This is the story of a woman who loved well. She was a wife, mother, friend and faithful soul. Her story wandered through the valley of cancer and ended in heartbreak. But there were mighty lessons learned and love prevailed. If you wonder about the impact one person can make or if you've dealt with cancer in your family tree this is a beautiful book for you. Keep some Kleenex handy.
What are other valuable tear jerkers you've read ?
That's the Book: Romans
I spent the weekend at Ladies retreat with our church. Fantastic sessions, well organized, fun time. Our leader could do ladies' retreats for a living. She's that good. God used her to teach us about praise. Praise in the hard times and in the good.
The final session came. I had previously talked to our leader about handing out some Quirky Faith business cards to all the women and inviting them to share their stories of praise through this blog as way to praise our Father. She said it was a good idea - let's invite more women to share! Final prayer came, final song. Our leader dismissed the ladies and out the door they streamed. She'd forgotten Quirky Faith.
Honestly I shrugged it off. No big deal. I forget stuff all the time.
Then on the way out a couple of offhand comments from some friends indicated people are too busy to read the blog. One comment hit too close to a tender spot.
My heart sank. My offering had been rejected. Bitterness took root.
Romans is a letter from the missionary pastor Paul to a church in Rome. It has many perhaps the clearest explanation of sin and salvation and call to obey God in the entire Bible. It's not good to read or quote Romans lightly. If you want to really change, to see yourself in truth and to climb out of messy thinking this is a book to read and consider. I signed up for a year long class through Bible Study Fellowship on the book of Romans for a faith check up. It's been good. And painful. So I approached this blog post with a little fear and trembling. I do not want you to take these words as the full or final or even only introduction to this mighty book I do want to show you though how it can change your life. So this story this week is a little personal. I've gotten permission from the couple of people I quoted to share.
I drove home from retreat through wind and rain. In my heart. On the way I found out two friends had to cancel plans for an event I'd worked on. Last minute. When I got home I found out my kid didn't get picked for a part in a play. My other kid hadn't been invited to an event. To top it off, my husband had cleaned out our cupboards. He'd thrown stuff out I'd bought as gifts, or to help people. Granted, he'd also thrown out a mountain of random trash I tend to keep.
You know. All the petty life stuff.
The whole string of events had me feeling unappreciated and frankly bitter.
I had a bad attitude. Walked into my kitchen and told my spouse. I said "Listen, I know this is rotten of me. I know its probably even sin. But I'm feeling bruised. A tad kicked and broken. Annoyed. Verging on mad. I talked about how I know God wants to me love people and forgive and move on. But I struggle here. Romans puts it clearly.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15
This was me. I hate feeling hard or hurt. I preach Grace. But when my ego or pride got bruised I went quickly back to judgment and bitterness.
I told him I needed to write about Romans but I had nothing to say from a right heart. I said I'd rather delete the whole blog, move out of town or take my kid for a long walk. He suggested perhaps the walk was the best option. So my little five-year-old spitfire and I headed out. This verse was ringing in my heart. Come help me Jesus.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24
My first sight outdoors was color. Vibrant fall leaves all around. I took a breath.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20
My daughter lagged behind. She was collecting sticks. Muddy, dirty sticks. She said "I love sticks". She was completely ignoring the beauty and focusing on the dirt. Same as me.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's richness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:2
When I come face to face with my attitudes and God's glory I see my sin for what it is. Pitiful. Ugly. Bitter. My feelings got hurt because my motivations and motives were off. My hopes and prayers were too. My priorities suck.
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Romans 3:10-13
I looked around at what God had created, at the beauty around me. In my personal rant I'd forgotten gratitude. Gratitude for salvation, for grace, for heaven, for eternity. For acceptance and love and mercy. I'd focused on some minor injuries and forgotten his great offering.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly...But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6,8
My daughter ran on ahead and I warned her to come back where I could watch her. She put down her sticks and started to show me the colors. ink, red, orange, yellow. All unique.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18.
