Monthly Archives: April 2013

Justification–April A to Z Challenge

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The other day as I was reading, I came across a reference to Romans 5:1, which reads, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

I heard it again on Easter in one of my favorite worship songs, “Beneath the Waters (I Will Rise).” The lyric reads, “No fear of condemnation/By faith I’m justified.”

I’ve heard this term many times. Justified. But I’ve realized recently that it doesn’t mean what I think it means.

In life, when we say we are “justified” in doing something, we mean that whatever we have done has been for a good or legitimate reason. For instance, if I know that every time I give my three-year-old a popsicle he leaves in on the couch, I would be justified in either not giving him more popsicles or making him eat them outdoors.

But that is not what it means to be justified through faith. This is so much more than being validated in our actions. This is being made righteous by God, because of the sacrifice Christ made for us. Christ truly paid our debt, and through this we can be justified by our faith in Him.

But that’s not even the best part. The best part is that there is nothing we can do or must do to earn this. It’s given freely by the God of this universe, who loves each of us as if we are the only one. All we need to do is have faith in Him and His goodness and righteousness, and this gift is ours for eternity.

The younger, crankier, more cynical me would have questioned this over and over again. I wouldn’t believe that such an amazing gift could just be free. But I have felt God move in my life and my heart and I know that what He wants most is me. Just me. Not my actions or my deeds, but my devotion and love.

And through my faith in Him, I’m saved. Romans 5:9 says, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

I needed to remind myself of this today, as things have been kind of rough. No matter how dark the day, this incredible truth endures forever.

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I miss you–April A to Z Challenge

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Today I am maybe bending the rules and I don’t care.

Today is letter I. And today is (from what I can tell on Facebook) National Siblings Day.

I have a sibling, but we don’t get to see each other as often as I’d like anymore.

So I just want to say to my sibling, I miss you. You were my first friend. And I miss you every single day.

I know I’ll see you again someday, and you know I talk to you all the time.

But I still miss you. The hole in my heart is so big I don’t think it’ll ever be filled.

I miss you, not only on National Siblings Day, but every day.

***A side note: Those of you with living siblings, don’t wait for some silly “holiday” to call them and appreciate them. I would give anything for that chance and I am kicking myself for all of the times I could have and didn’t.***

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Family, Grief, and Healing (FGH)–April A to Z Challenge

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I knew when I signed up for this challenge that it would not be easy for me to keep up. I am a busy gal. I was ready to give up, being two letters behind already. That’s one thing about me: I tend to over-commit myself.

But then a dear friend asked me why I wasn’t posting my alphabet blogs every day. I explained I’d gotten behind, and her reply was, “Oh…I was really looking forward to those!”

Sometimes I forget that there are a few people who actually read my writing. And maybe they like it? So I guess I should really try to do better at keeping up with my blogging challenge.

That being said, I’m combining F, G, & H into one post, both to get myself caught up and because they all fit into what’s on my mind and on my heart today.

Families change over time. I can look back on my childhood, and what I would have considered my family back then is worlds away from what I consider my family to be now. Back then, my family was a title exclusively reserved for the people related to me by blood: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc.

As the world changes, the definition and picture of what a family looks like has changed too. In a lot of ways, this is a great thing. My family has changed immeasurably over the last ten years. Divorces have happened. People have moved away. Family members have passed away, some expectedly, some unexpectedly. It changes you. It changes your relationships. It causes some connections to become stronger and others to fade away. At first, the changes sting. Those people who you thought would always be there suddenly aren’t, and it’s hard to adjust.

But over time, your true family shows. The family that God has provided to help you weather the storm. For me, this family includes blood relations, but it also includes wonderful friends. And I consider them my family. We share holidays, celebrations, pain, successes, and failures together. We’ve been bound together by a set of shared experiences unique to us and to our relationship.

Grief is one of these shared experiences. Recently, a few friends and students have lost dear members of their families. My heart aches for them and searches for the words to bring comfort. I find none. Through my own experiences, I know what not to say: “I know how you feel.” No one knows how you feel. No one knows the relationship that you had with that person and the aching void that their absence, either physical or emotional, has left in your life.

I’ve lost a lot in my 31 years of life. I don’t want pity, but I think I’ve lost more family members than most people my age. But I’ve gained so many. Grief has brought us together, strengthened us, and created a new family. And we have time and again brought one another out of the darkness and into the light.

That is the true meaning of family. Those people who lift us out of the darkness when we stumble and who we would do the same for in return. Those who are there in our grief to comfort us and help us heal. Those who are there when we succeed and when we fail. And I am so thankful for the amazing family I have. I couldn’t imagine any better group of people to do life with.

