations, often crying out to God for answers. There are many examples of this raw honesty modeled for us in books like the Psalms, Habakkuk, and Job. Even in the New Testament we see glimpses of people serving the Lord obediently, but yet suffering and dealing with hardship. Paul wrote some of his letters from a prison cell and amidst less than ideal circumstances. Stephen (in the book of Acts) endured psychological and physical torture, but he settled to stand firm and trust in God’s sovereignty, remaining obedient.

55 Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 He said, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 They yelled at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. 58 They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And after saying this, he fell asleep. -Acts 7:55-60

This excerpt from the book of Habakkuk is one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible. After Habakkuk has wrestled and conversed back and forth with God, asking all of the hard “why’s“, he settles to still rejoice in the Lord.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though the flocks disappear from the pen
and there are no herds in the stalls,
18 yet I will celebrate in the Lord;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
19 The Lord my Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights!

That’s the key: It’s okay to question and wrestle and be honest with God about the pain and uncertainty. Where will it lead, though? Will it lead you to doubt Him? Or will it lead you to find even greater peace and fulfillment in Him as you nail a stake in the ground and plant your feet firmly in His promises, despite the circumstances around?

Question #2: Is it okay to have differences of opinion as believers in Christ?

Another issue swirling around right now is division. This isn’t new either. In fact, Jesus said that His message would cause division with the world:

“Do you think that I came here to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” -Luke 12:51

Although we know that we may endure persecution and ridicule for preaching the message of Christ to a lost world, we cannot afford to have division in the body of Christ. Jesus said a prayer in John chapter 17 for us to be one in the body of Christ. What was his reason for this unity? So that the lost world would believe in Him.

20 “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. 21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.”-John 17:20-21

There are many bandwagons people are jumping on right now- politically, socially, and personally. There are lines being drawn in the sand, megaphones being shouted into, and information of all kinds being hurled around like a violent storm.

People are scared. People are confused. And people are hungry and searching daily for truth surrounding the current state of our world.
Should believers in Christ seek to uncover truth and dispose of twisted lies? Always.

Should believers in Christ engage in political and social discussion and use their platforms to share information? Absolutely.

But never at the expense of swallowing up the message of the gospel whole.

What is most important in our current time? Uncovering a conspiracy? Eating inside your favorite restaurant and ditching the masks? Yelling from the rooftops about political opinions, without counting the stain it may inflict on the message of the gospel?

We are all hurting in different ways. We all miss normality. Some of us are mourning the loss of loved ones, navigating sickness, or still missing out on “normal” events. Many of us are petrified of the current political climate. The truth is, though, many of us are misunderstanding and confusing the goal as believers right now. We are trying desperately to participate in righteous, justice-fueled discourse, but at times it is coming off as selfish, prideful, argumentative quarreling. It is okay to have differences in opinion from your brothers and sisters in Christ, but we must remain united and uniform on what matters most.

Let’s talk about Jesus for a second. He certainly flipped societal expectations in His time period completely upside-down. He did the unexpected. He healed many, he loved many, and he taught all sorts of new concepts. He was right at the center of politics. He was the subject and the cure for constant differences of opinion. Politics surrounded the story of Jesus. His life ended with a political execution. Jesus submerged himself right in the midst of the hard conversations. He was zealous and passionate in all of the right ways, fueling Him to share redemption with all He encountered.

Here is what Jesus didn’t do:  Fight for SELF.

He didn’t stand on a platform and speak about “His rights”. Did he care about justice and the right treatment of others? Yes. This is seen all throughout the gospel narrative as he cares for the cast-out, the sick, and the oppressed. Right now more than ever we need to be bold, but we need to make sure our boldness is channeled in the correct way.

Are your everyday conversations and interactions furthering the message of the gospel or distracting from it? How about your social media feed? Sure, there are tons of below-the-surface issues going on that need our attention during this time. The most important issue at hand, though, is still the same: spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

In the middle of the chaos, confusion, conspiracies, political and social disagreements- the answer and the cure remains unchanging. Our hope in the gospel and rapid desire to share salvation with others should be spreading like wildfire even more than ever before. 
Our response needs to be steadfast because He is steadfast. Christ is sure, secure, unwavering, unshakable, and never moving.

Our response is Micah 7:7-8
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,  I wait for God my Savior;  my God will hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

We will look to the Lord and wait on Him always. We will have confidence that He will hear us and we will have faith that the enemy will not prevail. We know that when we feel defeated, through Christ we will rise. Darknesses encompasses every corner of the earth right now, but the Lord is our light in the midst.

His Life Brought Light to Everyone

 It happens every year, but this year it seems like a rampant disease. The Christmas to-do lists, pressure, exhaustion, and anxiety. Getting “ready” for Christmas has become less about preparing our hearts and WAY more about preparing for duties, responsibilities and trying to stuff-down all of our raw emotions so we can smile along to just one more Christmas carol. We are focused on making sure everything gets bought, wrapped, baked, cleaned, and sent. Not to mention that this year has been jam-packed with even more unexpected and anxiety-charged circumstances than normal.

“I’m burned out,” I’ve heard many women mutter. It’s as if someone has taken a high-powered vacuum and sucked the life out of us all.

On the contrary, Christmas is all about celebrating new life. It’s all about welcoming a life that changed the world. Our hearts were designed to celebrate this one life that brought light into the world for all.

