Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Single Step

For about a week I was bouncing back and forth between four different books. I wanted to read but nothing was grabbing my attention. I would read a few pages of one book and then put it down. A few hours later I would find the pages to a different book opened in front of me. But again that wouldn’t last long. Nothing I was reading was drawing me in.

One morning as I was flipping through my choices on the kindle I saw a book called Breaking Free by Chett Vosloo. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover but I’ll be honest….the cover drew me in.

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I quickly flipped through the table of contents and acknowledgements and came to a page with lots of white space. There was just a single quote lying on the page to be read.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

-Lao Tzu-

I hadn’t even made it to the introduction and my mind was racing at the thought of this one line. Wherever you are Lao, thank you!

I’ve thought probably a bazillion (yes, a bazillion) times that what I am doing is scary. Who decides to just jump on a plane and fly literally half way around the world to figure out a way to help street kids?

But then kind ol’ Lao helped shed his light on things. Without that single step, that first movement of the feet, the long journey will never begin. Without the first leap off the cliff trusting that God will take care of everything, I miss out on watching him provide. Without just going for it I fail to show God that I have the utmost faith in him planning out the journey, step by step.

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But here’s the really cool part. My journey of a thousand miles isn’t anything special. It’s not more extraordinary than your journey of a thousand miles. It’s not harder than your trek. It’s not more inspiring, amazing, remarkable or inspirational than any path you choose.

I’ve just chosen to take that first step. Now it’s your turn!

Whatever it is you want to do with your life you can. All it takes is that first step. The single most important first step.

What are you waiting on? What is keeping you from taking that single step? 

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Window Screens

Rumor on the street is it rains a lot in the Philippines
This afternoon was a prime example of that

We invited some women over to the house for the afternoon
Through the laughter of a little girl
All of a sudden I could hear the ting, ting, ting
Like the pitter patter on a tin roof

I began to hear it a little louder
And decided to look out the window to see just how hard it was raining

But you see here in the Philippines it’s essential to have screens over your windows
To keep the little creepy critters out while the windows are open to create a breeze
So when I looked out the window the screen distorted my view
And I couldn’t clearly see the rain falling outside
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If I would have been standing outside
I would have clearly been able to see the rain falling from the sky
But the screen was blocking my view
It was creating a barrier between my eyes and God’s little raindrops

This silly little screen made me stop and think about my own life
It represented perfectly how I’ve been living lately
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To be completely honest I’ve been selfish lately
I’ve been making things all about me
I’ve had a screen up in front of my eyes making it hard for me to focus on others
Distorting my view to the outside world
Putting up blinders to the needs of the people around me

The world isn’t going anywhere
The needs aren’t going to just disappear on their own
We have to be the ones to make a change
The ones who reshape the world

And with that screen in front of my eyes I can’t do any of those things
I can’t help others when I don’t stop to notice the need
I can’t reshape the world when I’m solely fixated on my own little world

That simple window screen was the wake up call God needed to give me that day
The little shaking I needed to realize this life isn’t about me
It’s not about the possibilities of what I can be doing
It’s not about what I want to do with my time
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It’s all about others
About seeing them through the eyes of God
About breaking down the barriers that stand between us
About walking alongside of them and helping them see their value

What screens do you need to break down to see the world the way God does?

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Thank You Chris Tomlin

Goodbyes suck
Plain and simply put
They are hard and emotional
And right now there are surrounding me in every direction I turn
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With all of these goodbyes I just keep crying out to God with the same words
Words that Chris Tomlin wrote but right now I feel like are words just for me

Lord I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

In these last few days at home I have to find my rest in him
I feel like I’m falling apart
But on the inside he is holding me so tight
He is continuing to guide my heart in the direction of his
And I just need him every hour right now to do all of those things

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So if in the next few hours you hear me humming a song
You better believe it’s me telling God how much I need him every hour

Goodbyes suck in my life
But I realize that may have nothing at all to do with your life right now
There may be something completely different going on that’s hard for you
Whatever it is take courage in these words

See that God is right there holding you
Know that he isn’t going to let you fall apart
Let him be the one to guide your passions and desires
Just rest in him
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Make sure you tell him how much you need him
He promises he will show up with open arms for you to run to

“The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does.”- Psalm 145:13b

And some of those promises to cling this morning say:

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”- Psalm 139:5

“My soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.”- Psalm 62:5

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Why Have Children?

