Thursday, April 12, 2012

my weight

My weight. A battle in my life for years. I have a desire to honor God, to look/feel good, and an inability to do it. Most of the time. A friend once shared her own struggle to seek Christ first in it as a struggle between two false gods of pleasure and vanity. That's SO me. 

Pleasure-I want whatever food I want, when I want. It's to please me and I look to cake/cookies to satisfy what I know only God can.

Vanity- Yet when God gives me the ability to honor Him in daily eating, I lose weight. And i LOVE that I've lost it. I may not brag openly, yet my heart is the same. I still hope people will notice and that becomes my god. 

But what is amazing me in my daily battle is God's grace. He knows this about me and as He shows me daily, He's offering a way out. Himself. I'm bouncing back and forth from the path of vanity/glory to the path of pleasure/gluttony and He just keeps gently guiding me back to His path of life and freedom. It's beautiful. I'm so thankful for His love and grace.

"... Your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, "Be gone!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lessons from a 5 year old

Last year Jimmy asked to start a new Easter tradition. He wanted us to put up a paper cross. Then he cut out black circles for nails. He asked me to write "Jesus died for our sins". But the day of Easter he lead us in a sweet time of confession and forgiveness with that cross. He wrote our names on it by the nails and had us write specific sin near our name and then he stuck the nails over it to show that Jesus' death covered that sin. Wow. Love him and the lessons he teaches me.

Jimmy by his cross
our sins covered by Jesus

the finished cross to remind us in Him is forgiveness of sin

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lights and Pictures

I'm so visual that I knew using candles with lent readings at home would be meaningful to me. But I had no clue how powerful the lenten light readings John and Noel Piper made would be. Wow! Amazing. We use them the week leading up to Easter and place small tea lights from the dollar store on a plate. Each night Andy reads the devotional printed off from and we blow out a candle each day through Good Friday until Easter Sunday when we light all of them again to show that Jesus beat sin and death and rose again!

Andy reading

A light is snuffed out after each reading

Jim was fascinated

Jesus is alive. The tomb is empty. Light of the world has come!!!

close up of candles next to our homemade tomb

Here's Noel Piper's intro explanation:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). But for a while it seemed as if the darkness was overcoming—for a long while.
Your seven candles symbolize the Light of the World—the Light that was God’s glory and that illuminated God for us—the Light that, in the end, seemed to have been darkened. As we move through the season preceding Easter, the candles are snuffed out one by one, until all are dark on Good Friday, when Jesus died and the earth was covered with shadow. Darkness apparently had won. The Light of the World had been extinguished. It was finished.
But NO! Easter brings resurrection! Life! Return from death! The Light has won and all the candles burn as we praise him—the Light of the World, the Bright Morning Star, the Glory of God.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We should but we don't

Thinking more and more about Jesus today. Just read this Martin Luther quote. Wow:

"If we consider the persons, we ought to suffer a thousand and again a thousand times more than Christ because he is God and we are dust and ashes, yet it is the reverse. He who had a thousand and again a thousand times less need, has taken upon himself a thousand and again a thousand times more than we. No understanding can fathom nor tongue can express, no writing can record, but only the inward feeling can grasp what is involved in the suffering of Christ."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Some things in life have felt impossible to me lately. Like having all our needs met. Being able to own a home. Healing my sick baby. So as things feel impossible, I'm fighting the feelings by remembering just how possible everything is through Christ. What was impossible??? It was impossible for death to keep hold of Him. THAT is what's impossible. Everything else seems so very possible to me when I hang on this truth. Jesus who beat death now gives his own salvation and every good thing. Amazing!

"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him"

Wow! It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him. Amen:)

I love this JC Ryle reflection on Christ's suffering and resurrection:
"We must not be content with a vague belief that Christ’s sufferings on the cross were vicarious.  We are intended to see this truth in every part of His passion.  We may follow Him all through, from the bar of Pilate to the minute of His death, and see Him at every step as our mighty substitute, our representative, our head, our surety, our proxy – the divine friend who under took to stand in our place and, by the priceless merit of his sufferings, to purchase our redemption.

Was He flogged? It was done so that “by His wounds we are healed.”.

Was He condemned, though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty.

Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory.

Was He stripped of His clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.

Was He mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed.

Was He reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin.

Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was done so that he might be able to save others to the uttermost.

Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory."

God is so good and loving to us. Believing Him once again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Read the Old Testament

I LOVE this post by Dane Ortlund about reading the Old Testament. Check it out here.

Here's a glimpse:
What are other ways we might read the Bible?

