Archives · Lent · Personal thoughts · Writing Life

Author update & Lent is here again

Hi friends,

These past few years have been some of my least productive years in writing to date, but busiest in changing, stretching and growing. From finally working out forgiveness with certain people, to becoming a wife, to becoming a mother, learning to weigh a full time job with home and family responsibilities. I’m also very excited to announce that my application to become a staff writer for Tirzah Magazine was accepted and that I am now an official contributor over there too! Tirzah is an online publication dedicated to encouraging young women in leading lives and faith and I’m proud to be associated that team of godly women.

I have at times been overwhelmed, underwhelmed, joyful, grieving, and maybe a little bit crazy. But I’m hanging on to the call to write and to take up my pen in obedience and renewed confidence that only the Lord can provide.

Speaking of obedience and renewed confidence, you may know that today the season of Lent is upon us. I wanted to repost an article from a few years ago, because I found myself being reminded of how if we are not careful, we can turn it into a mere “Christian New Years’ resolutions day” rather than a heart-honest call to turn toward the Lord with renewed zeal.

I hope you enjoy it!


Why I’m dreading Lent this year [originally posted February 8 2016]

Lent is this Wednesday. I know. “What? Already?” I believe my exact reaction was, “AGAIN?”

Every year it’s the same. I spend all kinds of time sitting at Starbucks with my laptop trying to decide whether it’s coffee or chocolate that will get the boot. “Hmm…maybe I should just give up Facebook,” I think to myself, washing down a bite of chocolate-chocolate-chip muffin with a swig of mocha latte.

Lent is like the Christian version of New Years Resolutions. You make up your mind to give something up or start doing something good, only to let yourself slide until you have completely forgotten about the funny promise you made to God 40 days prior. (Chocolate bunny, anyone?)

If you’re not familiar with Lent, it is what Christians call that stretch of time between Mardi Gras and Easter. It is a time set out in the church when believers usually focus on growing closer to God through Prayer, Fasting, and Giving. It’s actually a great opportunity to rekindle the dryness that periodically creeps into our faith-lives. Everyday life and responsibilities cause so much noise in our heads that we forget to focus on the One who is the only source of wisdom, comfort, and salvation. This is why I’m such a huge believer in the practice of Lent. We learn to slow down and establish a structure of prayer that is oftentimes missing from our lives. So why am I dreading it?

Over the past 2 months I my article-writing engines have been on overdrive and I have loved every stressful minute of it. I’m writing for and with God for you good people spread across the Interwebs and all the while, I hear my heart beating in step with each piece. It’s buzzing with excitement: you are doing exactly what you are meant to do. I have SO many ideas for how to glorify God with my writing and my blog.

However, Lent means I have to slow down. It means that I actually have to stop trying, pull it back a bit, and slow down so that I can commune with God. As much as I don’t want to slow my mad productive pace, my soul hangs in the balance if I do not. I’m like a toddler running out the front door and down the driveway before my mom has time to put a diaper on me — I tend to run way ahead of God’s plans before I’m ready.

But this relationship with the master of the universe is vastly more important than anything I post, write, plan to write. I’m hearing his still, small voice in my heart saying, Be still, Molly. Quit trying to prove to me how awesome you are.

I want to be intentional about this year’s season of Lent so I won’t be posting every single day, but only as the spirit leads. I will be listening for God’s voice and striving toward closeness with Him.

Won’t you join with me in search for an intentional Lent? Whether this is your first Lent season or 100th, let’s take Lent seriously together this year. Let’s both commit to being companions of Jesus, instead of competitors. ☩

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He is sufficient

Are you desperate for relief from your heavy burdens? For me, the dark early hours of a Monday are akin to staring down the barrel of a gun – but instead of a steel shaft, I see the days of the week lined up and advancing toward me. I can’t tell you how many mornings I have begrudgingly left the warm cocoon of my bed, feeling utterly abandoned by the weekend and unarmed/unprepared to meet the week.

That is, until this morning. Something has shifted in my understanding of a small corner of the Gospel message for me, and I’m grateful because I can finally connect the dots between this Earthly life and God’s promise of abundant life made complete in Jesus.

His grace is sufficient for me. Do you believe this? We don’t have to pray that it would be or ask why he hasn’t made it so… it already is. Lord, give us your wisdom to understand in our hearts, deep inside, that when life is hard, when thousands of burdens rail at us from the business side of a new week, what it means to be satisfied and contented with you.

Not with you and coffee. Not with you and a quiet uninterrupted time to pray and think. Not even with you and a desired outcome to a situation. But satisfied with you alone.

Lord, I confess how UNsatisfied I have been with you. I have passed over this verse with a “yeah, but…” and page turn to seek something clearer, easier, more attuned to my “needs”; some other bible verse that gives the secret recipe to Peace and Rest so I can thrive in this hectic world. I have even had well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ tell me point blank that I was anxious and panicking because I failed to trust in you. That made me mad. I honestly thought I did trust you. Well, at least my desire to trust was pure, and it could not be anything else because at the time I had only the amount of faith measured out to me. (You give us exactly what we can handle.) But now, some years later you have suddenly opened up my eyes to understand.

