Tag Archives: glory

The Worst Years

My Worst Years

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jesusabizanda/ (changes mine)

The two years before this one have been the pits. The absolute worst. They haven’t been the worst years of my marriage – those were the seminary years – but they’ve been filled with suffering, pain, depression, and doubt.

The pattern of pain started with postpartum depression after having my second child. It lasted for several months, and while I am fulfilled as a mom, it just left me feeling empty and alone.

Then, on our road to adopting a beautiful 4-year old from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we found out his birth mom was alive and had taken him home. A mixed blessing filled a hurting heart.

For some reason, my marriage wasn’t so hot by this point. It didn’t worry me, but we needed help. After a marriage counseling intensive, we were able to heal tremendously and move forward.

Then, my mom found out she had breast cancer, and she went through a year of hell to be free of cancer.

It was in the middle of her treatment that I found it I was pregnant with Katherine. Oh boy, did this surprise make me cry out to the Lord in doubt and fear.

He didn’t mind that I yelled at him inside. He patiently listened while I ticked off the reasons I could not have another baby. He assured me that He was giving me a gift, a gift I was afraid to accept.

He intended all of this for His own glory. My story is His story, the story of Him always, always drawing me closer to Himself.

I don’t have a conclusion here, or a poignant point. It’s all been said in His holy word, after all. I’m just laying this out there because it is. It was. It may be again soon. But He doesn’t change. He’s there, holding me close. An unmoving rock of grace and mercy.

Rule Followers v. Faith

I’m a rule follower, friends. I just like rules and think they make things work well. That doesn’t make following rules I don’t like easier for me (maybe?); it just means that I would rather have the rule.

But it’s not that great of a thing. You see, rule followers are judgers. For me, rule following is a judgment on myself. If I have rules, I can tell how I’m measuring up. There is the temptation to judge others.

But God is not about rules and commands. He’s about His glory. And His glory best manifests itself in the grace He gives to us unholy beings.

I’ve been studying some scriptures on giving and unity because our church is entering a season of fundraising for land. And I’ve realized that if God came and gave me a vocal directive for how much to give over and above our tithe to this campaign, I would just do it. I would trust Him and obey because I know what He commands is good and perfect.

But His glory is magnified by faith! It’s not magnified by robots.

And so He provides leading in His Word. He provides parables that challenge my comfort. But He doesn’t give me a rule.

That’s where the faith comes in.

I have to listen to Him daily. I have to look at His Word. I have to ask questions of my budget. Most of all, I have to be connected to Him to take a step of faith.

This Too … is Here Right Now … For a Reason

When dealing with mommy woes, one of the phrases I’ve heard most frequently quoted – offered as a comfort – is “This too shall pass.”

I assumed this was in the Bible. Um… it’s not. At least according to the Internet.

And I’m a little glad. And perturbed. And just kind of shocked.

As a mom of little ones (i.e., the ones who don’t sleep, can’t tell you what they want, throw fits, hit others, etc.), you don’t want to hear, “Just suck it up and pummel through because it’ll be over soon.” Do you?

I suppose sometimes we do have to simply endure as moms, such as those horrible 3-day growth spurts or teething days. UGH. Those are the worst, right?

But I’m not convinced that God just wants me to push through, in misery, begging for tomorrow. My husband and I get to contemplate this often with our little ones, and we keep coming back to the fact that God has us in the little moments, even the painful ones, for a purpose.

Our very purpose on this earth is to worship and glorify Him.

So how do we do that when we’re rocking the baby for an hour straight, or giving the 20th timeout of the day, or rehearsing yet another apology for hitting our friends? Where does His glory come in when you take a car ride just to get a nap out of your little one?

Honestly, I think those moments are just as pivotal as the biggies in our lives. The crossroads decisions. Because these little moments are what make up your life. It’s the non-weekend. It’s the grind. We have more hours of opportunities for faith in those windows than any other.