Events in life happen in phases
And as one phase begins to end talk of the next phase begins

A little baby begins to grow into a child
So people begin talking about the child starting big kid school

A high school senior is about to graduate
And people begin asking where they are going to college
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A college senior is about to graduate
So people begin wondering where the graduate will get a job

A man puts a ring on his love’s finger
And people ask when the big day will be

A couple gets married
So people begin to wonder when they will have children

I have two good friends getting married so lately we joke about the later of these phases
The other night the three of us sat around joking about all things kid related
We talked about adoption and parents who want to have their own children so desperately
But for some reason God doesn’t see it as the right time in their life to be able to get pregnant

And then I got super freaked out and vowed I was never having children
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As we sat there joking around I had this huge realization of what having kids meant
Having children is a forever thing
Once you have a child there is no turning back
That child is yours no matter their age or where they are in life
It’s like the most binding of relationships on earth ever

Conversation floated on to other things that night
But I left there understanding the sacrifices parents make in a new light

Fast forward to a few days later
Where I finally decided it was time to figure a few things out
So I can accurately answer people’s questions

See hands down the number one question I have gotten when talking to people about the Philippines
Is How are your parents doing?
I usually just responded with they are sad
So I sat down with my parents the other night and asked them
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After a long, busy day this conversation was exactly what I needed to hear
Not so much because I needed my parents approval or praise

But because my dad opened my eyes to an incredibly new realization
He showed me exactly why he has raised my brother and I the way he has

As his little girl of course the subject of children came up
But this time it was in a whole new light

We talked about the purpose of children
The reason why parents have kids
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He showed me the ultimate reason for having kids
Maybe some parents have kids because they think it will be fun
Maybe some parents have kids because it’s what’s next in life
Because it’s the next phase to complete
Maybe some parents have kids because honestly, it was a mistake
Maybe some parents have kids because their parents want grandchildren

But I want to ask you to consider this truth that rocked my world
Parents should have children because they want to bring a life into this world
To raise a child to have a relationship with jesus
To show their child what the love of christ looks like
To help a child understand their identity in christ
And then to help others find these same things in their life
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I needed to hear the true meaning for having children
To see that life doesn’t have to go in these planned out phases

I needed that night to be completely freaked out about having my own children
To realize just how selfish I am and the sacrifices parents daily make

And this morning I just needed the time to thank all parents, whether biologically or not, for the sacrifices they make for all children

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Pleasant Texts

There’s something super special and incredible knowing someone else is praying for you. It’s like one of my favorite things in the world to look at my phone and have a message from a friend saying that they are praying. When I receive a message like that it means many things to me. It shows that someone knows my heart enough to know specific things to ask God for in my life. It shows someone cares enough about me to take time to intercede for me. But most importantly it means I’m not fighting alone.
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The simple little message from a friend saying they are praying is my reminder for the day that I’m not by myself. Whatever comes up that day I know I have another warrior out there on the battlefield with me. It’s also a reminder that we’ve already won. Whatever happens during the day God is fighting with us and we are more than conquers.

Yesterday was a day for me to be reminded of all of this. I woke up with a list full of things to do. I left my phone in my room and went into the office and began working on marking things off the list. By the time I finally finished I was already mentally exhausted for the day. I hopped in my car and glanced at my phone for the first time in hours.
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And there it was as I looked down

Praying for you this morning. Enjoy the people…business can wait

Right in that moment through the screen on my phone God showed up. He used someone else to refresh my spirit with their words. He reminded me there are others taking time to pray for me. To fight with me. To come alongside of me and ask God for the same things I’m asking him for. It’s a magical and special feeling to receive love in that way.

But there is something a little more magical. Something even more special than knowing you have people interceding for you.

When you can tell someone else you are praying for them it’s the best feeling in the world. When you can relay to them that you care about what is going on in their life enough to ask God to help them is absolutely incredible. When you are the one who decides to fight with others it’s such a special moment.
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It’s an incredibly important thing to me to know when I tell someone I will pray for them that I actually do it. See when someone asks me to pray for a specific thing in their life I view it as an honor. They are sharing their heart with me. And they are humbly asking me to fight alongside of them. If I say I will pray and then don’t do it there is one less warrior in the battle. There is one less person fighting.

I understand that God doesn’t need me to ask these things for him to accomplish his will. But he wants me to ask. He wants me to join other people in their battles. He wants me to not have my eyes on myself but instead on others so I can see their needs. Because when I see their needs I know how to fight with them. It’s like seeing their needs is knowing where the enemy is and knowing which weapon I need to choose to fight with.

