a picture is worth a thousand words

I think it’s true. There are so many things that can be said about a picture. Pictures have memories, and stories, and emotions attached to them. They can stir up something in us. At least I know that’s the case for me. In high school, and through a lot of college, more often than not I could be found with my camera at hand. Nothing fancy – just a point and shoot. But I always had it. I kept it around to capture the memories so that one day I could look back and remember as much as possible about my life. & then share those memories with others. That is the inspiration for this new series. I want to take hold of the opportunity to share memories, and stories, and emotions with you. Because it all makes up my story. It all makes up who I am today. The truth is, this series could go on forever. I have a whole lot of pictures. So I’m planning on this being an ongoing occurrence here at The Pruim Life. I look forward to digging through some oldies, but oh so goodies to give you a greater glimpse into my life. So here’s the first installment.

the pumpkin olympicsThe Pumpkin Olympics

This picture is one for the history books in my life for more reasons than I ever could have dreamed of on the night that it was taken. Let me tell you why…

This was a Wednesday night in the fall of what I think was 2004. It was the first and only time that I ever attended the junior high youth group as a student at my would-be church. You see, in my junior high years, my parents were getting my brother and me plugged back into the Lutheran church that they had attended once upon a time, so I spent most of my Wednesday nights at confirmation classes. But this one random Wednesday night that was probably in my eighth grade year, I didn’t have confirmation class; and for some reason I didn’t have school the next day either. As a result, I made plans to sleepover at my cousins’ house. Before I went to their house for the night though, we went to their church (which I had already visited on occasion for the Sunday services) for some of the student ministries. Jordi was helping out at the children’s ministry and Matt was going to the junior high youth group, so I had the choice to either help out with Jordi, or tag along with Matt for the event of the night: the Pumpkin Olympics. The picture shows the choice I made. Since I didn’t know anyone, I stuck to Matt (the brunette boy next to me in the photo) like glue as the night went by, which meant I was on an olympic team with all boys. That didn’t bother me. In fact, I remember secretly thinking to myself that I felt super cool for being the only girl with all the boys. I also remember during one of the events saying that I wanted to be the representative of the team to shot put a pumpkin because “girls are strong too”. They were troopers and let me do my thing, but I can humbly admit now that I was not, in fact, as strong as the boys and did not throw the pumpkin very far. I remember the youth pastor, Jason, drop kicking a pumpkin for the “opening ceremony” while wearing shorts & knee high socks. I remember having to roll a pumpkin across a field with my head – ya know, the kind of thing that only junior highers do. Otherwise, the rest of the details of this night are a bit of a blur.

But despite the haziness, this night was still monumental. Because God had so much in store for me as a result of it that I was completely unaware of at the time. Let me just point out how:

I didn’t know that within the two years following these pumpkin olympics, this non denominational church would become my home church. I didn’t know that my life would drastically change as a result of attending and getting plugged into this church in high school. I didn’t know that this night would be a wide open door in my path to meeting Jesus for real.

I didn’t know that years after this picture was taken I would be a leader in the same ministry that I was attending as a student that night. I didn’t know that I would serve under the leadership of the same youth pastor that wore shorts and knee high socks & drop kicked a pumpkin. And I didn’t know that he would not only become my own youth pastor my senior year of high school, but that he, and his wife, would also become mentors and dear friends.

I didn’t know that down the road I would regularly see most of these boys every Sunday at the high school youth group, instead of this junior high one. I didn’t know that literally half of these boys would become such good friends that they are still a part of my life to this day. In fact, I didn’t know that two of the boys in this picture would stand in my wedding – one of them being the best man.

Because my favorite part of this story is that I didn’t know that I met my husband on this night. Yep, that adorable blondie in the orange sweater is my now hubby. I didn’t know that neither he nor I would remember that we met before we thought we met. Because our first real memories of meeting each other happened later on within the next year of this picture being taken. In fact, no one believed me (minus my cousin) that I even existed on this night until Jason found this picture in his archives years later and I could prove every doubter wrong.

You see, this picture is incredibly sweet to me because it is the perfect representation of Christ’s provision in my life – in all of our lives. At a mere 13(ish) years old, I had no clue that this picture, this night, would represent so many giant factors of my life as an adult. Every time I look at this, I can’t help but smile at the ways that God has worked things out (after I laugh to myself at how ridiculous I, my husband, and our friends all look in all of our awkward junior high glory).