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:4-5 CSB

We’re all so overwhelmed, so busy, and so on the verge of breaking with no time to stop and reflect. This year, in the midst of chaos, I have been asking Jesus to remind me that I am His daughter. I have been sitting at His feet asking him to remind me that I am free .Because of His miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection – I am free. I am free from pressures, judgements, and expectations. I am free from my tendencies to worship perfectionism and performance. I am free from the dark entanglement of anxiety, pressure, and panic. Because of Jesus I am divorced from the sweet, yet tempting lie, that His love is based on what I’ve done. Because He entered the world, I am separated from the false comfort that anxiety brings- I don’t have to hide anymore or overthink anymore or stress anymore. I already know what He thinks of me: I am His daughter.

I can burn my to-do lists and I can smash the stack of bricks weighing me down. I can rest in knowing that He died to set me free from all of those messes. I can sigh deep and celebrate that He came to earth through a woman- a woman who was ushered into a season of letting go and trusting. Mary had an unshakable faith in God’s plan. Because of her willingness to obey and lay down her reservations, God used her in an unfathomable way: She gave birth to the savior of the world.


I can celebrate His birth and life this Christmas. My heart is brimming over with thankfulness for the precious gift of salvation made available to all. He Brings me life and hope. Because He was born, I can rejoice.

All too often, though, I have one piece of my heart nestled in the arms of Jesus and the other piece trying desperately to cling to the false comforts of the world. I know the truth, but sometimes it is scary to fully believe, submit and let it change me.
   

 Here’s the thing, though- I am not interested in a life that isn’t fully submitted. The concept of knowing about the life-changing love and grace of Jesus, but not letting it penetrate deep enough into my heart to radically change my life, terrifies and altogether disgusts me.

It’s not enough to simply know and hear about the Christmas story. It’s not enough to simply know the stories of His life and death. It’s not enough if a marvellous transformation has not taken place in our lives.

I want those truths to change me to the core and completely uproot the life I think I can build in my own efforts. I want the unexplainable and completely unmerited compassion, grace and mercy to hit me like a freight train and remold my whole life. I’m not interested in a cute, pretty telling of His life and birth- I want the whole radical truth of who He is and what He’s done-overflowing into all that I do.

We have been born into a new life that cannot be destroyed or corrupted and can’t fade away.

1 Peter 1:4

The wild, unrestricted love of God is not simply an inspiring idea. When it imposes itself on mind and heart with the stark reality of ontological truth, it determines why and at what time you get up in the morning, how you pass your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, and who you hang with; it affects what breaks your heart, what amazes you, and what makes your heart happy.

Brennan Manning

So with that, I challenge you this Christmas, and at the same time I challenge myself, to not crumble under the unrealistic pressures and expectations of this season.

Instead, let’s breathe deeply of the peace that He brings and sing loudly about His remarkable birth that has freed us all. 

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Called with Purpose: Becoming the Woman God Created You To Be.

5:00am wakeup call after a sleepless night with a sleepless and fussy baby.
With tired eyes, I see pumpkin pancakes spiraling across the kitchen and swirling all over the high chair and the floor. 
I’ve done 3 diaper changes and 1 outfit change.
I’m washing dishes and bottles and scrubbing impossibly orange high chairs and floors.
I’ve read 10 books with a tiny one safely in my lap.
I’ve folded 2 loads of laundry, with one pile knocked over by little hands.
My coffee is brewed and sitting idly in the pot. 
It’s getting cold. Always cold.It’s not even 9 am. 
Tired and exhausted, I wonder what my purpose is.

Here’s the thing: even when we feel physically drained and incapable, God is not. He can energize our weary souls and pour life into our empty hearts. Whatever season of life you are in is not an accident. Whether you are drowning in work projects, struggling in your marriage, or adjusting to motherhood, God has strategically mapped out your daily blueprints for His glorification. When you are doubting and questioning and feeling altogether unequipped to handle things, remember that God’s grace is brand new everyday. In our tendency to compare ourselves to others and feel grossly inadequate, God meets us there and fills us with hope and joy to care for the demands before us.

Some days are physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually draining. With a little perspective shift, though, we can see what a GIFT it is to tend to the people and needs in front of us, praising God in the process.

But what about this overwhelming tendency to question our calling and our purpose? Late at night, alone with our thoughts, we can start to wonder if we are doing anything worthwhile.

“Let me live to tell the people of this age what your strength has accomplished. To tell about your power to all who will come.”-Psalm 71:18 [God’s Word Translation]

We are constantly wandering around with our eyes closed in pursuit of “purpose”. Searching and seeking, we are desperate to find our “calling” and understand our place in life. Contrary to the messages you may be hearing, your purpose isn’t something you need to dig deep to discover. It isn’t hidden or difficult to find. It will not take years to uncover, after a long movie-esque experience of soul-searching.

Your purpose is this:-To know and love God, to listen to His voice, and to do whatever He commands.

Regardless of your life season or current responsibilities, your purpose is unwavering.

Knowing and loving anything else will leave us feeling empty and hollow. Listening to other voices around will steer us off course. Doing what the world commands will only separate us from the savior.

