God Sees

God SeesSometimes I feed my children an improper view of God.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but let me explain what I mean.

My (tween) boys love to play Minecraft on the desktop computer in our office-turned-schoolroom. Our oldest takes an online course which teaches him to code Java, and the class uses Minecraft as the platform to teach advanced coding.

So of course, he and his brother need to play in the worlds he creates, to see that it all comes together the way he planned.

I’m good with that. But only if they play by the rules.

In our house, the rule for using any kind of computer or video screen is–Ask First. Because there are a number of important things (like schoolwork) that must be done first. Not only that, but I’ve read too many articles about screen-time turning young minds to mush, and so I limit their time. About this, my boys are thrilled. :)

Evenso, the temptation is strong for them, to turn on the computer and click on the little Minecraft icon.

Sometimes I find them playing without permission, so I created a password for them to type in each time they turn on the computer.

 

Continue reading this post at PurposefulFaith.com today!

Living Life Fulfilled {& Book Giveaway!}

FulfilledI met Danise Jurado through the #RaRaLinkup, which meets over at PurposefulFaith.com every Tuesday. And I’m so glad I did. Danise serves as pastoral counselor at Angelus Temple & The Dream Center in Los Angeles, California. She also teaches Bible studies and serves in many other ways, because she is passionate about encouraging people to live their most fulfilled life in Christ.

Now I know why.

I’ve read Danise’s book, Fulfilled: Learning to Live the Life God Promised, in which she shares her beautiful story. Her story is filled with the nearness and presence of God, and it inspires me. She shares in this book, how God delivered her from addictions and difficulties and great losses. Through these difficulties, He awakened her to her God-given potential.

I enjoyed this book, but more than that. Parts of Danise’s story moved me to tears. But then I walked away encouraged and had some fresh insight about a discouraging season I walked through recently. By the end, I had implemented some small new habits, which are helping me break free from certain cycles of defeat.

But most importantly, I walked away from this book with an extra spring in my step, with a deepened faith and growing courage.

“God has so much more for us than a mediocre, unfulfilled life.” {Page 32}

That’s good news, isn’t it? Most of us wonder. We question–am I missing something here? Or is just supposed to be this way, for now, this side of heaven? And yes, there are some things that will not be restored until our Lord Jesus Christ returns to make all things new.

On the other hand, He came to give us life to the full, and that life can be realized today. God wants us to live an abundant, fulfilled life.

Like a trusted counselor, Danise helps us apply God’s truth to our lives so we walk in freedom. She invites us to release our fears to the Lord and live with courage.

Danise writes about forgiveness, joy, restoration, confidence, and identity. At one point, a large piece of her identity in this world was taken away suddenly. It was a hard season, but then she found her way back to her truest identity, as a Child of God.

“A fundamental part of living a fulfilled life is knowing and understanding who we are.” {Page 67}

“Our Father is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the great I AM, the creator of heaven and earth, and He chose us, all of us, to be His children through Christ.” {Page 69}

It’s difficult to summarize this book, because it’s overflowing with truth and inspiration. Not only that, each chapter is practical enough to offer small steps to take in order to grow.

Fulfilled is a shot of hope, to be swallowed down no matter what season you find yourself in today.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

*To be entered in the giveaway, leave me a comment. Yes, right below that part that says, Go Ahead. Make My Day! :) Share something from this review that leaves you curious about this wonderful book. I’ll choose the winner on Wednesday, August 26, 2015. Here’s hoping it’s you!

GIVEAWAY UPDATE (August 26, 2015): Winner is Laura! I’ve emailed you and will mail it out this week! Congratulations! :)

 

Simply Tuesday {Book Giveaway}

Simply-Tuesday-3D2 The truth is, I’m a book girl.

Sometimes we call it my sickness around here.

But there are only a handful of books that end up front and center on my family room bookshelves–and these are all my favorites.

Today I get to tell you about one of my favorites, Emily P. Freeman’s new book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. As part of the Launch Team, I had the opportunity to take in this new release over the summer, in exchange for my honest review.

Because she’s one of my favorite authors, it doesn’t surprise me that I highly recommend this book. {Seriously, you need it!}

But only if you’re one of those people who feels like they’re “being pulled under by the strong current of expectation, comparison, and hurry.”

Only if you suspect that “our obsession with bigger and faster is spinning us out of control.”

Only if you need to find a little space for your soul to breathe.

I don’t want to speak for all of us, but Isn’t that pretty much everyone these days?

As Emily says, “We move through the week breathless and bustling, just trying to keep up while longing to slow down.”

Throughout Simply Tuesday, Emily invites us to slow down and celebrate our smallness. She suggests we look to our Tuesdays, the most ordinary day of the week, to find evidence of presence of Christ and His kingdom.