This picture is full of memories. It’s full of then-future, now-present meaningful relationships. To prove it to you, here’s a shot from our best man’s wedding this past October. The junior high version of the three on the left can be found above.

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& here’s one of me and present day Matt

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Sometimes God is at work in our lives in ways that we don’t realize until we look back after time has passed and we see his hand prints all over them. The picture from the pumpkin olympics is full of God’s invisible hand already at work in all of our lives. & boy am I glad to have this keepsake to always remember it by.

when God’s will doesn’t match up with my own

ORGANIC (2)

This weekend Timehop reminded me through a Tweet I posted last year that we were embarking in a significant season of transition. “The walls are getting whiter,” said year-ago Kelly. I remember it well. I was preparing for our apartment to get packed up by movers. And my heart was experiencing all kinds of emotions. Let me give you the back story:

A year ago we received the news that our world was being flipped upside down faster than we expected. Our anticipated September move to California for Adam’s training was moved up to May. Not only that, but we would need to leave the day immediately following his graduation. Not only that, but we received word of this all just shy of a month before we would need to leave. Talk about overwhelming.

Now May was the initial time frame for our departure when we first found out what Adam’s job would be in the Air Force. At first we were prepared for it. We were excited to know that his career would start right off the bat as he finished up his undergrad years.

Then somewhere in-between it was pushed back to September. This was disappointing news for about a split second, but the more we thought about it, the better it seemed. September meant that Adam would have a brief period of rest after 4 years of late nights and hard work. September meant that we could spend the summer getting together with friends and family that we hadn’t seen much of throughout our newlywed year. September meant we had plenty of time for goodbyes before we turned the page. September meant that we had a few extra months of life in Carbondale. September meant we had a few extra months of time at Vine Church, where we were growing, learning, investing. September became perfect.

And then in typical Air Force fashion: a last minute change of plans. They pulled a major “just kidding” on us and pulled our leave date back to May. No more time off for Adam. No more time to see loved ones and say goodbye. No more time left with our friends or our church in Carbondale. April to May quickly became a whirlwind of a month. Adam had to scramble to accomplish all the minor tasks to prepare for going active duty – all while finishing up his final semester of college. I immediately had to put in my two weeks notice at work, and I scrambled to get my cases in as much order as possible so that I could transition everything off well for the caseworker that would take over them. We prepared our apartment to be packed up strategically for a cross country move. We planned our road trip across the states – being sure to make it to our new base in time, while still making time to see some landmarks along the way. We made space in the midst of the craziness to host some last minute visits from some family. We said goodbyes. Many goodbyes. Many difficult and rushed goodbyes. Adam graduated. He commissioned. And we were off. Just like that.

In a span of 4 years for Adam, and less than a year for me, Carbondale, Illinois became our home. There’s nothing overly extravagant about the college town on paper, but it has become a place that I will forever love to return to. It was the setting for the start of our life together. It was a town filled with so many unique adventures – most of which we didn’t have time to explore. It was where we could get the world’s greatest fruit slushes at QQ Bubble Tea and the best chicken fried rice at Thai Taste. It was a place where our faith grew exponentially in the midst of new challenges and lessons. And it felt like it was being ripped away from us far too quickly. Why did we have to leave so soon? Why couldn’t we stay just a little bit longer? It’s not like we were getting too comfortable or becoming stagnant there. We were growing. We were serving. We were being challenged. And yet the Air Force and God still bid us onward.

The ONLY thing that kept me moving forward, and resisting every urge to cling to it all and never let go, was that God assured me countless times that this was His will for us. He orchestrated it all. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t want it – at least not yet. But whatever the circumstances would bring – both good or bad – it was his desire for us to move onward. And therefore, that is what would be best for us. It’s a scary thing to admit complete trust in God. Never in my life did I have to cling so tightly to His promises to get me through. I tried, for His sake (and His glory) to point to Him in it all. To let people know that although my heart wanted something else, I was still going to follow God where He wanted me to go. Granted I probably repeated that so often to people because I was trying to convince myself more than I was trying to convince them. But He knows far more than I do. And He knows what I need to be sharpened and refined.

