The Cross, Everyday Life & Easter

Jesus loved children. Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, taught those who were willing to hear and showed a perfect way to live. He was kind and gentle and ferociously just. For those of us who have left all to follow Him… he has given the Spirit of God to dwell in our hearts. And yet, so often I find those same qualities so hard to live out in everyday life when my flesh gets in the way. That’s why Easter, and full weekends like this, are so powerful. They remind me and challenge me to live more like Jesus.

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Easter Cupcakes by April (my sister)… Isn’t she talented?!

Easter weekend is probably one of the most profound celebrations in the life of a Christian as we think about the greatest acts of Jesus. We celebrate Jesus’ birth with great fanfare, but Easter… Easter is where our entire allegiance begins to make sense. We’re not just following a baby. We’re following a man who took all of that dirty sinful nature on himself and stood in our place. Easter – days set aside to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – is where we can stand tall, knowing that we have been bought with a price and can from here go forward. Boldly.

I was able to go to the Living Last Supper this week, a dramatization of the Gospel according to John. It was a powerful, beautiful look at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. If you ever get a chance to go, do it!

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I also did Secret Church (simulcast from David Platt’s church in Birmingham), a fabulous 7 hours of intensive Bible study and prayer for the persecuted church. I am so glad to have gotten to share this with friends and have some great discussions on breaks. I’d encourage you to learn more and consider listening when you can! This year’s topic was “The Cross and Everyday Life” and I can think of no better topic for Christians…

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All of this, coupled with the Easter services and time with family, challenged and encouraged me in fresh ways about sharing the Gospel and living like Jesus…

How was your Easter weekend? What wells in your heart as you think about the death and resurrection of Jesus? 

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Secret Church & Applying What you Learn

I’ll never forget sitting in a church in Ohio at a Voice of the Martyrs conference hearing stories of things I couldn’t hardly imagine. Those stories and the people I met that day changed things for me. There were stories of physical suffering, but also stories like this:

They sat on the floor in a dimly lit cement room. Dark curtains were pulled over the windows. It was stuffy, dim, and crowded, but they didn’t seem to notice as they hunched over notebooks, writing furiously… wanting to take it all in. Another man slipped in the room and quickly sat where he could find the room. They had to stagger the time people arrived so it didn’t look suspicious.

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The speaker had notes, but mostly preached from a single treasured book. That way if they were caught, there would be less for someone to find. And that night… they walked through hours of Bible teaching. Because they were hungry for it. Because they didn’t get the opportunity often. And because they didn’t know when it would happen again.

This is the image that has stuck with me the most. It’s what I think of when approaching Secret Church. It’s powerful, that image of a hungry group of rag-tag believers, soaking in the messages, committing them to memory and heart.

April 18 (Good Friday) is the next Secret Church, a 6-hour intensive bible study and time of prayer for the persecuted church. You can simulcast with thousands of others (including a small group of friends and myself) from anywhere in the world. And together… we can catch a glimpse of their hunger for the Word, and how that plays out in our everyday lives.

Oh, and if you’re interested in understanding the persecuted church more, I’d recommend reading Tortured for Christ by Richard Wumbrant (you can get a free copy here) and Safely Home by Randy Alcorn to start.

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This Little House

My little place is coming together! The house itself didn’t need any structural work (thankfully!), but I did a complete re-painting and for that reason alone it already looks quite different. So for those of you who’d like the tour of this cozy little abode, keep scrolling for the before and afters of the moving/painting process.

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Kitchen: (looking to add some art and an island/dishwasher at some point)

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Living Room: 

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My Bedroom:
bedroomGuest Room/Office (still a work in progress – but functional for guests!) and Bath: 

spare-bathSecond bedroom isn’t pictured, but you can head over to my friend/roommate’s blog and keep in touch with Javon here. Very thankful to have her living here too!

As I’m settling in, I’m also praying for opportunities with new neighbors. But I’m curious to learn from you: how do you meet/build relationships with those who live around you? I’ve always found it hard to build natural relationships when I move to a new area… that’s some wisdom I’d love to glean as the unpacking phase ends and Spring begins.

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Invisible & Uncontained

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is incomprehensible to our Western minds – as He was to Eastern ones. He came from beyond where no human mind has visited.

When we try to squeeze Him into our systems of thought, He vanishes – He slips through our grasp and then reappears and (in so many words) says, ‘No man takes My life from Me. No man forces his will on Me. I am not yours to handle and cheapen. You are Mine to love and make holy.’