This book is a great reminder that Christ is the deepest need of our souls, and He gives meaning to even our smallest moments.

Emily told a story that sticks with me, about a little white house she drove past on her way to the beach. Surrounded by a gorgeous field of yellow rapeseed blossoms, the house and its fields of gold fascinated her.

With a little research, she learned the rapeseed plant is a mustard crop–as in The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.

The mustard seed grows easily and without much human effort.

It’s unruly and untamed, and grows wherever it desires, whether one wants it to grow or not.

“When the kingdom of God takes root, it will grow without much human effort at all.”

“We equate growth and size with God and favor, never stopping to consider the invisible kingdom we walk around in, the kind that starts as a mustard seed and grows whatever way it wants to, the kind that often works in secret, small ways–without our effort–like a seed, like yeast, like salt.”

See what I mean? These are such worthwhile words, and I took pages of notes. Because this world shouts the opposite. This world suggests we need to think bigger and live bigger, and makes me think the outcome is mostly up to me.

Simply Tuesday inspires us to release outcomes to God and to notice His presence “one inch above the ground.” I sincerely hope you’ll read it.

~Angela

Giveaway Details:

To be entered in the drawing for the book giveaway, simply leave a comment below. I will choose one person on Saturday, August 22, 2015, and will mail you a copy of this book (U.S. residents only). Truth be told, one of my kids will choose the name out of a hat…we are high-tech up in here. :)

August 22nd Update: The winner of the book giveaway is KELLY! I’ve sent you an email Kelly, and I look forward to getting this book in your hands!

 

What small, simple things do you appreciate today? The kind of things you might find within your ordinary Tuesdays?

Simply Tuesday

 

 

 

Rest & Life & Everything Else

Rest Life Jesus Christ

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

(Matthew 11:28)

This verse follows me around these days, everywhere I go.

From a series I wrote last year to a recent sermon at church to a card from a new friend with this verse painted on the front. Two books I read this summer discussed it at length, and last week, our community group sat around the living room, talking about ways we need to listen to these words.

Do scriptures sometimes chase you around like that?

Like arrows, they point the way to things we need to see.

Since I know these words well, I almost read past them. But there’s gospel wrapped up in them, and they’re worth listening to again.

Come to me.

This means, first of all, to believe and receive Jesus Christ as Savior.

To come is to eat the bread of life and drink His living water, to enter through the Door and spend time being with Him.

Come to who?

Come to Jesus. Our faith should never be wrapped up in a church or other believers or even ourselves. Salvation is found in a Person—Jesus Christ.

Who should come to Jesus?

All you who are weary and burdened.

This means all of us…    Hop on over to read the rest of this post at PurposefulFaith today!

Dreams & Reality #LongingforParis

longing for parisA few weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to tell you about an amazing book I had just finished reading–Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure—Right Where She Is.

Written by Sarah Mae, author of Desperate, this book has quickly become one of my favorites. I’m telling you about it again, because today is Launch Day for this gem, and the message is worth spreading.

I could tell you again about how I couldn’t put the book down and I devoured it in a day, while my kids splashed away in the little blow-up deck pool and wouldn’t stop asking me for snacks. :)

I could tell you how Sarah Mae understands Mom-life, how she writes as a friend who’s been there, and you might just feel like she peeked inside your own heart.

But instead, let me ask you a question, because I’m guessing you know what I’m talking about.

Do you know that struggle between what you want—and what you want to want?

Sarah Mae has wrestled through that tension, and shares her story in this book, encouraging us to take our desires to the Lord.

She reminds us that God formed our inward parts, as Psalm 139 says. He wove each of us together, and He cares about our dreams.

Is it hard for you to believe, that God cares about your dreams?

In many cases, He has placed those dreams within our hearts. But they’re not always meant for right now. Some dreams are meant to be realized another day.

Dreams Longings

Longing for Paris will encourage you to hold onto your dreams–but with open hands.

I’ve struggled through this myself, and maybe you’ve done the same.

I held tightly to some dreams. I was afraid of both stepping toward them–and also of not ever seeing them come true. In my daily life, I was constantly frustrated with how to work toward those–when other dreams of mine showed up like little people walking around, ALWAYS in need of something more.

In a season of desperation, I offered my dreams to the Lord. I handed them over again and again, until I was sure I had let them go.

I grieved the loss of what I had hoped for and completely said goodbye. At that time, I realized some of my identity was also wrapped up in that thing. That was a whole other tangled mess to unravel.

But God saw me through. He showed me that He cared, and reminded me of His goodness. And then I realized He didn’t agree, that me and my dream had broken up–and that we were never ever ever getting back together.

