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

For the Not-So-Shiny Days

Wait on the Lord Seek the Lord

Some days, the sun shines, and I jump out of bed early. I slept enough hours without any interruptions, and I feel good. I start the day with the Lord and a run and then the kids come trickling out of their rooms, ready for the eggs I’ve made. Then I head upstairs for a quick shower with some great music to help me get happily ready to start the homeschool day.

Some days.

Other days, it’s much harder to see beauty–because other days look a lot more like chaos. Can you relate?

Maybe someone needed me in the night, or I stayed up late with Jimmy Fallon.

Maybe the kids leave their rooms an hour before the time we’ve set. They forget to complete their morning chores, and so the laundry piles up and the bedrooms are a mess.

Maybe I’m tired and it’s a cloudy day and I don’t have time for quiet time and I didn’t get a run and I haven’t made breakfast and I don’t feel well.

Maybe.

Do you ever think about the back-and-forth of our lives? The up-and-down? Does it frustrate you the way it frustrates me?

I can get on such a roll of seeing-the-beauty days–of good, productive mornings, of day-before preparation, of starting the day out right. But then–something changes. Often, I don’t even see it coming. A cold. A sick kid. A misunderstanding. A big disappointment. Hard work that doesn’t yield results. Whatever it might be.

Then I get on a roll of seeing more chaos than beauty.

The kids are still waiting on me, so I have to quickly figure out how to deal.

How do you deal with days that look more like chaos, with the cloudy days and your own clouded mind?

Jump on over to PurposefulFaith.com, to read the rest of this post!

Like A Treasure

Kingdom of Heaven Treasure Desire JesusWhat do you desire?

It may be the most important question you’ll ever answer.

Before you respond with the answer you think you should say, give it some thought. Resist the temptation to use the fast-pass. Let these questions help you get to the heart of what you desire most.

  • What makes you happy?
  • What is it you crave, that you’re sure would make you happier?
  • What do you worry about?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • Where do you run for comfort?
  • What do you fear losing, or fear never attaining?
  • What would you never want to live without?

Think about these questions, and you’ll probably yield more than one honest answer. You’ll uncover the truth not only of what you desire, but also what you treasure.

Jesus spoke about treasure in the book of Matthew. He told a mini-parable, comparing the kingdom of heaven to a treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44, NIV)

Many people think Jesus makes the point that we should treasure the kingdom of heaven so much, that we’d give up everything in order to gain it.

While most of us would agree, that finding the kingdom of heaven is like finding treasure, we struggle with the part about giving up everything….

Click here to read the rest of this post over at PurposefulFaith.com today.

Why We Need Revival (Linkup)

Truth Lies Rooted In Him RevivalEven with truth living in and around me, somehow the lie came along too.

I believed in Jesus so young. No major questions, just a big Yes, I believe. I don’t ever remember saying yes to the lie, but it followed me anyway.

It’s the oldest lie on the books, the same lie that poisoned Eden. It wears the mask of something more, something better. But it spoils. After it weasels in to take root in our hearts.

God doesn’t truly love you, not enough. You need more. That’s the lie.

Did you know we can hold the truth in one hand, and reach for something better with the other?

We live in such a broken-down place, but we still build our towers to the skies. We fill ourselves up, at least we try.

Even when we hold the truth, we can be living under the influence of the lies.

We need to remember, on thousands of days–God loves us. So much that He made a way to rescue us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He who came not to condemn the world, but to save it.

Not only that, but also–Jesus is enough. He didn’t only die. He was raised to life for us. He IS life, and He wants to create new life in us.

Why do we still look for life in other places? We wouldn’t usually call it that. Okay, we’d never call it that.

But the root of all our sin is—we desire created things more than we desire the Creator.

We are idolaters, of the hidden kind.

We need to remember who God is, and we need to remember who we are. And then, the only way for us, is to repent.

We need revival, the life of Jesus poured into us. Right now, right here in the center of our living rooms. No need for a big tent or a booming voice calling us forward.

We need revival here–in our hearts, at the end of March at the kitchen desk. With the Word open and an open heart.

In these moments, I desire nothing more than Jesus. When I stray from here, I need revival again. {So I will need it by tomorrow. But actually much sooner.} My life, in Christ, depends on it.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives IN HIM, rooted and built up in Him… Colossians 2:6-7

Kelly Balarie (22)

Hello to all my blogging friends who are here to join the #RaRaLinkup today…I look forward to reading your words this week!

 

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Kelly Balarie (22)

Hope for the Deepest Why

Hope Deepest Why Because He LivesSometimes life pulls us away from our hope. We get busy. We’re distracted. We’re extremely forgetful. Trials and difficulties abound, and our hope gets lost in the middle.

Other times, we lose hope because we’re wading through dark seasons, through the deepest whys.

I remember one such season. We were in the middle of a move, living in an apartment until our new house was finished. We had just left the church we called home for a decade. We had to say goodbye to our dogs. And then my young, healthy friend ended up with cancer.

I remember sitting in the driver’s seat of my car. My husband called and said her fight was over.

It was the day before Valentine’s Day.

I scratched hows and whys on black and white pages, in blood red ink mixed with tears. How wide and deep was this why…

 

Click on over to Fearfully Made Mom, for the rest of this post. I’m guest posting there as part of Abby McDonald’s Renewal Through Christ series. Join us!

Mercy Inspires Worship

Mercy Inspires Worship Come Worship

Everyone worship the Lord.

Ascribe Him the glory due Him. Proclaim His majesty.

Be in awe before such power.

Come worship wonderful Yahweh, in all His holy beauty.

Give Him the honor due His name!

(Excerpts from Psalm 29, NIV & Passion Translation)

One of my highlights this year has been sitting with the Lord alone most days, praying without multitasking. In this time, I worship and adore God, confess my sins, thank Him for an incredible amount of blessings, and pour out my cares before Him, asking for His help.

I had no idea worship would become the part of my prayers I long for most.

I didn’t realize I would set out to give the Lord the honor due His name–yet I would receive so much blessing.

It’s not that I failed to worship the Lord before. It’s just that I didn’t take regular time away from other people–and other tasks–in order to worship Him alone. To worship without multitasking.

But what is worship, really? Worship is often more than sitting with God alone, in prayer and song.

Look up the definition of worship, and you’ll find a number of ideas. Some think worship is a service you attend, a feeling you have toward a deity, or homage paid to God or another sacred object.

Oxford Dictionary defines worship as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”

Paul, the apostle, offers another definition of worship in Romans 12:1-2,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… (NIV)

True worship begins with a view of God’s mercy…

 

Today I’m guest posting over at Purposeful Faith with Kelly & Friends. Read the rest of this post by clicking here, at PurposefulFaith.com.