Warning: Sappy post ahead 🙂

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I had many other dreams as well but that one was always a no brainer.

I was over-the-moon with joy when we found out we were expecting our first baby. I had read so many articles in the months before about pregnancy I’m pretty sure I should have been a pro. Wrong. So wrong.

From a threatened miscarriage, to hyperemesis, to wacky test results that needed further investigation, I felt like anything that could have gone wrong did. I won’t lie, it was a very difficult time for me.

And then, she was born. Hannah Faith, 8lbs 1oz of pure baby bliss on July 7th at 7:54pm. The moment I held her in my arms everything I went through during the pregnancy was absolutely, without a doubt worth it. There are no words to explain the feeling you get when your baby is laid in your arms for the first time. Everything feels right in the world. It is magic.

That little baby bliss turns 3 tomorrow.

Some days I feel the time has slipped right through my fingers. The older she gets the less cuddles she wants and the more I wish I could rock that sweet baby one more time. On the other hand, I see the little girl she is becoming and I know that has taken time.

She is sweet and spunky. Kind and stubborn. Hilarious and clumsy. Mommy’s girl and independent. Smart and quirky. Generous and outgoing. Friendly and helpful. She’s an awesome big sister. She’s my Hannie Banannie (but she would say no, she’s Hannah Haston).

No, I don’t live in a fairy tale world. We have bad days, we have meltdowns, we have tantrums. But we have very amazing days, and in my mind those days outweigh all the bad.

In all honesty, I’m lucky to be this girl’s mom. She is a world changer in the making. She is so sweet and friendly to everyone she meets. She doesn’t have to do anything but walk into a room and people are drawn to her, they want her to like them. God has placed special things into her personality that I can only imagine how they will be used in the future. I am excited to see what this life holds for her and what she does with it.

This next year is going to be exciting! I know she will have so many firsts, learn crazy amounts of information, and continue to develop that little personality of hers.

Maybe one day she will stumble across these words, so just in case Happy Birthday my sweet Hannah baby. I love you more than I could ever tell you. God made you special baby girl.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,a God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:13-18

Have you ever felt that tug on your heart to talk to someone about Jesus? Maybe it’s someone you know well or that you’ve just met. How do you respond to that feeling?

Do you take the challenge head on by sharing the gospel and having a respectful conversation? Maybe you share some of your personal experiences or struggles and how Jesus has helped you or worked in your life. If you have done this several times you know you don’t always get the response you hope for. For some people it only takes one conversation for them to realize their need for Jesus in their lives, and for others it takes seeds planted and watered over time. Don’t get discouraged if you are another can of water for one of those seeds.

I know some of you are thinking, “No way. If I feel that stirring I run as fast as I can the other way.”  Part of me wants to tell you that’s ok, but really it’s not. I know, it’s uncomfortable. I have a hard time carrying on conversation when I’m nervous or uncomfortable so I get you, I really do. But, do you know it’s what we are called to do as Christians?

Matthew 28:18-20 says, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I’m sure there are some reading this who are like me. You want desperately to make a difference and share Jesus with as many people as possible but you don’t know how. Or even worse, you don’t think you will be able to do it or that you will matter. Maybe if you change your perspective you will feel more confident about sharing.

The great commission was Jesus’ last words on earth. Surely he thought they were of extreme importance. When we stop looking at sharing our faith as a chore and start thinking about it as the thing we are called to do we are free to enjoy it. If you love Jesus, why not willingly share him every chance you get?

There is no right or wrong way to share your faith. There are some ideas and formulas out there for leading people to Christ. But I have found the most effective way to bring someone to Christ is to live it out in your daily life. Be the type of person that makes people wonder what is different about you. Figure out what it is that God is calling you to do to share your faith and do it 100%. The only real wrong way is not trying at all.

ATTENTION CHRISTIAN: The church is not for YOU!

Our society is self-absorbed to say the least. Instant gratification is at our fingertips. We are free to shout our opinions from the social platform of our choice. If someone is not for you they are against you. Wait is a word we despise.

This attitude overflows to every area of our lives. We bring the selfishness with us when we walk through the doors of our churches. If the service is not tailored to our preferences we get angry. If someone doesn’t speak to us we get offended.  We threaten to leave when the music is too loud or if they sing too many hymns. If the preaching steps on our toes we find the church gossip to start spreading rumors of getting rid of the pastor.

It’s disappointing and frustrating.

Since when was the church about us?

The purpose of the church is to reach the lost, to spread the good news. Once you become a Christian, it’s no longer there for you and your preferences. At that point the church is for you to come to worship and help others come to Christ. Plain and simple.

When you become a Christian you join the body of Christ. A body cannot work against itself and do good. When there is division in the body it cannot do its purpose of reaching others.

I imagine the devil is enjoying the show right now. Our selfishness is a tool being used to bring division into God’s house. No wonder non-believers are turned off.

The church doesn’t need to change the Gospel, but some of our traditions are outdated and won’t reach those in their 20s. It’s a fact no matter how much we don’t want to believe it. There will have to be some changes for the church to continue to grow.

