God still does miracles

In the interest of honesty, I have to admit that whenever people tell me they witnessed a miracle, I’m always a little skeptical. I believe that God did miracles in the past, and that Jesus did tons of miracles during His time on earth, but for some reason I have a hard time believing He could do them in my life and in lives of people I know. But I learned last week that miracles still happen. It wasn’t some crazy, huge miracle. It was a quiet miracle that reminded me that God is still listening, even to my silent shower prayers.

Let me back track a little bit. Last week our new furnace broke. We had just purchased the big hunk o’ junk last June, and had only been using it since maybe November. And after 3 whole months of usage, the blower motor decides to break. At 2:30 in the morning Steven and I woke up to the smell of burning plastic, and we could not figure out what was going on. All we knew was that the smell was coming from the heating vents. After looking for the source, and after awaking his poor father from slumber to ask for help, we could not find where it was coming from. So we opened the window and went back to sleep. The next day we realize that the heat isn’t turning on anymore, and we realize something must be wrong. We have someone come look at it and they break the bad news that blower motor is shot and will need to be replaced. To say I was angry would be an understatement. We had just bought this stupid thing, and it was already broken?? Well after many phone calls we finally figure out who to call to use the warranty. So I call, and after some frustration they mail out the part. Mind you this was Friday afternoon, and the weather in our town had been mild for February but we knew that the weather forecast was calling for more cold weather the following week. Because we have tenants that live in the apartment in our basement, we wanted to make sure that they stayed nice and warm. So Friday afternoon, part is shipping, the lady on the phone tells me “It should get to you by Tuesday, but no guarantees”. Tuesday wasn’t bad, but the cold weather was supposed to return on Monday, and if we didn’t get the part until Tuesday, we wouldn’t get it fixed until Wednesday at the earliest. This might not seem like a big deal, and you might think I’m crazy, but I was worried! I didn’t want our poor tenants (or us) to freeze!

Fast-forward to Saturday morning, I’m in the shower, praying about the furnace and the part, and I had been reading about the miracles of Jesus in the book of John. So I prayed, “Lord, it would be really great if this part could get here before Tuesday. Please work a miracle and get it here faster.” About an hour or two later, I was sitting at the dining room table, and a package arrives. I hoped against hope that it would be our blower motor, and IT WAS! It took less than 24 hours for the part to get to us, and because of that we were able to have the furnace fixed by Monday.

Friends, that is my miracle! You might have thought it was going to be something way cooler, but to me that was the best! God wants to work in the details of our lives. He wants to do the healing, but He also wants to deliver the blower motor in just the nick of time! He wants us to know that He hears us, and that He cares. He wants to meet our small needs, our medium needs, and our big needs. If it matters to us, it matters to Him. He wants to do a miracle, and He wants us to believe that He will, and to trust Him even when we don’t see the miracle coming. Over and over the Psalms talk about trusting and relying on the Lord, and He is inviting us to do that on a daily basis. Trust in Him. Rely on Him. He can be trusted, and He is worthy.

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The Beauty of Yes and No

Today I would like to tell you about the concept of “yes and no”. It’s a simple concept, but I’m pretty positive that applying this principle to your life and opinions can bring freedom to the discussions you have. I think it will even bring freedom to your life, because I know it did for me. My husband was the one that brought this idea to my attention, and it’s quite simple. The idea is that the answer to many of life’s biggest questions and debates isn’t “yes or no” it’s “yes and no”, it isn’t either/or, it’s both!

I think much of our culture and even our world is doing discussion and conversation wrong. They (we) are doing it in a way that turns people off and turns them away. We say, “The way I believe it is the only way, and there is no way what what you believe is valid.” But what if they were right… and you were right too? What if we left room for both sides of the issue, and thought that maybe we’re both right? Don’t get me wrong, there are some things that are absolute truths, for example Jesus came to earth in the form of a man, died on the cross to cover our sins, rose from the grave, and belief in that fact, and in Him is the only way to heaven. That is absolute truth. Some people might not agree with this, but the truth is they are wrong, and you would lovingly (key word) have to tell them so. Murder is wrong, robbing someone is wrong, there are moral absolutes that we live by and this thought of “yes and no” won’t apply. BUT I think there are a lot of issues that can be both yes and no.