  • The Gold Mine Approach – reading the Bible as a vast, cavernous, dark mine, in which one occasionally stumbles upon a nugget of inspiration. Result: confused reading. 
  • The Hero Approach – reading the Bible as a moral hall of fame that gives us one example after another of heroic spiritual giants to emulate. Result: despairing reading. 
  • The Rules Approach – reading the Bible on the lookout for commands to obey to subtly reinforce a sense of personal superiority. Result: Pharisaical reading. 
  • The Artifact Approach – reading the Bible as an ancient document about events in the Middle East a few thousand years ago that are irrelevant to my life today. Result: bored reading. 
  • The Guidebook Approach – reading the Bible as a roadmap to tell me where to work, whom to marry, and what shampoo to use. Result: anxious reading. 
  • The Doctrine Approach – reading the Bible as a theological repository to plunder for ammunition for my next theology debate at Starbucks. Result: cold reading. 
There is some truth in each of these approaches. But to make any of them the dominant lens is to turn the Bible into a book it was never meant to be. A biblical theology approach takes the Bible on its own terms—namely, that “all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Jesus” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Result: transforming reading. 
Biblical theology invites you to read the Bible by plotting any passage in the overarching narrative that culminates in Christ. The Bible is not mainly commands with stories of grace sprinkled in. It is mainly a story of grace with commands sprinkled in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easter links

Here's a roundup of some of my thoughts I've posted in the past on Easter.

Follow the Easter link to see posts on:
- our traditions to teach our kids and stay our hearts (including a playdough tomb, resurrection eggs, and a empty/full basket switch)
-good books/dvds
- a link to the Lenton Lights devotional we use
-my thoughts as I reflected on my sin, Christ's sufferingdeath, and His resurrection

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In the Midst of My Storm

I'm not sure if this post is me processing, confessing, or just sharing things I'm learning. Please forgive the awkward writing style that reflects the confusion. Today I was in Luke 8. I've been praying and processing through some circumstances and my heart in them. As I read Jesus calming the storm, I was struck by 2 things:
1- there was real danger. Luke didn't say it was perceived that the storm was sinking the boat. He says the boat was filling and the disciples were in danger and they knew it.
That's how I've been feeling. One circumstance I often grapple through is our finances. We aren't in trouble, but our daily needs are met through churches and individuals that give to our ministry, and at times, they give less than they committed to. Some even have to stop giving for various reasons and seasons which means we need to leave the studio to go meet with more churches and individuals. Since we set our salary based on needs, I'm always trying to figure out what our actual needs (versus wants) are. Should we save for a downpayment on a house or continue to rent? If we do buy, what is a reasonable pice range? Should we save to adopt children soon, look for funding, or wait? What is a modest budget and are we living too lavishly? It's continual. I'm encouraged that just as the dangers the disciples faced in their storm were real, our situation is also a real challenge we're facing, not perceived....

And 2- Jesus asked "Where is your faith?"Jesus told them to go over to the other side of the lake. This whole trip was his idea/plan. They just followed. He knew the danger they faced and he slept through it. They had seen His power and authority again and again. Yet, in their panic, they woke him to save them. He calmed the storm just like that and then asked where their faith was.

That's what I'm begging God to help me see in our circumstances. I LOVE our ministry and I don't want to grapple with lack of trust and miss the joy of serving the church worldwide! I want to know as we walk through this over the years where my faith is.

This month, as we looked at steps we'll need to take for our current financial season, we were convicted that many times we had leaned on our own understanding, not to God. We confessed that we have sought "help" in familiar places that didn't require much boldness or faith steps to meet our needs and our wants. We admitted that selfishness may leave some relationships strained if we continue to lean on them instead of God and we are now taking steps to apologize directly to them and not lean on them anymore.

Though humbling, it was mainly just freeing to see our lack of maturity and seek forgiveness. So now, as we prepare for our next steps, I'm begging him to help me in my weak faith and strengthen it so my trust is fully in Him alone. I want to remember confidently that He lead us here. It was His plan. He knew the "dangers" and He is with me during these real trials, teaching me to trust Him. And all His ways are good.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I've been sharing some of my thoughts on Jesus' command for us in Matthew 28. I've looked at the promise, the call to go, making disciples, and baptism. Today, I'll share my thoughts on teaching:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Ah... teaching. There is value in bringing people in our lives to hear the Word preached at church and sending them to conferences or websites of national teachers. We are certainly not all gifted teachers. BUT- Jesus called all of us to teach, not just the gifted. He didn't challenge us to do anything more than teach them to observe all that He commanded us. Teach them what we already know through Him. Most of our teaching will come as we do life together. We live it out. We give helpful resources that God has used in our lives. We open our Bibles and read it together. We answer any questions we can. And mostly, we look for opportunities to share His Word in our daily life moments. 

I've learned this through my children. They are always watching Andy and me. When we do well, they are learning what awe of God looks like. Other times, they learn what repentance looks like and how to seek forgiveness (when we seek it after we wrong each other or them). God has had me pause from homeschool to watch a crazy lightening storm and then talk about His power and our favorite displays of God in His creation. He's given me opportunities through my 6 year old's questions while riding in the car to explain divorce, ghosts, and having babies. At the beach I've shared about the wise man who built on a rock and the foolish man who built on the sand to teach about hearing and applying God's Word. Just the other day, I shared the man with much debt and Peter asking how often we need to forgive as we talked about forgiving little brother again as he destroyed another beloved book, after he confessed and asked to be forgiven. 

