Category Archives: Breakfast with Jesus

Redefining New Years Eve Worship

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This New Years Eve, Shane and I were excited to join a local youth camp for a late night worship session. We approached the event with this in mind: “Bring in the new year with worship.”

Our plan was to feed the babies and have them sleep in their car seats through the service (they are pretty proficient at car-seat naps, so this should work just fine right?) We truly thought their highly scheduled circadian rhythms would handle this one night of change. Confident that 38 teenagers in a lodge would turn into a soothing type of white noise for the babies, we set out for a New Years worship party.

Turns out, the babies are all-too eager to begin their camp experience and hollered to be picked up out of their car seats at all times.

These days, our twins usually sleep from 7pm to 8am, with only one, no-fuss “midnight snack feeding” around 11pm. That night, we made it till 11 with both kids wide eyed and energetic, kicking to be a part of the game of spoons, apples to apples competition, sledding, and super-fun, high energy songs that kickstarted the worship session. Evi was pretty fussy at this point, but there was no sleeping happening.

Worried about the babies getting sick from lack of sleep, we decided to head back to the hotel. And we figured a baby crash was right around the corner. Wrong.

At the hotel, babies were smiling and ready to play. Then they staged a coup (read “revolt” not “cute baby sounds”) upon being swaddled. After an hour of restless sleep, the Rosty twins began the hourly giggling, cooing, grunting, farting, crying, growling fiasco that ushered in our new year.

(The babies in the hotel before the crazy night…)

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In desperation, I breastfed them around four. I took the risk of throwing out all my hard work this last month to drop this feeding. It bought us about two hours of noise-free sleep. By six, the menagerie of chaos began again, lasting on and off for several hours. When I got out of bed to “wake them up,” I found them gleefully smiling at each other in their packnplay like they had just pulled the first successful prank on the parents.

In Gods providence, I had been reading Set Apart Motherhood just the day before. Leslie Ludy’s chapter on “tensile training” had challenged me to greet each late night escapade with a cheerful heart. I resolved to do so, willing my tired soul to serve my husband and kids by saying no to the grumpiness and irritation. However unlike those moments were for deep spiritual worship, my goal was to glorify God.

I was disappointed at first that we were unable to usher in the new year with a musical worship session. Worship music has a unique ability to stir up passionate emotions and call my heart to a soul-surrender.

However, this New Years Eve, Shane and I experienced a different kind of soul-surrender. Instead of kneeling with quiet tears and lifted hands, we bent low to soothe loud cries and distraught hands seeking comfort. Instead of taking of the bread and juice, we shared a type of sacred communion with Christ by saying no to our comfort and desires, a small reflection of Jesus’ choice to do the same for us. Our worship on the mountaintop was messy, loud, exhausting, and draining, but it was still worship.

Shane and I concluded that God doesn’t require music or emotional vulnerability in our worship. His desire is for us to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, for this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1

Dear, 2015… We welcome you! We are glad you are here. Though we greet you with bags under our eyes, sore legs and ringing ears, we are eager to see how Gods mercies will be new every morning yet again in this year.

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Grab that Symota

My husband just began a new chapter of life as a youth pastor. The ministry he inherited is full of strong-hearted youth who dubbed their group with the name S.Y.M.O.T.A.

Set Your Mind On Things Above

(pronounced sim-oh-tuh in case you, like me, were wondering)

I LOVE this word! At last, I have stumbled across the word I’ve been searching for:

Symota: a heavenly perspective

Symota: a liberating prescription

Symota: an encouragement to live in light of truth

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How easy it is to become fixated on our momentary struggles. After all, they are at “eye level”- always right in front of us. By default, we tend to “set” our minds there, on the easy-to-reach shelf of the Here and Now.

Other things are shelved there too… things like bills, back pain, a qualifying exam, and spilled milk (breast feeding moms know what one talking about).

The knickknacks of loneliness, nostalgia, and the opinions of other share this shelf space with cans of our current circumstances and full calendars. They stare us right in the face at all hours of the day (and night!), demanding attention and consuming our thoughts.

And consumed we are, mesmerized in a trance of anxiety and time management. But there is a higher shelf. A place where freedom and peace dwell. The resting place of our hope, next to a full jar of truth and a box of true satisfaction. This shelf is full of Symota!

God has called us to set our minds on thing ABOVE. This shelf isn’t within arms length. We must be bold to contend for the hard-to-reach perspective of how God sees things.