It’s been almost a year since we left. I remember the emotions of that time like it was yesterday. The fear, the disappointment, the excitement, the nervousness, the instability, the peace. It was nothing short of overwhelming. And I remember when the novelty of it all wore off. A short way into our time in California we were missing Illinois like crazy. It was much easier for me to focus on the hardship and the aches that my heart felt than it was for me to focus on God’s plan. Another move later and I still find myself doubting and asking “why?” I still question this even when my heart is far more at ease than it ever was in California. Although I still haven’t figured out the direct answer, God keeps bringing me back to the truth that this has all been a part of His will, and this is what is best for me, for us, and for His glory. And I learn to accept that (keyword: learn). I may have to continuously reaccept it, but it’s where I keep getting brought back to.

Because we are exactly where God wants us to be. We are in a place we begged and pleaded not to go to, and yet it has turned out to be far greater than we imagined. I still miss Carbondale. I still miss home. But it becomes much lighter when I give the weight of it all back to Jesus and rest in the assurance that we have purpose here. More likely than not, purpose far beyond ourselves.

As someone who trusts that God is who He says He is, I can confidently and firmly believe that His will is better than my own. Even if I don’t see it now, even if I don’t see it in 20 years, even if I don’t see it ever in this life, He knows far more about what is best for me in this life than I do. My vision most often is shortsighted and selfish. His vision is all knowing, all wise, & all encompassing. He sees beyond me because He knows it’s not about me. Therefore when He calls me onward to something (or tells me to stay put), I want to trust Him that despite what good or bad may come that it is best for my well being and for His glory. He never promised Christ followers an easy life. He never promised anyone an easy life for that matter. He never told us that we deserve great things – we came up with that mindset on our own. But what he has ensured us of is that in our sinful nature and natural rebellion of Him we deserve eternal punishment. But He took care of that on the cross and opened the door for us to have the undeserved and unearned opportunity to find freedom and grace in Him. And as I have come to accept that and believe that, I turn towards Him with a heart of repentance, respect, and love. In doing so I’ve accepted that we are all broken humans filled with flaws due to our sinful nature that need to be refined in the fire of the Holy Spirit. Refinement is a hard pressing process. It means difficult things are inevitable. But refinement can help rid us of the things in our hearts and lives that don’t belong. It can chip away at the dark pieces within us to make more room for Jesus.

And I don’t know about you, but I want more of Jesus. He’s the only thing that has ever been, and will ever be, worth giving up everything for. In doing so, that means giving up my own will, and following His – even when it doesn’t make sense, and especially when it doesn’t match up with my own.

letting life happen

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Well March came, and March went. And April has come and we’re already a week in. And I’ve been nowhere to be found on this space. To be honest, there were a couple times this month that I sat down to put something together for a post, but the publish button never got pushed. And it’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. It’s just that I’ve been simply living.

Nothing extravagant has been going on (minus our recent vacation to Mexico, but I consider that an exception). I’ve simply been working, maintaining the house, working out, building relationships, and spending quality time with my husband and pup. And this past month, that was enough for me to manage. Everything was steady. It was simple. It felt peaceful. And so each time I sat at the computer and typed out some of my thoughts, all that came out was words expressing my desire to just be living life and utilizing the time in my days to the best of my abilities (I can thank the gorgeous weather at the beginning of the month for that inspiration – where that weather is now I’m not so sure). It’s not that blogging isn’t worth my time. I love having this space and I look forward to seeing it grow in the time to come as I find new and better ways to invest in it. But this past month it was nice to take the break and just let life happen. To take the moments as they came and experience them fully. To not overwhelm myself with too much on my plate, especially with my new job. To enjoy the simple evenings of sitting next to Adam on the couch or tossing a ball around with Boone. To take advantage of the few spring weather days we’ve had so far and get outside more. To soak in the opportunities to invest in relationships, both near and far. It was all worth it.

As we’re already a week into April, I’m excited to get things rolling again around here. I have a month’s worth of life to catch you all up on. I have overdue words to share with you. I have a new series to continue in. But I also am giving myself the grace and the wiggle room to deal with life as it happens. I’m not a full time blogger, so I feel comfortable giving myself that slack at this time. But know that I care about sharing the words that I do with you here. And therefore I don’t want to give you second rate stuff. It’s just that sometimes the quality I aim for takes a little more time. So be patient with me. And trust that there is more to come soon.