And when you’re in that bleary-eyed, can’t think straight moment, that’s when you have to release control to God. You have to rely on Him the most, saying “God, I can’t. But you can. You have chosen me for this moment for this child. This baby needs me to rock her again, so I will. This child needs me to answer the same question 10 times, so I will. I’m not going to abdicate this responsibility to someone or something else. I’m going to trust that this is for Your glory. I don’t need to go do that thing I was going to check off of my list today. I need to nurture this child and raise him up to have ample opportunity to choose Jesus.”

…or maybe I’m the only one who has these kinds of conversations with God? Haha!

God, help me to see that You have chosen me for these kids, especially for the tough times. Those are my training hours in the faith. I pray that not only will I grow in faith and submission to You, but that my children will somehow see that and desire to give their lives to You as well.

Marriage: A Team Mentality

If I could sum up all of the great wisdom I have learned, accumulated, tried, failed at, etc. it would come down to this:

Marriage is all about being a team.

Marriage Team

I know you’re thinking that there are two members to this team, but don’t disregard God’s role in your teamship.

Sure, it might feel a little odd to think of God as a “member of your marriage”, but I don’t think it really works like that. He is present in your marriage – just like in other relationships. But also: God has blessed you with your marriage. God is sovereign over your marriage. God has plans for your marriage.

God’s plans for your marriage

You are a picture to the entire world of what Jesus Christ is to the church: a sacrificial relationship in which the One gives everything He can, while still retaining His 100% holy character, to present a pure bride – the church – to Himself.

I can see why Paul, describing this in Ephesians 5:25 – 33, calls this a profound mystery. Christ gives Himself up to an earthly death on a cross so that all of His children can be considered righteous in the Father’s eyes – and this is all for Himself! Verse 27 says, “to present her to himself”… as holy. Verse 28 says, “He who loves his wife loves himself.”

Is anyone else’s head turning in circles trying to follow this!?

But remember, God created us because He wanted to! For His glory! Read this post where I flesh that out a little more. Did you know that God does whatever He wants?

And from this, I can only conclude that God ordained from the beginning of time for your marriage to be this picture. For His glory.

Your marriage is not primarily for you. It’s for Him.

God uses marriage as a tool to bless us with many relational benefits: companionship, love, loyalty, children, sexual intimacy, friendship. But these things are not the end of marriage. If you got married because “he makes me happy” – your satisfaction is in the wrong thing.

God is the only One who can truly satisfy our relational desires.

Getting in on the Team Mentality

Your husband or wife is your God-ordained team member. They are the one with whom you are supposed to grow Godly with. The one with whom you partner to tell your neighbors about Jesus – even if they never mow their grass. The one from whom you learn about God’s sacrifice for His children.

What if your marriage doesn’t work like a team? What if you would rather do your own thing? What if your spouse doesn’t trust Jesus as his Savior?

It’s time for you to become the team member you should be, regardless of these excuses. Your husband isn’t a Christian? You are still called to be his chief encourager; his number one fan; his running back. Remember that God can use you to bring your husband to Jesus – how will that happen if you’re not willing to respect him as God has called you to do?

Do you have issues with control? It’s time to work together with your husband. Give him room to take the lead, and be willing to run the plays!

Your wife is selfish and just wants to do her own thing? That’s exactly what we do to God, but to the Nth degree – God gives us every thing we need physically and spiritually, and we act like a whore – pursuing other things instead of Him and flaunting it in its face. And if you’re a husband, you are still called to sacrifice for your wife and love her like you love yourself.

Wow. I’m convicted. How about you?

What Women Want

What do women really want?

As I was growing up, the message I heard – and adopted for myself – was that women wanted to be respected. To be treated equally to men. To have a career. To be successful. To be beautiful, but only because that gave women power. To get married, but only because that gave women a long-lasting feeling of romantic fulfillment.

So I focused on beauty. And when it got me someone I wanted, I used it to get something I wanted.

I focused on my education and made positively sure that I would have a successful (i.e., lots of moola-producing) career.

I found a man I loved and got married. And then I quickly betrayed him in my heart over and over again.

Now that I will be having a daughter, I’ve been reflecting a lot more on my journey as a woman. I have also been studying womanhood and what the Bible has to say about it. In other words, what is true about women.