It’s gonna take standing on tip-toes to get there. We might even have to climb a bit. In fact we might even need each other for a boost. Who can I get down on all fours for, so that someone can stand on my back in order to reach a heavenly perspective? And who must I thank for doing so for me?

Let’s all grab a buddy or a spiritual step stool today and grab that Symota.

(Don’t forget to share how it changed your day, in the comments below!)

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On stress, anxiety, and casting all my cares on God

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My extraordinary husband championed the truth of entering into God’s rest in his Sunday morning message at our church this week.

(Read Hebrews 3 and 4 for the Biblical perspective of rest.)

This word could not have come at a better time for us, as this week and month have the potential to be the most overwhelming in our year thus far.

I am due with twins in 2 months, and trying desperately to take it easy so as to keep the kids cooking longer. This isn’t easy at all because….

Today, our house will finally approved for occupancy! We can move in now. But I am at the mercy and help of friends and family to do all the work, organizing, and heavy lifting. I am humbled to have such a wealth of help in our life. However, I feel the need to be ultra-organized and aware of how I want our home arranged, so I don’t have to ask anyone to do it over again. I also have this nagging fear we will be living out of boxes for the next 3 months, which might make life difficult with new babies.

Speaking of babies, I have a MAJOR lifestyle transition approaching fast. You could describe me as a flitting social butterfly, with the curiosity of a puppy, and the multi-tasking abilities equal to a blade of grass. I am good at one thing at a time, and it usually takes me an hour to get into my groove. Schedules feel like cages to creativity. However, deadlines produce high levels of productivity (the life of a procrastinator).

Well…
Babies need schedules.
Babies don’t have deadlines, per-say.
Babies can be party-poopers (I’ve heard of babies literally gifting parents with blow-out diapers at their first social event in months).

I am so excited to meet these kids, snuggle and feed them, shower them with love and truth and care, and walk with then on our family journey to be more like Christ. But I am not naive of the potentially stressful changes I must make to do so.

Add to the list: a shift or two in our finances, new job opportunities, and the great blessing of our adoption process from Africa… It’s an equation for stress and anxiety! Or it would be if my God was any smaller.

The Holy Spirit taught me 2 applications through Shane’s message that I would appreciate being held accountable to this week:

1. Doubt is the enemy of rest and peace. Shane put it rather eloquently: “when we feel stressed-out (to the point of anxiety), we show how little we think God is.”

When we make our fears or circumstances bigger than they should be, we start thinking God is smaller than He is. Hebrews 3:8-19 narrates how the Israelites did this to God in the dessert, and therefore missed out of true rest in The Lord.

When we miss out on true rest, we start looking to other remedies for our overwhelmed-ness: TV, vacation, relationships, “venting.” But these do not satisfy or relieve.

2. We must look at God (through His Word, not our ideas about him), to learn his priorities, His Big-ness, and His love for us.

When we focus in Gods priorities (to live as a light to the world), we can let go of our own priorities (like having a perfectly organized home or new furniture for the new house). This greatly reduces stress!

When we let go of the notion that “I must do everything myself” (pride), and humbly cast all our cares on Jesus, we become rested, settled, relaxed and refreshed. (Read 1 peter 5:6-7 for more).

Today, my prayer mirrors Hebrews 4:16…

“Lord, I need your mercy and grace. I come confidently to your throne – not to TV, Facebook/Pinterest, a nap, or even waiting till every thing gets done-I come to your throne alone to settle my spirit, remove all anxiety, and produce the fruit peace in my life.

Thank you for being Big enough.”

I am also singing a song I learned as a child… It is a simple but excellent reminder:

“My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!”

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Short of Breath in my Walk with God

I once read that being pregnant requires the same amount of energy as scaling a mountain. The calorie output is about the same as a vigorous hike… all-day-long. I must be reaching “higher elevation” because it is getting harder to breathe. A hiker experiences the thinning of the air… at six months pregnant with twins, this pregnant mama experiences less room in my body for a proper breath.

It is a constant discomfort.