This verse provides comfort on my darkest days. At funerals or hospitals or court rooms it helps to quote this and remember heaven. This verse is so convicting on my bad attitude, hurt feelings over minor issues days. My present sufferings. Compared with the glory that will be revealed. Someone tell me to shut up. My hurts were not worth comparing to what God wants to do in my life.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6
You see it right? The truth of Romans? We are a mess and powerless to do anything about it. But God can. And did.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
My daughter and I walked through the neighborhood. When a big dog ran up I took her hand. When we had to cross traffic I held her hand. She was safe through this walk because I love her and I was with her. Same is true for my life.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor live, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39
By now I was praying and praising. Thankful to Jesus. He saved me for all eternity and he saves me daily from myself.
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
I talked my little one about the gifts God gives. My first and highest calling is to praise him for his gift. My second is to tell my daughters about His love.The walk was a good reminder. And Quirky Faith? It's an offering to Jesus. I feel like He asks me to write. So regardless if anyone reads it, the act of obedience is to write the Glory of God and post it. It's a beautiful offering only because it declares his truth. If what people see is me, I'm missing the mark.
How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14-15
See this? I'm accepted by God because he sacrificed. And he calls me to sacrifice right back for him.
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in light of God's mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
This morning I spent some time clearing the air with my friends. Honoring our friendships.
Love must be sincere, Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:9-10
When my daughter and I got home we lined up our leaves. I took a few photos. She glued them onto paper. I want her to remember this day. I want to remember. I want to trust him. To hope in him. To be filled with him.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15;13
As I put away our shoes and coats I noticed a bag of my daughter's lessons and papers from Sunday school that morning. She'd learned that very morning about walking in Jesus' footsteps. Okay Jesus. Point Taken.
To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. Romans 16:27
My uncle is a smart man. He told me to read this book for a wise overview of Romans. It's on my read list. Want to join me?
OK. I know. It's not possible to do justice to the book of Romans in one blog post. Please read it yourself. And do yourself a favor and watch The Bible Project's Read Scripture series for a good overview.
Infographic. SERIOUSLY. Look at this thing - it's helpful.
Dr. Nathan Roskam is a friend of mine. Known him forever. Impressed with his intelligence, his openness and his willingness to serve where God leads. Watch this interview for a great conversation about shoes, grace and a fun preview of an adventure headed this way.
At almost four years old, my little boy zooms around the house in a cape and yells "Super hero to the rescue!" When I bring home groceries he proclaims, "I'm strong! I can carry that for you Mom!" And goes to grab the biggest box in the trunk. He loves to test his ever growing strength by wrestling with his Daddy. When he can tell that I'm distraught, he pats my back and tells me,"Don't worry Mom. Dad and I will protect you." He's my little Super Man and he melts my heart. He's my gift from God. We are overjoyed to announce that God is sending him a sidekick this spring.
One day you will learn that Superman was the figment of imagination of two teenage boys in the 1930's. You'll realize that Star Wars is fun, but fake. I pray that someday you will grow up and put childish things away and find true heroes. Men who really lived. My sons, may you make these men your role models-
Have limitless faith like Abraham. When things seem impossible, know that all things are possible through Him.
Know how to apologize and forgive like Jacob and Esau. Brothers are a gift. Take care of each other.
Listen to your elders and take their advice like Moses listened to his Father-in-Law Jethro. Listen to your Dad, Grandpas, Uncles and Pastors. They are good men. Follow in their footsteps.
Choose your friends wisely like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Stick together. It's easier to take a stand when your friends are holding you accountable.
When others mock your faith, keep believing and obeying like Noah. God will keep his promises.
Persevere and live with integrity like Joseph. Do the right thing even when it's hard and it seems like no one is looking. God sees all.
Be humble and give wise counsel like Mordechai. Be aware of world events and act on behalf of those in your care. Know others are watching your example.
Do not try to live on your own strength and abilities. Know that the joy of the Lord is your strength and point to God as the source of your talents like Sampson ultimately did.
Face your giants with courage knowing God is the one who fights your battles like David. Like him, be a man after God's own heart. Live your life after his lead and care for the weak like David took care of Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth.