And I realized that all of those things I thought were things I wanted? They didn’t bring me respect. They didn’t give me power. They didn’t make me feel loved. Instead, they got me off course from what God really wants in my life: to glorify Him with whatever I do.

These things that were “what women want” – they lied to me. They made me think only of me. They made me only want to satisfy me.

Now that I know the truth – that I was created for God’s glory, I want different things. I want my friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors to know Jesus as their Savior. I want to spend time discipling my children so that they will see a clear picture of God’s love for them. I want my marriage to be a picture of how Jesus sacrifices for us so that we can know Him.

I care much less about “my respect” and “my beauty” and “my success”.

I can think of two women who showed these traits to me when I was in the phase of my life where I was ignoring this truth:

1. My mom

My mom wanted to be a stay at home mom. And so of course, I did not want to be that. She loves her children with all of her heart (do any of us not?), and she wanted to be the chief influencer in our lives. At times, she had this privilege, and at times, she worked to help provide for our family.

And now that I’m a working mom, I totally get it! I want to disciple my kids – especially right now while they’re small. It’s one of my greatest desires. But every message I heard growing up was Children are a burden, so don’t have any and get a career instead.

Bottom line: Mom was right, but hers was one tiny voice in a sea of shouters!

2. Gini Craven

Gini is one of the moms at the blog Mom and Mom. She doesn’t know me; I know her daughter (the other “mom”), Holly. Gini spoke about marriage once while I was in college. She said her husband asked her how she wanted to be treated, and she said, “Like a princess. That’s all.”

I was like, That’s all!?!?!?!

Why not ask for the moon, lady!?

She said it like it was expected. The norm. I just want to feel like a princess. Like I am the crowning jewel in your life. Like you have eyes for no one but me. Like I am protected and cared for by you. On purpose.

It rocked my thinking. But I wrote it off because no one else was saying that. Asking to be treated like a princess was ridiculous. Amateur. Subservient.

Now that I’ve been married for almost 9 years – I totally get it!!

I want to be utterly cherished by my husband. I don’t just want respect or to be treated equally or to be looked at as strong and powerful. I want to be his beauty. I want him to call me his bride until we pass on to see Jesus.

Bottom line: Gini was right, but hers was one tiny voice in a sea of shouters!

This is getting long, so I’m going to try to wrap it up:

You may not agree with me. You might agree much more with the old me. And I understand that. But I would ask you to consider the small voices as well as the shouters.

But let’s not just make this about women versus women – that’s not my goal!

I would just ask you to get closer to God. Read His Word more. Memorize it. Seek out Biblical counsel. Love the people in your life like Jesus does.

You might be surprised to see Him transform your desires the same way He transformed mine.

The End Game of the Christian Faith

I have a friend whom I’ve known for about 2 years now. Her son is Samuel’s age, and we get along with all of them so well. They are intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and fun. The schedules of a toddler’s family only allow so many get togethers, but we’ve been able to make several happen over the past 2 years.

Through this time, as we do with most of our relationships, Brad and I have been praying for this family to see Jesus for who He is – the savior of the world. The savior to them.

When we begin praying like this, we have no idea where our friends are spiritually. We have no idea if they walk closely with Jesus, if they are hostile towards the gospel, or if they’re just not seeking anything spiritually.

As we got to hang out with these friends more and more, conversations about God would very easily present themselves, and I found out something that fascinated me. My friend, who describes herself as agnostic at this point, has been seeking out spiritual answers for at least 3 years. What I mean by “seeking out” is that she’s been looking for a church, if you will, that she feels comfortable enough to even check out what they believe. Checking out websites, keeping her ears open, staying interested. I applaud my friend for this – she’s really doing something on her faith journey –  she’s really trying to figure out what’s true. That rocks.

We’ve been dialoging recently about a sensitive topic and what the Bible has to say about this issue. It’s been such a great experience to really be able to listen to what she says and respond – in faith – with the truth of God’s word and His big ole’ love.