Lord, show us that we are already equipped with all that is needed to walk confidently through the day, doing good and seeking your face constantly. It took a very confusing detour to arrive at this conclusion, and although I know the winding path will keep on going, we pause today to praise you in this discovery, and like the biblical fathers, build an altar on the side of the road here to mark the place where we finally understood your grace really is all we need.

Archives · Personal thoughts

Study with me – This is the Gospel

Good morning friends,

As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t do it all and don’t have it all together. Every day I punish myself with guilt for not being able to take my life by the throat and make it what I imagine it should be. And on top of that, it’s Monday – which intensifies the need to set the entire week off on a good foot.

But I can’t do it all on my own. I need grace from the outside in, but I also need to give grace from the inside out.

What am I talking about? I want to write original content for you, reader. I want to create beautiful things in Jesus’s name. I want to put everything I have into this work of my dreams. But ticking clocks, household chores, waking babies, and full-time work preoccupy my mind and energy. Limits.

The poor widow felt this too.  Luke 21: 

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

This is important: She gave out of her poverty, not because she was trying to compete with what others were able to give, but because her heart desired to honor God.

Does my heart really desire to honor God? Then what I can do, he will accept and cherish.

 


I’ll be going through This is the Gospel by She Reads Truth study for the next 14 days. Each day’s reading is available for free here. You can also download the app here for iOS and here for Android 

I hope you will join me and find rest in the Good News of GRACE. Love you, friends!

 

Archives · Christian Living

In the palm of His hand

I recently met a woman whose exhaustion and loneliness was written on her face. She exuded defeat, though for the sake of her two children she tried to hold it together. A single mom of teenagers chain smoked vigorously throughout the day and smiled without really smiling. Something about her stopped me in my tracks.

Not being a naturally outgoing person, I might have walked past her on an ordinary evening. But in this moment I felt utterly compelled to walk up to her and… I don’t know what. I had never met her before, and I had no idea of what I would say. I just knew somehow that I was supposed to go over to her.

Luckily, I had an excellent ice breaker in my arms – my little daughter. She tends to attract attention wherever she goes. All manners of strangers reach out to touch her, from grisly biker dudes at the gas station, to the grandma standing in the grocery check-out line. For some reason a baby is a safe buffer; no one can feel intimidated or threatened when an adorable little one is around.

It was night time and getting dark. Many families and friends sat in groups talking near the campfire, but this woman sat on her own aloof and glassy-eyed. I could feel her sadness as we spoke. She told me that she wished she could hold the baby but, on account of being drunk, she would not. I thanked her for that and promised she could hold her in the morning. “Thank you for coming to talk to me,” she said.

Even the darkness couldn’t hide that slight quiver in her voice. What she didn’t know is that the infant whom she so desired to hold and cuddle, was currently wearing a onesie with the prophetic words of Isaiah scripted across the front: “God has you in the palm of His hand.” That she prohibited herself from reaching out due to her current state of inebriation was not lost on me.

This word of Isaiah’s is part of a passage where God comforts his people, reminding them of His promise to save them and give them an inheritance that will never spoil.

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,

   the Lord has forgotten me.”

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast

   and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget,

   I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

   your walls are ever before me…

“Though you were ruined and made desolate

   and your land laid waste,

now you will be too small for your people,

   and those who devoured you will be far away.

Isaiah 49:14-16, 19 NIV

Now days later she rests heavy on my heart because this is only one example of a person who feels her desperate need for redemption but either cannot or will not reach out and receive it because she believes she must first redeem herself to be accepted. Friends, this is not so!

Jesus promises an abundant life (John 10:10). And that promise of abundance is not delayed. Jesus is not just assuring us of some vague, future eternal life in Heaven with God. He’s talking about a present-tense, immediate abundance of life, today! Something we can take hold of that right here and now, just as we are: ruins and all.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8 NLT

Jesus didn’t wait until all the people repented and acknowledged him. Even his own disciples ran away and denied him in his hour of need. No, he stayed on that cross to finish the work, of taking our deserved punishment so that anyone could reach out and grab that bundle of joy.

This is the Good News: That through declaring Jesus as Lord and believing in Him, we may be welcomed into the family of God, to love and be loved without fear.

“But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am…”

1 Corinthians 15:10 MSG

For prayer, journaling, or meditation:

  • Prayerfully re-read Isaiah 49:14-16, 19
  • How would you respond to a friend who believes he/she has to earn their way into God’s good favor?
  • Can you think of a time when you have purposely held back from approaching God? How did you end up going back to Him? (If you haven’t yet, what is causing you to stay away?)

 

Archives · Christian Living · Personal thoughts

Leaning into Trust and Constant Prayer

To be honest, I am still seeking a direction and vision for where I want to take this blog. I don’t particularly want to make it a self-indulgent place where I spill my guts, but I feel somewhat indebted to share what I’ve been up to, and how God has worked for, in and through me over the past year. He has been pleased to introduce two major themes to the forefront of my heart.

The first is Trust.