The dream might not end up looking like I always thought it would look. But it wasn’t over, and it started getting good when I offered it back to Him.

So I love this question Sarah Mae asks in Chapter 1 of Longing for Paris:

“Is it settled in your heart that {God} is good?”

Even if your longings are not fulfilled this side of heaven, will you trust God?

longing for Paris

You realize by now, the book is not really about Paris.

It’s about the way our longings can lead us to the One who filled us with dreams and fulfills our deepest longings.

I’ve been to Paris, and yes, I fell madly in love with the City of Light. But the truth?

“Paris can only ever give me a glimpse of the true thing I yearn for: to be with my God in all of His splendor.” ~Sarah Mae

I think you will love Sarah Mae’s new book. Order it here!

 

Chasing the Wind

chasing wind under sun meaningless

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:14

I’ve always loved the book of Ecclesiastes, since I first read it through as a teenager. Maybe it was the season I was in when I first met these words. Of course it was; I was a teenage girl. We all remember, right?

Solomon’s honesty appealed to me, and in my deepest melancholy, I guess I was drawn to his hopelessness. Everything is meaningless, he began, and he continued this theme until the end.

I nodded my head in agreement. I resonated with his search for more, for meaning and significance and God and all that matters.

I loved that it was okay to have questions. Deep and life-shattering questions. It was even okay if there was no good reason you should be the one searching for more. Because come on, this man was king with every possible indulgence at his fingertips!

Even in those shoes, he searched far and wide for true and lasting happiness.

Even in those shoes, life felt pointless. Boring. Wearisome. Monotonous.

Even in those shoes, the king declared there was nothing new under the sun.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, the proverb says (and Bon Jovi sings). But before this gets filed under Most Depressing Post in the history of my blog, let’s get to the real point.

The point of Ecclesiastes is that without God, life is futile.

Without an eternal perspective, life is meaningless. By the time you get to the end of the book, you’re nearly depressed and ready for the king’s conclusion—

The only way to live under the sun is to Fear God and keep His commands.

Because the truth?

Our lives do not only exist under the sun.

For those who believe in Jesus Christ, our lives are now hidden with Christ in God.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

Anyone who is in Christ, is also made into a new creation and given a new way to live.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

We were once without hope, but now we are seated with King Jesus in heavenly places.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6

We don’t need to chase after the wind.

Because our lives do not only exist under the sun.

Our God is making all things new.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

 

*Today I’m linking up with my dear friends at PurposefulFaith.com for the #RaRaLinkup, where we link arms to spread some love and encouragement each Tuesday morning. YOU are invited to drop by for a visit, or better yet, join us and come back each week! See you over there…

When People Look Like Trees {RaRaLinkup}

People Look Like Trees Sight

“God won’t stop until we can see everything clearly.”

~David Lomas, The Truest Thing About You

Just when you start to think you have Jesus figured out, He spits in a man’s eyes to heal him in an unconventional way.

It’s the only gradual healing we find in the gospels. Typically, Jesus touched someone, or they touched Him, and His touch healed them instantly. At other times, He simply said the word, and a person was healed.

In Mark chapter 8, Jesus healed a blind man in a two-stage process. First, Jesus led the man outside of town and spit in his eyes.

I’m not even joking. And the oddness only increases. Because this is Jesus–who holds the power to heal anyone in any way—and it almost seems as if He messes up the miracle, at least the first time around. Read it for yourself:

…When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

He looked up and said,

“I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

Read the rest of this post at Kelly Balarie & Friends and linkup your own post to our #RaRaLinkup to spread the encouragement!

Longing for Paris {Book Review}

longing for parisToday I am thrilled to tell you about an amazing little book I just finished reading, Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure—Right Where She Is. Written by Sarah Mae, author of Desperate, this book has quickly become one of my favorite books on the shelves.

I received an advance reader’s copy, as part of her launch team, and I devoured the book in one day.

I couldn’t put it down.

The kids enjoyed a day of splashing in the blow-up deck pool, while I highlighted in excess and mastered the art of read-walking (around the house) because too much time sitting…ouch!

What did I love about this book? Much more than I can put into a book review.

First of all, Sarah Mae understands my life as a Mom. She might as well have been taking down notes from my soul.

She gets that I long for the beauty of Paris, for soaking in art and music and getting lost in stacks of books, for time with real-live grown-up friends away from the kids, for a life of adventure and all the things that bring me joy in this life. But also, that my deepest desire is to love my husband well and to be there for my children in ways that only I can, to enjoy them and encourage them to really LIVE these lives they’ve been given.

But you know that recurring struggle between what you want—and what you want to want?

The desire to love the life you’ve been given—but also the dream of turning it into something better?