Teaching others means preparing by knowing His Word ourselves. I grow in Him as I seek Him daily in His Word. And He brings His words to my mind as the people I'm teaching ask questions. I won't know to teach others if I'm not already in His Word as a way of life. But it's more than just head knowledge. We also then teach by modeling His Word: loving Jesus openly and living out obedience to His Word, and then looking for opportunities as we are with them in daily life to share His Word with them. It is a command and a gift. Oh, may we be faithful to teach the people He entrusts us with.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baptize- more than water

I've been going through Jesus' command for us in Matthew 28 and shared first the promise as we obey, then that it starts when we go and engage others, and that discipleship involves pouring Christ through pouring our our lives into others over time. Today, I'll look at baptizing:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

There's an obvious application here- physical baptism. It's an incredible joy to see someone you love receive Christ's salvation. Water baptism is a public profession of that faith and a tangible showing of their death to sin and life in Christ.
Sweet memory- My first 'disciples baptism' in 2001

There's also another significance to baptism that continues beyond the one-time water baptism. It shows that they are now part of the body of Christ- His church. They too, like the rest of His church, have been chosen by the Father, saved through His Son, and now have His Holy Spirit living and active in them. They are now part of this family of believers. Part of discipleship and teaching others happens as we invite them into the larger body of Christ. So we baptize them physically to show new life and we bring them into this family of Christ-followers. I am not the only person that loves Jesus in their life. They need others. Others need them. Not just through Sunday morning sermons, but as they learn to walk together through life to the glory of God. Part of leading and guiding others is showing them how we need each other. We were meant to live life together, care for one another, and show Christ to each other. 

And I love how we live it out. The Christ-followers in my life have walked through hard trials with me, encouraging me and praying. We celebrate birthdays and big milestones. They brought meals for weeks (twice for over a month) when I was hospitalized and had babies. We do mundane things like eating meals, going camping, play dates at parks, ertc. We do daily life together. They are people who aren't shocked by any sin in my life and offer wise counsel when I need it. Baptism isn't just about leaving behind the old life, but more so, it's about entering into the fullness of forever-life through Christ. And we don't do that alone, but we get to do it with others. It's an incredible gift from our loving God to live life together as His people.

When we share Jesus with others, we engage in their lives, invite them into our daily life, and introduce them to others so they can grow in Him, learn, and serve others as part of God's family.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Make Disciples

I've been going through Jesus' command for us in Matthew 28 and shared both the promise as we obey and that it starts when we go and engage others. Today, I'll look at the next chunk:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Making disciples has been key to me. When I go and reach out to share Jesus, I also stay. By that I mean, I go to them and intend to stay in their lives. Jesus taught many, but poured into 12 men. He shared His teachings, but also brought them into His daily life of weddings, ministry to others, travel,  and even asked them to pray during His darkest hour. He explained God's ways on a deeper level with them and invited them into His daily life.

I've received it first-hand. When I was a teen, a family poured their lives into me. I visited them for a few hours after school each day and spent many weekends with them. I witnessed daily life in their home. My friend Stephanie and her brother, David taught me how to live honoring God as a high schooler. I watched Ma'm (what I called her mom) take jobs that allowed her to be home after school every day for her kids, make her husband home-made bread and biscuits to show him love and I adored how they called each other by their pet name for each other. I learned that when we love someone, we obey by watching Steph's little sister, Sarah, practice the piano out of obedience to her parents when I knew she'd rather play video games. I saw family fights. They invited me to spend nights with them, sit at church with them, go on skiing trips, and to amusement parks with them. I heard encouragement and advice given when anyone sought it. 

And I felt safe and loved as I poured out my fears, anger, and questions. Again and again, Ma'am would stop what she was doing and sit at the table with me. She'd listen and then encourage or scold me (masked subtly by her sweet southern voice). Sometimes even Sir would counsel me from the Word (usually affirming the things Ma'am said before but I ignored). They always stocked Sprite and Cheez-its (my favorites) in the kitchen, which reminded me that I was a welcome addition to their daily lives. And it didn't end when I moved and they moved. They continue to love and support our family today. Sir even counseled Andy and I when we were clueless whether or not he should go back to school for audio engineering. That conversation and prayer time was the first step towards our role now as full time missionaries. They continue to pour Christ into me through their lives.

Enjoying Downtown Disney together last summer!

This is exactly what I pray for His strength to do for others. Pour Christ into others by pouring His truths and my life into them consistently over time. When I get to know someone at the playground, I want to invite them over for dinner or meet them for coffee and see where God may lead it. When someone asks for prayer, I want to pray right then. And then keep praying. And let them know over time that I remember and I care because God cares and He is near. For some, as God calls, I want to meet weekly to listen to them, care for them, pray with them, and point them to Him. In my home, I want to intentionally pour His Word, truth, love, and grace into my children daily as we experience life together. It varies in different seasons and with different people, but I've learned that true discipleship is not official meetings, it's inviting them to experience Christ by coming into my life and me engaging in theirs over time.