For example, the law vs grace, and faith vs works debate that goes on within the christian community. I’ve seen the smack down happen on social media when people disagree over those topics. Lots of shaming going on, and neither side is willing to see the other person’s point. But maybe, just maybe it’s not law vs grace, but law and grace. Maybe it isn’t faith vs works, but faith and works. Maybe they were created to work together instead of oppose one another.

Grace is great, I’m so grateful for for it because the Lord knows I need it. Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying! But I do believe that the law is great too! The law has it’s benefit, and a purpose. I seek to follow the law because I am grateful for grace. Grace is what pushes me towards obedience. Grace is what pushes me towards the Lord, and because I love Him I seek to obey Him. There are times I fail, in fact, I fail all the time, and that’s where I get to experience that absolute BEAUTY of grace. But out of my grateful heart, I seek to obey. When receiving grace and observing the law occur, obedience happens, and it’s amazing. When we set them up against each other we lose something valuable! We aren’t saved by the law, we are saved because of grace. But that doesn’t mean they can’t work together to make us better.

Another thing I think is great? Faith! For it is by faith that we are saved, not by works. Pretty awesome, huh? We don’t have to earn salvation, we believe and then it’s ours! Woooooo! BUT that doesn’t mean that we should stop working. They might not save us, but they are still important. When you love someone, don’t you want to do nice things for them? (Your answer should be yes.) So if you love God, shouldn’t you want to serve Him? (Your answer should be yes.) I’ve been in the place where I serve God because I subconsciously think that I’ll earn more love from Him if I do. It’s not a fun place to be, and it’s just straight up not biblical. But you don’t stop serving God just because in the past you’ve taken it too far in the past. Today I was watching a video as a part of my devotion, and she said “God put me in the places you want me to be doing the things you want me to do.” When we pray that, we’ve putting it in God’s hands, but He knows that our heart is willing to serve Him.

Salvation is an incredible gift, but we don’t get saved and then just say thank you for saving me Jesus, and call it a day. No! He is calling us to a relationship with Him. A relationship with the creator of the world, with the most high, with the ultimate lover of our souls. What an incredible blessing! So I don’t want to just say “thanks for the grace.” and call it a day. I don’t want to say, “I believe!” and then not live it out with my life. The two get to work together. The answer isn’t one or the other, it’s both. One saves you, but the other part gives you the opportunity to join an incredible journey with God. They’re both valuable.

So, lets think about this question again… what if the answer to so many of our debates isn’t one or the other, what if it’s both things working together? This will open the door to constructive and productive conversations, and I think will give us the ability to live a more spiritually healthy and balance life. And friend, I think that is a beautiful thing.

How do you feel about this concept of “yes and no”?

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What my 2 months of marriage expertise have taught me

After being married for almost 2 months, I would like to confidently say that marriage is awesome. I can see all you marriage veterans out there shaking your head, patting me on the back and saying, “oh honey, you just wait”, so I’d like to take a moment to assure you that you need not worry. I’m not naive, I know that I am a newlywed, and that marriage is going to be a difficult journey, and that there will be times where I might not be “happy”. I know that it won’t be easy, and that it’s going to take hard work on both of our parts. I’m well aware that there will be highs and lows, arguments and laughter, times of financial strain and times of financial prosperity. I may be young, but I’ve seen enough marriages fail to know that it is hard. But I’ve also seen enough marriages thrive to know that is a wonderful gift. I understand that it won’t be easy, but I also understand that it will be worth it.

Now that I got that out of the way, here is what I’ve learned in my first 2 months of marriage.

First off, I have learned that I am selfish. I’m not gonna lie, I never saw myself this way before, and I don’t say it now in a self deprecating way, I’m just acknowledging that in my fallen human nature, I’m selfish. What made me realize this you ask? Well, many of the disagreements I have with my wonderful husband revolve around the fact that I want what I want, and I want it when I want it. Notice how many times I said the word “I” in that previous sentence. But marriage isn’t about me, the day I said “I do” my “I” turned into a “we”. I’m now a part of a two man team, and as the saying goes, “there is no “I” in team”. That’s not to say that my needs and desires are unimportant, or that it’s wrong to want something. When I want a back massage (pretty much every day), I think that is very important. But it becomes selfish when I demand or expect that back massage. When I expect Steven to stop doing what he’s doing (typically recording music), and meet my needs, that is selfish. So I’m a recovering selfishaholic, that’s lesson numero uno.

