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joy is the realest reality,

the fullest life,

and joy is always given,

never grasped.

God gives gifts and i give thanks and i unwrap the gift given: joy.

***

Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts

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{again, still soaking up Ann Voskamp! May you unwrap the gift of joy today, unwrap it with thanksgiving, my friends! the photos are from a recent trip to a “beach” on the Chesapeake Bay.} 

 

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yesterday i was running around frantic and breathless all day. it was like time was just slipping through my fingers and i had so much i “HAD” to do. i was stressed through the roof!

do you ever have those days? at one point i was driving on my way to one of the many errands and i was thinking of why i feel so overwhelmed. seriously?! i mean, i’m doing a little contract work and i’m trying to study but overall i should have plenty of time. how is life still overwhelming me? how do i still feel like i can’t catch up?!

then a little whisper, ” I’ve missed you. Do you have time for Me?”

yikes. how is it that when we get busy we put aside our quiet times with the Lord? shouldn’t this be EVEN MORE important when i’m busy? don’t i claim that HE is my main purpose in life?

then i started thinking about how my “word of the year” is JOY and i started to wonder where my joy is? how have i lost focus on my pursuit of God’s joy? how is it that life is seems to be just sweeping over me and taking over every little thought and moment?

sigh.

i’ve really missed Him too. i’ve realized that since i’ve been so overwhelmed with little things of this moment my heart just isn’t at peace. i’m not feeling “right” if you know what i mean. so this morning i picked up Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts again. {seriously, have you all read this? if not, go get it RIGHT NOW. just two chapters in and i’m convicted and inspired. it’s beautiful}

this morning i was quickly reminded that for true joy in this life comes from real thanksgiving.

“Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.  Isn’t that the catalyst of all my sins?” (pg.15)

um yes. more days than not it’s hard to be grateful. i mean, maybe i’ll say i’m thankful for something but in my head i’ve usually made a list of everything else that could be better…

“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning -now; wherever, meaning-here. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience…The only place we need to see before we die is this place of seeing God here and now.” (pg 33)

what i’m reminded of this morning is that thanksgiving is the beginning of the joy that i’m seeking. of that seeking feeling that my life is so overwhelming but i’m missing something! of the peace that surpasses all understanding. my focus is wrong. and it all starts with thanksgiving.

“the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.”

Psalm 50:23

thanksgiving =  glorifying God = real joy

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may we all find moments today to notice God and to be thankful.  i’ll sure be thinking about this a lot today. i’m thankful for so much but i forget to think about it, ya know?!  to actually thank God for each little thing. really, i DO want to glorify God with my life! with my every day. even the crazy days i’ve had lately! to start that, i need to remember to be thankful.

have any of you had those kinds of days? have you noticed that your Joy is missing when you’re ungrateful or there’s a lack of gratefulness too? how do you remember to be thankful?

xo-kimberly renee

ps- in my “free printables” you can print off your own copy of my Joy painting above. tape it to the mirror or hang it by the front door to remind yourself to seek His joy! 

IMG_2327_vintagei’ve never really “failed” at something that i tried really hard at before. sure, i fail at certain exercise attempts or keeping a strict diet… but have i ever failed a class? a test? nope.

so that’s why a little letter last week rocked me. it had big words, without explanation, typed in very unsympathetic font: FAIL.

ack. i failed? how horrible! how embarrassing. i actually felt like i had sinned.

Husbuddy said that was silly, we all fail. we’re not perfect. it never says, “thou shall not fail in the bible”.

see, i know that. i know i’m not perfect. actually, i know that i’m pretty mediocre at pretty much everything i do. i was never on top of my class or anything, but i’ve always at least PASSED. even when i thought i had “failed” my freshmen french class in college, i still got a C {oh the horror}! i was totally embarrassed to tell my parents, and i had all sorts of excuses lined up-like my degree was time consuming, i had taken too many credits that semester, i had visited the teacher’s office hours every week!  but that C still hung over my head and i was ashamed.

this time, i have no excuse. i paid a lot of money to take a test, that i need to pass in order to finish my architecture education… and i FAILED.  and i feel shame and horror at the same time.

but then i hear a whisper.

i hear a whisper that says to me, peace. you need ME.

i was reminded. i NEED God more than anything. i can do NOTHING without Him. i will always fail without Him. in my head, sometimes i may think that i can do it myself…i can work hard enough, study long enough, push myself hard enough, almost that i can save myself if i just work hard. but God gently reminds me, through a letter with big ugly words, that i need Him more than anything else.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”

Psalm 73:26

does that take away my frustration with myself? not really. but it does take away my shame. and i am humbled. and i am thankful that God reminds me over and over and over that i need Him.

we all NEED Him. we will all fail without Him. can i get an amen?

xo-kimberly renee

There are only a couple more days left in July to order your very own Custom Verse Sign!! The funds made from these signs will go to support our church’s sister church in Russia!