Here's something else I've learned. It isn't easy. Sometimes pouring into others means giving up down time because the phone rings or someone sends a deep question or fear in my facebook private message. Sometimes it's watching their kids so they can go have a good cry or spending hours crying with them as they hurt and grieve. Often it's messy. Life is messy, so when we invite others in and get in their lives, messy comes with it. Really engaging over time with people will involve many fun times. But also loving them through sin, hard trials, serious hurts, and sometimes scary or tragic situations. It's hard. But Jesus promises that we can do it in His power, through Him, and He gives us strength to endure, wisdom to be a good friend, and such joy in the process. 

This is discipleship: pouring the love of Christ I've received into others through teaching them His truths and inviting them to see Christ at work in our lives over time. It's an incredible (and sometimes scary) responsibility and honor given by Christ to pour His love into others. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I shared how God gave me a fresh glimpse of His nearness through Matthew 28. In that post, I gave a brief sentence about God guiding us through the Great Commission in tangible ways to give us vision and goals to reach our neighbors and the world. Some of you asked me to share what I've gleaned from this passage. So I'll share in this series a few gems God taught me through Matthew 28:18-20. Today I'll just share one phrase: Go!

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It seems pretty straightforward, but God spurs me on daily with this word: Go. He gave us His authority. He's with us. I don't go alone or in my own power. What is He with us as we go to do? To make disciples, baptize, and teach. But how? By going. At times the "go" in my life has been a call to go to foreign countries and share Him with people who had never even heard His name, sometimes it's been to go to parts of my city that I had avoided and bring socks for homeless sleeping on church steps. In our job, we prepare Jesus' words from the book of Luke in film form in every known language to send with others who are going to every nation, tribe, tongue, and language. Other times it's as simple as praying for someone in a parking lot, sending a message on facebook, or getting on the floor while my children play and engaging their hearts when I could sit on the couch with a book instead.

God's way for us to pour into others is by first going where they are. This has been huge for me as I pray that I'll live a life that points to Him. There is a place for inviting, but first, we go to them. I've met many hurting people longing for friends and in need of THE friend by paying attention when I take my kids to the playground. Moms bring their kids there and God gives me the strength to go over and start talking (why is that so hard?). Sometimes it begins a casual friendship and sometimes it's just a one-time chance to encourage them. And sometimes, God flourishes it into a full friendship where I get to pour Christ into them in our daily lives and watch God work in them. It's incredible. 

Maybe for you it's the dog park, work, grocery store, school, or your neighborhood. Maybe it's the inner city, the abortion clinic, a nursing home, or a third world country. Or maybe it's just getting down on the floor and engaging your child to see where his/her heart is and pour in the love of Christ you've received. Wherever He's calling, I'm praying we'll GO!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daddy dates

I loved this post from the resurgence on Daddy-dates and think every Dad I know should read it!

What a sweet idea. I remember Monday night Chinese dinners with my dad when my mom was on a board and at her meetings. He could have just ordered something in and sat in front of the tv, but instead, he took my sister and I out each week and spent time with us. Those memories are cherished and my relationship with my Dad is still real and precious. I think that regular time with him affirmed His love for me and I'm so glad he took time to show me in action.

My kids have an incredible father who regularly takes them fishing, makes special pancake breakfasts, buys matching pjs, and has lots of tickling and wrestling time set aside for them. It takes time together to pour into your kids. I'm thankful Andy does the hard work and gets to enjoy the fun of it.
typical Daddy tickle/wrestle floor time in our home...
But back to the link. Here's one of my favorite parts of the Daddy date post:
"Charisse is three and a half years old right now and it is just now getting to where it isn’t really weird. Seriously dads, it is awkward to sit with a one year old at Chick-Fil-A and watch them eat. You have no idea what to talk about, you have no idea what is going on in their minds, you can’t discuss current events with them. It’s weird. But it's really worth pushing through it because one day, when they are able to have conversations, you won’t be a stranger because you’ve always been there."

I encourage you to read the article. pass it on to Daddy friends. Encourage them to pour their time into their kids and speak love to them in that special way. It shows the love of Christ in such a real and tangible way. And it builds memories that they can keep forever- even once their kids are grown. They won't regret it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Amazing Conference

I haven't been to a conference in years (mainly because they are expensive), but last September I signed up for the Gospel Coalition Women's Conference coming up in Orlando June 22-24, 2012. Why did I sign up so early? Because I want to grow and be equipped to know Jesus more and share Him daily. Because I want fellowship with other ladies and a little time away from my kids for a weekend to be refreshed and replenished to go back in and lay down my life daily for them again.