In one of our correspondences, she asked me what the “end game” was. This had to do particularly with the sensitive matter we were discussing, but I really liked her wording, so I’m asking her permission to steal it today. 😉

The end game of the Christian faith is always always to glorify God more. To fall more in love with Jesus. To worship God more than any created thing.

I think we forget that. We forget it when we’re on the road and someone in front of us is traveling annoyingly slowly. We forget it in our politics. We forget it when someone wrongs us in a painful way. We forget it when we have a difficult decision to make. We forget it when a debate around the water cooler comes up.

The Christian faith is not about a life lived by a set of rules. It’s not about a political agenda. It’s not about having a big house. It’s not about being the best mom or having the smartest children.

It’s all about worship. It’s all about glory.

Discarding worship of ourself. Discarding glory of the world.

Instead, casting all of our worship on the only One who is worthy.

Answer This

What motivates you? Why do you do what you do?

No, for reals. I really want to know. And you need to ask yourself this question. You’ll find that the answer to this question can show you what you are truly worshipping.

Take me, for example. I am a doer. For several years now, I have been extraordinarily productive, efficient, and motivated. At what? Pretty much everything. And to be honest, I became really, super efficient when I started following Jesus in college.

The question is why?

My first answer is: because I like to get things done. I enjoy accomplishing things. Having my lists checked off is satisfying to me.

This answer is not good enough because it does not get to the root of this behavior.

So I ask further – Why do I like to get things done? Why do I enjoy accomplishing things? Why does checking off boxes on a list satisfy me?

My first thought is that maybe I like to please people – maybe my idol is what other people think of me. And yes, that’s true. I do like worshipping others through people-pleasing. I do get bent out of shape when I think someone doesn’t like me or doesn’t approve of me. Approval is certainly an idol.

But that doesn’t completely answer the question – many of the things I do nobody sees. They’re dumb things, like cleaning out junked up cabinets, or baking a cake from scratch, or organizing data until it makes sense. Things nobody has asked me to do; things nobody expects me to do; things nobody rewards me to do. So approval is not the be all end all for me.

So I have to refine my question. The question is still Why, but it’s now more specific: Why do I feel satisfied when I finish something – even when no one else knows about it?

It took me a long time to realize the answer to this question – in fact, I just came to this conclusion a few months ago. Yes, by the grace of God, I now know the idol to whom I always go – begging for solace from a pitcher with holes:

Comfort.

I want to be comfortable. In fact, I long for comfort – not just comfort, but I lust for a life of ease. I know it seems a little counter-intuitive, but all of the things I do? I do them because I want them to be done – gone – never to return. I think, If I just get this one more thing done, I’ll be able to relax!

I love having a clean house – but when a crumb gets on the newly cleaned floor? That’s when my idol starts to mock me: It will never be done this side of heaven. When I triumphantly return to real life after a fog of doing – there is something else on my list. And there always will be. And many of those things will need to be done again and again.

Life is not comfortable. There is no such thing as heaven on earth. Until Jesus returns, I could do, do, do and worship the comfort that I will never gain from doing.

Instead, I want to worship Jesus. And He wants me to worship Him and Him alone.

To find out what you’re worshipping right now, ask yourself the same, iterative questions until you get to the bare bones of what you really desire. Crave. Yearn for. And replace it with Him.

What If?

Brad and I call our little family “Team Pete”.

And Team Pete has dreams. Big. Fat. Hairy. Dreams. They’re wild. Beyond our imaginations. Beyond our money. Beyond our cultural boundaries. Beyond our faith. Beyond our temptations. Beyond our work ethics.

Beyond our power.

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (NETBible, 1 Corinthians 1:18, emphasis mine)

What if I believed this?

Let me explain. I’m smart. Yeah, I said it. I’m no genius, but I have quick wits and hard work in me – and that can translate into a lot. Not only am I smart, I am decent at arguing (the debate kind, not the kind you were thinking of – but I’m good at that, too, rest assured).