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See this post for more information. Thanks friends and don’t forget to order by the end of July!

psalm 62-8

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols”

1 John 5:21

this is how John ends his first letter. just that sentence. no fancy farewell or sweet hopes of seeing the letter-receivers like Paul. nope. just one more command to his readers. it’s like he wants this thought provoking phrase to be the last word. the last thing we remember from his letter. and i find that fascinating.

he calls his readers “little children” too. some people might have been offended to be considered children by someone they respected and liked. but to me, it reminds me that i am a little child in my faith too, i’m still learning and growing in my relationship with God. so i accept that my name is child. Child of God.

but then he says, “keep yourselves from idols.” i think most of us today read that and skim right over. don’t really think about it. what idols is he talking about? the kind of historic figures that people made from wood or from stone? no, i don’t think so. i think he is talking about anything…ANYTHING that takes our focus from Jesus. that we think about more than Jesus. that we focus on when we have nothing else to think about. anything we worry about. dream about. anything we can’t live without.

at church, we are going through Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life series. Last week, we went through the video about idols.  Tim Keller says this:

“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

“…A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.”

close your eyes for a minute. think about loosing everything in your life. what if you lost your family? your friends? your job? your house? your money? what of all those things, do you fear losing the most? what do you think would make life impossible to go on if you lost it?

yikes, things pop into your head too? it’s so hard to think that sometimes the things that we love the most, that are actually gifts from God, can turn into our idols. when really, we should be turning to God in thanksgiving for those gifts, with an open hand, knowing He could take it all away in a blink of an eye.

as you can tell, i’ve had the message about idols in my head for a couple of weeks. and reading 1 John has reminded me, that i need to pay close attention to my idols… and make sure that i bring them to the Lord in repentance. i’m just like a little child. i need this reminder. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

may you remember John’s parting words today, my friends. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

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whew. this could be a really long story! it’s a story of God’s providence in our lives to bring us to this place. it’s a story  that’s a work in progress.

back in December, scratch that…it starts earlier. back in 2008 Husbuddy applied to go to Seminary… ha, ok, that’s going to make a really long story. and you’ve been around for the seminary part! what you didn’t know, is that originally Husbuddy went to seminary to continue on and do his PHD and then become a professor or teacher. that was what he thought he wanted to do.  but through a couple rather large, life altering events that happened while we were in Princeton, God’s voice was heard in Husbuddy’s life.

God called Husbuddy to preach. to teach and to love His people. to be a Pastor.

whew! at first it was a shock to me.  we moved all the way from Idaho to New Jersey to become a professor! it was still ministry that we felt called to, but to be a professor meant to me to have a stable profession of teaching at a college. {little did i know then… that’s not really a stable job…but that’s what i thought} but then God started to work on my heart. i was reminded of the many times that i’d asked Him to use me, to use us. i was reminded of the very reason i had started dating this man back in 2004…because i had been shown that we could glorify God better together, then we could on our own.  {i had made Husbuddy work pretty hard at pursuing me for a while until God revealed that to me…hee hee} we are a team. i knew that then, i know that now. i don’t necessarily know my part of the “team” here yet, but at the time i just tried not to worry about it.

last year, Husbuddy graduated from Princeton Seminary with his MDiv. Techincally, he could have started looking for a pastor position then. but we felt called to go to the northshore of Boston {read about what i said about that calling last year, here} so that he could study more about how to preach. that’s why we were in Gloucester for year. he graduated in May from Gordon Conwell Seminary with his THM in Preaching.

now, at least theoretically, he knows better how to preach. this was really important to him because he feels that declaring God’s word is one the most important things a pastor does week in and week out… that makes him tremble with fear because God’s word is such a mighty thing! he learned so much this past year, and he is excited to be able to put his theories into practice…

now, back to December…Husbuddy was starting to apply to every pastor position in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church  {or EPC -our denomination} he could find. as most first time pastors do, he got turned down a lot. he didn’t have enough experience! it was ok, i knew that God wouldn’t bring us this far without a plan for our future, but the stress level this winter around our apartment was rather high.

thankfully, Husbuddy is very type A- as in, totally organized and on top of scheduling- so he was very diligent in getting out his resume and information. he kept me informed about which churches said maybe and which ones said no…but honestly they all blurred together in my head. i only kept asking about “the one in Pennsylvania” because at first i was annoyed that he even applied there.

