Calling

People say that hindsight is 20/20.  I believe that God calls people to specific places for specific times, and all of us have different callings.  It’s funny how I believe that God is in control but sometimes it’s hard to see in the moment how He’s working.  It is so powerful to look back and reflect on what He’s done.  I could go on and on.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about and easier to write about.

When I was in 6th grade they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and they published it under our names in the yearbook.  I said ‘Accountant’.  Funny thing is now I am a Certified Public Accountant.  If you asked me in my senior year of college what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would tell you that I had no idea.  4 years of education.   2 majors and a minor, and I didn’t really know but I would tell you that I wasn’t keen on accounting – seemed boring – and I liked my other major, Spanish, so I thought for the time being I’d pursue that.  A partner at the accounting firm that I interned at thought that I’d become a hippie and not pay social security.  Well that never has been true but it took me a couple years to ‘find myself.’  I’ve been in public accounting for 10 years now.

When I left college I went back to New Jersey and was a Spanish teacher for a couple years.  All throughout college I told people that I thought that I needed to marry a guy from New Jersey.  I guess God had placed that on my heart.  As it turns out I met a guy who grew up a couple blocks away from me but we never met until after college.  This guy is now my husband.  For years in college I felt that I wasn’t going to meet my husband there – I was going to meet him in New Jersey – and that’s exactly what happened.

Fast forward a couple years.  All throughout college my dad marveled at western Pennsylvania, where I went to college.  He liked the culture and the affordability.  He was always looking at houses and showing them to me.  Then when my husband was in the military, especially when he was overseas deployed, we would dream together of owning a home in Pittsburgh.  It helped to have something to look forward to.  We wanted to settle down and start a family in a place where we could afford to buy a good sized home.  For about 3 years we dreamed about this and then it became a reality, and for the past 10 years we’ve now lived in Pittsburgh.

You may say to yourself that you don’t have stories like this but I promise you that if you live by faith in the God of the Bible you will, but more importantly you’ll know that He calls you to know Him.  I’ve been playing this song over and over again recently and it keeps hitting me, and I encourage you to play the YouTube version:

“As You Find Me” by Joel Houston, Matt Crocker & Benjamin Hastings © 2018 Hillsong Music Publishing CCLI: 7124065

VERSE 1: I’ve been strong And I’ve been broken within a moment I’ve been faithful And I’ve been reckless at every bend I’ve held everything together And watched it shatter I’ve stood tall and I have crumbled In the same breath

VERSE 2: I have wrestled And I have trembled toward surrender Chased my heart adrift And drifted home again Plundered blessing Till I’ve been desperate to find redemption And every time I turn around Lord You’re still there

PRE-CHORUS 1: I was found Before I was lost I was Yours Before I was not Grace to spare For all my mistakes And that part just wrecks me

CHORUS: And I know I don’t deserve this kind of love Somehow this kind of love is who You are It’s a grace I could never add up To be somebody You still want But somehow You love me as You find me

VERSE 3: Who am I To think Your glory needs my praises But if this borrowed breath is Yours Lord Take it all You are faithful and You are gracious And I’m just grateful To think You don’t need a single thing And still You want my heart

PRE-CHORUS 2: I was found Before I was lost I was Yours Before I was not You wear the scars For all my mistakes And that part just wrecks me

TAG: Your love’s too good to leave me here

BRIDGE: If You want my heart I won’t second guess ‘Cause I need Your love More than anything I’m in I’m Yours Your love’s too good to leave me here Your love’s too good to leave me

 

I Have a Dream…

Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr died decades ago, but yesterday our nation again continued to remember him. The national holiday day is on or about his birthday – celebrating his birth – although the holiday didn’t exist nationally until he died. He had a dream not fulfilled in his lifetime, but he had hope and more importantly the Holy Spirit giving him the words to say: “Only light can drive away darkness…”

This year for the first time I read a devotional by one of his daughters, Rev Dr Bernice King: “Cultivating a Heart of Mercy.” I was reminded in this devotional not only of the need for mercy, but that God in His mercy has given us as believers in Jesus the Holy Spirit, and that true mercy is given to others in the power of the Holy Spirit.

year-end musings

Studies show that having more money doesn’t make most people happier. In fact many times it has the opposite effect. Money often times doesn’t provide the safety and happiness that we long for. People and experiences, many things that cannot be acquired with money, are priceless.

