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Psalm 13
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

 

Romans 7:24-25

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

This week, these two passages have been teaching me something very important about faith in Christ: We can’t wait for our circumstances or our “feelings” to change so that we can praise the Lord and trust in His power.

Last week contained a particularly challenging day for no particular reason, and it was really hard to feel God in those strange moments. The next day, I had a wonderful, uplifting conversation with a friend, and one thing that we talked about was the verse in Romans 7. We talked about how Paul deeply felt his sin and his despair, but immediately acknowledged hope and praise in the Lord. He knew he was unworthy, but also knew that his deliverance is through Christ! And he didn’t hesitate getting from the “I’m terrible” to the “Thank you God for being great!” To imitate Paul (he talks throughout many of his letters about imitating him) means to see our sins but to see Jesus as greater than our sins AND praise Him.

Often times, I wait to praise God until I feel “ready”, either emotionally ready or ready based on my circumstances. I think many people don’t go to church, read their bibles, or pray when they don’t “feel” like doing it, and don’t worry, I get caught in this trap frequently, especially with regards to reading my bible. We don’t praise God or give thanks in the midst of hard times or bad moods because we aren’t “feeling” the positive energy. And yet, Paul didn’t say “and then I felt Jesus’s power and felt like praising him, so I say…”. No, he just does it.

Paul also tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” He doesn’t give any qualifiers there about the mood we should be in when we rejoice, pray, and praise God. We should be doing these things always, but it isn’t saying we should always be in the perfect mood for it! Instead, we should be doing it always, regardless of our mood or how we feel in the moment.

[I also want to add the excuse of “I’m not feeling God right now”, because I think it is in the same camp sometimes. I think it’s very easy to not pray or stop praying because our prayers aren’t helping us “feel” the Lord. But just because we don’t FEEL God’s presence doesn’t mean He isn’t with us; He promises throughout scripture that he is with us always, and that means when we feel him or not. See a quote from The Screwtape Letters at the end].

Early this week, I was reading through some of the Psalms, and I read through the short Psalm 13, and I realized the Psalmist (David) has the same attitude as Paul. David sounds like he is not feeling God’s comfort, he is distressed about what is happening in his life, and he wants to hear an answer from God. But the Psalm doesn’t have a verse that says “Then David heard God and he praised him…” or “But David felt up to…” or anything like that. No, David praised God regardless of what he was feeling. He acknowledged his salvation was from the Lord and he praised God for his goodness and unfailing love, even when it was difficult to do so in his situation.

I want to be the kind of person who turns right to trusting God in every circumstances, especially when turning to God, praying, and thanking Him is the last thing that I feel like doing. I want to be like Paul, David, and so many others who didn’t wait for their circumstances to change to praise God and trust Him. I’m thanking God now for His goodness (in the relatively easy moments), and I pray that I can always and constantly be rejoicing in Him in EVERY situation.

 

 

 

*The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a collection of letters from one of Satan’s men to another to coach the younger devil (his nephew) into being more effective at keeping people from God, who is referred to as the Enemy in the letters. This is what he tells his nephew about prayer. (This is the whole book online for free, if you are interested: http://www.truechristianity.info/en/the_screwtape_letters.php)

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the Enemy’s party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember, or to think he remembers, the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. In reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part. One of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray “with moving lips and bended knees” but merely “composed his spirit to love” and indulged “a sense of supplication”. That is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and since it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as practised by those who are very far advanced in the Enemy’s service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time. At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

If this fails, you must fall back on a subtler misdirection of his intention. Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment.

 

Marriage is not all about… Love

It’s been awhile since I posted, so here are some thoughts that I’ve pulled together from some of my recent conversations and interactions!

I’m assuming that the title of this post elicited some confusion, but let me explain first. These thoughts come from a conversation I had with my mom, and I wanted to flush them out more here, for all of you!

My mom and I were talking, and she asked how my marriage is going. It was a bit of a strange question, but I started on a monologue about how Dan is a good man, and he serves me and cares for me well. And how I appreciate how hard he works for me. And I appreciate how much he does around the house (he practically painted the whole apartment on his own in a week!). When I finished, my mom commented that I didn’t say anything about love. And she was right. I hadn’t mentioned that common word in my description about my marriage and my husband. Why?