“With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation.”-Isaiah 12:3

Let us fight against welcoming a spirit of bondage, enslaved to fulfilling the purposes the world tells us to pursue. Instead let’s long to embrace the purposes God has aligned for His daughters. We need to be desperate to find springs of comfort in His living water, considering His desires to be our delight. As we learn to embrace His purpose, we will desire to know Him deeper, letting go of the sweet whispers of distraction all around.

Craving His presence and allowing His spirit to overtake us, we are able to love no matter how we are loved back. A desire will pool inside of our souls to share His love with everyone, regardless if our flesh thinks they deserve it or not.

But how quickly we can let all of this slip away. We get in the way of ourselves.The biggest thing that prevents us from plunging headfirst into His purpose for our lives is us. We are selfish, so easily distracted, full of worry, lacking faith, ruled by emotion, swayed by society, and altogether broken. 

We cannot accomplish His purpose unless we recognize our deep need for Him. Our brokenness and sin is precisely what should be prompting us to draw near to His living water yet again. He leads us back to Him each time. In our wandering and forgetting, He reminds us that His mercy, grace, and compassion never run dry. His love is steadfast even when our love for Him is shaky. His love stretches wide, even when we seem on fire for Him only for an instant, quickly getting pulled away by false comforts and fulfillments. 

God has asked us to honor Him with our words, our actions, our relationships, our possessions- to pursue Him in all that we do from sun-up until sun-down. That is our purpose. We have nothing to offer Him, yet He offers himself to us moment by moment.
Will we choose His purpose or choose the empty pleasures around us?

Jesus, help us desire to trade these ashes into beauty and wear forgiveness like a crown.

A prayer:

Lord, I want desperately to be a woman that yearns to be in your presence and doesn’t assess her worth based on performance or even service, but draws her strength and peace from your eternal well that never runs dry. I want to be a woman that is content to be your daughter, always getting to know your heart more, constantly desiring less of myself. Jesus, help me to be a woman who never gets bored of your word and never grows tired of communing with you in prayer.

Jesus, it’s amazing that even in the gospels you turned NO ONE away. You healed and loved all who came to you. You were passionate about moving around and sharing the word with all people, regardless if it was convenient or comfortable.

Lord, Help me do this in my daily life. How can I not long for you? How can I not long to be with you? You bring peace where there is only chaos. You shed bright light where theres is only darkness.
Your love covers many sins. Without your love, your peace, your forgiveness- what hope is there? What purpose is there?
Help me to not chase after empty fulfillment, false promises, or distractions that push their way in front of you. Even in circles of other believers it is getting harder and harder to truly lay aside fleshly desire and wordly pursuit and wholeheartedly strive after you.

I want to be a woman marked by my pursuit of you. I desire to fix my eyes upon you, placing my whole confidence on your truths and commands, never looking back to count what I’ve lost and never welcoming burdens and worries back into my heart. I don’t want to turn away from you. Help me to remain close.

Amen.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Dreams and Desires

I’m a dreamer and a doer. The wheels in my head are constantly spinning and they won’t stop. I’m always coming up with a new idea, painting a picture of what’s next, or creating a fresh vision. This dreamer mind-set stirs up so much anticipation and excitement about the potential in situations or the possibilities in life that are yet to come. It’s charming and spontaneous, perpetually striving for more and new and better. You know what, though? It’s exhausting, too. It is a confusing, blurred line. Have I actually entered into an ugly, never-ending competition with myself that will never be satisfied or completed? I’m asking God to deeply search my heart and draw out any toxins getting in the way of what He is truly calling me to.

Do you ever feel like your plate is spilling over in every direction? Have you ever felt caught in a dreary pile of tasks, busyness, to-do lists, and 5-year-plans? There is nothing wrong with productivity, accomplishing goals, or chasing after dreams. However, we can easily become over-scheduled and hyper-organized, searching to uncover joy underneath busyness, tasks, and checked-boxes. This isn’t the life God designed for us, leaving no room for Him to breathe into our weary souls

Many of us are in seasons of life that feel full. We may have a plate that is visibly overflowing. We live in a culture screaming at us all to “keep up”. Do you ever feel like you are always seeking more? Do you struggle with feeling like you could do more or be more? Do you sometimes wake up and feel immediately overwhelmed at the tasks before you, yet you feel paralyzed and stuck, unable to find refreshment for your soul?

It is so easy to get caught up in a sea of accomplishing goals and striving after dreams. Can some of the dreams in our heart come directly from God? Yes. However, sometimes the dreams and visions can get clouded and mixed-up, making it hard to know if we are following God’s desires or our own. God did not create us to simply expel out a list of desires that we want and wait for the check mark to appear. Even if some of the dreams we envision are good and honorable, we can easily miss out on so much while we fantasize and wait. In the same way, if we become too busy and encompassed with noise, never slowing down to breathe, we don’t leave any margin to allow God to move. While we concern ourselves with building an earthly kingdom, making perfectly-curated vision boards and running on empty in a dark cloud of do, do, do, we begin to neglect our purpose on this earth and stray further and further from it. We are not owed ANYTHING apart from the unearned, radical salvation that Jesus so freely offers when we allow Him in. We are not promised security. We are not promised wealth. We are not promised a dream job. We are not promised that the bills will always be paid. We are not promised a home. We are not promised children, or a spouse, or a family.

My security, my hope, and my foundation are Jesus. 
He is my portion.
He alone is what I have been promised.