Well, Sarah Mae helps us understand how to live in that tension. The one between our dreams and our reality.

longing for Paris

Longing for Paris is a message of hope for Moms. It’s the encouragement we all need to embrace the season we’re in, while not denying the dreams God places in our hearts.

The point of the book is not really Paris.

“On the outside, I wanted Paris. But on the inside, what I was really searching for was a filling to the deepest parts of my soul. And I wanted to know what to do with Paris and my soul and my every day.” ~Sarah Mae

The point of the book is, longing for Paris (or whatever else it may be), leads us to the One who filled us with dreams and fulfills our deepest longings.

“Paris can only ever give me a glimpse of the true thing I yearn for: to be with my God in all of His splendor.” ~Sarah Mae

So, let’s see…my recommendation?

PRE-ORDER the book TODAY! Move this one to the top of your list. Share it with all your friends. Yes, it’s THAT good!

Order it here!

paris

River of Delights

river of delightsThis is my view all week, sunup to sundown.

It’s summer vacation, and our family loves to spend these days at the beach, just a couple hours from home. Our first morning here this year, I opened my Bible to these fitting and beautiful words:

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;

You give them drink from your river of delights.

(Psalm 36)

From this day forward, I think I’ll refer to the Atlantic as–The River of Delights.

Which makes me feel like Anne Shirley, but it’s true. Is there anything so irresistible? Crowds pour onto the sand each day in agreement.

The ocean overwhelms me, with shades of blue as far as the eye can see. Something about standing in front of this vast body of water lulls me home inside. When I’m here, I remember–this power is God, this beauty is His, these constant waves roll in like good gifts He’s always giving.

God serves up drinks, from His river of delights. He lays out a feast, from the abundance of His house.

I’m posting over at PurposefulFaith.com today. Read the rest of this post here.

But the Years Are Short

Days are long years are short 12 years ago today, I was supposed to be giving birth to my first baby.

But he stayed cozy for another week.

I remained just a little shy of crazy, waking each day in tears because I was still with child.  It was an emotional time.

Kinda like last weekend. The boys were camping, and I ran up to grab something “real quick” from the attic. The grossly unorganized attic. Thanks, kids. Instead, I spent 2 hours organizing and happened upon these two tiny gentlemen.

Skylar thought I’d stepped on a nail. These were happy tears, I explained. And some sad ones, because…

I never wanted those years to end.

Those boys were sweet and fun and they made me laugh. A lot.

I didn’t have to expect so much out of them, because they were little. I enjoyed being their Mommy SO much.

I dressed them up often like my own twin baby dolls. Until that snotty little kid at church made fun of them for wearing the same Tommy Hilfiger shirts, right in front of me. Like that, my shopping fun was over. They never wore matching shirts again.

They’re growing into amazing young men–and I’m so unbelievably proud of them. Also holding my breath a little. And praying a lot.

They’re not baby dolls anymore. Now they’re pre-teen boys in man-sized bodies.

They spend their lives repeating (or making up) jokes that aren’t funny, making “impressive” noises with their bodies, trying to get out of schoolwork, and keeping a room that induces fits. {At least that’s the effect it has on me.}

They grow more independent each day, and that’s just how it should be.

Lisa-Jo Baker said it best, in her book, Surprised by Motherhood:

“Mothers never want it to be over. Even the hard stuff. They may want to find room to breathe, to weep, to panic. But they don’t want it to end…”

Back when my boys were small, my pastor said something I didn’t fully understand~

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

I get it now. I feel it inside and out. It’s a strange combination of terrible and beautiful.

But once I find my way out of this occasional melancholy maze, my desire is great.

I want to make the most of these years.

I can’t do it alone. Last night, God reminded me~Apart from me you can do nothing.

I can read the best books and compile the right research. I may have excellent methods in place and know just what to do.

But the best things happen when I lay down all my plans and methods and research, and ask the Lord to live through me–that’s when fruit grows, in spite of me.

I’ve been reading a 31-Day devotional written by some friends I met last year at the Allume Conference. I want to share it with you, because if you’re anything like me, you want to make the most of these years, and you need regular encouragement. gracefortheimperfectmom_frontcover_300_jpg Grace for the Imperfect Mom: A 31-Day Invitation to Refreshed Mothering seeks to “frame our mothering through the fruits of the Spirit.” Is there any better way?

The authors hooked me with this summary–“Grace for what happens today, grace over our past, our future, and the families whose lives we influence each day. Grace for all us imperfect mamas out there.” Imperfect mamas? Now that’s something I understand!

This is an inexpensive and easy summer read, full of uplifting scriptures applied to real-life scenarios, and it would make an excellent gift for any Mom. Check it out here!

Here’s to all of us, making the most of days that are long and years that are painfully short…

~Angela