And- I've never seen a line-up of so many heavy hitter speakers all to equip women to fall more in love with Jesus and go be salt and light. John and Noel Piper, Nancy Guthrie, Tim Keller, Susan Hunt, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Don Carson, Nancy leigh DeMoss, Carolyn Mahaney, etc. Seriously- the list floors me. And I LOVE the session topics. I can go hear about ways to pour into women, my children, or intentionality in the workforce. It's rare to see those all available. I'm so thankful. I can't wait! Check out the link and think about coming too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Good Gift

I've been thinking a lot about God's gifts lately. We've been praying for a friend battling cancer. We've been asking God for healing, asking (at her request) that He help her to see this season as beautiful in it's time, and asking that in her living and preparing for death (whenever that may be) that He will be glorified. God spoke to me through this passage:

"What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”-Luke 11:11-13 
We've been asking Him for gifts for our friend. And He reminded me that He is giving her (and us) THE gift. Himself. He doesn't just just give healing, but The Healer. Not just finances, but The Provider. Not just wisdom, but The Spirit, who is wisdom, to live in us and walk through the trial for us. God is so amazingly personal. He doesn't just give the gift, He gives Himself lavishly to all who call on Him. Sweet truth to cling to, isn't it?!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How I Want to Live and Die

‎"Let's live and speak so that men and women might know that Jesus Christ is a great Savior, the Son of the Most High, and the never ending King of Kings" -John Piper (on Luke 1:30-35)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

He is With Me

Have you ever read a really familiar passage of Scripture and been hit by one chunk of it all fresh and new? This happened this week and it's been an amazing experience of Him. Hopefully reading this with my highlight will show you:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
There it is! "Behold, I am with you. Always!" I have loved this chuck of Scripture for so long. I've heard many sermons, read much commentary, and even posted this on my wall for a long season. It has spurred me on and guided me in how to tangibly share Christ in my home, neighborhood, and the world.  It's been a constant vision and goal as we prayerfully stepped out to "go, disciple, baptize, and teach" to remind me of our call in Him. But this time, God spoke so sweetly to me and said, "Ginny, I don't just want you to live the command. I want you to live the promise, too." He was reminding me as I seek to live this out that that He is with me. Always.

He's with me as teach my oldest in school each day. He's with me when I read Biscuit the dog books again and again (and again) to my middle child. He's with me when it feels fruitless as I correct my children when they disobey. He's with me at the 4am infant feed. And again at 6 or 7, when I'm up for the day. He's with me when I step out (fearfully) to get to know a new mom at the playground. He's with me as I pray for my friend/mentor battling cancer and my other friend grieving the sudden loss of her brother. He's with me when I'm sitting on my couch reading facebook and blogs. And when my boys and I dance and sing and put on puppet shows. He's with me when we take family walks, as Andy and I get "alone time" to share our thoughts and dreams, and each night as we read His Word together as a family before bed. He's with me in the easy and the hard. In the funny daily moments and the hard life trials. He is with me. Always.

What an incredible promise. Maybe you need that reminder today, too. I don't know your daily life or trials, but I know this: If you are His, He is with you, too. Always.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The day my Grandpa Died

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”- Ephesians 5:15-17

Today I'm remembering one of the first men in my life- my grandpa- Stan Fink. We lived a town apart, just across a bridge from each other. I saw him several times a week for most of my life. He was known by most as former editor of the Atlantic City Press. But to me, he's the guy who wrote amazingly personal and wise letters to all who he loved, made up silly games for my sister and I to play, had the cookies stashed in tins under the sink counter, and watched the stock market close every day. He babysat us regularly (long after my grandma passed away), bought us nice things or wrote checks with generous amounts as gifts, picked us up from school, signed me out of school and took me to get my cast removed in 5th grade,  came to all my concerts, soccer/t-ball/cheerleading/softball games, made us ice cream sundaes, took us to the beach, took me on dates to go eat mazzo ball soup, let me pick several horses to "bet on" before he left for the racetrack, and even let all of us in my family live with him in different seasons.  He was not even close to a perfect man, but he was a WONDERFUL grandpa.  He loved us and made my sister and I feel incredibly special. 

My last conversation with him was my freshmen year of college. It was pledge week and he wanted to be sure I was choosing a national sorority (I did). We planned for me to meet him in Florida over spring break. Two days later I received a phone call from his lady friend saying he had a stroke (my parents were on a cruise) and the next day he died. It was groundhog day. Phil saw his shadow. It was also bid day- I really didn't care that I'd been accepted to the sorority that had seemed so important to me the day before.

Today is the anniversary of my grandpa's death. It's always a hard day because he died still seemingly far from God. The day he had a stroke I wrote in my journal a prayer to God asking for a chance to talk to Grandpa about Him. And then I wrote: "Will I even share with him if I have the chance? I really don't know." 

I loved him so very dearly and it grieves me and terrifies me to think he could be in hell. I cling to hope that God says He has mercy on whom He has mercy. Maybe He had mercy on Grandpa? I just don't know. And I'd be lying if I said I have a deep peace for his salvation. But I have a full trust in God that He is good and that Him saving any of us is evidence of His incredible grace and love. 

This day each year is a day of grieving for me, but also a day that spurs me on. Why? Because I never want another day like it. I don't want to wonder at funerals of people I love and wish I had shared more bodly, clearly, or even at all about Jesus who saves us from our sin and death. I pray that I really will make the most of each blog, each facebook post, my daily conversations, etc. If this is my only opportunity or last, may it be filled with awe of Christ and the love I've received from Him. I'm praying others- from my kids, parents, friends, and neighbors, to the people passing through my blog or reading a facebook post will see Him in me and long for Him as I know Him- as THE great Savior and loving God.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Poor...

