Having Childlike Faith on Election Day

Leaves

This morning the 22-month-old little girl that I babysit came running up to my doorstep as cheerful as ever. As I swept her up in my arms and greeted her, I thought about how today is election day and how amazing it must be to be a toddler without a care in the world.

As we took a walk around he neighborhood, she swung her arms with her chin held high, exclaiming about the trees and the neighborhood dogs that she saw and singing a song.

I was reminded of Yeshua’s words about having faith like a child.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Of course, as adults we have the responsibility to take action in our country, but as children of God we have to remember to trust in Him above all else.

We need childlike faith to trust that we are provided for, cherished, and protected by or heavenly Father.

I voted

Whatever the election holds, let’s not lose that childlike faith.

Let’s keep recognizing the beauty in the world, and trusting in our Father to supply all our needs.

Let’s learn from a toddler, and remember that…

“This is the day that Yahweh has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

Books Reviews: Missionaries

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Over the past year I’ve been blessed to read some wonderful books. Here’s a few that I’d love to share:

The Live Dead Journal 

My missionary aunt and uncle gave me this one as a graduation gift last spring, and it is incredible. The book is written by 30 missionaries (mostly from Africa and the Middle East) that share powerful stories and lessons learned.  It’s divided into 30 small chapters that are quick to read, and will leave you with much to ponder and put into action the rest of the day.

Keep a Quiet Heart–Elisabeth Elliot

There is so much wisdom and encouragement in this book. It inspired me. It challenged me. It showed me how much I have yet to learn about walking by faith. The chapters are short and easy to read, and cover a plethora of topics that are applicable to everyday life. Elisabeth Elliot is definitely one of my favorite authors, and I’m quite excited to read more of her books.

Living Waters–Brother Yun

Brother Yun is a preacher in China. He’s been imprisoned 31 times because of his faith in Messiah. He’s suffered more than I can ever image, and yet he shares the Gospel with greater strength because of it. Living Waters attacks the concept of nominal Christianity. It’s a call for believers to be disciples. It’s a powerful book that will ignite your heart for the Great Commission.

All these books are 5 stars

I’m so thankful for these precious souls who have allowed their heart and soul to be poured out on paper all for His glory.

What books have impacted your life this year?

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain that which he cannot lose.”
–Jim Elliot 

Beauty in the Land

I admired all the beautiful flowers! :)

“For יהוה your God is bringing you into a good land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise יהוה your God for the good land He has given you.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-10).

I am so thankful to Yahweh for the opportunity to visit that good land.

Here’s some of the beautiful things:

Sabbath in Jerusalem
Jerusalem honors the Sabbath unlike any other big city in the world, and that’s an amazing thing to be a part of.

The market on the Sabbath
The market on the Sabbath

Visiting a Messianic Synagogue
The congregation was overflowing with believers form all over the world. There was such diversity, and yet so much unity. The teacher talked in Hebrew. Someone in the congregation translated into English (for which I am very thankful!). A lady sitting in front of me took notes in Chinese,  and a lady behind me quietly translated the teaching into Norwegian for her friends. His message was themed on Joshua 1:7–“be strong and courageous”–and how we should not fear death. It was especially powerful considering that it was preached at the  start of this recent wave of hostilities in the Land. There was such peace in all of our hearts as we sang familiar hymns and Hebrew songs together, including some of my favorites: Ram Venisa, Come Thou Fount, and Blessed Assurance

The sandy hills of the Judean Dessert
Not only was the desert picturesque, it was also fascinating to see Bedouin dwellings, camels, and shepherds leading their flocks of sheep, as we drove along the highway. It reminded me of Yeshua calling Himself the Great Shepherd, and explaining that we are the sheep of His pasture. Suddenly 2,000 years seemed so much closer.

Judean Desert

Washing clothes by hand
Okay, so this might sound like an odd “beautiful thing,” but I felt like a real Israeli as I washed my clothes by hand in the apartment where we were staying. The kitchen window was open and I could hear Jerusalem outside and breathe its dry air. (Any time that I get to feel like a native, it’s a beautiful thing.)