Everyday when we rise, Jesus is the only stable thing that can be counted on. We have to keep relearning this over and over again. We may feel like we know this truth, but do we truly KNOW it? Do we truly know it even in the midst of disaster and darkness and idols lurking in the shadows waiting to consume us? Each day we have a chance to wake up and lay our hearts wide open as a blank slate for Jesus to use, completely disregarding our own needs and wants. Oh, but it’s hard – so, so hard to put our flesh to death and choose Him over discontentment and busyness. Not only is it hard, but it is sometimes downright painful to live in this world full of credit scores, down-payments, and brushed-over Instagram posts. How on earth are we supposed to stay the course? There is nothing wrong with dreams and desires, especially for God’s kingdom and especially when God’s desires become our desires, but there is something terribly, horribly wrong when our blackened hearts think we are owed everything that we’ve dreamed up.

There is nothing outside of a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”-Mark 7:15
We focus on the world and everything around us needing to change, but in reality we need desperately to change. The darkest sins come from lofty and greedy desires stemming from the depths of our own hearts. Yes, some of that is influenced by outside sources, but ultimately it comes from within. The problem isn’t our neighbors; the problem is us. The darkness all around isn’t something out there in the world to protect our children from, instead it is right inside of us. Until we realize that without Jesus we are literally nothing, unable to move or push the rubble off of ourselves, we will continue spinning aimlessly on a wheel without a destination.

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?”-Mark 8:35-36
The temptation to give our lives over to the pressures and influences around us and from within us has never been stronger. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are doing “good” by accomplishing and “checking-off”, by over-scheduling and constant-dreaming, but its quite the opposite. In the pursuit of contentment, we lose our souls and forget what is actually promised to us.

Our homes could be taken away today. We may never be able to have children. We may never put our gifts and dreams on a platform for the whole world to applaud. Our loved ones might die. There might be nothing left in the bank account.

But we still have Jesus. 

We must find contentment in Him alone, minus all of the stuff distracting us.

Maybe you crave comfort, security, and stability like me. At some point, though, pieces of that security will slowly get chiseled and ripped away. Then what? Are Jesus’ promises somehow void?

We all have access to the true peace and contentment that Jesus brings, but we are all running away. How long can we run? Instead of flocking towards Him like we read in the gospels we can sometimes find ourselves running away from Him, breathless and scared.

“And wherever He came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”-Mark 6:56
I want to be desperate to touch Jesus like that. I want to yearn after Him. I want each day to be a new chance to accomplish His will and appreciate the beauty that He is building, not that I am building. I want to be obedient to His calls and plans, pushing away my own. I want to radiate joy when it doesn’t make logical sense. I want to be generous when I have nothing; love when hate is the theme all around me.
And then….when I look back on my life, I will know it has been a true masterpiece, because the Creator of life itself has crafted every twist and turn.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Available + Faithful: Women with Jesus

Mary, Susanna, Joanna, and Lydia.

Luke Chapter 8 and Acts Chapter 16 give us a glimpse into the lives of women who had their hearts wide open to the transforming power of Christ. These women didn’t keep Jesus’ power private, but instead they had willing hands to put God’s work on display and humbly serve those in their path.

Is this type of bold, selfless, passionate heart for service still attainable today?

Luke 8:1-3 tell us about women accompanying Jesus on His mission: “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him,  and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.”

We learn that Mary, Susanna, and Joanna had been healed. The amazing part that can’t be missed is that their journey with Jesus didn’t stop after being healed; it was only just beginning! Not only were these women miraculously healed, but they were healed and then using their gifts. That is who we are called to be in Christ: healed, set free, and then able to love and serve others abundantly. When we realize that Jesus has forgiven us and washed us clean, we are driven to live wildly for His glory. Maybe we aren’t trekking on a literal by-foot journey with Jesus, but in a sense we are. There are people all around us that need encouragement and can benefit and flourish from the faithful stewardship of our gifts.

Titus 3:4-5 says, ” But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

He saved us, not because of works.” Using our gifts while journeying with Jesus is not what saves us. Believing the lie that productivity leads to Christ’s love is a dark and dangerous path. Instead, when we embrace His merciful kindness and healing power towards us, we can begin to desire to put our works on display for His glory. Only after salvation and transformation, after being with Jesus and allowing Him to change us, can we be a fountain able to pour out sacrificially on others.

“On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.  A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying.  After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us…..After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house, where they saw and encouraged the brothers and sisters, and departed.”- Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:40

In the book of Acts we also see how Lydia’s heart affections were stirred toward Jesus and His message. She was changed from the inside-out and had influence over her family. They were changed too- her entire family was baptized! Immediately after understanding Christ’s message, she opened her home without question and made herself available to serve in a tangible way. She prioritized service and hospitality in a way that was contagious and memorable, because her house was the first one Paul and Silas visited after they got out of prison during their ministry. She, too, had an encounter with Jesus that left her changed and ready to serve.

Right now women are under attack. The drive to empower women has never been stronger in our society than it is now. How does having a changed heart that is ready for service fit into all of this?

First, we have to realize that Jesus Himself empowered women. He called women out of shameful hiding and ushered them out of darkness, spurring them on to walk confidently in His light. The way He interacted with women was different and even questioned by most in His day. Jesus loves to raise eyebrows. He did it then and he still does it now through actions of radical love. Jesus did not see women as less-than, but He saw them as created-for-a-purpose. In our culture today we are losing that purpose in a sea of noise. An independent, successful, powerful woman can seem to have it all but simultaneously be void of Christ’s power and lack the one thing that truly matters: an encounter with Jesus leading to a changed heart. In our screams for independence and hunger for the spotlight we can miss the opportunity to cultivate gentleness, selflessness, and generosity through our time, skills, gifts, and resources.