Well, to start off, I am learning that love only goes so far in marriage. Sure, I love my husband dearly and deeply, and that hasn’t changed at all. But if I only loved my husband, but didn’t do anything, or if he only loved me but didn’t do anything, then things would fall apart! Right now, I’m learning that my attitude of love MUST inform my actions towards my husband, because if I don’t have actions of love, then I’m not truly doing what I need to do for my marriage. Stay with me while I keep explaining.

Dan and I don’t fight very often at all, which I am very grateful for, but most of the fights we have happen after we have seasons where we are not letting our love inform our activities. You see, I can say that I love my husband until I’m blue in the face, but if my love doesn’t change my behaviors, then we have a problem. BECAUSE I love my husband, I try do dishes late at night when I’m tired, I try to keep the coffee table clean because he doesn’t like clutter, I try go to bed earlier even if I’m not tired because Dan is tired, I try to get my lunch ready the night before so that I am not rushed and stressed in the morning (which always leads to me being a very not nice person…), and I try to do many other things to care for, serve, and support my husband. Now, I said “try” because I’m not very good at doing all these things to care for Dan, but a big part of marriage is constantly making the effort. And for me, it also includes making the effort without complaining. Our marriage works well because Dan has the same attitude towards me, and he is constantly trying to serve me in the same way. Our love for one another means we behave in a certain way!

Two verses come to mind when I think about this. First, James 2 talks about how useless faith is without deeds. We can gentle extend this to say the love without deeds is also useless. For either faith or love, if you say that you have it but your actions don’t look any different than someone without it, then it doesn’t make sense! However, 1 Corinthians 13 speaks into this on the other side, saying that if we don’t have love underneath our actions, then everything we do is meaningless! So either way, we need love, and we need it under, around, and in our marriage to inform what we do for one another!

So yes, my marriage is not all about love, but it is definitely full of love, informed by love, and able to endure because of love.

Summer Update!

Greetings!

One of the purposes for this blog is to have a clear forum for us to share updates to friends and family. We thought we would take a moment to fill you in on what we’ve been up to so far this year as we move into the summer! (And apologize for taking so long!) We also would love for you to walk with us in prayer, and so we will add some ways that you can be praying for us.

School is still very much a part of our lives! Even though we both have Master’s degrees already, we are pursuing more education to make us more qualified for what we want to do. Dan has begun an online Biblical Counseling program, with the goal of slowly taking classes to gain another Master’s degree and certifications in Biblical Counseling. With this training, he can better serve in a ministerial role in our current or future communities! Amanda is still pursuing her Education Specialist degree in School Psychology, along with working to obtain behavioral specialist certifications. It feels like we have never stopped going to school, but we try to think about our pursuit of education as a way to train us to be more qualified ministers of the Gospel. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but we know the Lord is using this time to allow us to get education and experience, and for this, we are grateful.

We also are both working full-time in secular positions. Dan coordinates market research studies for a healthcare company. Amanda works with students with special needs in school or home settings. We both have easy days of work and hard days of work too, but our jobs right now, while not our dream jobs, are helping us gain experience and skills that we will use to further the Gospel. Stay tuned, and you might hear how God is using our current jobs to spread His message!

Church is also a major part of our lives, and we love the community of Citylight! We are both heavily invested on different serving teams in the church (Amanda works with the kids ministry as a lead teacher and doing curriculum preparation; Dan runs the soundboard and prays with people during the service). Once a week, we meet with a small-group of Citylight people to eat, read the word, share our hearts, and share our lives with one another. Since joining Citylight, we have been a part of a couple different groups over the last two years, but we have been with this specific group of individuals since November! We love having a group of people to know, love, and build relationships with, and we have really grown in love for this specific group in the last several months.

When we are not doing schoolwork, working, or doing church activities, we are spending time with our friends, trying to take care of our bodies with exercise, enjoying puppy cuddles, or just trying to refresh ourselves before the next thing on our schedule. This summer, we are hoping to spend some time camping and being out of the city! Life seems very full lately, but God graciously fills us and strengthens us for it.

Well, since school, work, and church are the big things in our lives right now, we could use some specific prayer for these areas.  If you are so kind as to want to pray more specifically about any one of these areas, please let us know and we would love to share more details with you.

  • Pray that we can feel endurance and strength that can only come from God (Ephesians 3:14-21)
  • Pray that we can rest in Jesus in this busy season (Matthew 11:25-28)
  • Pray that we can glorify God in everything we do (Colossians 3:18-25)
  • Pray for our marriage, that we can walk with Jesus together (Colossians 3:1-2)
  • Pray that we can live missionally, being bold to share about Jesus (1 Peter 2:12)

For those of you that have already been praying for us, we want to share some ways that we have already seen God at work!  Thank you for your prayers!