Until then…

from comparison to contentment

From Comparison to Contentment: a new blog series on The Pruim Life

Within the past two years I’ve been made aware of how much I’ve been stuck in a battle between pride and insecurity. Of vanity and a lack of self esteem. It’s a battle that I lose regardless of which side I land on. Because neither are where I want to be, or where I’m meant to be. I had a hard time grasping onto an understanding of how I can struggle with such opposing attributes. I couldn’t understand how to address my pride when on the other end of the spectrum I also needed to address my insecurities. And it wasn’t until more recently that I realized that my sin goes deeper. That it’s more complicated than simply being conceited or lacking confidence. It’s because of what I measure myself to. It’s because of a competition I’ve created between myself and the rest of the world. It’s because I compare everything I have, and everything I am, to everything else.

I’m not sure when it starts. When do we learn to try to “keep up with the Joneses”? Or do we even learn it? Is it a part of our human nature to look at what other people have in comparison to what we do? I sure feel that way sometimes. Maybe it’s just me. But maybe not.

Our appearance, our homes, our relationships, our experiences, our clothes, our stuff, our whole lives too often get rated in relation to someone else’s. Sometimes we “measure up” and have the better of the bunch. We’re above the rest. We’re encouraged because we’re coming out on top (Enter in the foothold for pride & vanity. Other times we miss the mark and what we have isn’t good enough. We feel like we’re losing (Enter in the foothold for insecurities and low self esteem).

From Comparison to Contentment: a new blog series on The Pruim Life

I don’t know about you, but comparison wrecks my heart. It either lessens the worth of me, my life, and all that I have been blessed with. Or it inflates my head into a pompous attitude. Either I’m not good enough, or I’m looking down on others because I let myself believe that what I’ve got is better. And both leave me frustrated, ugly, broken, and hurting. It’s the kind of broken that I’ve felt on those mornings when none of my clothes look good, my hair does everything that I don’t want it to, and my tired eyes can’t be covered up, so I’m led to tears because it feels like there’s no hope. Real tears, over what on the surface appears to be nonsense, but point to a much deeper heart matter that took me far too long to notice in my life.

The truth of the matter is this: I’m a sinner. We’re all sinners. Born into sin in a sinful world. Our natural human nature is flawed because of it. The human race fell short long ago. All because one devious snake convinced a woman to compare who she was with God. All because the first couple on the planet compared what they had with what they could have had. And as a result, thousands of years later, we’re still naturally inclined to look to others and want what they have. I find it too easy to look away from all of the ways that God has been at work in my life and poured out more blessings than I could ever deserve as I look to the ways that God is working in others’ lives and how he is pouring out blessings on them. But just because that may be our natural inclination, doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for us.

Ever feel like your sin takes you over sometimes? That you feel like you’re in an identity crisis because you know that you know that you know that there are lies being whispered into your ears, yet they still sink in to your heart and affect how you see yourself and the world. My tendency to compare has brought out the worst in me – even if others don’t see it. I can think of moments that I’ve found it hard to rejoice with loved ones over exciting opportunities, simply because my opportunities don’t seem as great in comparison. I put on a face of support, yet I’m envying what they have. I can think of moments that I’ve felt a [ugly] tweak of happiness at someone’s downfall, because that means I’m coming out ahead of them. But am I really? I can think of moments that I’ve looked past other people’s hurts because I’m too preoccupied with my own life – my own self. I can think of moments that I’ve talked down about someone just because I don’t like that something is happening for them that I wish was happening for me. And I can think of moments that I’ve been angry with the people that get the things that I want – just like a child that gets upset when someone else gets the toy that they wanted. Yes, I’m like an immature child. Because all of this is wrong, wrong, wrong. & I know it.

You see, it’s a downward spiral of selfishness, vanity, envy, doubt, insecurity, pride, gossip – things that Scripture tells us to turn away from. I can praise God for the Holy Spirit and His work in me. Because of Him, these attributes do not have to define me. Because of that, these attributes come up in flares, rather than consume my everyday. But those days that they do fill me up, I just need more and more Jesus to push them out.