As women we have a platform to humbly bless others in the name of Christ. We can influence and inspire those around us by glowing with truth after being in Jesus’ presence. Romans 8:15 tells us that we have received a “spirit of adoption” instead of a “spirit of slavery.” Are we living enslaved to the world’s view of womanhood or are we living in the liberating spirit of adoption that Jesus provides? Once we embrace whose we are, it changes everything. Others are watching and craving a nurturing love. Are we ready to meet those needs around us? Mary, Susanna, Joanna, and Lydia were. They saw the needs and they filled them with joy. They didn’t grumble or violently rant about their need for privilege or power.

2 Corinthians 6:2 says “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” It’s tempting to put it off and think that we’ll just serve later. In our back-burner mentality, we begin to embrace building our own empire while forgetting all about building Jesus’ kingdom. The harvest is ripe and it is happening now. We can either put off having a life-changing encounter with Jesus or run after Him now. We can either settle for stone-cold hearts or make ourselves ready and available to serve now. Now is the favorable time- what will you do?

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Grace Squashes Perfection

For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, it is not from ourselves- it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

“Create in me a clean heart, Oh God. Renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

“If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17
)

These verses may seem completely unrelated, but they actually tie together like an unexpected mosaic.

Christ saves us from sin, from darkness, from eternal death, from ourselves, from emotions through GRACE alone. We cannot do or say anything to earn this free gift. No matter how much we strive for perfection (which for perfectionists is every second, every day) we will always fail. Apart from God, we can’t stand. Our endless pursuit of perfection gets us further and further from God, because we wind up looking inward and becoming self-focused and self-reliant. We start to serve our emotions and allow them to guide us. We begin to serve our circumstances and our abilities. We soak in shame, guilt, and regret when we mess up, completely missing the freedom Christ has for us. This freedom and grace flowing out of the salvation Christ offers us, has nothing to do with our amount of accomplished tasks, checked off to-do lists, always saying the right things, never thinking impure thoughts, having a perfectly-polished home, having a perfect marriage, being a perfect mom, a perfect employee, perfect daughter, or perfect friend.

Our hearts are inherently selfish. We want to glorify ourselves and appear polished and perfect all the time. Underneath the mask, though, is the aching, all consuming need for Christ. Despite our failures, His grace is available. We have done absolutely nothing to deserve it. We have a choice of whether or not we will accept this free gift right in front of us, or to keep living for ourselves, striving for perfection, and serving our emotions.

God never intended for our emotions to be a a roadmap of any kind. Emotions are chaotic and always changing; they are the stark opposite of the unchanging, firm foundation that God provides. Emotions are like a house built on a false reality that can be blown down in an instant. Emotions are rooted in SELF, SELF, SELF. Emotions constantly lie and pull us away from God.

But grace.

But salvation.

In our mess, in our stumbling, in our trying and failing, God pulls us out and SAVES US through GRACE alone.

As Psalm 51:10 says, we have to continue approaching Him in prayer, earnestly seeking Him and asking Him: “create in me a clean heart.”

We are unable to have a clean heart on our own. It’s impossible. Only He alone cleanses us.

When we slip back into sin, turn to selfish desires, allow our emotions to take rule, focus on perfection, or turn far from God, we have the BEAUTIFUL reminder that the old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the new has come. We are forgiven and through Christ alone we can flourish as a new creation.

A word of encouragement:
It is never too late.
You are never too far gone.
God is after your heart.
He died for you.
No matter how broken and shattered you feel.
No matter how many mistakes you’ve made.
He is waiting with outstretched arms.

If you have questions about Christ’s love for you or what salvation means, PLEASE don’t hesitate to reach out to us via the contact form on our website or on social media.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Steadfast

“He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in His faith and gave glory to God, because He was fully convinced that what God had promised, He was also able to do.” (Romans 4:20-21)

The second part of this verse is something a lot of us struggle with and probably couldn’t always proclaim with confidence. We are told in Romans, though, that Abraham was able to to proclaim and believe with confidence that God was able to do what He promised He would do. Abraham believed that God was steadfast.

God is the ultimate storyteller. He didn’t write a story with a cliff-hanger. We don’t need popcorn. We know the ending already and it’s a beautiful one. God finishes what He starts. He is trustworthy and can always be counted on. Romans 8:20-21 tells us: “For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.” That’s the ending. The ending is that we will be set free. We don’t have to wait around wondering if this reality will show up in some far-off sequel. Instead, we can place our hope in the fact that this promise has already been written, is being fulfilled, and will continue to be fulfilled.

How many things are truly unchanging? Our society is always on an epic hunt for something new, eye-catching, and thrilling. At times, the idea of something remaining the same can appear stale and bland. Many of us believe we can truly thrive on unpredictability and fresh experiences. There is nothing wrong with being adventurous and spontaneous, but when we welcome in too much of this attitude, we can find ourselves feeling like we’re sinking in a pool of dissatisfaction when we can’t keep up with the demand. “I’m over it” or “I need a change”, we say as we toss things aside and prepare for the next thing. Loyalty is an antiquated concept.