  • Our neighbor is excited about Jesus and studies His word!
  • Amanda’s process of certification has begun! The first round of paperwork has been sent in! Just waiting now!
  • God has provided us lots of opportunities to grow toward Him and love Him more deeply!

Thank you to everyone who prays for us, cares for us, and loves us from close or far away! Feel free to reach out to catch up and share what is going on in your life!

 

How do we obey God?

Have you ever asked how we actually, practically obey God? Have you ever wondered how we are supposed to do all the things that God commands? I have, and I have had a very hard time asking this question because most people respond with a “you just do it”. I always feel so discouraged because I can’t just channel my inner Nike to obey God with the obedience He deserves. I feel like I should just be able to try harder and then I will obey God better.

But with this mentality, I miss so much of the Gospel picture and have put too much responsibility on myself. Instead of relying on God, this mentality lets me rely on me. 

I teach Sunday School in the 3-5 year old classroom, and I have the honor of being able to modify and organize curriculum from The Gospel Project for the class each week. It is an honor to serve my church through curriculum management because I get to soak myself in the material to see the Gospel clearly and help the other teachers see the Gospel too, so that we can share it with the little ones. Now, I have had to practice how to share the Gospel to 3, 4, and 5 year olds, and I’m so encouraged to hear how I’ve grown and how the kids, whom I’ve worked with for almost 2 years, are coming to understand the Gospel better and better each week. I love these kids and their families deeply, and I love knowing that we are preaching Jesus and His Gospel (not our gospels of “work harder”, “try better”, or “do more”). I also love when the lessons in the classroom are lessons that my heart needs to hear, like figuring out how to be an obedient Christian. 

For the month of January, we are answering the question “How do we obey God?” with the answer “We TRUST God to help us obey Him”. I’ve never gotten this answer, but I think it is much more accurate with how God wants us to obey Him. We cannot obey God (even imperfectly obey Him) with harder work, more rules, and better obedience. It doesn’t work. It is like us having a New Year’s resolution to go to the gym with your new workout schedule and a “try harder” attitude, and failing again and again no matter what our schedule or attitude. Except our failure isn’t with a fitness goal, but it is the goal to bring the Most High God all the honor, glory, and praise that He deserves, and help others to know Him too. It’s a bit more serious, and yet, we all fail over and over. So we ask “How?” and we often hear “try more” and we begrudgingly repeat the cycle.

I challenge you to break your cycle. I challenge you to stop responding to “How can I obey God?” with a Bible reading or prayer plan (both are good, but they aren’t going to inherently lead to obedience) or guilt or a “try better” attitude. I challenge you to sprint, walk, or crawl to the Creator of the Universe who is waiting for you, and ask Him to help you obey. Ask HIM for a heart that wants to bring Him glory through obedience. Ask HIM to change your heart. Ask HIM to reveal to you how you need to be obedient. Ask HIM. And then let Him change you.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. Let us then draw near to the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”- Hebrews 4:14-16 

He may be calling you to dive deeper in relationships with believers to strengthen your faith and theirs. He may be calling you to seek Him through His word, through prayer, and through worship. He may be calling you to serve Him in a different or challenging way. He will give you the strength and grace you need to fulfill whatever He is calling you to do. I pray that we can stop telling ourselves that we can just try better and work harder to be obedient servants of the Lord. I pray that we can draw near to our loving Father and ask Him to help us follow Him in whatever way He is calling us.

Being a Cafeteria Christian

Have you ever heard of a Cafeteria Christian? This is the kind of Christian that walks up to the metaphor biblical cafeteria counter, and picks up the stuff they like, but leaves the stuff they don’t like behind before moving onto the dining room floor to live out their meal. This idea has always bothered me, both when I do it, and when I see other people do it too. A while ago, I read through Malachi and this verse stood out: 

So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law – Malachi 2:9 (NIV). 

Partiality. Wow. They were being Cafeteria Christians too! And they suffered because they did not follow the whole law, but they had chosen parts to follow and parts to ignore.

