Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Small Picture Tour of inRLMN 2014

Here is a very brief picture tour taken with my Galaxy s4 of the in(RL)MN 2014 meeting:

Quotes from the (in)courage team were everywhere

The ladies had each table decorated so beautifully. Much need in this dreary MN spring

Our crafts were jars covered with book pages. Inside each one is a tealight
I love how mine represents me. Some ladies had perfectly organized
jars with verses or themes. I just wanted mine to be completely
covered with Christian words. "Imitators of God", communion
love, Jesus, friendship, God, and Bible verses. 

Worship. How wonderful to hear our voices praise the Lord together!!

Photo Apr 26, 5 02 10 PM
I'm in there somewhere!! :) Note THREE babies! 

Well, I DID warn you it was going to be brief :) But I just wanted to share even just this small glimpse into what (in)RL was like, and maybe to persuade you into attending next year :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

in(RL) 2014

It has come and gone! In(rl) 2014 went by far too quickly. This was my second time attending and I was a lot less nervous than the first time. This time when I walked into the room, I was greeted by familiar faces. But I confess: I was disappointed that many faces I wanted to see weren't there. Instead there were many fresh faces. Only a selfish person would be disappointed by that. 

But God was working.

The ladies seated at my table were people I could connect with. Two other ladies have husbands who have deployed. One lovely lady I knew from the previous year and every time we chat I fall in love with her honesty and grace. Another girl and I connected over our daughters, both girls close in age. I think we could both sense the toddler-age craze in each other's eyes. We even have tentative plans for a play date!

Each lovely lady brought something wonderful to our table and our discussions. I was blown away by how God orchestrated events so I could chat and connect with these particular women. I would have loved to meet and get to know all of these ladies! But God knew who we all needed to connect with the most. He is ever faithful! 

That's not to say in(RL)MN went off without a hitch (anyone else still have ringing ears??). But lovely Amanda kept it all running so smoothly. We hardly noticed, and I dare say everyone had a fabulous time!

The theme this year was about telling our stories. I have heard and seen such wonderful bravery as a result of this conference. I am not sure I am ready to tell all of my story just yet; I think I am in the middle of mine and am still struggling to figure it out, what it is and how to work through it. Hearing all the testimonies from the lovely ladies on the video was incredibly (in)couraging. They all had such beautiful things to share. I have pages of notes and quotes in my journal!

The in(RL) conference was worth it. Make time for this conference next year, ladies. Mark it on your calendar now. Make community and relationship an importance in your life today!

Have you shared your story in real life? Have you been willing to go deep with others? Are you willing to go beyond the shallow? 
We all have a story, and I am desperate to hear yours.

Photo Apr 26, 5 02 10 PM

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

1 John 1:9

Join the GROW linkup with Faith at Faith, Fun, and The Fergusons!! This past week we spent time meditating on 1 John 1:9. 

Way back in the day we looked at 2 John 1:9, so now we jump ahead exactly one chapter to 1 John 1:9!
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (NLT)

So lovely people, this week has happened. Things have happened. And so I present to you some bullet points :)

  • What God calls us to do: confess. Simply confess. If we don't confess, He can't forgive. Confessing means we feel bad, contrite, about our actions. We understand we did wrong and want to change. Actually admitting and coming to terms with our wrong (aka sin), softens our hearts and we are ready to receive God's gift of forgiveness. If we don't acknowledge our wrongdoing, well...why should we be forgiven?? We obviously don't feel bad and we don't want the change. 

  • Well, why do we need forgiveness?? Ooo buddy is that an important conversation. I can only offer a short reply here: Sin separates us from God (Eph 2:12) and leads to punishment (Matt. 25:41). Forgiveness leads us back to holiness (aka GOD) and eternal life (Romans 6:23, Titus 3:7). And if God is Love (1 John 4:16), that is where I want to be! Loving and being loved for all eternity?? Sign me up!! And isn't that how that famous quote goes: "The greatest thing in life is to love and be loved.." My answer: more JESUS

  • God is faithful and just==can I get an AMEN??! Interesting that it is tied to our confessions and forgiveness here. I think it relates to Philippians 1:6 which says "For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." See my co-relation there? No? Well, God sees our sin and he can't stand sin. God wants us to be holy, just like he is the very Holy (1 Peter 1:16). He wants to perfect us, He wants us to be our best, but like I alluded to in bullet point #1, we have to be willing. God is faithful to not leave us where we are at. And thank God (thanks God!) that that is the Gospel Truth!

How did you like my bullet points? :) But I hope that both you and I can drive this point home. All we have to do is admit we did something wrong/bad/sinful. That's probably the easiest part, right?? To realize we aren't perfect and made a mistake? Okay, well not always. But it IS pretty important. If we want to grow and have a booming relationship with God, we need to start with confession. 

Do make a point to confess regularly? I know it is an area I need work in! Even more important, do you believe the truth of Philippians 1:6??

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Matthew 6:14-15

Join the GROW linkup with Faith at Faith, Fun, and The Fergusons!! This past week we spent time meditating on Matthew 6:14-15.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NIV)

These verses are pretty hefty! Both verses seem to carry a "If, Then" statement. If you forgive others, then God will forgive you. However, I don't think Jesus was laying down a conditional statement. He wasn't trying to hold something over our head and make us work for it. The Bible makes it very clear that we never have to work for our redemption (Eph. 2:8-9). We only need to accept Jesus as our Savior, and then we get to approach God's throne boldly knowing we are a Child of God (Heb 4:16). Rather, I think that if we aren't forgiving others two things will result:

1. We will have a hard time receiving and understanding God's forgiveness for our own sins. If we live with hard, hurting hearts, what will make us believe we ourselves are truly forgiven? Instead we feel like we have to work for forgiveness, to make up for our wrong, until we see ourselves as 'even' again. This is not God's intention! Jesus came to Earth as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), to be slain and take our sins upon himself. If I may be so bold to say, in not forgiving, we are reserving judgment that should be God's alone (Ecc 12:14) and thus setting ourselves up to be equal to God. *gulp!!* Instead, we should humble ourselves and accept the Lord's free gifts!! Let us rejoice in being made clean in the blood of the Lamb! (a reminder to all that I preach to me before anyone else).

2. By not forgiving others we are committing sin! Jesus tells us specifically to forgive others (Matt 18:21-22) over and over. So by not forgiving others we are committing a sin that drives us farther away from God! eep! Cyclical. Having a hard heart creates a wedge between ourselves and God. What a bummer. Ultimately, when we sin, we are only hurting ourselves. The reason God warns us away from certain things is because they are harmful to us. --->that alone could be a whole different topic!

Major Takeaway: God tells us to forgive others to save us from a hard heart that will ultimately hurt us more than it will hurt the one we are angry at.

I am not downplaying anyone's hurts or trying to make it sound like it is easy to forgive. If anyone can hold a grudge, it is me! Half the time I don't realize I'm holding a grudge until I lash out :( But here, in these two short passages God tells us, me, how important it is to forgive, and receive forgiveness. I shared some brief, and very heavy, stuff today. Forgiveness is an important and vast topic. I am merely looking at a snippet in these two verses.

Before I sign off...take a peek at the verses right before Matthew is the Lord's Prayer! I think it says something that immediately after teaching the apostles to pray, Jesus tells them to forgive. But that my friends is another thought for another day :)

Have you linked up with GROW yet?? I'm jumping back in full force and can't wait to read all the wonderful posts talking about forgiveness. If you have any tips or resources on forgiving, share them below! We could all use help in this area! :)