With the year-end upon us many people are trying to strategize – last-minute charitable donations, business supply purchases, retirement contributions, etc are in the to-do list.

What if we constantly dwelled on the promise of heaven, for believers in Christ, and longed for it above all else? What would happen if we who have much lived as if we were poor, and gave our money to help others?

Giving shouldn’t be dependent on recognition received or tax write-offs although they sure can boost our feelings of satisfaction – or do they?

As I ponder how to spend the last day of 2018 I pray to be a good steward of the gifts given to me, and to store up treasures in heaven.

Happy New Year,

Kristen

Embracing Change

Yesterday we had a National Day of Mourning for George H. W. Bush.  This change brought tears to many, but I would venture to say that it brought joy to celebrate the life of a man who was respected by many.  Pictures like this one below flooded Facebook – celebrating a couple that many remember fondly.

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Do we celebrate life and embrace change?  Or do we often get stuck, afraid of what lies in the future?  The Bushes had a lot of difficult changes in their marriage – one of which was the death of their daughter at age 3 to leukemia.  George W. Bush, his son, spoke at the memorial service of how his father prayed everyday to God Almighty when he dealt with this very difficult, very sad event.  This was a change that no one wanted, but it obviously made George H. W. Bush and his family members into the people that they are.

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On a lighter note, the changing of the seasons is upon us – it’s COLD here in great state of Pennsylvania!  Although it was pleasantly 60+ degrees this past Sunday!  We haven’t had much snow but my daughters love every snow flake that falls.  They dance and spin around in the driveway with the slightest wind and snow that comes down, playing with the leaves and snow dusting.  They LOVE the seasons.

I would say that as much as we try to keep our kids comfortable, they thrive on change.  Starting elementary school…making new friends…visiting a new museum or amusement park…  They are sponges and they are learning and growing.  Let’s not stifle them out of fear or selfishness.  I want to keep my kids the way they are right now – I have a hard time imagining my 4 year-old in kindergarten.  I want to enjoy spending time with my 7 year-old when she comes home from school, rather than setup play dates.  BUT I’m trying to embrace these changes.  I challenge you – and I challenge myself – to embrace change and ENJOY the season we find ourselves in.

 

What is success?

Webster’s dictionary defines success as: “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Its bullet points further elaborate on the definition highlighting the attainment of popularity and/or achieving prosperity.

I would wager to say that most people that attain these bullet points may feel successful for a time, but will not be content. My dad wisely told me once: “it’s not always good to get what you want.” If what you get isn’t meant to satisfy, there will be an emptiness that follows…just like the candy that many kids got this past Halloween – the empty calories don’t provide the necessary nutrition, so we crave more and more. (This is one reason we don’t keep the candy more than a day or two in our house!)

Bringing glory to God and enjoying Him is what many Christians recite as the chief end of man. Does this resonate with you? If not I encourage you to pick up a Bible and read it – if the whole Bible is too daunting, this app is a great place to find answers and topical devotions: You Version Bible App

If you are frustrated with the concept of attaining a goal or success, or have anxiety about the future, I encourage you to find hope and comfort, and an anchor for your soul in Jesus. His love for you will satisfy. You will see His work in your life as success beyond measure.

Anxiety (Defeated)

Do you live with anxiety?  Do you have trouble sleeping?  Do you avoid things because it appears to be less stressful than addressing them?