Now, I can easily feel tempted to say, “but that doesn’t apply now” because of Jesus. Let me clarify one thing first: Jesus has already fulfilled the law, and therefore we are not under the law like the Jewish people of the Old Testament. We do not need to feel condemned by the law and that is an amazing thing! Our church has been walking through a series about the 10 commandments, and we get to this point every week: Jesus fulfilled the law so that we are not going to inherit the curse from the Old Testament, but we inherit Jesus’ perfect righteousness instead. This still doesn’t mean we can neglect parts of Scripture. 

As believers, we still have expectations and standards from God that we should uphold so that we can live the kind of lives He wants us to be living. Let’s acknowledge that it is not honoring to God to pick and choose what parts of the Bible we want to adhere to based on what we do and do not want to do. Can’t we just follow the real Jesus, which includes the stuff we like AND the stuff that is hard to swallow?

These verses are some of my prayers for myself, and for all of us. Let’s choose all of Him and walk in His complete way through our days.

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. – Psalm 119:133

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit – Galatians 5:25

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the trust with set you free.” – John 8:31-32 

 

Marriage is…

Many people have asked me “How is being married/married life/etc.?”, and for a long time, I said something like “It’s hard but good!”. I recently read a blog post by a married Christian missionary that questioned why we always describe our closest earthly relationship as hard. Our two year anniversary is this week, and I’m now stumped by what to say to this question. Marriage is… interesting? awesome? brings it’s challenges? How can I describe the relationship that I have invested so much time, energy, love, commitment, tears, laughter, etc. in with just a few words?

This then got me thinking about the other deep, intimate relationship I am in right now; my relationship with the Lord. No one has ever asked “How’s being in a relationship with God?”, but if they did, would I think “hard, but good?”. Maybe, but this means I need to re-frame how I view my relationship with God. I don’t want my personal relationship with Jesus to be remotely described as hard. Jesus says that his burden is easy and we can rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30), but Paul does describe a lot of the persecution and suffering that we will experience in this world. However, I don’t think suffering should lead to us describing our relationship as “hard”. Jesus always is loving us, forgiving us, and calling us to Him. We are always moving, either away from the relationship, or (hopefully) we are striving to be closer and more connected to God. Maybe turning from sin is “hard”, but the freedom we can feel in Christ is a huge gift and blessing!

Both my earthly marriage and my spiritual relationship with God are wonderful blessings that are exciting and interesting. My relationship with my husband has it’s moments of challenges and difficulties, but that is because I am a sinful human in a relationship with another sinful human. My relationship with God is only imperfect because of my sin, but He still loves, forgives, and cares for me despite my failings, and that is SO AMAZING. In our marriage, we try to love, forgive, and care for one another, especially when mistakes are made, but let’s be real, we mess up quite often. The fact that God a) doesn’t mess up, b) still hasn’t stopped having His everlasting love, and c) is always drawing me to Him, is just such an amazing blessing that sometimes it’s hard to wrap my mind around it!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16-17

I know many of us have this verse (or at least the first sentence) locked in our memories from childhood, but when you take a second to really look and see the love God has for us, it is so beautiful. Our Heavenly Father sent His son, Jesus, on a mission to death so that we could be reconciled and saved. I’m not sure about you, but that always makes me smile and get all warm on the inside 🙂 The God who did that wants to be in a daily, personal relationship with us, which means we can daily feel His love, peace, encouragement, and hope.

This is the verse I read this morning, and I will leave you with these parting words of faith and encouragement:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143: 8 

 

 

God Provides. Do you forget too?

I’ve been chewing on my post about biblical womanhood for a while, and I haven’t been able to get my thoughts just right yet (hence my few weeks of a hiatus). For now, I want to remind you of something that I forget all too often: God Provides. He provides so much for us, and He comes through ALL THE TIME. Sometimes, it takes the big stuff to remind me of this simple fact, and then I remember how He has provided over and over in other ways!

If you haven’t realized yet, Dan and I are going to El Salvador in two short weeks for a missions trip (check out our posts about the trip!). We needed $4000 to go on the trip, and we were not going to be able to put any of our own money into the trip… I was very hesitant about committing to going, so before I jumped in with two feet, I prayed very specifically. My prayer went something like this: Lord, this trip scares me a lot but it seems like you might be wanting us to go. I gotta trust YOU to provide these funds and show us that we are supposed to be going. Help me trust you through this process. Help me feel your hand guiding us to El Salvador. Amen. And then we committed to going. During our preparations, I kept throwing prayers of trust at the Lord, especially when I was overwhelmed by raising support (it’s quite time consuming!).