Lesson number 2, marry your best friend. I know I’m only 2 months in, but marrying the person I have the most fun with, laugh the most with, have the most jokes with, and all that other good stuff was the smartest thing I could have ever done. Because he’s my best friend, I’m not afraid to let him know when he’s hurt me or made me mad because I’m totally comfortable with him. I also hate it when we’re angry or upset with each other because I love talking to him. I can be 100% myself around him, and he can do the same with me… because we’re both really weird. I often tell him that it’s a good thing God brought us together, because no one else is as weird as us. Coming home to him at the end of the day is the biggest relief. When I give him a hug, the exhaustion of the day melts away, and I melt into his arms. It’s pretty great. So do it… marry your best friend.

Lesson number 3, marriage is a great reflection of our relationship with God. I’ve experienced some hurts in my life, nothing super severe, but pain nonetheless. This pain caused baggage, which I brought into my relationship with Steven. I had(have) a hard time believing that anyone could truly love me unconditionally. That if I mess up, or show a flaw or fault, they’ll stop loving me. People proved that to me, and so I truly believed it. But Steve has become a walking and talking representation of what the love of God looks like. No matter how many times I hurt him, or let my selfish colors show through, he doesn’t go anywhere. My cracks have shown, my flaws have been loud, but every morning I wake up and he’s there. Every morning starts the same way, he rolls over, gives me a kiss and a hug and tells me he loves me and then we start our day. I don’t have to earn it, he just freely gives it. And isn’t that what God does for us? I’m learning about God in new ways through that magnificent man, and it’s awesome.

Lesson number 4, God really does have to be the center. I heard that a million times in marriage books, videos, and pretty much anything else marriage related. That is wisdom, don’t forget it. Remember to make your relationship with God your own. Yes, the 2 become one flesh, but God still wants a relationship with the individuals. I’m finding that when I seek God, and spend time in His presence, it’s easier to be the wife I’m called to be. In fact, it comes more naturally.

Finally, lesson number 5, don’t ever think you have it all figured out. There will be days where I think I have the whole marriage thing under control, days where I feel like a pro. Then  there are days where I fail miserably. Or where I get hurt, or where I hurt Steven. Days where honestly, I don’t feel very happy and where I make Steven unhappy. And it’s in those days where I get to learn something new, and where God reveals something awesome! That’s the beauty of life, whether your married, engaged, dating, or single, you’ll never have it all figured out, there will always be something new to learn. It keeps me humble, and James 4:6 says that God gives grace to the humble, and the good Lord knows I need a ton of grace (literally, a ton)! I’m glad that life comes with a learning curve, and that as I learn I change. I’m being molded into a version of me that looks more like Him.

I could write on and on about the lesson I’m learning through this crazy thing called marriage. It’s such a wonderful journey, and to share it with Steven is an honor and privilege. I’m not saying that I know it all, I hope that instead this post showed the opposite, that I know I don’t know it all. That I know I have a ton to learn, and that I know marriage will be filled with ups and downs and inbetweens. But I want you to know, that it’s wonderful. It’s hard and you have to be all in, but it’s worth it. The world might tell you differently, it might tell you that marriage doesn’t work, but don’t listen. I say that to myself as much as I say it to you. Yes marriage is between two imperfect people, but through each other He is perfecting us. As iron that sharpens iron, so Steven sharpens me.

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Best day EVER!!

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See what I mean about always making me laugh? (This was during our vows)

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That’s me, with my hottie husband (isn’t he cute?!)

Like Fine Wine

Reading through the IF:Equip devotional has been enlightening and inspiring. Today’s passage was John 2:1-12, which is about Jesus’s first miracle of turning water into wine. I’ve read that passage probably about 100 times throughout my walk with the Lord, but today as I dug a little deeper, and looked at the words through new eyes, I found more than what I had read before.