God responds to the needs of the poor with compassion.
Wonder how God responds to those who neglect the needs of the poor?
Challenged by David Platt... encouraging you to watch this short clip and be challenged as well.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fullness of God's Timing

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons."
So thankful God's timing is perfect and His ways are for our good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Life-Changing Books

I have SO many resources that I love, but I want to share a few gems that I hope will hit your reading list, too.

1) the Daily Walk Bible- Though it's not super insightful, it's special to me because it's the Bible I first used to read through God's Word from Genesis to Revelation. That time impacted me and began a habit of reading through the Word. I have grown to know God in such deeper ways and even know His Word so much better because of the habit started by this Bible format. Really, I would just encourage you to pick a Bible and reading plan that best fit you and read it. This has impacted my life more than ANY other thing I've ever done.

2) Don't Waste Your Life, John Piper- I remember bawling on a plane in Panama when I read a page where he spoke as a father pleased with us for seeking God. My dad loves me (a lot), but that is something he doesn't understand about me and to hear a father encourage me that my life is unwasted when Christ is the treasure freed me in such cool ways.

3) The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn- Small book, HUGE financial wisdom

4) Thin Within- Besides the obvious thrill of a 75 lb. weight loss when I read and applied this, it opened me up to grace in seeking God (not more law- like every other weight loss program or book I've ever tried. and I've tried many.) for my health, body, and eating. It introduced me to the idea that God truly redeems ALL my sin has destroyed (Psalm 130) and that He guides me in freedom, forgiveness, and moderation.

5) Crazy Love, Francis Chan- Oh this book- WOW! It challenged me to ask if I'm really living what I say I believe. Do I look any different from everyone around me? It challenged me to know God's Word and look nowhere else for who God is, who I am in Him, and how to live in light of that. I came away with a clear vision for my daily life to be a missionary right in my home and neighborhood.

6) Loving the Little Years, Rachel Jankovic- It's a short book, packed with practical advice for pouring the gospel into your kids through daily life in these hands-on and often tiring years. It was such a good reminder to me to look at my heart/attitude daily and my favorite tip is Chapter 5, where she explains emotions to her children using the analogy of a horse and rider.

7) The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom. Her story of living through hiding Jews and Nazi training camps is SO beautiful. It is a classic must-read and filled with pearls of wisdom that come out of hard trial and experiencing God in a very personal way through it.

8) Secret Believers, Brother Andrew- This book gave the BEST look into what life is like for muslim background believers and how to pray for them. The second half challenged me to look at how I've viewed "enemies" and how God is calling me differently. It is an easy read, filled with true stories, and gives amazing challenges to American Christians to care for our Muslim background Believer brothers and sisters.

9) Shepherding A Child's Heart, Tedd Tripp- Great help for what biblical correction is and isn't and how to apply it during toddler and early elementary years. I literally have page numbers memorized for the parts that I reread the most (I've blogged a whole series based on this book and a Paul Tripp dvd series)

10) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers- Fictional look at the book of Hosea set in California gold rush early American days that is SO well written and encouraging. What a sweet glimpse of God's grace and rescue given as we (like the character Angel) run back to our sin again and again.

I LOVE a good resource, so I may share more of my favorites in another post someday soon! Maybe break them down into my top picks for marriage, parenting, missions, Christian living, fiction, etc... I'm thankful for books that bring more than entertainment- they breathe life into us, so I wanted to share some with you. Praying the God of His Word comes alive in us more and more as we experience Him daily!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Do we see grace?

I LOVE the post Dane Ortlund wrote showing grace throughout the Bible. I think we tend to miss how grace-filled His Word is (we especially miss it in the Old Testament). Go read the full list of every book and be encouraged at how unified (not uniform) the Bible is! Here are some highlights...

Genesis shows God’s grace to a universally wicked world as he enters into relationship with a sinful family line (Abraham) and promises to bless the world through him.

Exodus shows God’s grace to his enslaved people in bringing them out of Egyptian bondage.

Leviticus shows God’s grace in providing his people with a sacrificial system to atone for their sins.

Numbers shows God’s grace in patiently sustaining his grumbling people in the wilderness and bringing them to the border of the promised land not because of them but in spite of them....

Esther shows God’s grace in protecting his people from a Persian plot to eradicate them through a string of 'fortuitous' events.

Job shows God’s grace in vindicating the sufferer’s cry that his redeemer lives (19:25), who will put all things right in this world or the next.

Psalms shows God’s grace by reminding us of, and leading us in expressing, the hesed (relentless covenant love) God has for his people and the refuge that he is for them...