In Him we see what love is – that it originates in God and is energized by Him. And so, we thank God for all we see. For beauty and for the miracle of sight, for music and wonder of hearing for warmth and the sense of touch. But we thank Him more for Christ, without whom we would be deaf, insensitive and blind.” - Rich Mullins, in a column for Release magazine

Flower Pots & Thankful Spaces

I’m in a new space, filling it, still painting and putting doors back together and putting things in their place.

I get excited for a space that is nurturing, refreshing – a place for people to gather and feel alive and at home. I look forward to many late night conversations in that living room with good wine or tea. I imagine lots of creativity in that little kitchen, and rearranging or painting something often. And I am thankful.

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Thankful for the space that God’s provided. Thankful for the chance to do this, the opportunity to take leaps like this, the chance to live and have a sustainable life. I know there are many in the world who don’t have this luxury.

I’ve been thinking this week of a picture one of our missionaries shared a while back from the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A mother and her small family were living on the street – they had nowhere else to go. They had a blue tarp strung up along the sidewalk to block the rain… and she’d put three pots with little flowers out around them.

It was simple. Heartbreaking. And beautiful. This momma was making her space pretty too, filling what she had and being thankful for details.

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I thought in great admiration of that momma and as I put up my flower pots.

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925 sq feet is a lot in the scheme of things. That valiant woman on the street in Addis worked with far less. I wonder, is she still there, under that tarp? Has she added more flowers? Perhaps she’s come through the LSM Counseling Center and is much better off now?

I keep this in the living room as my simple, clear reminder of this woman, and many others that I have met, cherished, loved.

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I am thankful. And I’m doing my best to remember and praise God for ALL the reasons why.

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I turned 26 this week and thought of this… My friend Genaye wrote a great blog on her 29th birthday reflecting on key things she’s learned in life – things she feels are worth passing on. I loved that. So I’m revamping her brilliant idea with my own simple list of 26 in 26. Enjoy!

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  1. Just fall in love with Jesus. Spend time with him consistently. Even when you don’t feel like it.
  2. Memorize scripture. It’s not really as hard as you might think, and it’s something you definitely won’t regret spending time doing.
  3. Find a personal sense of style. Don’t be swept away by the trends. Design, wear, decorate with what you love deep down.
  4. And speaking of design… do lots of that. Create. Push yourself. Keep finding inspirations and create new things constantly.
  5. Think about the things that fill your time. Be intentional about what you spend your time doing. Do what counts and be fully invested when you’re there.
  6. Set the phone aside when you’re with people. Be with them in the moment. They are what you will remember later.
  7. Keep learning. Read constantly. Take it all back to the Word. It will help keep your head on straight and help you form better ideas.
  8. Seek wisdom. Pray for it. It will keep your mouth shut when you need to, and give you words when appropriate.
  9. Travel. Learn about other cultures. They will make you a better, more rounded person in the very best of ways.
  10. Find accountability. Prayer partners, friends, mentors – people who are there to keep you in line and remind you of what’s important.
  11. Commit to a church family. You’re not a lone-ranger, Christian. You need people – and the church is meant for more than just your benefit. It’s a place to serve, not a place where you agree with everything said.
  12. Do something different. Don’t be afraid to be different, push the boundaries and figure out what is really right, not just what is ‘normal.’
  13. Drink coffee. It will make life happier and more connected. (It’s kind of a universal bond :) .)
  14. Don’t be afraid to love. Life will seem like a constant letting go, but it is full when you are free to love deeply.
  15. Extend grace. People will love you for it – but more than that, it reflects Jesus in you. Learn that from others, and apply it.
  16. Start something new. Ethnic prayer nights, a prayer group, weekly breakfast with your sisters. They are simple. They are powerful.
  17. Create art. Take the time and make beautiful things and feel alive. Do art that you’re not good at too… because its not about the end result as much as the creative process.
  18. Listen to those wiser than you. Read their works, go have dinner with them and take in their experiences. You’ll be better for having gleaned from them.
  19. Be silly. It’s OK, and life needs to have light moments.
  20. Work hard. You will never regret having given your best.
  21. Don’t seek your own accolades. “Work not for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed. Just make your absence felt.”
  22. Make family a priority. They are the people that will be your anchor, and you theirs. And these are the most precious relationships.
  23. Get a dog. They love and love all the time. And it’s good to be reminded that something loves you no matter what :)
  24. Let yourself cry on the behalf of the hurting. Feeling pain helps life have more purpose, especially when its acknowledging the vulnerable. I think it’s some of what gives us ultimate purpose.
  25. Cook. When you’ve got the chance and the resources, enjoy good food. It will just make you happy to experience new things.
  26. Above all, just let life come. Trust in your Maker, and know that He is in control.

What about you? What are things you’ve learned in your years of experience? I’d love to hear some of your thoughts…

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