I am learning that Jesus was intentional in everything He did. There was always a reason and purpose for the things he chose to say and do. This seems pretty clear throughout this passage. Mary tells her son (Jesus) that there is no more wine at the wedding, and she tells the servants nearby to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. He  instructs them to fill the water pots near by that were used for the Jewish custom of purification. Verse 7 tells us that they fill them up to the brim, and then in verse 8 He says, “Draw some out now and take it to the manager of the feast.” The servant brought him the “water”, he drank it and said, “Everyone else serves his best wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then he serves that which is no good; but you have kept back the good wine until now.” Noone but the servants, His disciples, and Mary knew that Jesus had performed a miracle. And I think it’s pretty cool that Jesus used servants, the “lowliest” people in the room, to perform that miracle. But that’s not even the part that hit me the most.

Jesus took water, and He turned it into wine. Not just any kind of wine either, the best wine. He transformed water into wine. God is in the business of transformation. He’s taking you and me, and if we let Him, He’s turning us into the best possible version of ourselves. He’s making us into the finest wine. He’s transforming us into someone who thinks, and acts, and talks more like Him. He’s making us more holy. I think throughout our whole life He’ll be transforming us, molding us, and refining us. And when He’s done, when we come out on the other end of each transformation process, we’ll be better. A better version of ourselves, on our way to the best version. And like a fine wine, we’ll just keep getting better. He’ll keep making us better. He’ll keep transforming. Will you let Him?

Greater Things

In an effort to improve the quality of the time I spend with the Lord, I decided to start following IF:Equip. IF:Equip is a product of the IF:Gathering, which was a woman’s conference that happened earlier this month. It was designed to be a new type of conference, to gather woman together and ask the question, “If God is real.. then what? If I am who He says I am, then what?” I had been following the conference and loved the idea behind it, so when they came out with a bible reading plan, I was excited to climb on board. While I couldn’t fly to Texas for the event, I could join this new forming community.

Today’s reading was John 1:35-51. It’s about Jesus choosing and calling the disciples to follow Him. It’s a beautiful and encouraging story, because He didn’t choose the best  or the brightest in the land. He didn’t choose the smartest, most religious student, or the best known person. He chose ordinary people, without any known skill pertinent to His mission here on earth. But in the upside-down, backwards kingdom that Jesus was bringing down to earth, it didn’t matter. Without favoritism or prejudice, He chose them to follow Him, to do life with Him, and to follow Him. Pretty incredible.

But, the words that struck me the most were found in verses 49-50. “Nathanael answered, ‘Teacher, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus replied, ‘Because I said to you, I saw you beneath the fig tree, do you believe in and rely on and trust in me? You shall see greater things than this!’ ” In the preceding verses, Jesus was basically telling Nathanael things about Himself, which convinced him that this man really was the Messiah. Jesus’s reply was what really got me though. He basically said, “Really? Me telling you facts about yourself is what convinced you of who I am? Ooooh boy, just wait and see. You aint seen nothin yet.” He told him “You shall see greater things than this!”

I know that in this specific instance He was referring to when He would ascend to the heavens, BUT I think that this can still apply to our own lives.

I’m a blessed woman. I’m newly married to the best man in the world. We have a house that perfect for us. We have full time jobs that meet our needs and allow for some leisure. I grew up with two loving parents, who sacrificed for us kids. I went to a Christian university, met great people, and got a great education.The Lord has always provided for me, and blessed me far beyond what I deserve. But as my husband and I enter into this season of waiting for and working towards some big dreams, I hear God saying, “You shall see greater things than this.”

I think in my head, “God I know you are good and you are God, because I’ve seen you work in my life. You have done some great things.” And He says, “You aint seen nothin yet!”

When we follow God, when we walk in obedience, following His steps, I think that the best is always yet to come. God provided a new job for you when you were feeling trapped in your old one? You shall see greater things than this! You graduated from college, after 4 long years (or in my case, 6) of studying and test taking and no sleep, but I have good news. You shall see greater things than this! You were in a financial rock and hard place, but a miracle happened and God provided. You shall see greater things than even that!

I think about all the amazing things in my life, all the amazing things that God has already done, but the ultimate encouragement is that He isn’t done yet. The best is yet to come. For me, for my marriage, for our blooming company. The best is yet to come… for you, for your dream. As we walk in obedience and follow the one who works all things for our good, we will see His will be done, on earth, as it is heaven.