Luke shows that God’s grace extends to all the people one would not expect: hookers, the poor, tax collectors, sinners, Gentiles ('younger sons'). (19:10)

John shows God’s grace in becoming one of us, flesh and blood (1:14), and dying and rising again so that by believing we might have life in his name. (20:31)

Acts shows God’s grace flooding out to all the world--starting in Jerusalem, ending in Rome; starting with Peter, apostle to the Jews, ending with Paul, apostle to the Gentiles. (1:8)

Romans shows God’s grace in Christ to the ungodly (4:5) while they were still sinners (5:8) that washes over both Jew and Gentile.

1 Corinthians shows God’s grace in favoring what is lowly and foolish in the world. (1:27)

2 Corinthians shows God’s grace in channeling his power through weakness rather than strength. (12:9)

Galatians shows God’s grace in justifying both Jew and Gentile by Christ-directed faith rather than self-directed performance. (2:16)

Isn't God so amazingly good? What a great reminder of just how good and loving and gracious He is. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Begging In the Walmart Parking Lot...

I'm still processing through my encounter with a woman in the Walmart parking lot. Maybe you've had these encounters too... We've had people at rest stops who say they lost their credit card and can't get home, men at gas stations asking us to fill their tanks, teens in parking lots asking for donations (and offering a "gift" out of their trunk) to teach at risk kids about drug abuse, and, most often, women (sometimes with a child) crying and telling us how mean everyone has been as they ask for $4 to catch a bus home. It happens a lot. Definitely once a month, sometimes several times in one week.

My thoughts are not about whether the stories are true or not. I don't know the motivation, but I'm usually guessing it's a "scam" (though I hate that word). It's where my heart goes that bothers me... and I believe God continues to allow these encounters to lovingly draw out my own pride and sense of entitlement. I usually give money, but I leave sickened at how much better I seem to think I am. I think way too highly of myself. I'm no better or different. I've been given much. So much. And I want to give with a pure heart of selflessness without needing any assurance that anything I give will be used for good. Why should that matter to me? Who am I that anyone has to prove their motive to me? Ouch.

Here's where I landed as I prayed through this encounter:

"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." -Acts 3:1-11 ESV

Begging isn't new. And, praise God, here's an example of how strong followers of Jesus handled it in the Bible! Here Peter and John don't actually give the beggar what he thinks he needs right then, but heal him instead. And he praises God for it. And other people noticed and wondered. Which provided an opportunity for Peter to then challenge the large crowd to repent of their sin and receive salvation through Jesus that day. And look what happens: "many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand (Acts 4:4). Thousands of people repented of their sin and received eternal life all because of an encounter with a beggar and two followers of Christ. Wow. I would LOVE to see that impact from my daily life encounters. I'd love to see even just one person see and know Jesus because of it.

Truthfully, I know I've been given everything from God: from THE gift of my salvation to all "our" money and possessions. And I know me. I know I didn't deserve any of it. Jesus would not be fooled by a "Saint Ginny" act, He knows me. He knows my heart and always has. Even of the good I have done, His Word says all my righteous deeds are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). AND YET- He gave. He gave His life to pay for my sin. And then He beat death and rose again and gave me His righteous standing with God. He loves me knowing my sin and He gives generously to me always(Romans 3:23-26). What if my encounter with "parking lot beggars" is to share with them that they too can have that generous a love give to them? What if I get these encounters so when I give them the money they asked for I can tell them how Jesus knew me, loved me anyway, and gave to me and Jesus knows them, loves them anyway, and is the only way to meet their real need?

Begging isn't a new thing. As a family, we love to give when we see genuine needs. And now we're learning to give even when we're pretty sure it isn't genuine. But not just give cash and walk away quickly and awkwardly with our heads down. We want to give intentionally and purposefully, because in that giving is a chance to share Jesus. Thankful for God teaching me through this and praying I will live this out to His glory alone.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Was Our Present-less Christmas?

I blogged last month (read the posts here and here) about our choice this Christmas to give up receiving gifts and instead seek Christ together and give to the least of His people. Have you wondered if our Christmas day was odd without getting gifts?

It was hands-down the most incredible Christmas I've ever experienced. We kept our traditions of writing things we love about Jesus on paper ornaments (but skipped stocking stuffers attached), eating birthday cake, and reading/acting out Luke 2 and Matthew 2. I just felt overwhelmed by the truth that Jesus IS THE treasure our hearts seek. And He so freely gave Himself to us. I'm so beyond thrilled to be His and the time we had to reflect and pour Him into our kids all morning served as a sweet reminder to me of Jesus as THE gift. 

And then we went online to give through Gospel for Asia. That was so much fun and such an amazing feeling. We really are so very rich and it felt so right to spend our riches giving to meet others needs. We spent lots of time together all day which is precious to me. We talked/facetimed family who live far away. We watched some Christmas movies and relaxed together. We played. We ate our cookies and candy and enjoyed our traditional dinner feast to celebrate Jesus and it was a full day. 