May God give you wisdom like Solomon. Don't ever be afraid to ask for guidance from God. Read, memorize and apply the book of Proverbs.
Be like Boaz. May you earn the respect of your co-workers and neighbors and respond generously to those in need. Love each member of your family well.
Bravely take on big, God-size challenges and stand back and watch God do the impossible like Elijah. But know that Elijah needed food, sleep and rest. You need this too. Eat healthy, exercise, brush and floss, go to bed at a decent time, nap...take care of yourself. You are a temple of the Living God.
Superman had his weakness. Kryptonite was his downfall. These biblical men were far from perfect. Some lied, cheated, some committed adultery and others murder...They were sinners. But they all believed in the one true God. Their lives and stories pointed to the ultimate Hero- our Savior, our Redeemer- Jesus.
When you struggle with pride or frustration with life, wrestle with God like Jacob.
When you question God's plans and directions, inquire him like Gideon and praise him like Job.
When you doubt the faith, test the evidence like Thomas.
Speak truth boldly like Peter and Paul. Encourage others like Barnabas. Hold unswervingly to the faith, no matter the cost, like Stephen.
Know that these heroes really lived. Follow their lead. All of these men are heroes of faith. My prayer is that you will both be counted among them.
You know how everyone says half of all marriages end in divorce? Turns out that's not true. It's one of those things that has been repeated so often people think it's true. This is a smart, encouraging, hopeful book. Plus Andy Stanley wrote the forward so it has to be good.
What other urban myths have you believed? What's your favorite one to debunk?
Today is international girls day. So to celebrate I wanted to share a few photos.
This one is my bright baby. She brought such life and color into our world. Passion and energy and beauty. She’s loud - my mama told her it’s a good thing. Cause someday she’ll have a voice. This I pray for all of you. Care. See. Love. Live out loud.
This is my big girl. My thoughtful, brave, kind and creative soul. She has ideas this one. And the guts to try them. High pain tolerance and compassion to match. She teaches me to give it a shot and be interested in oh so many things. I pray for her like I pray for you to care about the world and to know you have the power to make a difference. God gave you that gift.
This is my daughter and her friend. The girls she has know her own life are like extra kids who have grown to be mine. Some carry burdens too large for their shoulders. I hope these girls know our house is a safe place to come. That I will drop everything if one of them calls. Second mamas and aunties matter. I pray they learn quickly about God who loves them. I pray you do too.
I pray for this one too. And her sisters and her country. I pray that she will have opportunities and a future. I pray she will also have a voice and a compassion for her neighbors. Her language and skin are different than mine. I don’t claim to understand her culture or experience. But I love her and I know that translates. I pray you know Love works too.
That's The Book: Acts
I sat in church this morning and was reminded October is Pastor Appreciation month. I thought about what my life would look like without my church. With no pastors or teachers or small group or faithful friends. Pretty bleak. Made me grateful. I've called pastors when life hit so hard I didn't know where to turn. Pastors have led the way. They've held my hand. They've hugged my children. Church has been a rock in my life. I know this isn't everyone's story.
The book of Acts is a riveting, fast paced and sometimes shockingly raw book. It tells the story of what happened to the people who believed in Jesus after they found his tomb empty. Essentially its a story of church.
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer". Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believes were together and had everything in common. they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the tempe courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being said. Acts 2:43-47
Small group! Every Wednesday my house is full of people figuring out how the Bible fits in their world. We talk, we laugh, sometimes we cry. We always eat. Never underestimate the power of a good meal. Good for the soul, good for reconciliation, good for building friendships. We pray. If you don't have a group of people who hold you accountable and who hold your hand on bad days and who cheer on good days then find one. Today. Join Celebrate Recovery or Precepts or Bible Study Fellowship. Call your neighborhood church and ask if they have Sunday school classes or coffee bible groups or life groups. Find some people. Commit to them. Eat and pray. If you can't find a group of people shoot me an email and I'll help you find some. Jesus knew we needed people. That's why he built the church.