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Similarly, God makes us “uncomfortable” in other areas of our lives:

  • Changing our identity to look more like Christ.
  • Calling us to share our faith
  • Reminding our hearts that its not all about us
  • Convicting us to repent of sin
  • Encouraging our minds to stop vicious cycles of worldly thinking

Any of those sound familiar? If you aren’t experiencing “discomfort” in your walk with God, could it be that your relationship with Him is at a standstill? You might be on the right path, but if you aren’t going anywhere, how is your faith impacting you, encouraging others, or glorifying God? This is the question James asks of all of us:

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? James 2:14

Still, having an active, or a “hiking” faith, can be difficult. We start to reach new heights and find that it’s harder to breathe. Our perseverance wanes, and we become discouraged. I have let fear and anxiety get a foothold more times than I want to admit. But our Savior is faithful, and He stands ready for me to grab his hand.

When our breath is not enough (as it was never meant to be) we can remember that Jesus offers HIS breath to empower us to be like him! In John 20:21-22 quotes Jesus saying:

“As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” And when he had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “receive the Holy Spirit…”

I hope this encourages you when you feel “short of breath” in your walk with God this week. And don’t forget to enjoy the view from the new heights God is helping you reach in your walk with Him!

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Rest

Anyone needing rest today?

Typically, when I need to rest, I opt for escapeI discover my limit physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. I search for restoration by escaping my current reality…. often by scrolling through Facebook, pinning endlessly on Pinterest, and flipping through Netflix.

Unfortunately, these venues do not provide true “rest”, particularly the kind of rest that Jesus offers in Matthew 11.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30

God has a plan for restoration of our bodies, souls, and minds. But it involves engaging ourselves in Him, not escaping altogether. I begged God to show me what it means to rest in Him, I felt He gave me this:

REST

  • Resolve
  • Everything
  • Surrendered
  • To Christ

To truly rest, I must let go. Rather than escape everything I am holding on to, I must entrust it all to Jesus. I think this form of surrender is what Jesus meant when He said “take my yoke.” Psalms 46:10 clarifies it well:

“Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

For me, the word “resolve” is an active word. It signifies a choice I can’t back out on.

The word “Everything” encompasses all of my junk, sin, pride, hurts, accomplishments, confusion, questions, joy, love, possessions, and relationships.

“Surrendered” is past tense. It reminds me that I have already given everything to Christ… I just need to remember that He is in control.

“To Christ”… there is no other god who is worthy, no other savior who is able, and no other king who has the power to take what we surrender, and give us peace in its place. Jesus is the only one. I MUST check my attitude and make sure I am not trying to “resolve everything surrendered to myself” or even dump it all on my husband, pastor, or friends.

I hope this acronym encourages you as it has me. Let us continue to walk in submission, and find true rest for our souls there, even in the busy, chaotic, or even mundane days.

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Audacious Obedience

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Ever feel like God has called you to do something that doesn’t make sense?

  • Purity in your romantic relationships
  • Going on a missions trip
  • Staying in-state for college to avoid debt
  • Waiting (enough said)
  • Spending time with Jesus with a busy schedule
  • Respecting your parents
  • Refusing to date a man or woman who doesn’t follow Christ
  • Tithing

The Israelites had a problem with a few of these. Here is what God said of them: ” ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord. Malachi 1:13

However, God still spoke amazing words of promise to these people through the prophet Malachi. In fact, Malachi’s prophecy was the last bit of instruction God’s people could depend on for 400 years till Jesus came.

If you feel you God has brought you into an unfair or illogical situation, I suggest you read the book of Malachi. It is very short, and simply put.

God says, “Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name,” (Mal 2:1). The next 3 chapters describe how God’s people must honor him: in their money, relationships, marriages, treatment of others, and their worship. He calls them to obedience in these areas then says:

“If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Malachi 3:10-12

Whatever you are facing, God challenges you to TEST HIM. Obey in that area, and see if He will not bless your

  • Pure relationships
  • Christ-first time management
  • God-honoring financial choices
  • Devoted pursuit of Jesus

Make no mistake, this is not a prosperity-Gospel. We are not attempting to manipulate God to give us stuff or make us rich. This is about honoring God for HIS honor and glory, and trusting that He knows what’s best for us… even when it doesn’t feel good or make sense to people around us.

Make the choice to live in audacious trust and obedience to our faithful God. And please let me know how you are doing it! (Comment below.)

*Thanks to my lovely friend Kristen for the inspiring picture.

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Want Peace?

My dear friends, peace is on the horizon.