Actually, it is a huge blessing that I did keep praying throughout the preparation process, but it can be so easy to try to trust in myself instead of constantly trusting God. I obviously had moments where I was less than good at trusting God, but overall, I really relied on Him, prayed often and specifically, and did not let this trip become about what I could do.

I’ll be honest, 3 weeks ago, we had about $1000 in our account. Then one Sunday, we learned we would receive a $1000 grant and that Dan’s church was sending us $1000 from a love offering. Today, we learned that we have $3250 in our account. We still have 2 weeks to raise the rest of the funds, and so we are still praying and reaching out to people, but we are SO much closer than we were and I KNOW that the Lord will provide the rest of the funds too.

I forget that God will provide. I am getting better at remembering to pray for His provision, but I forget that He does come through. The only positive in this is that I get super excited when I see His work! But I think I am missing a part of the trusting part: believing that He will provide. I always will say that He provides, but do I (or you) really believe deep down that He will be providing what you need?

Matthew 6 holds a pretty common passage about how God provides:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34 

Jesus is reminding people that God provides for birds and flowers, and that since we are so much more valuable than flowers, that we should feel confident that He will surely provide for us! His answer is to seek God and know that we will have what we need, and to not worry about it, but simply trust.

As a hard-core worrier, this kind of stuff really convicts me and challenges me to live a different kind of life. But I know that true trust in the One who has made ALL things is the best way to live, and so I am actively praying, reading, and trying to trust with all my heart in HIM. And guess what? He does show me His consistent provision, in both the big (El Salvador!!!) and little ways* 🙂

 

*I wanted to provide some examples of the little things He provided me with in the last week:

  • several days of really great sessions with my clients
  • not having to leave the house on a rainy Saturday
  • having 2 midterms that were not that bad
  • getting out of a 3 hr class early because all we had to do was take our midterm
  • enjoying a dinner with friends
  • having an adorable cuddle-puppy
  • seeing family on a spontaneous trip
  • having time to get work done
  • and I could really keep going 🙂

Let’s Pause and Talk about the Christian Part of Being a Christian Wife

Last week, Dan wrote about how the Lord specifically calls men to exemplify Jesus as heads of their households. I’d like to talk about biblical womanhood, but since its a big topic, I’m going to break it up.

This weekend, I was at a women’s retreat that focused on biblical womanhood. Before I could think about what the Lord specifically calls me to do as a woman, I needed to remember what the Lord is calling all of us to do; I needed to remember biblical human-hood first.

God has given us this purpose: to live lives that bring Him ultimate glory and honor. We do this in a number of ways (helping others, sharing the Gospel, submitting ourselves, etc.), but I think at the end of the day, being biblical people means being people who are desiring that their lives make much of Him. Here are a few verses to back me up:

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 1 Peter 2:12

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations… – Matthew 28:19

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. – Ephesians 5:8-10

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. – Romans 12:2

So, the key things I get out of this are:

  • Be focused on people, and help them to be disciples (which is code for people who serve and glorify God).
  • Live good and pure lives, which is marked by things like goodness, righteousness, truth, and dependence upon God.
  • Be counter-cultural and “attractively different” from the world of darkness around us
  • Live according to God’s will and plan, not our own (also known as submission to God’s will)

I could keep going, but I’m going to stop there. When thinking about biblical womanhood, we have to remember who we are as biblical Christians before we try to figure out who we are as biblical woman. My ultimate purpose is to make much of Jesus, and while He calls me to do it in a specific way as a woman/wife, He calls me first to do it as a person.

I’ll give some thoughts about the woman/wife stuff next time (because I do think that it is incredibly important too!), but I first wanted to lay these thoughts out here. I need to know my identity first, and then I can figure out what I’m called to do. I need to know who I am! I need to know that I am loved, that there is abounding grace in store for me, and that I am designed to worship Him and bring Him praise! I’ll leave you with this last verse.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:9-10

 

Living the Mission: El Viaje a El Salvador

We are always full-time missionaries, and right now, we [Dan and Amanda] are on the mission field in Philadelphia. We love the verse from 1 Peter 2 that tells us exactly what full-time missions looks like:

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us. – 1 Peter 2:12

Well, as some of you may know, we are preparing for a missions trip to El Salvador this October! We are going to be doing some very exciting things:

  • Working with an after-school program for youth to help keep them off the streets and out of gangs – Schools end even earlier there, and so gangs have plenty of time to try to pick up the kiddos when they are out and about after school.
  • Working with a deportees – Over 100 El Salvadorns are deported back to El Salvador each day, but these individuals often speak little Spanish and are used to American culture. The ministry we are partnering with for the week tries to meet these people when they arrive in El Salvador and provide them another option than simply going back into gang life.
  • Determining the possibility of a medical clinic – Our church (Citylight) has many medical students and professionals, and so a part of the trip is determining if a long-term relationship for hosting a pop-up clinic will be possible.