Honestly- we really didn't notice the present part was missing. It surprised me how quickly the day went and with no fighting, fussing, or mess and clutter. The boys were completely unphased by it and excited to give to people with real need. Jimmy chose a water buffalo as his gift and couldn't wait to tell all our family about it. It was a little odd, but really cute (and funny). Andy and I had such a relaxing Christmas season and Christmas Eve without the pressure of shopping and wrapping and we got really into picking where our funds could best be used. Andy has always wanted to give a well to a village (so we did) and has such a heart for missionaries (so we gave many bicycles). I really wanted to help the disabled (we gave special adult tricycles) and the widows and orphans. Jimmy and Caleb LOVED giving animals- rabbits, chickens, even a camel. In the end we felt so rich and so fulfilled. It was amazing.

In reflection of the day, I am just so thankful for this fresh and new experience. It was so good and so exciting. I want to live like this all year long, not just on Christmas.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Does Your Home Feel Organized?

Tis the season for renewed vigor at seeking Christ, caring for our bodies, loving our family better, and getting our homes in shape. I thought I'd share my favorite book for gaining a vision for your home and simplifying it. It's a book called Organized Simplicity. It's awesome! In it, Tsh has tips for scheduling, calendars, etc. and takes you through an actual step by step/room to room process to a clean home, but first has you set a mission and vision with your husband for your family, home, and then evaluate how each room fits that. It radically changed how we fill our home.
They wanted to play together, but I wanted safety
Example: We realized as we went though that Jimmy's room wasn't fitting our family. Because he had a toddler brother and lots of small toys, his door always had to be closed. But Jimmy never went in there because he hated being alone. So we sorted through, giving away some toys and added shelving and bins to his closet, making room for his closet to be home to the toys with small parts and books he chose to keep. This freed his room to be open daily for he and his brother to play in. During his brother's nap time, Jimmy would open the closet and play with the other toys and books. And he LOVED it that way! Now they even share a room because they love spending time together so much (Well- maybe more because we knew a new baby was coming).  And we had no clue how the set up of his room hindered our family until we evaluated it against our vision for our family and home!

I encourage any of you rethinking how your home is to check out Tsh's book. It's a gem.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Update on my 3rd C-Section

Some of you have asked me to share how my surgery went. I'm sitting here almost a week later staring at my precious third baby boy thinking how sweet God's gifts to us are. He's small and cute and perfect.

Our family is so much fuller because he's here and it makes it seem silly to talk about anything else...but onto the surgery and what I learned:

We need the church- I felt so overwhelmed by fear at just the thought of going into surgery and yet God so covered me with His grace and strength through the love of friends and family. So many sent Scripture to encourage me, blog posts to help prep me, and lots of hugs, prayers, and kind words. It reminded me that we need each other. In a time of really weak faith, I had an army of faith-filled friends and family fighting with me to hold me strong towards God. It was Ephesians 6 (armor of God) lived out in community and it was an incredible (and humbling) experience.

Sometimes the things you fear DO happen- When I started prepping, the anesthetist couldn't find the space in my back for the epidural. It took many painful attempts (some that sent my leg springing up involuntarily) and finally she had to call the doctor to do it. I was in pain, shaking, and could not calm my body physically. When they finally got my epidural in, they had to give me medication to calm me. Throughout the surgery I repeatedly started to "vasal down"- my blood pressure would drop and heart race and i would struggle to breathe. Similar to fainting. They had to rub alcohol under my nose give me epinephrine shots to bring me back up. It was not the smooth experience I longed for by any means.

Jesus is the Answer and He is Near- In the midst of fear and challenge, I sensed God's nearness. Scripture came in my heart that brought such comfort. It was Jesus. I just kept flashing to bits of His story- an Isaiah passage about Him being wounded for my sin, His humble dedication in the temple with the "poor man" dove offerings, Judas' betrayal, him crying in the garden to God, his death, and many times I thought of Him standing in the room with the disciples after rising from the dead. He beat death! He beat death! I kept sensing that all the "strength" and "trust God" verses I memorized and planned to recite weren't the answer. They were meant to point me to Jesus! HE was the answer. JESUS is my comfort, strength, salvation, and peace. In HIM alone do I rest and trust and live and move and breathe. It was Jesus. And in those moments as his painful life and death, but ultimate victory ran through my mind, I knew He knew. And I knew that He was so very near. It was a sweet time of truly leaning on God in the midst of intense fear and finding Him so very present and real.

God Takes Us Through- I didn't die. I could have and that would have been a good outcome. I trust that not because it is easy, but because I know God is always good and His ways really are perfect. I'm thankful for His nearness and that He brought me through to an end of the scary experience with His presence fully known to me throughout.
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:10-11 ESV 
In the end, He rewarded me with another sweet little boy to raise to know Him. It was an incredible gift and Andy and I tearfully pray with thankful hearts for how God gifts us so lavishly. We are so very rich. Not only did He give us Baby Boy #3, but He revealed Himself so much more fully through this birth and I'm thankful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Did THAT Tempt Jesus?

Awesome sermon:
"Dr. Russell Moore preached a powerful sermon at Covenant Life about when Satan tempted Jesus to jump from the temple. Ever wondered why that would have tempted Jesus? Russell shows how we face the same temptations to demand by sight what God has given by faith and to vindicate ourselves."

Here's the sermon!