What Jesus accomplished on the cross covered these sins of ours (as well as all the rest). His death and resurrection have given us the opportunity to conquer these sins; to put them to death and never have to look back. Becoming more aware of these sinful tendencies of mine has been hard. It’s been overwhelming and exhausting to address a tangled web of sins that have infected my life for longer than I even realize. Like weeds that have taken root and hurt to pull up. But it’s been so worth it to endure. Because Jesus is so worth it. And finding contentment in Him brings my heart, mind, and soul the peace, rest, and satisfaction it aches for. It’s the only kind of satisfaction I will ever need. And one day, I hope to be able to confidently say that without any inch of reservation. Without looking back to the things of this world that try to steal my joy. Because that’s what comparison does. It is the thief of joy. It steals my attention away from the God that sacrificed everything for my freedom. And typing that last sentence out just makes me shake my head at myself as that truth saturates itself into my heart. Because what could be better than that kind of all consuming love? I’ll give you a hint: nothing.

From Comparison to Contentment: a new blog series on The Pruim Life

These struggles, these thoughts, these heartaches have been at the core of my being for years. Sometimes without me even knowing it. But more recently, they have been the inspiration for me to make changes – to turn to Jesus and find true contentment and satisfaction in who He is. And as a result, my heart longs to share the truths I have learned, am learning, and have yet to learn, with you. Because I KNOW that I am not alone in this. I know that this internal sin is one that in some way, shape, or form, attempts to infect us all. This is the topic that I’ve been brainstorming about since October. This is the series that I’ve wanted to introduce to you all for so long, but have been seeking for the right words to say. I’m all kinds of excited/nervous/anxious to finally be getting it out in the open. I’ve almost felt unworthy of speaking on such topics, because in no way, shape, or form have I mastered this. But that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? That in Christ’s redemption of my heart I can share my struggles, my failures, my triumphs, my hurts, and my joys alongside of you all as we can come together to find true everlasting contentment in the One who gives us more than enough, and who is more than enough. So trust me when I say that there is so much more to come. This is only the beginning.

Will you join me in turning away from comparison, and running towards Jesus, and as a result, running towards contentment?

when good intentions aren’t good enough // part two

when good intentions aren't good enough // part two

A few months ago I spilled my heart out on how I had been having the best of intentions in my pursuit of God & my investment in my relationship with Him, but my actions did nothing to reflect that. I wasn’t actually doing anything to set the longings of my heart into motion. We all can fall victim to letting our thoughts be enough, and as a result our lives stop matching up with our words or thoughts. Therefore it is a commitment to keep pursuing God each day. It’s a choice every morning to turn away from our selfish desires and look towards Him. It’s a choice to love Him. Just like it’s a choice to love our spouses. Just like it’s a choice to love our friends. And that’s where I want to pick up this topic today: loving our friends.

A little while back I read a short article by Shauna Niequist called “Why it doesn’t matter how you feel about your friends.” It wasn’t what I was expecting when I first clicked a link to it, so go ahead & give it a quick read for yourself. For me, it shed some light on something that was already resonating in my heart. Because the truth is, we can feel all we want about someone, but if we never do anything to communicate it, how is that person going to know? Too often in my life I’ve gotten caught up in believing that certain friends don’t care about me, because I rarely, if ever, hear from them. Mix in the fact that the majority of my relationships are now long distance and it gets even harder. I can get stuck in thinking that I don’t matter that much to these friends. That I’m not important to them. & that hurts deep. It’s hard to swallow.

On the other hand, I’m also guilty of being the person that doesn’t pursue contact with people too. Most days I’ll think of friends. I’m reminded of memories I’ve shared with others and think about how much I appreciate them. But then I move on with my day. I can fail to reach out to that friend and let them know that I’m thinking of them. Or I can fail to take out the time to make plans with them. They don’t hear about how I feel about them. They don’t hear anything at all. Simply because I let other matters weigh more important. & by all means, we all have important things going on in our lives. But we also have plenty of not-as-imperative things going on in our lives that we make out to be important (i.e. social media, cleaning the house, focusing on ourselves). Is it really that hard of a sacrifice to give some of our words, time, or attention to someone we say we love?