Add this to a passion for the lost. What do you get? Someone who thinks, “If I just explain it right, they’ll get it!” Or, “I wonder if this evangelism tool is THE ONE.” You know, the one that will bring 50% of the people I use it on to Christ. [I have given up on evangelism “tools” because they work just as good as what I already do. Which isn’t saying much.]

As an immature believer, this dangerous combination yielded ugly results. I had the privilege of going to a ‘Women in Mathematics’ conference while I was in college. At dinner one night, somehow we started talking about God or Jesus (my big fat mouth probably brought it up). One of the women said something to the effect of, “But I don’t believe in Jesus.”

To which I put on my best I-am-obviously-smarter-than-you countenance and replied, “Believe WHAT about Jesus?” My words were snarly; my eyes were attacking; my heart was ugly.

Because obviously, if we would just define all of the parameters and look at the logic, we would get to Jesus, right?

I wish. Actually, no I don’t. I’d really muck it up. Obviously.

The above passage is bookended by verses that remind me that my smarts will do nothing to save souls.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless. (verse 17)

For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.” (verse 19)

And do you see that this is intentional? If intellect alone won souls to Christ, what in the world did Jesus have to be crucified for? What would the purpose of the Holy Spirit be? Why would we need God when we have ourselves?

It’s all. About. HIM. The Man. The GOD-Man. Jesus.

And Team Pete dreams that everyone we know and come in contact with will trust in the GOD-Man for their everything. For EVERYTHING. He is everything. Everything is for Him, from Him, to Him.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him.

He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.

He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:15–20, NETBible)

And we can’t do it. Only God can. Only His power.

All we can do is get on our faces before the Almighty and offer our lives to His purposes. To His glory.

Almighty, You are worth it all. You are worth more than I can imagine. Give me faith beyond myself. Help me believe in Your power. Let me offer myself as a living sacrifice and trust Your work. Increase my tiny faith.

Gonna Get My Bliss On

Remember when I won my ticket to Relevant in October (was it that long ago already!)? I was beyond thrilled and got started on exactly the right (or left ;)) foot with my blog.

So a few weeks ago, I very harmlessly entered a contest to win a ticket to Blissdom, a blogging conference that also seems incredible, but for different reasons. You could enter the contest, hosted by One2OneNetwork as many times as you wanted, but I just entered once (3 entries).

Imagine my utter, total, explicit, heart-pounding shock when I saw the preview line in an email telling me that I WON THE GRAND PRIZE – ALL CONFERENCE FEES, HOTEL, AND AIRFARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you One2OneNetwork! I am so thrilled and will represent you well!

Yes. Woah. My heart is still beating 2 days later.

I just want to ask: God, Almighty Wonder, why do you choose me for this? You obviously want me to do something here for your glory. What is it?

I beg You to open my eyes, clean out my ears, an unfurl my fists so that I can be your vessel in this digital place that now beckons me often.

Desire Part 3: God Wants Glory

I know what God wants, and it is glory. Does that sound strange to you? Does it sound selfish? I mean, isn’t God here to serve me? No. NO. NO!

In fact, He is not here for a reason. HE just IS. But we – we are here for a reason and a purpose.

This alone absolutely floors me. The One True, can’t-even-look-at-His-fabulousness God created me because He wanted to! He created you because He wanted to! Wow.

So Why???

  • Purpose: To worship Him.
    • for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. (NETBible, Colossians 1:16)
    • Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he gave the command and they came into existence. (NETBible, Psalm 148:5)
    • everyone who belongs to me, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed – yes, whom I made! (NETBible, Isaiah 43:7) 
    • But truly, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. (NETBible, Numbers 14:21)

We are here not merely to be happy. But to fall on our knees as we must before Him and to revel in who He is.

I love how John Piper says it, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being dissatisfied with the things of this earth. I’m tired of being dissatisfied with religion. I’m tired of being dissatisfied with my idols of comfort and family-worship. I’m going to the throne to find The One who truly satisfies.

Here I am, Lord, dragging myself to You again, empty and exhausted from valuing everything but You. I am humbled to see that You want me! You are my Creator-Father. And You alone are worthy of glory.