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I know many of you need this truth today. Let my words be few, but my prayer so bold today:

Jesus, we know that “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God…” Holy Spirit, our helper, please settle our restless spirits. Bring us to repentance and renewed unity with you. Direct our minds to truth, like an arrow set firmly toward its target, released to a swift destination.
We are not against you, Father, because the power of Jesus death and resurrection bring us peace with You, a truth we inherit through faith, by your great grace! In that peace we command every thought, desire, and emotion to honor you, by the power of Jesus name. As your daughters, we claim the promise of peace and life.

Amen.

Feel free to download this word art, use it as your phone background or desktop picture.

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Remembering God’s Goodness

Photo by Kristen Shipps/ used with permission.
Photo by Kristen Shipps/ used with permission.

Hebrews 3:6 says this:
“Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”

Later in the chapter, the author describes a group of people who did not hold fast to their relationship with God, who “always go astray in their hearts.”

As I read Hebrews 3 today, I recall how necessary it is to remember God’s goodness. The Israelites forgot, time and time again, how God saved them, fed them, led them. I don’t believe we “lose our salvation” each time we despair, question, or ignore God’s work in our lives. But I do accept the reminder: there will be “rest” for the believers who hold fast to their identity in Christ.

It makes sense really. Like Peter, when we take our eyes off of Jesus and onto the storms in this life, we start to sink into the waves.

May we not forget our great God. Rather, let us remember our identity as children of God in Christ. Like Hebrews 3 says, we should be constantly bringing up the hope we have.

Like a kid who wont stop asking why….

Like a teenager who can’t stop checking Instagram for a “like.”

Like a grandpa who shares the same awkward story at every family get together.

In other words, we have full permission to be restless in reminding our souls, our family, our world, that we, INDEED, have hope!

I find there are 2 effective ways to do this: by remember the journey and just keep walking faithfully.

I spent some considerable time flipping through old journal pages. It is so good to remember where I was, and how God made such amazing things happen in those times.

Jesus has taught me so much.
He has answered so many prayers.
In His grace, I have become a beautiful woman, confident in Christ.

By reading of His faithfulness personally in my own life, I am filled with confidence and gratefulness. It is going to be easy for me to “boast in my hope” today.

In addition to remembering God faithfulness in the past, I believe we are called to walk obediently into our future. Obedience to God is the greatest display of our hope to the world. Do not harden your heart, but listen, follow, and obey…. always remembering His goodness.

How are you remembering His goodness today?

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Heaven and Hawaii for Breakfast

I must say, Breakfast with Jesus was amazing this morning. We had a few left-over pancakes from last night’s Sunday Night Dinner for our college ministry; so I smothered one in crushed-pineapple and pecans. It tasted like heaven and Hawaii intermingled.

I love to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Good food can never compare to the sweetness of Jesus love for me, but it is a good reminder of it.

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It’s blizzarding outside, but I’m cranking up a playlist of worship tunes mixed with reggae beats. Feel tropically-joyful in the Lord.

Its a good day to praise Him. How about you!? How has God allowed you to taste and see how good he is?

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Embracing the Day…

I just posted a piece on trusting God over in Delight Bible Study.

I realize that I like to be a wallflower, especially during mornings. I am slow to get moving toward God, embracing the day. I am lazy with my trust…. I take my precious time. Give me coffee, let me scramble some eggs, and maybe surf Facebook before I even think about participating in God’s work for me today.

Let me cling to my wall, like a wallflower, trusting its familiarity to hold me up. Maybe after a shower I will take the leap into all God has for me today.

While I don’t think I have a chronic issue with not trusting God (I might eat those words later), I will acknowledge my slothfulness in the mornings.

Ezekiel 13:10-11 & 14 explains how humanity builds crumbling walls of false security, painting them with whitewash to make them look sturdy:

“And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash;  so tell those who plaster it over with whitewash, that it will fall. A flooding rain will come, and you, O hailstones, will fall; and a violent wind will break out….So I [God] will tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst. And you will know that I am the Lord.”

I think I have made a white-washed-wall out of my morning routine: I cling to Pinterest, Facebook, a few text messages, food, a shower, and maybe a nap before I step into the light of day (can you say “Not. A. Morning. Person.?).

While these things aren’t evil on their own, I cling to them to get me through the waking-up process. Anything I cling to other than God is an idol. I am a white-washed-wall-flower….. and my walls aren’t very sturdy.

So I’m taking my own advice from a Bible study written for teen girls: trust God, leap, participate for all He has planned for me, EMBRACE THE DAY!

I will abandon my walls before they crumble. I will place my trust in the Lord in the morning, first thing!

Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

What are the walls you are clinging to today?

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