Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Greatest Gift: Book Recap

After seeing a few other women reading Ann Voskamp’s December devotional, The Greatest Gift, and sharing quotes from it, I decided it was a book I wanted to pick up. Hope and Melissa Emma rocked at sharing little bits of truth on Instagram! So, although the book starts on December 1st, I joined on the 5th. Better late than never right? This book really emphasizes slowing down at Christmas, realizing the importance of the Gift, and understanding the reality of Jesus’s birth. Ann Voskamp highlights amazing relationships between the Old and New Testaments making the story of Jesus’s birth even more beautiful.

It’s a day late, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from the book. Remember, Jesus doesn’t just come on Christmas day- He comes every minute of every day. All quotes are from Ann Voskamp herself unless otherwise noted. Enjoy the lingering of the holiday season and realize that the Greatest Gift is here.

“The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.”
-Frederick Buechner

“While other creeds endeavor to get us out of the world and into heaven, in Christianity, heaven comes down and Christ comes into this world to get us.” (p. 31)

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes… and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer (p. 82)
   *We must let Jesus open the door for us.
“Let everything go, and kneel. Kneel here and behold only Him- the only place where you can receive the gift of acceptance, so the gods of acceptance have no hold on you.” (p. 150)

“Without repentence, our hearts will be so full of worldly things that there will be “no room in the inn” for Christ to be born again.” (p. 162)

“All worry dethrones God. All worrying makes you king and God incompetent. There is a King born in Bethlehem and on the throne. You can breathe.” (p. 170)


Which quote stands out most to you and why?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Remember It's Real

Mary and Joseph.
The shepherds.
The angels.
The three Wise men.
Animals. Especially a donkey.
An innkeeper.
A star.
And baby Jesus.  
These are the main characters.

The setting is a manger in Bethlehem.

Key lines: “Fear not, I bring good news that will bring great joy to all people.” “You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” –Luke 2

All of these appear at Christmas time in church pageants, on Christmas cards, in Nativity scenes. In snow globes and ornaments. In children’s books.

All are great reminders and symbols of the story of Jesus’s birth. But it’s easy to think of it as just that- just a story. But we need to remember it was real. It is real.

It’s easy to think of them as characters. But Mary was a real girl, likely younger than most people reading this. She was probably stressed- travelling pregnant, having no place to stay. Giving birth in a stable. And Joseph- wondering whether to believe the angel, to trust his soon-to-be wife. Maybe he felt a little ashamed that He couldn’t find a place for his pregnant fiancĂ© to stay. I know a lot of young men today might feel that way… The hay was probably itchy. The animals may have been a little stinky. Do you think the innkeeper was glad to have business or upset to have to turn the couple away? Do you think the Wise men were stressed about what gifts to pick out?

Thinking about their feelings helps me remember that they are all real. It’s not a story. It’s not just a picture. Jesus really came.

And He didn’t just come a long time ago- He comes “every minute, every hour, everyday” if you open your heart to Him.

*This post was inspired by Nichole Nordeman’s song “Real.”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for the Change

This has never been more true for me than it is right now.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How My Answer has Changed: Thoughts on Grace and Salvation

I haven't blogged for over a month... which makes it appropriate that I am writing about grace today! No need for perfection in blogging (or anywhere for that matter), especially when this space is my own.  A space for my reflections, thoughts, and other little tidbits.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little something I have thought about lately. I recently began volunteering at an agency that encourages sharing the Gospel with its clients. This is something that is fairly new to me. As the agency suggested various ways to open up a conversation relating to faith, salvation, and Jesus, they suggested asking the following question:

 "If you died today and Jesus asked you, "why should I let you into Heaven?" how would you answer."

I do think this may be a little bit of an intimidating question for some people so I think it should be used with discretion, but thinking about my own answer to this question and how it has changed over the years reveals to me some ways that I have grown. Some ways my understanding has changed. And I am grateful that God has allowed this growth in me. 

Up until not too long ago, I would have answered this way: 

"I have said the prayer to accept Jesus into my heart. I have asked forgiveness for the things I can remember (probably only noticing major sins, not those that deal with the status of my heart). I try to pray often, I try to pray every night. I try to avoid doing the wrong thing." 

Basically, my answer was all about me, not much about Jesus. All about what I was trying to do, nothing about what He has done. Now I have learned that it's more about Jesus than it is about me. Actually it's all about Jesus. All I have to do is believe and accept

So my answer has changed into this:

"God, I honestly don't deserve Heaven. I have sinned and no matter how hard I try to avoid sin, I am fallen. But I believe in Jesus, the One You sent to save me. I recognize that I desperately need Him. Not just as a one time prayer and free ticket into Heaven, but everyday. All day. I am thankful for Your grace and Your gift of Jesus, who You sent to save and redeem me."

I also notice that when I make it about me, I use the word "try" many times. It's as if my salvation is tentative, and I am unsure. When we recognize that our salvation is more about Jesus and His gift, we can be assured and confident that our future is filled with hope. 

"Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence." -Ephesians 3:12 (NLT)

"Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary." -Hebrews 6:18-19 (NLT)

"And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life... I have written this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. And we know that the Son of God has come and that He has given us understanding so that we can know the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God and He is eternal life." -1 John 5:11-13; 20 (NLT)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Reading, Wondering, Hoping... A Post About What's Happening!

A fun little exercise I saw on LittleMissMomma! What’s currently happening in your life?

Enjoying: The cool autumn air and sunshine!


Listening: to some new [to me] songs- “I Can Just Be Me” (Laura Story), “Live and Breathe” (More than Rubies), all songs by Tricia (Superchick singer gone solo), Holly Starr, Jamie Grace

Cooking: pancakes… It has taken practice but I am getting there.

Drinking: good old H2O. And coffee with milk J

Reading: textbooks, textbooks, research articles, and textbooks! But I’m also in the middle of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and Grace Eventually by Anne Lamott.

Looking: at job postings, even though I don’t graduate until May.

Wasting: some of my headspace on worries

Sewing: a t-shirt quilt. It’s been in progress for two years.

Wishing: I made more time for crafting

Liking: yoga

Loving: random supportive texts from my mom <3

Wondering: which weekend we gain an hour of sleep with day light savings.

Hoping: that graduation comes sooner rather than later. But…

Marveling: at how fast time goes!

Needing: a creative spark

image via Pinterest
Tried to locate the original source, no luck...
Smelling: cinnamon hazelnut coffee- best.smell.ever.

Wearing: Scarves and jackets! It’s that time of year again!

Forever 21

Following: Pinterest boards full of lovely lettering

Thinking: about the possibilities of the future

Focusing: on the here and now. Well, trying…

Bookmarking: The Purdue OWL APA Writing Style guide!

Learning: to crochet! I keep missing stitches and making triangles.