Shauna’s article mentioned this quality parenting advice: “It doesn’t matter how much you love your kids. What matters is communicating that love in a way that they can understand and feel that love.” (I’m definitely storing that one in the vault). But she so perfectly connects that to our everyday relationships. It doesn’t matter how much you love your friends (or spouse, or family, or whoever). What matters is communicating that love in a way that they can understand and feel that love.

When others don’t communicate they’re love for me, I start to doubt them and their care for me. When I don’t communicate my love for others, I open up the room for them to doubt whether I care about them at all. “The things we feel about one another so often go unexpressed, because we’re busy or thoughtless, assuming they know, assuming it’s more than clear.” Our intentions don’t mean a thing if we don’t ACT on them.

For me, my heart lights up when an old friend finally does make contact, and I’m reminded that they do think of me. My world changes when I make contact with a friend and we chat for an hour and everything goes back to the way it was before. I’m reminded that they do care. What if we could avoid the moments of doubt by filling in the gaps with moments of love?

I’m reminded of a life long lesson for me: We will all fail others. We will all let others down. We will all fall short of fulfilling the needs that our friends have. Only Jesus can be that tried & true friend and lover. & there is grace in our imperfections. But what we CAN do is learn to love the people in our lives well. We can let someone know when we randomly think of them. We can go out of our way to express our gratitude of someone by picking up the phone and telling them. Or by doing something to show them. We can spend some of our time hanging out with them. Don’t just settle for good intentions. Give the ones you love your best efforts, your constant efforts. Because if they are worth it, then they should know.

What are some ways that you could start communicating more love to your friends?

why the books are always better than the movies

Disclaimer: For those of you who have never read or seen Harry Potter, I apologize for how much I may potentially geek out about my favorite novel series ever, but I promise there is still something worth reading in this for you too. & for those of you who have watched the movies, but have never read the books, do yourself a favor & change that, because you will not regret it. Also, I am not so secretly judging you for your lack of commitment to the story. But alas, I’ll forgive you. 😉

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Towards the end of last year, I spent a couple month’s worth of my free time re-reading the Harry Potter series for the fourth time in my life. Yes, you read that right. I said fourth. Guys, it’s just that good. & let me tell you, it was just as entertaining as ever. I grew an even greater appreciation for the spectacular imagination and mind that J.K. Rowling has for not only coming up with such an entertaining and enthralling story, but for also planning it out and putting it together so cleverly.

Throughout my reading I also re-solidified my appreciation of how much better I think the books are than the movies. This probably applies to most books-turned-movies, but seeing as this one is near and dear to me, it’s easiest for me to paint this picture in light of the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Here’s the deal: when you choose the movie over the book, you’re passing up SO many details. & the details are what tie a story together. Some may be more of the background pieces of the puzzle, but they still fit into the big picture to make it is what it is. They string everything together to help it all make sense in the way the author intended. Movies oftentimes have to leave out those details to fit as much into a 2-3 hour time frame as they can. Movies oftentimes even have to tweak those details to make what they do include make sense (ergo changing the original story). Not only that, but they do it to make the movie more entertaining and appealing to the audiences. For example, prior to the Half Blood Prince movie coming out, I remember reading an article that said the movie would be emphasizing a lot on the romantic relationships within the story to draw towards a greater audience. This frustrated me then, and it still frustrates me now (you probably shouldn’t bring this up around me unless you want me to rant for at least ten minutes), because the movie makers missed the point. They focused on the wrong details. While there are relationships that spring up in the storyline, they are far from being the focal point of the story as a whole. Therefore, in order to focus on what they wanted, they left out some of the key pieces of the Harry Potter puzzle. When a book becomes a movie, there’s always the risk that what is produced will taint what has already been created to be a masterpiece.

When we settle for just the highlights in the movies, we can lose sight of the whole story – the true story. I’ve read the books four times now, and I’ve seen the movies more times than I can count. Yet as I was turning the pages, I still found myself going, “oh yeah, that’s how it happened” or “I don’t remember it being like that because the movie showed it a different way.”

And this got me to thinking…how often do I settle for the highlights rather than focus on the details? Especially in regards to the Gospel. That’s right. For all of the folks in the world that think Harry Potter is sacrilegious, I’m turning the tables on you and explaining how it led me to in-depth thoughts on my faith. I started to think about how often we share a watered down version of the Gospel to appeal to the type of person we’re sharing it with.