New hair. New job. New house. New life.

What if there was beauty in, not the unexpected, but in the expected?

What if life could be found in something unmovable, unshakable, and never changing?

Definition of Steadfast

1a: firmly fixed in place IMMOVABLE

b: not subject to change

2: firm in belief, determination, or adherence

There is this ravenous desire within us for change, yet if we’re honest, at core, we actually do desire a firm foundation of stability. It’s possible, though, to chase down stability in a way that will never truly deliver. When we hunger for steadfastness, something unchanging and unwavering in relationships and material objects, we are oftentimes left feeling hollow and empty when those things do change and do waver.

When our emotions zig-zag throughout the day and circumstances in our own lives and throughout the world have become entangled in weighty darkness, God is steadfast.

When we come to the end of ourselves and feel completely void of strength, God is steadfast.

The steadfastness of God is mentioned 132 times in the Psalms alone. When God’s steadfast nature is spoken about, it is almost always associated with His LOVE being steadfast. Although we have been gifted the grace of experiencing God-fueled, love-driven relationships with others, this form of love between humans could never measure up to the overwhelming steadfastness of God’s love.

He alone is steadfast.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”

That is a promise to cling to in the shadows of life.

We can remain steadfast in Christ by seeking Him with our whole heart. Only then is God able to meet us there and gently walk in step with us. This is a continual process, not a once-and-done, prayed-a-prayer, good-to-go type of seeking. Remaining steadfast in Christ is a beautiful habit formed; one where you find comfort in letting praise leave your lips, constantly acknowledging that God Himself is steadfast. We are able to remain steadfastly planted in Him BECAUSE He is steadfast first.

Water your heart with His unchanging truth and unwavering love.

Plant your heart firmly in His endless promises.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Use Permanent Ink

Bravely Pursuing God’s Vision for Marriage

My outlook on marriage has been a patchwork of feelings and opinions that have shifted over time. I thought maybe I would be married somewhere far, far in the future at 35 or something. Most of the time trying to conceptualize the thought of marriage at all seemed like a stretch.  I would have laughed bluntly if someone told me I’d be lumped into the “young and married” category.

“Why would I limit myself?” I used to think. 

“Why put my hope in another human being who will  break my heart into a million little pieces?” 

“I’m young, I have a life to live, things to accomplish, and a husband will just drag me down,” I told myself.

I used to view marriage as a prison cell that only locked you into a life of confinement, disappointment, and less opportunity.

It was pouring rain and my life was about to change. I didn’t know that, of course. You never know when something groundbreaking is about to happen. Usually you can’t foresee the big moments that wind up being a pivotal event- the kind of happenstance that ends up defining how you describe everything else in your life.

This day would later end up being a bold, italicized, LARGE font event written on the timeline of my life, even though at the time it all seemed very commonplace.

I was about to get into a very dangerous car accident. Everything I once knew would be completely turned upside-down.

Seventeen. Senior year.

This was one of the darkest seasons of my life, to be brutally honest. I hated God, I hated love, and quite honestly, I hated myself. I had turned to self-destruction and I was completely unstable, lacking any fragment of purpose or direction. My heart was hollow and closed off and I was out of breath and exhausted, always running away from God. I was petrified of Him and I wanted absolutely no part of that “love”. My heart was nailed shut to keep out God’s love or the love of anyone else. Love was the last thing on my mind in that season; love with God, love with a man.. I wanted no part of it.

I saw another car’s headlights in my lane. Through the splashes of rain, I realized there was no time to react.

Death was upon me.

I couldn’t run anymore.

I didn’t realize how much I truly did yearn for life and love until death was a few feet away.

I sharply turned the wheel, then cried out to the God whom I wasn’t even certain I believed in. 
“I’m not ready to die yet. I want to live for you. I still desire to meet my husband and have a family someday.”

My car spun uncontrollably, eventually ending up in the ditch on the other side of the road after hitting a telephone pole. The telephone pole fell on top of my car, causing the front end to catch on fire just as I stepped out of it.

This was when my heart first danced with Christ.

Adrenaline pumping, sparks in the background, I surrendered.

He saved me.

It was a gradual and sometimes painful process, but Jesus began reshaping and capturing my heart. All of the lies that I had built a foundation upon were being ripped apart and tossed out forever.

Over time, He began to reveal purpose to me, breathing life into everything that had been lifeless.

I began to understand my need for Him. I started to understand, not just my need for Him, but also His wild love for me; love that was boundless and unimaginable to the point of death. Something I was once uncomfortable confronting became a comfort: I was a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. He was there to love me mightily, restore my soul, and then die on my behalf to atone for my shortcomings.

Walls broken down.

He opened my heart to love.

Two days after the accident, I met and started talking to the man who is now my husband. 

Two weeks later is when I knew he was the man I was going to marry (this is laughable now, because we are talking about the same girl who was totally against the idea of getting married young).

Simon loved God and wanted to pursue a life of serving Him. He was patient with me as I started to understand what all of that even meant. I had no prior understanding and it was a process  to shed the gruesome layers of my flesh (this process never ends). In the beginning of our relationship, we learned what love was together. We learned how to love each other and love God together. We grew from teenagers to adults together.
I will never be able to wrap my head around the weight of what God did that year of my life. I was in a downward spiral and He called me by name and drew me to Himself.