The worker who loved his work
He was an older man, with a gentle smile, kind eyes,  and a peaceful countenance that defied the noise and hustle of the open-air market. I could tell that he delighted in his job as he slowly selected the carrots, oranges, apples, or pomegranates–whatever we requested–to press into juice. He told us how it was good for our health, and seemed to get as much pleasure in serving us and as we did in sipping that delicious fresh-pressed juice.

Israeli flowers
I love how many beautiful flowers there are in Israel, especially considering that it’s in a desert climate.

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.” (Isaiah 35:1a)Flowers

Reading Hebrew
This was my first trip to Israel since learning how to read Hebrew. It was exciting to read the signs and labels and be immersed in a culture where Hebrew is the native language. Note to self: I should have learned to read a long time ago! (It’s actually quite easy.)

Fellowshipping in the park with friends
When family in Messiah from all over the world gathers in His city at His festival to worship Him, it’s the most beautiful thing of all! Here’s one of the songs we sang together (led my James Block).

P.S. If you’ve never heard James Block’s music, I’d highly recommend you do. He mostly sings the Psalms and returns God’s Hebrew names to the text.

Don’t Forget Whose Child You Are

My Niece & Nephew

I love it when a beautiful song comes to mind, playing softly in my heart and soothing my soul.

I often have a song in my heart, and the other day it was “This Little Light of Mine” by Addison Road. One line in particular spoke to me that day. It’s so simple, yet powerful:

Don’t forget whose child you are.

In a noisy world where it’s so easy to drown out the still, small voice of our heavenly Father, it’s so important to remember whose child we are. We are His children. He is our Father. He loves us more than we could ever fathom. Our devotion to Him is so small compared to His devotion to us.

Don’t forget whose child you are.

Our identity is not in our faults, our sins, our problems. It’s not in our past, our present, or our future. It’s not in our title, our degree, our accomplishments, our job, our personality, etc.

We are His children.

He is our Father.

And no one can take that from us.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Yeshua Messiah our Master. (Romans 8:37-39)

Don’t forget whose child you are.

Cast your burden on Yahweh, And let Him sustain you; He never allows the righteous to be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)

Florida’s Beautiful Things

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This past week my family went on a vacation to  Florida for my grandparents’ 60th anniversary party. It was truly a wonderful celebration and such a blessing to spend time with family (some of whom I hadn’t seen in many years). Now that I’m back in Sweet Home Alabama, I’m realizing some of the beautiful things that Florida taught me. Here’s a few:

Home changes.

I was born in Florida, and for years after moving to Alabama, Florida still felt like home when I visited there. Now it no longer does. Florida feels like memories, but those memories don’t make me sad anymore, because I’m happy to be living somewhere else.  It’s a strange feeling when your heart settles in a new location, but it finally happened. Alabama feels more like home.

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Cheaha State Park, the highest point in Alabama

Who you’re with matters more than where you are.

My family was blessed to be able to stay at a resort in Orlando for a few days. It was a lovely resort, with pools and beautiful flowers (more on those later), but my favorite thing about our stay there was that my brother and his precious family stayed at the condo with us.  Family makes a place special, and we got to make many sweet memories, including a  day trip to the beach. Don’t you just love those smiles? :)

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Three of the five

Screened-in porches are a taste of heaven.

My sister and I slept on the screened-in back porch of the condo. This was a great arrangement since a) there were too many of us to all sleep inside and b) I was captivated by the idea of sleeping outside, regardless. It was a great place to have some quiet time, with the peaceful sound of the fountain bubbling in the nearby lake. Even when it was raining, I could still enjoy the outdoors.

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I truly love flowers.

My dad loves to tease me about my fascination with photographing flowers. I just can’t help it! They’re too beautiful. :)

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Childhood friends are something to cherish.

While in my hometown, I was able to spend the day with a friend that  I haven’t seen in years. Bethany and I have been friends since childhood, and it was wonderful to get caught up on each others’ lives and talk about great memories that we made.

