Down by the sea

It’s been 2am podcasts, reading a devo on my phone, or a verse here and there the past couple of weeks since Elizabeth arrived! This afternoon she was good and milk drunk so I warmed up this morning’s coffee, grabbed a couple of gingersnaps from the cookie jar, and snuggled under the fur blanket in our living room. There were floors to be cleaned, laundry to do, people to call… but I just needed a few minutes. Pippa curled up beside me, eventually snoring, and I laid into Mark 4, where I had left off about three weeks ago.

seaside wide high definition wallpaper for desktop background download seaside images
I’m trying to revel in quality, not quantity these days. Mulling over a single verse or portion, rather than trying to digest a whole buffet of verses.  Asking myself, “what does this show me about Jesus, myself, my sin, his redemption….?” I’d rather walk away from 10 minutes with the Lord and have Him speak to me in the short quiet, than ravage through an hour of reading and walk away, patting myself on the back for doing my duty as my spirit remains unfilled.

As I reread Mark 4, asking myself, “What does this show me about Jesus?” I stopped and mulled over the first verse… “Again, he began to teach beside the sea. A very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.”

First off, why did Mark even bother putting in this minute detail? I let myself envision what this would look like…. hundreds of people gathering around Jesus as he edged closer to the tickling of the cold sea water.  Jesus wasn’t one to have a ‘bubble’ or not want people close, so why, I asked myself, did HE get in a boat away from the people? Why didn’t he just have his disciples push people back like security at a U2 concert? Back away, give him some room, let him speak people.

I quieted my heart, and this is what came to me… because Jesus responds to our hunger and always moves for OUR benefit. He never pushes us away, or makes our desiring seem like an unnecessary thing. He moves. He gets where we can hear him, see him, learn from him, in whatever way is best. And immediately my heart felt silenced with His love…

Sometimes when we feel he is moving away from us, the Lord is actually getting ready for us to see him better. Clearer. More profoundly than we ever have before.

And those few moments I had with God as Lizzie napped was all my soul needed for today. Manna for today. As we speak, she is still napping, the laundry is spinning, and my coffee is now cold. Oh well. My heart is full 🙂

 

 

 

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A new adventure begins… we’re having a BABY!

Many of you will have already seen our post on Facebook (which, by the way, we were blown away with the love and support!)…

But I had to announce here, on this little virtual creative space of mine where I share the joys and the growths of life… that we are having a baby, and due March 20, 2016! Seeing that little one kick and turn on the ultrasound was such a surreal and beautiful moment… I could’ve stared all day!

Baby Lupul

This puts me at 13 weeks, so just into the second trimester. My mid-section is thickening and I’m starting to get past the nauseous stage, thank goodness! End of October we will find out if it’s a boy or girl… we just want to know and not call it ‘it’ anymore! I’m such a planner, and I figure the more I can be prepared before baby arrives the better. I’ve started a Pinterest board for nursery ideas, and our end table in the living room is several books high of “The Baby Whisperer” and “What to Expect when Expecting” kind of books that I’ve borrowed. With so many family and friend who’ve already had kids, I feel like I can glean so much from others!

We are ever so grateful for this little one, and would love it if you would pray for us and baby over the coming months!

Love,

Lani & Troy

Monday Minute: Prayer: It’s not about you. But it will change you.

I recently listened to a message on prayer by Timothy Keller, in which he talked about praying the Psalms. How the book of Psalms shows us all the different ways we can pray and how we can understand God’s heart even more through. Keller questions, has the Spirit of God really come to live and reside within us and transform us, if we aren’t drawn to pray? Troy and I are both reading his latest book, Prayer, and it’s now absolutely on the list of must reads!

I don’t know about you, but I can sit down to do a block of writing or prayer and suddenly that thing I had forgotten earlier now comes to mind. I get an idea for something that I am certain can be found on Pinterest. Or our budget and grocery list suddenly floods my mind. Yep. Distractions are everywhere, and they’re one of those pesky little things you can find without even looking for them.

quote-to-be-a-christian-without-prayer-is-no-more-possible-than-to-be-alive-without-breathing-martin-luther-king-jr-102531It seems like it should be a given. Simple. A no-brainer. As believers, we should be praying. Prayer is the gateway to which we really come to know God, and come to understand the identity we have in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

For many years, prayer for me was more something I checked off a list. I felt good if I did 20 minutes. An hour made me feel really good. Because prayer was about making me feel like a good Christian, and that because of my time invested, God would give me what I asked for. I’m saddened to say that at times, seasons of increased time in prayer was more out of desperation than desire to KNOW Him better. But the last 2-3 years, God has been refining me, my motivations. Ah, convicted!

I feel drawn. Thirsty. I want to know my Father’s heart deeper, and now I feel surrounded by good teaching on prayer to guide me. So, I just want to share with you!

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian neuroscientist, says that it has been found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer over an 8-week period can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan. Time in God’s presence actually changes us.