…ok… give me a break. i was annoyed because it was only TWO HOURS away from Princeton, NJ! hadn’t we just left that area? weren’t we wanting to live closer to our families and in a different part of the country? {there are so many reasons i did NOT like NJ} BUT little did i know, two hours away was really a million miles because of how different it is here, that’s a relief :)  but more on that later…

really, my annoyance just goes to show how ignorant i am and how if i really trusted God with my future like i said i did, i wouldn’t have been such a baby. 

anyway, this “church in Pennsylvania” kept in touch pretty regularly. one of the things Husbuddy was most impressed with was that they were prompt and always kept him informed about the next step and what was going on. THIS IS HUGE for my type A man. so many churches completely blew him off and never even responded to his emails or phone calls. that’s one of his biggest pet peeves… so the fact that this church in Pennsylvania was responsive encouraged him.

then one day he got asked to do a skype interview.

after that… he got asked to come down to meet with the church! and they asked me to tag along!

that weekend was an amazing weekend of witnessing God’s providence and peace. it was full of peace because by the end of it we KNEW without a doubt, this was where we belonged. we felt that if we said “no” to this church, we’d be saying “no” to God’s providence.  after that weekend, we KNEW that we belonged there and that God had been working -both in the history of the church and in the history of our few years- to bring us to this place.

***

we moved almost two weeks ago. it feels longer.

we moved with thanksgiving in our hearts and hope in our steps because we were just following the road that has been divinely marked out for us. we are SO thankful and SO humbled that God actually had a plan for our little lives and that He has chosen to show us just a glimpse of how He is working.

we are also so thankful for these amazing people. we have been SO BLESSED you guys! so blessed. i can’t even describe how welcomed and loved we’ve already felt!  we are excited for what these next weeks, months and years will bring with our new family and friends.

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Husbuddy has now been an assistant pastor for 6 days.

that means i have been a pastor’s wife for 6 days. i have no idea what i’m doing in that department, but i figure i better just show up,  love people and God will do the rest. {i have lots of things to talk about here, but we’ll leave that for another day} 

and that’s why we moved to Lancaster, PA.

thanks for reading our story! hopefully the testimony of God’s providence gives hope to you. God IS working in every little detail in our lives. He wants to use us if we will let Him. and guess what, there is peace in that.

xo-kimberly renee

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savoir appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life”

Titus 3:3-7

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“but since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation”
1 Thessalonians 5:8

the imagery in this verse is beautiful. It struck me the other day during my quiet time to break the verse down and think about the parts. do you ever do that? it’s actually a very good exercise…when i actually take the time to do it.

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first part:

“we belong to the day”

not the night. day time is bright and promising after a dark night. Christ is of the day…He is light. He is the light of the world. and we are children of the light!

“let us be sober”

being sober to me, means being level headed and realistic. i’ve never been drunk but i know what it’s like to be drunk on life and to be silly beyond control. to me this is saying, let us have a realistic understanding of what God has done for us. it is exciting and amazing but it should also bring us to our knees in humbleness.

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“put on the breastplate of faith and love”

i find it interesting that this is another place that Paul talks about armor besides the famous Ephesians section. so Paul is stating something in multiple places… it must be important, right?! here he is talking about a breastplate. what does the breastplate do? it protects your body, your chest.

the heart.

a breastplate protects it. it can’t be made of something flimsy or be handmade out of fabric… it is strong. made of metals from the holy mountain.

it is not my own faith and love that I put on to protect my heart… the armor is a gift from God!! it is given to me to protect my heart from being pierced by something. it is made of faith and love to guard my heart with peace.

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“and for a helmet the hope of salvation”

a helmet protects the head… the mind. it keeps the precious skull protected from the lying arrows of the evil one.

again it is not a hope that i can conjure on the inside of my brain… but a piece of armor that goes on the outside.

it is a gift

i have hope not because i make it up… but because salvation is presented to me!

so many days I fail or forget to put on my helmet in the morning before I leave the house. my mind is then so vulnerable and so easily attacked with lies.

when i forget my breastplate my heart is vulnerable. i forget that i am a beloved child of The Light and  i let the arrows of the evil one pierce my heart, cause me pain and i fail to love as i should and to have faith that God is in control.

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it’s interesting to note the very next verse:

“for God has not destined us for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”

the breastplate and helmet are meant to lead me through the battlefield to my salvation and to my Lord. God has a beautiful destiny for me. He has also provided the tools (armor) needed to help me on my way. it is my sober and solemn duty to put on that armor every day.

even especially on days when i think i’m doing ok and i think i can do it on my own. there is no doubt about it… those are the days that i need His armor the most.

can i get an amen?

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“The interesting thing about a heart which concentrates on honoring and thanking God is that it becomes a naturally joyful heart. It becomes resistant to discouragement, negative thinking and cynicism. Nothing is dull or routine to such a heart, everything has value”

Gail MacDonald,

High Call, High Priveledge. pg.181