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Going back to places that are dear to your heart is good.

But coming back home to where God has you now is even better.

Treasure the memories.

Continue the friendships.

And allow Him to lead you on this grand adventure called life.

How about you…What are some beautiful things that you’ve learned lately?

Of Backyard Surprises

Rock & Cherry Tree

Sometimes the most delightful surprises are only a few steps away.

You just have to open your eyes to see them.

This happened to me yesterday as I was sitting on the big rock in my backyard (one of my favorite places to read a book). I glanced toward the woods and caught a glimpse of a shady spot that I’d never noticed before.

IMG_7323Jumping off the rock (not from the top of it! ha ha), I ran across the grass to see if it was as delightful as I hoped it would be. Sure enough, the tulip tree branches overhead made a perfect shade from the July sun.

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It’s a delightful place to nestle with a notebook and a pen, and start scribbling a poem or two.

Sandles & Sunshine

It’s here, sitting under a canopy of leaves, swatting bugs, and breathing the humidity, that I feel alive. It’s here that I notice the beauty of small things, such as a butterfly landing in my neighbor’s garden, or the comforting feel of having the hard earth beneath me.

Nope…I’m not a hippy.

But I do love creation, because my Maker loves His creation too. He clothes the lilies. Feeds the sparrows. He knows all the stars by name.

Surely it blesses Him when we delight in what He has made.

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I’m thankful for my Father’s world today. And also for this song, because it’s true.

Where do you best enjoy Creation?

Unbroken

photo from www.awardcircuit.com

Last week I watched the movie Unbroken with my  family.

I suddenly felt selfish for every time I’d ever complained about my little troubles in life.

I’ve never floated on a raft on the Pacific Ocean for 47 days, battling starvation, storms, and sharks.

I’ve never been that close to death or been through the horrors of war.

Louis Zamperini’s story is dark. It’s real. But it’s also beautiful in a heartbreaking way.

It’s the ending that touched me the most (although the movie doesn’t highlight it much).

After all the darkness and nightmares and scars,  Loius Zamperini found God.

He felt the redeeming power of forgiveness and shared it with others.

He visited Japan and forgave his prison guards in the POW camp.

He lived to the bold age of 97 and  died with peace in his heart.

This is the type of story that knocks me off my feet and shoves my selfishness in my face.

Today I don’t want to complain, y’all.

I just want to be thankful for life. For the endless blue sky above. For the birds chirping in the treetops. For the songs my siblings sing together. For the breeze kissing my face.

Today is for living, not complaining.

Today is for thankfulness.

Today is unbroken.

Full song here: This is Just So Beautiful

How about you…What are you thankful for today?

In Remembrance

A memorial to Jewish soldiers who fought against the Nazis
A memorial to Jewish soldiers who fought against the Nazis

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I don’t quite know what to say…

But I must say something.

There are horrible things that happen in this world. And sometimes I wonder why I am blessed to be alive and happy and to feel the sunshine kiss my face.

What makes me different than any of those six million lives that died in the massacre of the Holocaust?

Nothing really.

We are all just as human, just as loved by God, just as fragile and dependent on Him.

Life isn’t fair, and that is hard to understand.

The holocaust is atrocious. It’s a reminder of how wicked mankind becomes when we reject God and follow our sinful inclinations. But what I want to share today is not another graphic reminder of the horror that engulfed so many.

What I want to share is hope.

Mount Herzl in Jerusalem
Mount Herzl in Jerusalem (near the Holocaust Museum)

The Nazis tried to put an end to the Jewish people. But you know what?

They failed.

Israel is a living testament that the Nazis didn’t win in the end.

I’ve been blessed to visit that land several times. I’ve seen with my own eyes that Yahweh has returned the Jewish people to their home. I’ve walked in the streets of Jerusalem and heard the Hebrew language being spoken and songs being sung.