Two things I have drawn from recent listening and reading on prayer that might help you in your quest to drawer closer to God and understand His heart more clearly:

  • Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, formal, or long to be heard. Matthew 6:7-9 shows that it isn’t about performance, length, or comparison. Which shows the motivation behind our praying is actually more important than what we say or how we say it. Jesus gives us a guideline in that chapter through the Lord’s prayer, that I think is amaaaaazing! Timothy Keller also preaches on this and it’s helped me understand where my prayer life was so lacking. (some parentheses are my own interpretation of each line, as well as what he teaches)

Our Father in heaven (starts with knowing our relationship/adoption with God as our Father)

Hallowed be thy name (adoration, worship)

Thy Kingdom come (God’s rule sovereignty)

Your will be done (God’s purpose)

On earth as it is in heaven (pray big!)

Give us this day our daily bread (provision, needs)

And forgive us our debts (repentance)

As we have forgiven our debtors (mercy)

And lead us not into temptation (deliverance, strength)

But deliver us from evil (victory!)

Notice the way Jesus taught us to pray begins with knowing our Father and His nature, and through that we have the ability to worship, ask, repent, and walk in victory!

  • I need to know my Father’s heart, as that affects every other area of my life. And a good place to start, is the Psalms. I’ve been reading in Psalms, so now I have started a part of my journal where I write down characteristics of God as they jump out at me from chapter to chapter. For example, “He guides us with counsel” (Ps 73:24), “He is a sun and a shield” (Ps 84:11), or “He is good and his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps 100:5).

For me, and likely for you too, when I write things down, and then think and meditate on them, they go from my head to my heart. Timothy Keller says, “Prayer is not merely a way to get things from God, but a way to get more of God himself. God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.” Because He is a good, good, Father. 🙂

So take these two examples of things I am learning:

*Use the model of the Lord’s prayer as a guide. Prayer is not about reciting a laundry list to meet my needs and get what I want. But it’s ultimately about learning HIM. Yes, we are to ask (Matthew 7:7). But ultimately, when we know God’s heart better, those needs are more freely given into His hands when we do pray.

*Try your own way of writing down and meditating on God’s character. Write it in your phone or journal, or Bible even. Think on it. And let the understanding of the grace and greatness of God really go from your head to your heart. He wants us to KNOW Him!

 

Have a great week! We leave for holidays tomorrow for two weeks…VERY excited!

 

Bookworm: Lewis, Omartian, Voskamp

Does anyone else read more in the winter? I do, and I’ve had some pretty good reads that challenged me lately, so I thought I would share with you. Here’s a few titles and a brief synopsis to maybe get you started on some summer reading (I’m reading a memoir right now so hopefully that’s a little lighter summer reading than my usual! LOL)

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“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity

For me, C.S. Lewis’ books take a little bit to get into, but once I do, I’m hooked. He has such a way with words and explaining theology and the heart of God (in such creative ways as Narnia!), that one can’t help but love his books.

I finally sat down (let’s be honest, I laid down), to read Mere Christianity, probably one of his all-time most popular books. If you ever have trouble breaking down or understanding the Christian faith, Lewis really lays it out well from the meaning of the universe, what Christians believe, to behavior and the trinity. If you’re like me with Lewis, you’ll need to read a chapter or so at a time (very doable), and decipher what he is saying bit by bit. Lewis is not an author you speed-read!

Here’s one bit from the Christian behavior portion where C.S. Lewis lays out how behavior modification is not actually the gospel (love it!)…

….”A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world – and might even be more difficult to save. For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better med of old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders – no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings – may even give it an awkward appearance.”

 

“The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian

Power of a Praying Wife

Stormie lays out chapter by chapter how we as wives do better to pray for our husbands than nag and try to change them. She expresses how much God wants to unite us with our husbands as we put Jesus first. When an issue arises in the marriage that say us as wives don’t like, she suggests we pray about it, before we even communicate our frustration or feelings to our husbands. Time after time, she shares testimonies of how it is the Holy Spirit that moves on hearts, rather than a nagging wife 😉

She covers topics such as “His Emotions”, “His Reputation”, “His Sexuality” and “His Walk”.

I think it’s a book that I will go back to time and time again as Troy and I build a life together. I was able to go through this book with a friend who has been married longer than I, which was such a gift!

 

“One Thousand Gifts” by Anna Voskamp

1000GIFTS

I came across A Holy Experience blog through a post a friend shared on Facebook, sometime last year. Anna is a farmer’s wife in Ontario. As a fellow Canadian, and mother of six, I thought what she had to say about making thankfulness a forefront of our lives was worth investigating.

She shares how, at an early age, she lost her sister in an accident, and how that created a distrust that God was good that followed her for much of her life. Only through digging into the Word and learning to meditate on all of God’s goodness, does Anna come to realize that in everyday life there is SO much to be grateful for.

She starts a journal in which she aims to write out 1000 Gifts and her journey of discovering how good God really is. Eucharisto, the practice of giving thanks, takes over her life and she begins to see the beauty all around her. The goodness. She gives thanks for simple things like “Boys humming hymns, laundry flapping, squeak of old swing swaying, laughter…” and so forth.

I find her to be a very poetic writer. With her descriptive rhetoric, you’ll find yourself wanting to start your own thankfulness journal!

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What are you reading this summer?