A couple weeks ago I came home after going out shopping for my birthday with my mom.  The gate to our fence was open and my 4-year-old daughter’s green bike was sitting near it in the driveway.  I was concerned a bit as I thought she was playing with the gate open, but as I walked around the yard I couldn’t find her.  I asked my husband and my dad who were supposed to be watching her, and they thought that the other one was watching her.   I started to panic and we all started running around the house and yard trying to find her.  Not to stereotype middle children, but this little one likes to blend in and apparently LOVES to hide.  This wasn’t the first time that she hid in a corner of our sunroom (that’s where I found her).  I was relieved and prayed aloud thanking God that she was safe, and the smile on her face showed me that she had found some sort to of thrill out of this hide & seek game that she created.  Needless to say we play a lot of hide & seek games now to get this out of her system!  It was scary.

I was quite upset for a couple weeks – I had a hard time sleeping getting over the situation.  When something traumatic happens psychologists say that it’s important to not stay on ‘high alert’ – it’s important to recover as our body needs to relax and rest.  It’s important to talk about what happened, face the fear, look for joy in other things, etc.  My husband and I went away for the weekend recently, and I started to wonder if something would happen to the kids while we were away (mostly concerned that it would be of their own doing!).  I had a hard time sleeping that night we were away, but I prayed with my husband and started feeling a sense of gratitude – that my in-laws could spend time with their grandkids.  Immediately after this I got a peace and went to sleep.  It’s amazing what gratitude can do!

In my Bible Study we are going through The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp and the book talks about how the average human has 25,500 days in their life.  Do we want to waste our life living in anxiety?  The Bible says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6.  If it’s a command, then isn’t it possible with God’s help?  Ann Voskamp lost her sister at a young age in a tragic circumstance.  She struggled with anxiety much of her life growing up.  In her book she propels that anxiety can be defeated by being broken before the Lord.  I’ve seen this in my own life.  By doing this He will provide opportunities for gratitude and healing, and by helping others in service and obedience to Him, we will find true joy.

-Kristen

September 11th

This past week we remembered the tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001.  I remember where I was that day – eating breakfast in my college cafeteria.  I saw people crowding around the TV in the lobby and I went out, horrified to see what had happened.  Classes were canceled.  The next day we had a special chapel service to pray, read Scripture and to talk about what happened.  On September 11th, 2001 we were scared, sad and a variety of other emotions – at least most of us were.  I went to the chapel to pray and since I knew some people who were in the twin towers, in NYC, etc. I was asked to read Scripture at the special chapel service on September 12th.   One passage I remember: Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”  Reading the rest of the chapter is quite provoking too.  When the physical, even in great cities like New York, fails we become shaken – the God of the Bible provides a strong foundation to get through the tragedies of life.

Some of my friends at college did not react overtly emotionally to September 11th like I did.  They didn’t have the same connection to NYC (or Flight 93 or the Pentagon), and some were dealing with other issues (i.e. a sick family member & new marriage engagement) and wanted to block out something sad like what happened on September 11th.  Looking back I understand why they behaved this way, but I hope that now looking back they are able to have compassion on the tragedy that took place.  It’s hard to process tragedy.

For the first couple years out of college, I went on to teach at a high school and I taught the son of a man that died in one of the twin towers – I taught him just a year after the horrific event took place.   He knew God, and had such an amazing peace to him.  I also attended church with a man who escaped from a 90+ floor of one of the towers – he ended up on the front of the London Times.  On the cover of the London Times he was covered in soot.  He told me that his son living in London was shocked to see his dad on the cover.  It was a miracle that he escaped.  So many stories of miraculous escapes and heroes from that time.

To this day I still have a pair of socks that haven’t worn out – I’ve had them for over 20 years.  It’s amazing to me, but it may seem strange to you that I comment on my socks until you see them in this picture:

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It may not be a big deal to some that I still have them, but I knew it was for a reason when my daughter in second grade learned about what happened on September 11th for the first time this year in school.  It took me by surprise as I thought she was too young to process such a horrifying concept.  Then I showed her these socks.  I think by looking at them she realized that the event that happened was real, but it was also amazing that I still had these socks after all these years.  I told her that God was bigger than any tragedy.  She told me that God uses tragedies caused by human sin to point us to Jesus.  It was amazing what God worked in her heart, so I wanted to share it with you.  Hope you find peace in what truly brings peace – don’t settle for the imitation.

– Kristen