October 21, 2014

Becoming Childlike

There are days where I'm reminded just how much we adults make this Christian walk and talk complicated. If you want to learn an enormous amount about God's love for you get around kids. Get around lots of kids. And do it frequently.

The greatest joy of teaching is that it's never just a one-way interaction. As much as I think I'm teaching these little ones--though each child is beautifully and wonderfully unique in their own right--they probably end up teaching me astronomically more. They probably will end up teaching me more than any of my adult teachers ever will in the long run.

Days like these I catch myself just marveling at how people so little, so innocent, so inexperienced can be such incredible teachers themselves. And they don't even know it.

Sometimes I want to just hold them in my arms and whisper, "You have no, no, no idea how wondrous you actually are! Your little mind cannot even begin to fathom it." Each one of these are precious and valuable.

Matthew 18 records a remarkable teaching moment:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (verses 1-4)
Clearly there's a difference between being childlike and acting childish (which we're exhorted to put aside as we age--only children are garnered with that kind of behavior for a short while), but here, Jesus is saying to become the former--become childlike.

Children understand and accept things at face value that as adults we loose over time, over the experiences we collect in a fallen world. Children trust. Children get excited over small things--they see the wonderment that abounds all around. Children are rather resilient, and haven't grown as weary yet. They laugh, giggle, create without concern of someone judging their handicraft; they dance and sing without care. If they fall, once their parents pick them back up, they'll keep trying whatever crazy idea they were at before. Children know when they're loved--it's written in their smiles, woven into all that they do.

And this is what God wants us to become to be great! He wants us to trust him. He wants us to get excited and be astounded at the wonder of His creation. He wants us to rest in Him, and not grow weary. He wants us to laugh, giggle, create, dance, and sing. And He wants us to get back up again and keep moving forward even when we fall, we fail, we sin--this is why He's given us grace--why he sent us His own Son. He wants us to know we are so, so, so deeply loved. Our little minds cannot even begin to fathom it.

How remarkable that this is what makes His children great. Are we humble enough to become as such as these? To become like little children? Let it be so.

October 15, 2014

In All Seasons


Where I live here in the States, fall is in full swing now. Cooler temperatures make way for cozy sweaters, mugs filled to the brim with apple cider, apple dumplings, apple pie, apple crisp (in case you hadn't caught on, we're big on apples here… don't get me started on all the desserts we make with pumpkin as well), and the trees are shimmering in hues of red, orange, and yellow.

I have this "thing" for seasons, and I don't just mean the literal weather type ones, but the various seasons of our faith, or as one pastor put it "soul seasons." Autumn in normally seen as a time of harvest; the seeds and labor put forth finally coming to an abundant fruition. We too have soul seasons kind of like autumn... but we also have seasons like spring, summer, and (the usually dreaded) winter. Maybe you're like me, and an autumnal soul season is not where you find yourself in, but in a season of barrenness; a season with little harvest.

But I've learned that God is just as active in the times of harvest as He is in the times of dormancy--alive, but not active at the moment... temporarily slowed. In John chapter 15, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (verses 4 & 5). Jesus is talking about remaining connected to Him, the true vine... to live near to Him in all seasons. Grapevines, and for that matter any type of fruit, have life cycles... clusters of grapes don't just appear overnight: In the winter, the vine dresser predetermines how many buds he wants on each shoot of the vine. During spring, buds come forth, turning into flowers, and then into berries. In late summer and early fall, the fruit is harvested, to be enjoyed by others. The leaves fall from the vine and the vine dresser prepares the soil for winter so that the process can start all over again. Such it is with us.

We all have those times of barrenness, planting, swelling (slow, continual growth), and gleaning. The important thing though is to remain close to Christ... to trust in His timing and His role as THE vinedresser of our hearts, for in all, and through all He is faithful to accomplish His work in you and I. "Barrenness," as the prince of preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon said, "is the platform for his fruit-creating power." It's not permanent, but a platform to lead to greater things. 