I’ve visited Holocaust museums in the Jerusalem, but after each dreadful visit, I’ve always stepped outside into the sunshine again to see Israel alive and well.

I’ve met Holocaust survivors and seen smiles on their faces. Yahweh can heal–somehow, someway.

I’ve heard stories of the courageous souls that defied Hitler. Some gave their lives. In every generation, there are those who will stand for justice. There are those that believe in hope.

The Wailing Wall

We live in a broken, sinful world, y’all, but Yahweh takes the brokenness and makes something beautiful in the end.

We can shake our fist at heaven or we can fall on our knees and let Him lift us up again.

He alone can give us hope.

As we remember the Holocaust, let’s also look at the future.

Let’s put our trust in the God of Israel.

Let’s remember hope.

Love is Humble

Passover 2015

Last weekend my family and I celebrated Passover and the Last Supper.

I feel like there are so many things that I could share about what I learned over the weekend, but a lot of it is still spinning in my heart and not ready for words yet. It was truly a blessed time of encouragement and fellowship and memory making.

Last year, I shared a bit about the significance of Passover and how my family celebrates it, but this year I want to share one of the many lessons that Passover teaches me.

It teaches me about love–my Savior’s definition of love.

Love is humble.

Love knelt down before his disciples and washed the dirt  from their feet.  Love spent the last hours of His life on earth as a servant to broken humanity. In the garden, Love felt the deepest anguish of the soul. He knew the torture that awaited Him, and yet He prayed, “Thy will be done.”

Love is sacrificial.

Love pierced His hands and feet to the cross. Love adorned Himself with a crown of thorns. He bled his heart to win mine.

Love is alive.

Love rose again on the third day.  He conquered the grave and quenched the sting of death. Two thousand years later, His love for us hasn’t changed. It never will, because His love is eternal.

It’s steady and true.
It’s righteous and pure and inexplainable with words.

This same love He gives to us, not so we can lock it in our hearts, but so we can give it freely, and lay down our lives for others, as He did for us. Feed the hungry. Heal the hurting. Be the love that this broken world desperately needs.

Love is our calling.

This is My command, that you love one another, as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: that he should lay down his life for his friends.
–John 15:12 & 13

May we have the courage to say, “Thy will be done.”
May we be His Love.

How about you…Have you ever celebrated Passover? If so, I would love to hear what Passover has taught you.

Honesty

I like to think of myself as this girl:

photo from imgkid.com
photo from imgkid.com

I like to think of myself as young and happy with a bright future ahead of me.

Most people think of me as a happy person. They tell me that my name suits me well–I love my name, and I consider myself a happy person too–but sometimes I don’t feel joyful.

I’m a private person (sort of confusing when I have a blog, huh?). I don’t share all my feelings. If I did, people would clearly see that I’m not always smiling on the inside. My emotions are generally a roller coaster. I’m happy; I’m sad. I’m calm; I’m worried. I’m peaceful; I’m fearful. It’s an ongoing circle.

I like the way tears feel on my cheeks. I like listening to melancholy tunes. I like staring out a window at the silhouetted evening.

But I also love sunshine and crisp, autumn air.
I love the giggles of my niece and nephew and siblings.
I love happy music and laughing and celebrating life.
I love these things more.

I want to be Joy.
I want to be known by my smile.
But I’m human too, and so I struggle.

Is joy a constant state of happiness? Is it the art of smiling when you’d rather be crying? Is it a hug when you’re falling apart, and a lilting voice when the world becomes a dirge?

If it is, I can’t be that. Not all the time. I never will. Try as I must, I’ll never fully be my name.

And in admitting that, I’m content. God is joy. I’m not competing with Him.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t do everything right. I cry sometimes. But I’m not afraid to fall on my knees and look to Heaven. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m broken inside. I’m not afraid to be honest and tell God that I don’t understand.

I want to be Joy.
I want to trust God.

There’s a gentle peace in my heart reminding me that even when I change, Yahweh never changes. He’s always there for me.

He is my joy.
And I want to share that joy with others.

Dido?