I’m not saying the church needs to compete with the world, but if we aren’t relevant or interesting millennials might come but won’t stay and the church will eventually die out.

Will you take a stand with me and refuse to be a pawn in satan’s attacks on the church? Let’s bring unity back into our churches. You may not agree with everything the leadership of your church chooses to do but that’s ok, support them anyway. The music may not be your style, but it might be the style of a non-believer that came for the first time and then went on to accept Jesus.

So as a Christian, no, the church isn’t for you. Don’t fall into the trap of believing the church is there to serve you. You are there to serve the church and help others come to Christ.

Heavenly Father, please take away all my selfish desires. Put boldness into the hearts of those you have called to defend the unity of your church. Help us as Christians to remember that the church is not for us, it is a place that we come to worship you and lead others to you. Help us to remember when we don’t like something a certain way that it may have an impact on a nonbeliever. 

 

Camp was fantastic!! I’m pretty sure that I learned just as much as the students we took with us. I am always humbled and blessed that I get to spend my time with these “kids.” It is an honor to say the least. They are an extension of my family.

In case you haven’t noticed I like to write out of my struggle. I was told at a conference once that you shouldn’t do that because you haven’t fully processed your emotions, but that’s why I do it. If I think about it too much I’ll sort everything out and forget the struggle. I do write about my past some, but mostly my present.

So, while we were at camp I realized something that I had been feeling but had never acknowledged. While reading the gospel I sometimes struggle with the personality of Jesus. I am a very sarcastic person, to the point of taking it too far sometimes, so I tend to read Jesus’ remarks with those lenses. I find myself thinking that Jesus was sarcastic and maybe hurtful. How do you fall in love with a personality you don’t understand?

I was finding it very difficult. I was doing the work, reading, praying, serving, worshipping, but I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t clicking. Why wasn’t I in love with Jesus? Because I didn’t understand him. I was looking at the gospel through my world, thinking that it had everything to do with me. In reality the Bible has nothing to do with me. Nothing in it changed because of me. I shouldn’t read the Bible to learn more about me, I should read it to learn more about God and Jesus.

I have started reading through John to help me understand Jesus more. Even in the past few days my perspective has changed. I no longer see Jesus as sarcastic, but rather stating facts. I can finally see those wonderful characteristics that people fall in love with. The speaker for camp last week said, “The devil uses the scriptures against you first.”  That’s what was happening to me! I knew what the Bible said, but the devil was helping me twist it into lies.

John 5:39-40 says You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

I read these verses and realized they were talking about me. I read the scriptures because I thought that’s how I would have salvation. I had the correct beliefs, and I trusted in Jesus, but I couldn’t see those “in love with Jesus” characteristics. I am thankful that God has begun to reveal those to me.

What characteristics about Jesus do you struggle with? When you talk about Jesus are you talking about someone you are in love with? If you are like me and have been struggling with this, read John. Get to know Jesus, fall in love with Jesus.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your son Jesus. Thank you for second, third, millionth chances to know you more. Help me to see Jesus for who he is. Help me fall in love with him. Amen.

There is this word that bounces around in my heart, mind and soul.

It is a trap that keeps me from living a carefree life.

A lie that I have grown to believe.

Normal.

I hate that word, and yet I cling to it.

Sometime when I was young I bought into the lie that normal exists. From that point on I have been very cautious to stay within those parameters. How would I do that? Be a good girl, follow the rules, don’t do anything to bring attention to myself, blend in with the crowd. I will be honest and say that for the most part I’ve done a very good job of being normal.

I have spent countless hours comparing myself to others to make sure I was still being normal. And what is comparison? The thief of joy.

My husband is pretty hilarious. He will do silly things at any time, and he doesn’t care who may be watching. 99% of the time I don’t join in with him because of the fear that other people will look at me and think I’m not acting normal. I keep myself on a leash of sorts, not going too far one way or the other so that I will fit in that box of normalcy.

When Sadie was born I struggled with everything not being normal. I found myself angry. She didn’t roll at the normal time, I was frustrated. She didn’t crawl when most babies do, and I said it wasn’t fair. All because being normal was so important to me. It was foundational for me.

In the last 3 months I have begun a process of letting go of normal. I am not perfect at it. I still struggle with the fear of judgment from others when I don’t fit in that make believe box.  I know normal is a figment of my imagination and a made up ideal by our culture. I know I don’t have to be normal, in fact, God doesn’t want us to be normal. He wants us to be set apart and different. And so that is what I am working towards.

Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Next week my husband and I are taking the youth group to camp. We are so excited to see how God will work in their lives. We always grow closer to God and each other during this week. Our theme this year is fear. I am really praying God will use this week to speak to me about the fears I have that keep me from living out his purpose and plan for my life.

Will you join us in prayer next week?

Heavenly Father, help me let go of normal. I know you have called me to be set apart because I am a Christian. Teach me how to embrace being different and let go of my fears. I ask you to move mightily in the hearts and lives of these youth and leaders next week. Let their lives be transformed, and their hearts be set on fire for you. Grow us and mold us into what you want us to be. Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you. Amen.