On August 24, 2017, in what cannot be anything other than an act of God I providently discovered that my blood pressure had suddenly rocketed up to 197/95, and refused to come down. I was at 31 weeks and 6 days of my pregnancy, just about 8 weeks shy of the due date. After about 4 hours of steady attempts to bring down my blood pressure to non-life-threatening levels, it turned out that the safest thing was to deliver the baby immediately. And so my little girl Lydia Brienne was born at 9:56 pm, well formed, perfect, and tiny. Due to being premature she spent 2 full months in the NICU, and we her parents faithfully visited every single day, driving back and forth the 15-odd miles to the hospital. It seemed like an eternity to live day by day, rejoicing with each half ounce gained and weeping from frustration of not being able to breastfeed or be there with her.

But God was so good to us – he provided financially, emotionally, spiritually, through family and friends, some of whom we had never even met. I can’t sum up the whole experience in one truncated post, nor do I desire to; there were so many things that happened that deserve attention (postpartum being a big one). However I will say for now that it’s much easier to stand back and see God’s hand moving even in the pain and hardships as we approach baby’s first birthday. In the moment it was hard to appreciate. God provided ample comfort in the form of loving people – nurses, doctors (basically all hospital staff) who lovingly cared for my baby when I couldn’t, church family who prayed, loved on us, and fed us for several weeks after my operation and once the baby came home, family and friends who visited and gave us the space we craved for processing.

The second has been Prayer.

Each year I make the attempt to start at the beginning in my One Year Bible (no judgement, I haven’t made it perfectly, but it’s more than nothing!). But this year I replaced that with a vow to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Before I began to cultivate a constant attitude of prayer, I will be absolutely honest – I found prayer to be boring, time consuming and not amounting to much. I considered it to be a last-ditch effort rarely bring results. That has changed.

I began small, a little prayer said for something that worried or bothered me as I stood in line at the store, or while I did monotonous chores like washing dishes. It was awkward at first, and felt a little silly. But as I did it more I found that more often than not that one little prayer would turn into another and another, longer ones, leading to more heartfelt worship. Prayer has a snowball effect where once I get started it is difficult to stop.

I’m still learning, but the combination of these two ongoing lessons has created an incredible peace that I am staying rooted in Jesus.

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Life update

Hi friends! It’s been a long and unexpected hiatus but a day hasn’t gone by since my last post that I haven’t thought about this blog.

I have continued to write, of course, because I am a compulsive writer. But for a long time now I have secretly wondered why I blog. Before my abrupt absence from the blogosphere I was feeling like my work didn’t matter. Why did I spend so much time writing on scripture for an unseen audience that may or may not care that I pour my heart into these articles (amateur as they are)?

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:10-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Oh that’s right – It’s not about me.

I feel like the Lord has been teaching my heart so many wonderful things in the past year which I will get into but thanks to the encouragement of a sweet friend and the ever-growing pull on my heart that this is my calling, I return once again to share.

But this time I want it to be different. I’d like to feel I’m writing to friends who I love and who love me. Even though I may not know you I am deeply compelled to share my ups and downs in faith, what I’m learning, and how I’m navigating the tough questions of life as a young woman in 2018 and beyond.

Even as I’m writing this sentence, incredible peace overflows in my heart, reassuring me that I’m inside God’s will. So I’ll move forward in confidence, no matter how foolish it may seem to the world.

Archives · Christian Living · Personal thoughts

I’m dreaming of a [realistic] Christmas

Why does television still boast the gold standard of the perfect Christmas?  Family (who by the way, actually want to be together) gathered around a beautiful tree, everyone laughing and sharing hot cocoa, and giving each other either a new car or expensive jewelry. Every time I see it I can’t help but go, Psh, Yeah right!

Reality check: Only God knows how many people will feel the sting of a lonesome Christmas devoid of peace. It’s just a painful reminder of what is lacking.

And each year, medication is taken in the form of Christmas movies, sweets, shopping, and tons of eggnog help to distract from and numb the pain of reality. All we need, we tell ourselves, is “to get through the holidays”.

But we were formed by God for perfection. Our hearts were meant to live in a perfect world. That’s why we will never be able to find peace anywhere else but in God himself. Christmas as we see it in commercials doesn’t have it. Rather:

 

 

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8

God sent Jesus to be born here, to live a sinless life, and then to die on behalf of us. That we might repent and turn toward God, praising and glorifying Him. But how can we do that when we have so many confusing messages turning our heads this way and that?

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does.

If you are struggling with the idea of another [insert adjective here] Christmas you’re not alone. There is a God who is Good and True. Your very existence and design was His idea and he is enormously proud of His work. His right hand is extended even now, to gift you with a kind of peace that will never allow you to hunger or thirst for the things that rot and rust (like a Toyota Christmas commercial). He will offer Living Water and Bread of Life that will keep you full and satisfied forever.

Receive that gift and watch it transform your heart. The gratitude of salvation causes hope, which is an ever-leaning upon God’s promises. The more we take His promises as unshakable truth in our life, the more we will witness His work in our lives. And that’s an expectation you can rely upon.