Let this be an encouragement to you if you find yourself in such a place. God has not forgotten you, and the dormancy will pass into vibrant, fresh fruit once again. The work in the winter is just as important as the crop gathering of autumn. But remain connected to Him, the true vine. 
Living near to Jesus, thou art covered with the wings of God, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Let nothing keep thee from that hallowed intercourse, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to THE WELL-BELOVED. Be not content with an interview now and then, but seek always to retain his company, for only in his presence hast thou either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk evermore. ~C.H. Spurgeon

~This post was originally written and shared on Darling Companion, 2013, by Natalie Grimm~

October 13, 2014

Autumnal Joys

The scents and scenes of autumn are finally being welcomed here, and it's my favorite season of them all. But it's all short-lived in this area, so I have to relish it while I can.

Autumn is what ushers in that steady rhythm of work and play for me. August and September are always crazy busy, and I wear a stress level to match it. But by the time October shows its lovely face, I've settled into my work routine with a new group of kiddos, and finally have gotten around to planning get-togethers with friends and family that I put off temporarily. 

Everything about this season speaks joy to me.

I love how the weather finally hits that perfect temperature; it's cool enough to wear jeans and comfy tops without having to wear a parka on top of everything. It's the start of all things cozy: fuzzy socks, sweaters, blankets, and sleeping under down comforters. If you've never slept underneath a down comforter on a crisp, cool, breezy night, you've missed out friend. I want to perpetually live in the state of cozy.

Weekends are spent hitting the trails to enjoy the scenic views and taking trips to local pumpkin patches and apple orchards. Evenings in front of the occasional campfire or snuggled in bed watching old black and white movies--because that Cary Grant... he's charming and classy, folks. I like to steal away to bookstores with a cider or chai in hand, because this is also the season I tend to romanticize, and books--words--are one of the love languages I speak so well. I've always thought this would be the perfect time of year to fall in love... 

And can we just talk about the food for a moment? Personally, this is prime baking season: apple dumplings, apple crisp, apple crumble top pie, pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls, cranberry hand-pies, and maple scones. Pretty much just all things apple, pumpkin, cinnamon, maple, and cranberry. Let's not fail to mention the hearty stews and soups either. Or kettle corn. Or butternut squash. Or sweet potatoes. Or turkey. Just comfort food galore.


Enough about my fall favorites though, share with me some of yours!

September 30, 2014

The God of Adventure

From Natalie: Two words immediately pop into my mind when I think about my friend David: he is a dreamer, and he is always going to be way more optimistic about new ventures. (I sincerely mean that in the nicest way!) For people like me, dreamers have a great many lessons to teach and impart. I greatly respect him and whenever he lends his voice to weigh in. I hope his words here this week, encourage and embolden you, the reader. Be sure to visit his site Builder, Chaser, Dreamer and his new book as well!

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Ad·ven·ture: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. 

Nothing about my life has really gone the way I planned.

School
Jobs 
Relationships 
My health
Church
I could keep going. 

There’s been hiccups, detours, and failures. But there have also been major wins, surprise happy endings, and few ok-that-wasn’t-so-bad moments. 

This is what life with the God of Adventure looks like. It looks like life, lived day by day in faith. It feels like normalcy drizzled with grace and cluelessness dipped in his guidance. 

I used to crave adventure and I still do. I have just learned that the definition needs a little housecleaning. 

To be an adventurous Christian you do not have to become a missionary or lead a huge church or sell all your stuff and hold up crazy signs. Please don’t ever do that last one! To be an adventurous Christian means to live life with an adventurous God. 

So many things in my life have gone so differently than I planned because my priority was Him, not that thing whatever it was. 

My education was about 3 hours from where I planned, the relationships I thought were going to blossom into more fizzled out and the job thing – well He is still working with me on that one. 

God wants to have an adventure with you. That’s why he made you. That’s why he made any of us, to share in this life and creation with him. 

How do you start your adventure? 

Be Willing to Lose 
People always want to focus on the positives of adventure like gaining new experiences and learning new things. But every adventure in the Bible begins with loss. Abraham loss his old life. Mary lost her reputation. Jesus gave up everything.

If you’re serious about starting a new chapter of adventure with God be willing to lose. This isn’t to deter you, but it’s a reality check. I have spent just as many nights angry at God as I have thankful for the paths he has chosen for me. 

Adventure is hard. Make sure you’re ready. 

Accept Confusion as a Badge of Honor 
It’s funny how much clarity we demand when beginning something new. If you are about to buy a new book think about the steps you go through first: 
  • learn about the author 
  • read the reviews 
  • check the table of contents 
  • skim the forward

We want to know everything the book is going to say before we bother reading it. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that, but adventure doesn’t work that way. 

