Friday, February 12, 2016

...That Mortality May Be Swallowed Up By Life

This time of year many Christians take time to observe Lent, a season of focusing on the sufferings of Christ leading up to His death and resurrection. Many people fast from something that they normally enjoy, focus on living simply, and returning to the Lord in confession and repentance.
I did not grow up in a church that observed Ash Wednesday or put a large emphasis on Lent. However, in the past few years it has been a meaningful time for me to focus more intensely on the Lord Jesus' sacrifice for my sins and it has made the celebration of Easter sweeter as a result.
This year, I have felt led to spend time in prayer being intentionally thankful for the sufferings in my life and in the lives of those that I love.  It does not come naturally, but by God's grace He has been showing me the beauty found in sufferings as His child -- These are a few of the ways that are being revealed to me:

 1) We are able to identify with Him in what He suffered for us.
 2) The realization of #1 causes us to grow deeply in our love for Jesus.
 3) They keep us dependent upon Him.
 4) They develop our faith and perseverance.
 5) They cause us to relate to God in a more personal and real way.
 6) They are used by God to sanctify us, making us more like Christ
 7) They allow us to receive comfort from God, and give us the gift of extending that comfort to to          others in their own afflictions.
 8) They give us a longing for heaven and for God's redemptive purposes to go forth on the earth

The picture described in Romans 8 has been an encouragement for me as I walk through this Lenten season. As all of creation groans, we groan as well, longing for the redemption of all things. Our spirits long for eternal, perfect fellowship with God and man, and we mourn over the brokenness we see in our present world and our present relationships. Our bodies long for the glorious bodies God has prepared for us, where we will no longer grow weary or cry or feel sick or experience death.
But in our present sufferings where these are not yet fully realized, we cling to Jesus, our Suffering Servant and victorious King. We remember that our sufferings are momentary, and that His sufferings purchased for us eternal glory and fellowship with Him.

... May our grief over sin fill our hearts with wonder over the truth that Jesus bore all of our sin in His body on the tree.

...May our aches and pains and illnesses remind us of the cross that Jesus carried and the physical pain that He endured so that we might have a glorious, new body.

... May our longings and desires remind us of how He longed for us and pursued us when we did not know Him in our sin.

...May the poverty in and around us remind us that He delighted to become poor for us. He became poor so that we might become rich in Him.

...May our present trials make us more thankful for what Jesus endured for us and cause our hearts to explode with affection for Him!

“...For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”      
-2 Cor. 5:4-5

Monday, August 31, 2015

Build Your Porch

A couple of weekends ago I had the privilege of attending Women of Faith, a conference for women with the goal of encouraging ladies and lifting up the name of Jesus. It was the last WOF tour, and I'm grateful to have gotten in on the last one!

As a newbie, I didn't really know what to expect. I only knew a couple of the speakers even though some of them have been teaching the Bible and speaking to women for over 30 years. I expected to have a good time with my mom and my aunt Kathy and to learn about God's love for me (This year's theme is LOVED), but what I didn't expect was to be blown completely away by the beauty of God's family and His work in our hearts.

I didn't expect to cry and to laugh simultaneously. Tears of beauty at the redemptive work of God, tears of laughter as we completely cracked up, tears of solidarity as the speakers shared their stories. Tears of overwhelming amazement at the intense and tender love of Christ, who went to the cross to show us the width and the depth and strength of His love.

I didn't expect to be enamored with the team of speakers. So much so that I kept stealing glances at the side of the stage where they were all seated together and just watching them. I have never seen such beautiful, radiant women in my life.

These women of faith ranged from ages 40-84. Not one had a supermodel figure or perfectly symmetrical faces or airbrushed makeup. But I am telling you, they were stunningly beautiful. They laughed and danced with complete abandon, they embraced the hard parts of their stories and shared them with such grace and courage. Each one of these women spoke to the crowd and you saw them--  completely themselves, each her own, not one like the other, secure in who God made her to be and owning it. Loving it. Lit up from the inside out, enjoying all of the ups and downs of life, together. It was obvious that these women were the deepest kind of friends. Not competing or condemning or subtly envious of the others accomplishments or gifts -- but true FRIENDS.

 These women are just like you and me. Ordinary women in love with an extraordinary God. What was special about them was HOW MUCH Jesus shined in their lives.

His Love,
His Grace,
His Redemption,
His Righteousness,
His Compassion,
His Joy ...

all spilling out everywhere.

The speakers sat together on a part of the stage where a make-shift porch was constructed. Part of the conference involved "Stories from the Porch" where the ladies shared funny, heart-warming stories from their everyday trials and triumphs. I laughed until my sides split, and rejoiced and grieved their ups and downs with them. I just watched these ladies in amazement because "This is clearly family." 