I’m taking the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. Find out more at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

Envy–April A to Z Challenge

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I have a quote written in my calendar that says, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes footage with everyone else’s highlight reel.

I’m sure that someone very important or smart or popular said these words, and I’m probably doing them a great disservice by not quoting them. But to me, that’s not what’s important here. To me, what’s important is that these words help me not to be envious of others.

Humans experience envy for a lot of reasons: job success, appearance, financial reasons, etc. My main source of envy is not any of these.

I have mom envy.

People tell me I’m a good mom. And I think I do my best. My child is happy, has warm clothes and good shoes, has more toys than he can play with (mostly due to some wonderful friends), and is loved intensely. He has rules and routines and expectations. He picks up after himself (usually). He’s generally agreeable. He’s insanely smart and I think he’s really funny.

But sometimes I feel like the mom with the out of control kid. I can’t let go of his hand in a store or parking lot, no matter how much he wants me to. He will not stay with me. I feel like everyone looks at him and and me and judges me…I must be some horrible mom since my almost four year old will run off laughing when I specifically tell him to stay near me. I feel like a horrible mom.

I envy that mom who has had three kids and has the body of a 22 year old, when I had one four years ago and still look pregnant.

I envy that mom whose kids walk with her in a store, across a parking lot, or anywhere out in public without her having to hold their hands, drag them, or worse, carry them.

I envy them so much. They make it look easy.

But then I remember, I’m only seeing their highlight reel. I have no idea what private struggles they have. I have no idea what issues their children are facing.

I have no idea what goes on in their behind-the-scenes. And they have no idea what goes on in mine.

And I don’t care what they think of me. I’m doing the best I can, and my little boy is loved. That’s all that really matters.

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I’m participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. Find out more here: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Doubt–April A to Z Challenge

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In my quest to have more faith and to believe in myself and those around me, I’ve found it’s important to eliminate- or at least decrease- doubt. Every moment of belief that I find is equally matched by a moment of crippling doubt. I know I must trust God…but honestly, that is ridiculously hard to do.

As moms, we are designed to be the caretakers of our families, and especially our children. When something is going on with them, or even when we’re not with them, it’s so hard not to worry and to simply trust that God will take care of them. But it is just impossible to do it by ourselves. I cannot change my son’s heart-but God can. I cannot do it myself.

Honestly, this post is more of a reminder to me than anything else. My concern for my child is natural, but I cannot allow it to become doubt. Doubt is me telling myself that God is not enough. Doubt is something that I cannot accept in my life. It gives nothing; only takes.

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I’m taking the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.
Find out more at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Choice, Change, & Control–April A to Z Challenge

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If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that I have a choice in my own happiness. What I mean by that is that I can choose whether to let the way other people act affect me. I used to be such a control freak. I wanted to do everything myself, because then I knew it’d be done correctly. I worried incessantly about things that I had no control over.

I cannot choose how other people act. I cannot control what other people do or don’t do. I cannot change people’s minds and hearts, although I can try to influence them.

But I can change how I choose to react. I can choose how I let other people and my surroundings affect me. I can choose to control myself, my reactions to situations, and focus my concern on my son.

Making this simple change in my thinking has made me so much happier. I am free from worrying about things that just aren’t under my control. I do the best I can. I try to treat people kindly and fairly. I’m not perfect. But I try my best, and I try to be honest and center myself around the things that matter and are true.

I am not the one in control. Ultimately, nothing is in my control, but I cannot worry. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11

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I’m participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge!!

Learn more at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com.

Believe–April A to Z Challenge

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To believe is one of the most difficult things in life. It’s hard to believe in ourselves; it’s hard to believe in one another. It’s hard to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity, especially when so much of what we hear and see every day says just the opposite. We are discouraged from so many different directions that sometimes it is hard to keep that belief open in our hearts. The belief that says, “Everything is going to be okay.” The belief that says, “You’ll get this. Keep trying.” The belief that says, “What you are doing is valuable. Don’t give up.”

I fight a daily battle with believing. Honestly, it’s more like an hourly or minute-ly (is that a word?) battle. It’s constant. It rarely lets up. But when I see the results of my fight- my son making better choices or being kinder, my students trying something new and succeeding, positive results in my own life- it makes the battle that much easier to fight.

I’ve just gotta keep believin’. I think Journey said something to that effect….

I’m participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge!!

Learn more at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com.