Most of the time you’re not going to know when the adventure has officially started and you’re certainly not going to see the finish line. There won’t be any road signs or magical tools to help you overcome the undefined enemy. 

For a long time it will just be you and God and your Bible. You’ll wonder if you’re crazy. Maybe I heard him wrong, maybe this isn’t for me, maybe… 

I don’t know what God might call you to do. The one thing I do know is that if it’s from God, expect some confusion to be involved. 

Be Ready to Win
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t”

I love this quote and I believe it applies to brave Christians. Christians who are willing to embark on an adventure with God, who are willing to endure the loss and the confusion; they are the ones who experience what He wants to do on a whole other level! 

The only reason adventure is even an option for Christians is because God’s love is relentless. It’s banging on every door and climbing in through every window to show mankind that He is serious about redemption. 

And that is what Christian adventure is all about – becoming part of the redeeming force upon the earth. The God of Adventure will not rest. Best of all, the God of Adventure will not lose.

September 24, 2014

The God of Waiting

From Natalie: Ashley will be familiar face to many of you long-time blog readers. She's got a heart brimming with wisdom and inspiration. (I'd be lying if I didn't say that there were time I wish I were way more like her.) Having read much of her own faith journey online over the years and then chatting via Skype or snail mail, Ashely impresses upon me as a person of great patience and graciousness. I read and hear her words, and immediately think of the story of the two sisters hosting the Savior in their home: One sits at his feet--the better portion. One is busy doing. (Don't worry she catches on later where she ought to be.) Ashley sits at the same Master's feet. She chooses the better portion. And I'm learning by her example to do the same. Be sure to stop by her blog and website today, and follow her along!

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"Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." ~Psalm 27:14

No matter how fast technology is moving or how much we're conditioned for instant gratification, waiting is still part of the human process. Everyday we are waiting; waiting for the seasons to change, job promotions, school to end, friend and family members to find salvation, to find our spouses, for healing to happen and answers to come. Our life is characterized by this necessary and unavoidable pause that comes from time to time and we don't always respond well to it. I'll be the first one to admit that I never respond well initially. The only other common experience for humanity besides waiting is suffering. This should help us be prepared to embrace those moments instead of growing bitter and resentful towards God. You're not alone in the waiting.

Human Responses to Waiting

  • Restlessness
  • Impatience
  • Worry
  • Lack of Joy
  • Lack of peace
Elisabeth Elliot talks about these and says, “Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands...In Him alone lie our security, our confidence, our trust. A spirit of restlessness and resistance can never wait, but one who believes he is loved with an everlasting love, and knows that underneath are the everlasting arms, will find strength and peace.


If we are responding with restlessness, impatience, lack of joy and peace, we aren't putting our trust in God. Often times, we go through waiting times because God wants to deepen our trust in Him. Other times, He wants to test our character to see if we want His will above our own.

What Am I Supposed to Do While I Wait?

  1. Seek God - Spend more time in thanksgiving and worship. As you focus on Him, you'll begin to see more of His character and His works in your life.
  2. Serve - Whether you serve at church or some other organization, invest your time on others. You'll find that you're not alone in the waiting and also, you'll learn wisdom from others who have been in your place.
  3. Pray - As soon as you feel like you can't focus on anything else but what you're waiting on, give it to the Lord. Do it as many times as you need. There's peace in giving God our burden and exchanging it for His joy.
  4. Trust God - He has your back. His timing is better than ours. Do not lean on your understanding and simply trust God.
In light of this, waiting seasons can strengthen our faith and bring forth the character of Christ in our lives. If you find yourself waiting on God, here are Scripture verses to strengthen you while you wait.

Comfort and Encouragement While Waiting

  • Waiting on God brings depth to our relationship with Him. (Psalm 37:7)
  • If you wait for Him to answer, He will. (Psalm 38:15)
  • Hope is found in the uncertainty. (Psalm 62:5)
  • Be confident in His guidance if He's silent. (Psalm 32:8-9)
  • You're not alone in the waiting. (Gal 5:5)
  • Practice patience, along with the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22-25)

I've seen a significant amount of believers leave the faith because they fail to wait on God. This shouldn't be so. Take courage and be brave! His plans for you are good. Don't be discourage in waiting seasons.