One of the reasons I go to church is I frequently need some hard truth to change my path. The book of Acts if full of sermons which moved people to change.
"Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and forknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 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... Therefore let all Israel be assured of this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2: 22 -24 and 36-38.
So let's face it - pastors and church's aren't perfect. HA! NOPE. Sometimes they lose their way. Sometimes they let you down. Sometimes they are actually the enemy. Churchs can blow it big time. Exclude people. Hate people. Make people carry more than they can. Gossip, break trust. You name it.
It happened in Acts too. I find great comfort in the fact that the early church leaders didn't sugar coat the start. There was division, complaining, persecution and set backs. Disagreements and discouragement. Read the book, you'll see.
The two primary leaders were Peter and Paul. Remember these guys? Peter had denied Jesus at his time of greatest pain. Paul had actively chased and killed early church members before he himself was dramatically converted. If the early church could trust and grow under a flake and a murderer its because Jesus transforms people. He still does.
Whining happened too. Probably legitimately . The leaders figured it out.
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food." Acts 6: 1
God helped them work through some racist assumptions too.
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism. But accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right" Acts 10:34-35. When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying "So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life." Acts 11:18
Am I saying to follow leaders who have ignored the truth? Hurt people? Abused people? Lied? Of course not. Acts shows great examples of calling out bad teachers and stopping lies. Couple people dropped dead because they lied and were making a mockery of the foundling faith. But Acts also shows the faithful were committed to figuring it out. They met, they prayed, they tried new tactics, they sometimes found new partners. But they didn't give up on the church. And that's what I'd say to you.
Been hurt? Quit church? Bitter and cynical?
Go Back. Find a church. Stick with it.
If you've left church because you are disgusted by problems then go back and help fix them. If you have concerns about racism within the church then go be part of the solution. If you don't see a place for people like you - then go create that space for others. Have hard talks with your leaders, research why you believe what you do and share the information If you've ever been loved by a pastor tell them thank you. Advocate. Don't quit.
If you don't see the point, be encouraged. Here is the beautiful truth of Acts. Jesus went back to heaven but God didn't leave us alone. He gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort. And he gave believers each other. The church collectively is the bride of Christ and he gave us a massive mission. Love each other. Be light. Make disciples. Comfort the hurting. Set free the captives.
Then Peter said: "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping and praising God. Acts 3:6,8
Its a mission we still are on together. I was talking to one of my pastors this morning. He said he always believe that when God is getting ready to do something powerful in someone's life or in a local church that the devil steps up the pressure. More pressure and heartache and attacks going on in your life? More pressure - more power. Hang in there. The Holy Spirit in on your side.
"If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this; you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is "The stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation Is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:9-13
Oh how I want that in my obituary. Weird thought right? But someone write this down. I want it noted at the end that any courage from this unschooled and ordinary person is astonishing and only because I've been around Jesus. That's it.
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace. Acts 20:24
The church leaders were persecuted, martyred, imprisoned and beat. Happens around the world still today. And here our pastors and teachers face pressures, abuse to their families, disappointment and great pain. You can make a difference. Thank one of them.
Our pastor this morning asked us to think about what our life would look like without Jesus. Mine would be a mess. The best things in my life are from him. The hard things I can do with him. I'm grateful for his gifts. The church hits the top of my list.
It's Pastor Appreciation Month. Need some ideas about how to love on the pastors in your life? This is a good resource. READ HERE. Don't underestimate the power of a thank you note. Or food. Food is good too.
Fire from heaven? Yikes! Find out why Acts is so exciting and why it matters to you. The team at The Bible Project's Read Scripture series on YouTube (say that 5 times fast) is a great overview.
There is a lot going on in the book of Acts. The infographic is helpful.
I loved Charles Martin before Hollywood did. I am the kind of fan who owns, reads, loans, and pre-orders all his books. The Mountain Between Us is gorgeous. The movie adaption is opening today. I want to go see it.
I bet the book is better.
Have you read any of Charles Martin's other books? (Yes...yes I have). Which is your favorite?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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