Friday, October 21, 2011

A New Perspective

Tuesday night our church had a women's ministry dinner. It was a great time of fellowship, and I enjoyed getting to know some of the lovely ladies from our church. After dinner one of the sweet ladies gave a devotional about Jeremiah 29.

I think the first thing that comes to mind when I hear Jeremiah 29 is verse 11:
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (NLT)
I have probably heard this verse at least a thousand times, but I'm not sure I had ever heard what came before verse 11. This is what my sweet friend detailed at our dinner. Because I really felt like God was speaking to me through her, I wanted to share with all of you.

Jeremiah 29 is a letter written from Jeremiah to the Israelites who have been exiled to Babylon. The Israelites weren't happy about being in Babylon. They didn't think it was the place they were supposed to be; they wanted to go back home to Jerusalem. Then they get a letter from Jeremiah....

Jeremiah 29:4-7
This is what the Lord of Heaven's Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: "Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare." (NLT)

God is telling the people to settle down and go about their normal everyday lives. He wants them to make Babylon home and invest in it because that is where He wants them to be. In verses 8 and 9 God warns the Israelites not to listen to false prophets who were telling them that they would only be in Babylon for a short time. Then we come to verses 10-14
This is what the Lord says: "You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you, " says the Lord. "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land."

Seventy years is a long time! Some of the Israelites would never make it back to Jerusalem, but what does God say? He says "I have a plan! Trust me; I am only looking out for your good!"

My sweet friend also shared this poem...

Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability- to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip- to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. 
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would have never met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there awhile and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.

While this poem is specifically about having a special needs child, I feel that the overall analogy of Italy and Holland can be used in life in general. It's like the Israelites...Babylon was their Holland- not what they planned or what they thought was best, but what God had planned for them. I know in some aspects of my life I have Holland and not Italy, Babylon and not Jerusalem.

When I went to pharmacy school, Jason and I had already been dating for a year. I knew he was the man I wanted to marry, but I had to get through school first. For the four years of pharmacy school I planned to have a great job before graduation and of course to marry Jason as soon as possible after graduation and start my life as a pastor's wife. And of course Jason and I would have our own place, a nice place. All plans of Jerusalem/Italy. As graduation neared Jason and I were facing the possibility of getting married and neither of us being employed. We faced the facts and decided it would be best for us to live in the basement at my parents' house until we could get on our feet. Sounds a lot like Babylon/Holland to me! 

Jason and I are settling in Babylon/Holland, and God has blessed us and provided for us. I was able to find a job even if it is just part time, and Jason has managed to stay busy with construction work. God has always, always provided for us! I know that we are exactly where he wants us right now, and I trust fully in His plan for our lives. I refuse to miss out on his blessings because I am focused on what might have been.

Are you in Babylon or Holland in your life? Take heart! The Lord has a better plan than we could ever imagine!

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

Monday, October 10, 2011


Sunday after church we went to see the movie Courageous. Jason and I had already seen it, but I wanted Charles and Mom and Dad to see it too. It is an amazing movie with such a great story and message. It is geared toward fathers and fatherhood, but I believe anyone could learn something important and life-changing from the movie.

Some of the things I love about the movie:

1. It does not glamorize the Christian life. The men in this movie and their families face challenges, tragedies, and difficult decisions. God never promised that as a Christian our lives would be easy; He only promised that He would be with us always. Trusting God through our difficult times will only bring us closer to Him.
1 Peter 4:12-13
"Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad- for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world." (NLT)

2. It shows how God works in mysterious ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and only He knows what is best. Something we might look at as terrible or tragic, He can make into something amazing and something that brings Him all the glory.
Isaiah 55:8
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." (NLT)

3. It teaches us that as Christians we are held to a higher standard. We are responsible for our own actions. When we know what is right that is what we must do!
James 1:22-24
"But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in the mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it." (NLT)

4. The movie clearly outlines the good news of the gospel!
We are all sinners and deserve judgement from God who is holy and righteous. Because God loves us so incredibly much He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for all of our sins. Jesus paid our debt and took the judgement for us! Jesus made a way for us to be reconciled to our creator, God. All we have to do is accept His gift of grace and salvation and surrender our lives completely to Him!
Romans 6:23
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (NLT)

5. The movie also teaches us that we were made to be courageous!
The definition of courageous is "not deterred by danger or pain; brave". God calls us to be courageous- standing firm in the midst of all circumstances. The only way we can truly be courageous is by relying on the strength and power of God. 
2 Timothy 1:7
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (NLT)

These are just a few of the lessons from the movie, Courageous. My prayer after this movie is that God would help me be courageous for Him. The only way that is possible is to bow to Him. I want to end this post with a line from the Casting Crowns song in the movie...

"The only way we'll ever stand is on our knees with lifted hands; Lord, make us courageous!"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Much Needed Vacation

Last week was very busy with work, so I didn't get a chance to write about our vacation to Destin, Florida the week before! It was definitely a much needed vacation for us. Sometimes it is nice to just get away and not have to worry about anything for a few days.

We had great weather! There was only one day that it was rainy and dreary all day.

Views from our room

We did all our normal vacation things: lay by the pool, lay at the beach, jump waves in the ocean, eat seafood for dinner every night, go shopping, and see movies!

We found this coral at a souvenir shop. 

We couldn't believe it was over $2500!!
Laying out at the beach... there were lots of birds hanging out by us.

We ate breakfast out a few of the days we were there also! Breakfast is my favorite meal :)

The Donut Hole

The Pancakery
We love having seafood for dinner each night!

The Crab Trap, our favorite!

Bubba Gump is the new place in town

Jason posing with the Forrest Gump shoes, briefcase, and box of chocolates!

Dewey Destin's


We saw the movies The Debt and The Help

Both movies were great! I loved being able to see The Help after just finishing the book. I recommend the book and the movie!

We watched the sunset...

Jason and I also celebrated our fourth month wedding anniversary during our trip

Heart in the sand

We were sad to have to come home, but Daisy was very happy to see us. We were happy to see her too!