I left the conference with a fire in my heart for the family of God. A desire to let loose and be real and allow God to use who I really am in the messiness of life. I left with a desire to build my porch... 
A place where I can sprawl out with a cup of coffee on some pillows and just be Rachel and allow my friends to just be who they are. A place to invite weary women to come as they are and be real. A place for those who love Jesus to encourage each other in the mundane and lovely and hard of life.

The messy of life is not nearly so overwhelming with a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold in prayer, a little belly laughter over the irony in life.

 Life is too hard to go it alone and too beautiful to experience in isolation.

Invite someone onto your porch this week.  We need each other. More than we know, I think.

May God bring us each porches right where we are, full of His beautiful people to help us stay faithful to Him and who can make this journey home more full of kingdom life than we could ever dream.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Kip's Birthday Celebration

We spent much of May and June on the road, visiting friends and family. We had a picture perfect beach vacation with the Wright side of our family, which still makes me smile to think about. Michael celebrated a milestone in his PT program at North GA, and we were able to celebrate him receiving his white coat and starting his clinical training. I will plan to share a few pictures of all of these occasions for our families over the next couple of weeks. But first, I wanted to share some photos from Kip's 28th birthday. We had a wonderful day together celebrating him!
Breakfast of homemade carmel rolls and opening cards 
Walking the Big Four Bridge 

Picnic Lunch at the waterfront  

Checking out the Louisville Slugger Museum. Always the athlete, Kip loved the batting cages. I just held the mini bats for show and ducked for cover at the simulated pitches. 

My love! Kip is steady, kind, full of love, always seeing the good, always keeping me laughing. I could go on and on, but I'll spare you all. If you know him, then you know... He's the real deal. 
Here's to year 28! 

Friday, March 13, 2015


We blinked after coming home from our New Year's Vacation and find ourselves halfway through the Spring Semester:

Kip is taking two classes and working about two shifts per week at the hospital. He is loving all he is learning, and frequently comes home spilling over with questions, topics, Scriptures which we discuss over dinner.

I am working full time but have also started taking classes offered as a part of the Seminary Wives Institute on campus.  I have always loved learning, but this is really a special opportunity to learn from wise professors and their wives on campus. This season has really fanned the flame of passion for His Word to get deep in my heart. I want to live, breathe, think, speak this Word, and to constantly obey it. What a gift it is to us!

We both keep pretty busy between work and school, but try to make time for the occasional dinner or brunch date. Here is a photo of us on a recent outing to the Anchorage Cafe for breakfast.

I have been slowly reading through the Old Testament and it has been blowing my mind to see how God reveals Himself!  I recently finished Genesis and have been reading and re-reading the chapter where Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. The same brothers who sold him into slavery 22 years prior, and considered him dead. I imagine all of the emotion in not only learning their brother is alive, but in recognizing all the Lord has done. Joseph tells them in 45:5 "Do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life". And in verse 8, "It was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt".

How amazing is the Sovereignty of God! There are no gradients of it, no degrees of His control. He is fully, completely control of all things in all power. Every single thing that has happened and will happened is in His capable hands, exactly as He intends it to be. What a powerful, life-giving thing to really believe!

In regards to the life of Joseph, he was hated by his brothers, plotted to be killed by them, and sold to Egypt as a slave. However, the Lord's plans for him to rule and prosper were not only accomplished, but every attempt at thwarting this was actually all a part of His purposes!  Not only did Joseph rule as he'd dreamed when he was a young man, but think about some other things we see accomplished, as a result of the brothers' jealous actions:
  • Full reconciliation and love between Joseph and his brothers
  • Maturity of faith in Joseph and his brothers, the development of tender hearts toward God
  • Many people in Egypt saved from the famine
  • Favorable position for Joseph in Pharaoh's home
  • God greatly glorified in the eyes of Pharaoh and the Egyptian people
  • Joseph's brothers and fathers blessed and given new territory surrounding Egypt
We see the all-encompassing grace of God to His people everywhere in His Word. We can trust that this is who He is, all the time. The things that feel good and the things that feel bad, are all purposeful in the Sovereign hands of God. Even our sin and mistakes are redeemed by Him and used for His purposes! And the best news is : He is only working GOOD for us. He wants to thank Him for what we cannot yet see. Thank him for everything, in faith. He is the perfect Creator and He is creating a bigger, better, more beautiful plan than we can know.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

In all of our happenings, let us recognize the Lord is Almighty God, Sovereign over all things. There is not one thing that is out of His hands. He shows us in His Word that : 1) He is always in control and 2) He is always good and merciful to His children. May these promises greatly comfort us and be the pillars of our life and faith always.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Year's Vacation

We celebrated a late Christmas with our families in GA the first week or so of January, and now are back in KY settling into what feels like a brand new season. How is this month already halfway over??