A long time ago, the Lord placed a specific desire in both of our hearts to live, work, and serve Him in another country. While we are not ready to move away yet, we believe that He will use this trip to help us learn and refine our cross-cultural skills, help us discern if He will send us to Central America again, and help solidify our calls and desires to serve Him wholeheartedly, wherever He calls us.

So what now? Well, please pray for us! There are a lot of details to manage to get us out of here in just 2 months! Pray for our team leaders as they finalize the plan. Please also pray for our hearts (for both our hearts and the rest of the team; there are almost 15 people going!). Pray that the Lord gives us an attitude of trust and humility as we embark on this adventure. Also pray for safety and health both before and during the trip!

The other big area that we need prayer for is to financially support the trip. We need $4000 for both of us to go. We are very far away from that goal, but we wholeheartedly trust that the Lord will provide the funds that we need. Since He has put this into our laps and we believe He wants us on this team, then we fully trust that He will provide.

Thank you so much for following us on our journey with this blog, and we look forward to continuing to share what the Lord is doing in our lives!


If you are feeling like the Lord is leading you to pray and/or financially support us, we would love to connect with you! Feel free to email us at buckleyfamily14@gmail.com if you would like to directly communicate with us. If you would like to directly contribute, you can go online to http://www.citylightphilly.com/give and designate the gift to El Salvador – The Buckley’s. You can also send checks (again, please specify El Salvador – The Buckley’s very clearly) to PO Box 29159 Philadelphia, PA 19128.

 

I’m Pressing the Reset Button Now

Reset. Start over. Try again. Do overs. I feel like this is my theme right now, and it is apply to every area of my life.

I find myself getting stuck in a cyclical pattern of personal growth where I make some progress towards growth, then stop pursuing growth which means I stop making growth (or even backtracking), and then I face the decision whether to start the pursuit again or give up. I get really frustrated when I realize that I’ve stopped trying, especially when I’m desperately trying to make growth. There are two areas where this frustrates me the most, 1) my relationship with my Savior, and 2) my relationship with myself.

One of my big pictures goals is to have self-control, while still submitting wholeheartedly to the Lord. I let things like anxiety, delicious desserts, netflix, and the enemy (who likes to use self-doubt, self-hatred, and the “you can’t do it” mentality) make decisions for me so that I don’t do what I’ve just said I’m going to do. We all deal with this! And I keep saying to myself that I’m going to stop letting everything around me dictate what decision I’m going to make.

But I have to fight this pattern several times every day, and I have to constantly be putting in the effort to make better choices. But I mess up. A lot. And sometimes, I make a string of bad choices before I catch myself. And so what happens? I have to reset. I have to stop, think, and make the right choice. I also have to forgive myself for my mistakes, and when sin is involved, I have to ask God (and often Dan) to forgive me as well.

These cycles even happen in my relationship with God as well, specifically in my spiritual practices, like daily prayer and scripture reading. It’s not that my faith is wavering, but it is my ability to put Him first each and every moment of each and every day. That is a choice that we all have to make. And even when we make the wrong choice, He is always there to welcome us back like the prodigal son.

Scripture constantly uses the word “steadfast” to describe God, which is good news to us because we are such flaky beings! We have a steadfast, unchanging, unwavering God who is not going to shift on us when we make wrong choices! I am so thankful that our God is this loving, merciful, and awesome to not be thrown off when I’m dancing around in circles instead of walking on His straight path. Now, I just have to choose to cling to Him.

I’ve had a bit of a “blog drought” and I’m hoping that this post will be another chance for me to reset here as well. Life constantly involves moments were we just have to reset ourselves so that we can get back on the path we want to be taking. I pray that He can lift me up and get me back on track so that I’m walking in His way, and I humbly ask that you pray for me as well. Thank you!