My view of marriage started to shift, as did everything in my life.

Naturally, during our dating and engaged years, my outlook on marriage changed into a sea of prince charming and white horses. Looking toward marriage I envisioned endless happiness, no arguing, constant fun, holding hands in the sunset, candle-lit dinners, and romantic getaways.

After being married a few years, though, God is chiseling my understanding yet again. God did not create marriage so that we could be happy, get all of our needs met, or fill a void in our heart. He didn’t even create marriage so that we could have a lifelong partner to have deep conversations with or go on lavish dates with (though there’s nothing wrong with those things and they are actually a by-product of a healthy marriage).

There’s a war going on in today’s society. There are broken, empty, and confused people everywhere. God’s design for marriage is for a husband and wife to come together in unity to accomplish His mission and share the gospel as a team. Marriage is meant to be a union in which the same vision is shared for how to point other’s towards Jesus. 

Yes, marriage is supporting one another’s dreams.

Yes, it is carving out intentional date nights.

Yes, it is laughing so hard you cry.

Yes, it is cozy movie nights with way too much popcorn.

Yes, it is long drives in the car with even longer deep, heart talks.

Yes, it is dying to one-self and choosing to serve your spouse over your own desires and needs.

But at the core, it is chasing after the same vision together. 

There is only one vision to chase. The vision is the same for every couple that He brings together: to make disciples and love others, as Christ did, alongside one another. The way this takes form is different for every couple depending on gifts and timing. It is so easy for this to get diluted and over-complicated. 

There are influences from the world saying that marriage is all about pleasure, happiness, and perfection.

On the flip-side, there are toxic influences even in christ-centered communities slowly seeping into our hearts about marriage. These messages are more subtle and they are wrapped in appealing packages. Hearing these influences can make us forget about the vision of the gospel and instead focus only on bettering ourselves and strengthening our own home. Family time has so much value. Spreading the gospel has the most value, though. This is beautifully imaged when done as a family team. Entertainment, comfort, and ease try to pull our focus off of what has the most eternal value.

Faith in Jesus was meant to be shared beyond our walls. Marriage is more than an amalgamation of cooking meals together and cuddling on the couch. Those things are a blast, but they can’t be the only purpose in marriage. I think often in faith-based communities, messages about marriage mean well. We hear about respecting and honoring our spouse and spending enough time together. We see step-by-step processes of how to have a constructive argument and how to have beneficial communication. These things are all good.

In the midst of all of this advice, though, we also need to be asking one important question: what are my spouse and I doing together to further the kingdom of Jesus?

Everything needs to be built around that. God has provided a vessel in marriage for this to happen; a unique way for His message to be carried. God’s love for us is not based on performance or service, but a thriving marriage will be a deep well overflowing with love to pour out on others. It does not mean every couple will be missionaries in a foreign country, but it means that God calls us all to be missionaries right where we are. He placed you and your spouse in a specific location and time period for a reason and brought you together for a reason. He desires for you to love and enjoy one another, yes- but also to extend that love to others around you as a team.

Don’t misunderstand – marriage is meant to be pleasurable and delightful and beautiful, but these things come from flourishing together in your calling. There are some days filled with tickle fight, board games, adventures and movie nights. I believe God wants us to enjoy marriage, too.

Also understand this: there will always be challenging days. Stop and think about the austerity involved with combining two people and two lives together. There is going to be friction. There will be harsh words exchanged and bad choices made. You will hurt each other often. We are flesh and selfishness rules through our whole being. Trying to mix two broken people together is difficult, but worthwhile. The vision is bigger. The vision for God’s kingdom is bigger than socks left on the floor or your husband forgetting to ask how your day went. Some days it might be hard to forgive or extend grace, but remember the vision. When you remember the vision and you truly understand what you signed up for, dissatisfaction can’t reign.

When you get married:

Don’t sign up for perfection.

Don’t sign up for bouquets of flowers and loves notes (although those are a sweet surprise sometimes).

Don’t sign up for manicured lawns and children in matching t shirts.

Don’t sign up for Instagram photo shoots.

Don’t sign up for only pursuing your own dreams.

Don’t sign up for no conflict,

and don’t sign up for building your own kingdom.

Sign up for unity.

Sign up for embracing imperfections.

Sign up for constant forgiveness and grace.

Definitely sign up for striving after God’s vision to share the gospel together.

Sign up for forever.

Use permanent ink.

My love story with my husband evolves daily. We know each others’ hearts deeply and intentionally. It is breathtaking to pursue God’s calling together and the most attractive thing in the world is to see my husband desire God.  We laugh together and cry together and there is no one else on this planet I would rather have by my side. We are still learning how to pursue this common vision together, though. We are constantly being purified and refined by God. We still argue while driving sometimes, things get chaotic and we say hurtful words, and at times, we altogether forget the unity  God has called us to. But God always sweetly reminds us once more of His miraculous love and His purpose for our story together.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