As we share the Gospel overtime in our words, and in our actions, are we really sharing the full life-giving story? Or are we only talking about the hot topic matters? Are we only discussing it in light of popular debates? Are we only talking about the feel good details that make us feel warm and fuzzy? Because while those are PART of the story, by themselves they are not the whole story. They are not the whole truth. We risk leaving out the harder to grasp and harder to swallow details that are a part of the whole story. We risk sacrificing some life giving details just to try to attract someone to the incomplete truth.

I write this not to condemn anyone for misrepresenting the Gospel. There are probably plenty of loopholes in my thinking here, but I believe they are thoughts worth thinking. Really I write this as a call to myself, and to anyone, to be more aware of the Good News that we are sharing. I want to aim to live my life in a way that represents the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. & while I’m going to fail at it because of my incomplete understanding of the complexity of the big picture, there is grace. While it’s going to be a lifelong process of getting it right, there is grace. But I at least want my intentions to be aimed at honoring God by honoring the truth of who He is.

Deep thoughts from a novel series, huh? This definitely wasn’t what I was expecting to get out of this entertaining read. Don’t get me wrong though, regardless of how much I will always love (and prefer) the books, the movies are still great pieces of work worth watching.

So what do you think? How do you feel about the book vs. movie debate? Do you think the Gospel is misrepresented when we withhold some of the details?

white as snow

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Happy Monday friends! And Happy Christmas week! I don’t think that’s actually a thing, but it baffles me that Christmas is three days away, so let’s just go with it.

I don’t know how the weather has been by you, but it’s no surprise that North Dakota in the wintertime brings about the cold. We’ve already have some days that have dipped into the negatives with the wind chill, although we’ve had some nice 20-30 degree weather these past couple weeks giving us a nice break before we head into the frigid cold expected in January (what up heat wave!). Our first big snowfall came just before Thanksgiving and it has yet to fully melt away because the temperatures haven’t gotten high enough to do so. Some days the snow that is trying to melt turns into ice that likes to hide in patches on the roads, and on our driveway (checking the mail is an activity that requires extreme caution).

On Saturday we experienced a new kind of cold weather occurrence for us: freezing fog. Did you know that was a thing? Because I sure didn’t. But the fog caused everything to be covered in a thick, snow-like frost like I’ve never seen before. The trees, the bushes, the fences, the grass. Everything looked like it had been sprinkled with powdered sugar. And it was GORGEOUS! I couldn’t help but head outside with Boone to take pictures as he tried to eat the frost off of the bushes (sometimes all I can do is laugh & shake my head at the pup).

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As difficult as snow and ice can make our lives sometimes (i.e. driving in it, and I don’t know about you, but I dread shoveling the driveway), it still brings such beauty to this world. The pure, white snow that falls ever so softly and gently from the sky and covers the ground like a soft blanket is a wonderful thing to see. (We can just pretend that the kind of snow that comes with violent winter storms doesn’t exist for the sake of appreciation). And the crystal clear ice that hangs from houses and trees is a whole other level of cool.

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Seeing snow and white everywhere, I can’t help but reflect on the purity that Jesus has provided me through his death on the cross. I think of how although I was covered in the filth of my sin, he wiped it all away. By His blood He washed me white as snow. How fitting that snow comes at the time of year that we commemorate and celebrate His entrance into this world as a humble baby. He came into this world at that exact moment in time not to condemn it, but to save it. To save you and me from the punishment we deserve for rebelling against the righteous God, by suffering a crucial and terrible death that we surely deserve, and conquering sin & death by rising again three days later, so that we may praise His holy name and glorify Him now, and in eternity. How marvelous! How wonderful! How beautiful!

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I hope that whatever you are facing this week – be it excitement, heartache, busyness, hardship, or joy – that you face it knowing that there is hope & peace in Jesus in the midst of it all. That He pursues you, and knows you, and loves you regardless of the grime and dirt that exists in your life. He is more than capable of washing it all away. He desires for you to come to Him so that He can cover you like the pure, white snow.

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Merry (early) Christmas friends! I hope for an exciting and safe week for you all!