Lots of "Nertz" playing... took us back to our college days! 

The Card Sharks 

Manicures (the cheaper way) 

Excited to get some good GA BBQ at Cliff's restaurant! 

More cards with this beautiful couple!

Teaching Kip's parents how to play Nertz 

I didn't take near enough pictures but I wanted to post a few of our time spent with our families. While it was wonderful to spend good, quality time in familiar surroundings, when pulling back into Louisville we both looked at each other and said "It's good to be home". It's funny how that happens-- After a certain amount of time, things stop feeling strange and start feeling like comfortable again.
School starts up again next week and I am going to be taking a class as well.
We are back and ready for a new semester, refreshed and excited about all that the Lord is doing.

Many Blessings to you in 2015!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

This Advent

I was enjoying some time in the kitchen last night, cooking dinner.  Christmas hymns were playing in the background. I was just savoring the moment - hands kneading dough, shoulders relaxing, humming along to the carols. One of those moments only to be described as peaceful, contented, thankful. Then in the background I start to hear sounds of gunfire, sirens, people screaming. I realized that in the next room Kip was catching up on some news on his computer. I didn't ask him to turn it down. I listened to both simultaneously for awhile, pondering what was intriguing me about the moment. It slowly dawned on me clearly. In our world we see it, simultaneously. We feel it.
Peace and Violence, Beauty and Ugly evil, Contentment and Longing, Righteousness and Injustice ...

This is the tension of advent. 

Advent is a time of expectant waiting. We celebrate the coming of the promised Messiah and remember the many years His people waited for His birth. We remember that He is coming again, a second time, and we wait and long for that day when all is made right.

The things in the news recently have grieved me deeply. The suffering that I see daily in my work has pierced my heart anew. The losses and longing that we all experience and see others carrying are real and difficult. I feel the tension this season: Jesus is here and His kingdom and light are advancing. But there is also so much pain and loss and struggle and sin that remain in our world.

The beautiful news is that Jesus meets us in this tension. He fills these gaps with His very self. He came that our losses and longings would be transformed by the fullness of God with us - Emmanuel.

And He is coming again to complete His transforming work on this world! Whatever heartache we carry this season, may we remember the power of Christ. We pray for His return. We long for His coming. We ask for eyes that would keep turning to Him. We praise Him that there is so much more than this present day, that what we currently see is but a dim reflection of what will be.

In our waiting and longing, may we embrace Jesus, the Hope of the world and our fullness of joy in every season.

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high, 
And cheer us by your drawing nigh, 
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, 
And death's dark shadows put to flight. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind 
In one the hearts of all mankind; 
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease, 
And be yourself our King of Peace. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Friday, November 7, 2014

We Are Family

Kip had to be at work at 6:15 this morning, so I was up long before the dawn, stumbling around the kitchen making breakfast for him while downing cups of coffee trying to wake up. For all you other non-morning people, you understand. Nothing is harder than getting out of that warm bed!

Now that I have had 3 cups of coffee and counting, I have had plenty of time to read, pray, reflect, eat, pay the bills, and wake up slow. Once I am up, I am happy to be up. And there is something to be said about those early morning, quiet hours.

I was looking through some photos on Facebook this morning and I wanted to post some of my favorite recent photos of our beautiful family. In the spirit of November, the month of Thanksgiving, one of the things we are most thankful for is our family. Supportive, loving, giving, fun .... we can not say enough about our families. If you know them, then you know. They are the best!

My gorgeous sister-in-law, Rachel. She is so much fun and full of confidence and zest for life! She loves others so well and we love her! 

My very special in-laws came all the way up to KY for a weekend visit.  Despite the cold and windy weather, we had such a great time with them. They always make us feel so special, loved, and supported. They are awesome! 

My handsome brother, Michael, and his beautiful bride Sara. So thankful for them! Michael is so kind-hearted, loving, fun, responsible, smart.... Sara is my newest "sister-in-love" and is funny, sweet, and could not be more adorable. We love these two!
Joel. Unique, creative, introspective, encouraging. Has always marched to his own beat and helped others to find theirs.
Our brother and friend. So thankful for him! 
We are family! My parents and brothers on Michael's wedding day.
A special day spent among precious people. 
My best friend, favorite GA fan, dance partner, and handsome hand-holder,  Kip.
I love him a whole lot!

Happy Friday to you and yours. Life is what it is because of the people in it. Celebrate them as the gifts they are. Have a great weekend enjoying those you love!