This day would later be a bold, italicized, huge- font event written on the timeline of my life, even though it seemed so commonplace at the time. You see, I was about to get into a very dangerous car accident and everything I once knew would completely turned upside-down. This was one of the darkest seasons of my life; I hated God, I hated love, and quite honestly- I hated myself. I had turned to self-destruction and I was completely unstable, lacking any fragment of purpose or direction. My heart was hollow and closed off. I was out of breath and exhausted from running away from God. Honestly, I was petrified of Him and I wanted absolutely no part of the “love” that I had seen coming out of some “christians”. My view of love was seemingly flawed beyond repair. Love was the last thing on my mind in that season- love with God, love with a man- I wantedno part of it.
Through the splashes of rain, as I saw another car’s headlights in my lane, there was no time to react. In that moment, I realized how close death was. I couldn’t run anymore; it was coming straight for me. I didn’t realize how much I truly didyearn for life and love until pain and death were a few feet away. I sharply turned the wheel at the last possible second and I cried out to the God whom I wasn’t even certain I believed i
“I’m not ready to die yet. I want to live for you. I still desire to meet my husband and have a family someday

How Soon We Forget

“The disciples were astounded. They didn’t understand what had happened with the loaves of bread. Instead, their minds were closed.” (Mark 6:51-52)

The disciples had just witnessed Jesus do the unthinkable. It was altogether breathtaking and miraculous. They had just witnessed Him feed 5,000 hungry people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Although, they didn’t just watch in awe. They were actually a part of the miracle in action. Mark says that Jesus “kept giving them to the disciples to give to the people.” They were quite literally passing out and sharing the dynamic miracle that Jesus had performed. Even though they had been submerged in this amazing act, just hours later they found themselves full of fear and worry as Jesus got into their boat and the wind stopped blowing. The text says that they were astounded, they didn’t understand, and that their minds were closed.

How can one witness an unfathomable multiplication of food, then see the Son of man calm a storm just by His presence, and still be confused and have an anxious heart? It is SO easy to judge the disciples and want to just yell, “WAKE UP!” in this situation. In the middle of pointing my finger at the disciples, I could almost feel God belly laugh. He spoke to my heart and helped me realize: How often am I doing just that? How often might we all do it? How often does Jesus allow us the opportunity to take part and witness a miracle or amazing work He is doing and we so soon forget, too?


When we witness Him heal someone, change someone’s soul, or see elements of His love pour out of people, it’s easy to praise Him in that moment. In the middle of the miracle, we are easily able to fully give Christ the credit due and marvel in awe. But how soon we forget the love He drenched us in, the truth He washed over us, and the miracle He cascaded in front of us when a storm comes. We forget. He tells us “Calm down! Don’t be afraid!” as He told the disciples in Mark 6:50, when they were petrified of His presence. We, too, often become timid in His presence, lacking the faith in Jesus that is binding and so essential to survive in a storm. We forget the unmatchable work He has done and turn away from the gift of salvation He has given. Instead, our minds are closed and we allow the wind and the waves to get into the boat. We altogether forget to call on the savior whose speciality is chaos.

Let’s boldly ask Jesus to help us to not forget. Let’s ask Him to keep the miracles alive in our hearts. That way when a storm comes, our minds won’t be closed and we won’t be astonished or scared when our Savior shows up. There are small miracles in each moment waiting to be noticed and participated in. Jesus is present in the small and the big. He is capable of so much more than our minds can even fathom. I want to be ready for that. I want to be waiting and hopeful, expecting Him to move. I want to collect all of those miracles in my heart. Doubt, fear, anxiety, incompetence, complacency, and confusion can’t beat me down anymore after His vibrant miracles rest safely in my heart. Those lies won’t stand a chance.

I don’t want to forget.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

Jesus Wept.

John 11:35 is only two words long. The shortest verse in the Bible tells us so much about our Savior.

We serve a God who came to earth and led a radical revolution; one that ushered in love and hope for all those cast aside and marginalized.

We also serve a God who came to earth and experienced real, raw emotion.

Jesus wept alongside those experiencing shattering sadness.

We weep too.

We weep because unfathomable injustice still lives in our nation and our world.

We weep because too many lives have been lost- lives of people made in the image of God and loved so tenderly by Him.

We weep because voices are silenced and stories are shoved away.

We weep with those who are weeping and enter into the real pain being experienced by so many. We weep as we take a humble position and desire to engage in real conversation with those hurting.

We weep as we lament the places we’ve failed and confess how we have knowingly or unknowingly added to these injustices.

In our lamenting and weeping, we’ll continue to pray Matthew 6:10: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

This world is not our permanent dwelling place. While we are in this world we are to be constantly in pursuit of reflecting God’s kingdom on earth. We are not here to accomplish our mission or glorify ourselves, but we are here exclusively to accomplish God’s mission: To spread the message of His radical love and redemption to every tribe, nation, and tongue; to declare value and worth and purpose over every soul.

We have to be brave when things are dark and when things are not going the way we want them to go. We cannot walk away from the only source of hope that we have. We must choose to trust God even when we don’t understand; even when it seems like justice is far away.

May we all walk radiantly and bravely as we commit to intentionally learning how to love better and bigger as we serve those in our communities. May we truly mourn loss and injustice the way our Savior did, and still does, as we press forward, carrying a bright lamp in this dark time.

Our response to all of this needs to be unwavering, because Christ Himself is sure, secure, unwavering, unshakable, and never moving.

OUR RESPONSE IS MICAH 7:7-8
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”

We will look to the Lord and wait on Him always. We will have confidence that He will hear us and we will have faith that the enemy will not prevail. We know that when we feel defeated, through Christ we will rise. Darkness encompasses every corner of the earth right now, but the Lord is our light in the midst.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.