At times I get overloaded with things people ask me to pray about. Some times it helps to write it down. Some times I need to just stop in the moment and pray. Some times I need to check back in with that person and see how God is answering in their life. But I always have to remember the honor it is to be able to talk with God on the behalf of others.
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And there are times it takes a lot of strength for me to let go of my pride and ask someone else to pray for me. But when I do I am giving someone else the opportunity to put on their armor and join me in the battle.

Who are you battling for today? 

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I’m Not Ready To Start My Day Yet

Fact:
LIFE IS BUSY!

I’m talking about my life but I know yours is the same way.

I know you wake up in the morning wondering how you are going to mark everything off the to-do list for the day, much less for the week.
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I know because mine looks insane as well:
Go to the bank
Send emails
Catch up on facebook messages
Coffee date
Send out more letters
Buy pants
Write thank you notes
Clean up disastrous mess in room

I’m getting overwhelmed just typing it all out!

And these are plans for my single, no family to take care of self. I can only imagine the additional things added to your list that I don’t even have to worry about:
Buy groceries
Check on so and so in hospital
Pick up medicine at wal-greens
Baseball practice
Mop kitchen floor
Dust living room
Change oil in car
Send lunch money for kids at school
Pay bills online

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I feel like this is only the beginning of what your to-do list looks like on a weekly basis. I’m sure I’ve left off so much stuff and the list could go on for another two pages.

NOT-SO-NEWSFLASH: LIFE IS BUSY!

I’ve learned a little something about this to-do list though. If I wake up and jump right out of bed to start working on this list I’m doomed. No way will I make it through the whole thing and still feel sane by the end of the day. It will be impossible for me to find enough time and energy to check everything off.

I know this sounds a little backwards. If I start right when I wake up I should be able to get it all done. But that’s just not the case. When I wake up I need hours before I start my day.

Not hours to lay on the couch and try to wake up. Not hours to take a shower and perfectly fix my hair. Because lets be real how often is my hair fixed! Not hours to open my computer and read CNN to see what happened in the world while I was asleep.

Through tough lessons I’ve learned I need hours to start my day before I can ACTUALLY start my day. Stick with me here.
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If I start my day thinking of all I have to accomplish I am setting myself up for failure. It’s just another fact.
Instead I have to wake up and be intentional. I have to grab my first cup of coffee, because let’s be real it IS the most important part of mornings! Kidding…sort of! I have to begin my day with Jesus before I can begin my day with the world. I have to take time to pray. To read what he has for me. To be quiet and listen to what HE wants me to do that day. I have to be willing to throw that to-do list to the floor and follow him in obedience for what his plans are for me that day.

I’ve learned these lessons and have known these things in my heart but it hit me in a new way yesterday morning. I had been up for about two hours when everyone else in the house was ready to begin their day. Problem was I wasn’t. The questions started coming.

What is the plan for the day?
How far away is where we are going tomorrow?
What time should we leave tomorrow morning?

I wanted to talk about these things. I really did. I wanted to make plans and begin the day’s adventures. But my heart wasn’t ready. And before I really knew what I was saying the words out of my mouth were “I’m not ready to begin my day yet.”
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I knew the day would be great. I knew adventurous things were going to take place. But I knew if I stopped in the middle of my study I would not pick it back up for the day. I knew if I began answering questions right away I was going to miss out on hearing from God in that moment. I was going to be filling my ears with the noise of the world instead of his words for me. I knew I wasn’t ready to begin my day yet.

I have to start my day with Jesus before I can ACTUALLY start my day.

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A Day Full of Blessings

Some nights as I fold back the sheets and lay my head down on the pillow
I can’t help but just breathe in a huge breath and say thank you
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Yesterday was one of those days
A day where God just really blew my mind
A day where with everything I had to do he kept assuring me I was doing the right thing
A day that could have felt overwhelming but instead was full of blessings

These blessings came in the form of people yesterday
Blessings who believe in me and what I’m doing
Blessings who want to hear stories of future plans
Blessings who care

Last night as I breathed that deep breath in bed
I understood God’s sovereignty a little more
I understood that he could have taken each of those blessings
And spread them out over the course of a month

But he didn’t
He decided to give me a day full of his blessings
A day to see that he is completely going before me
He is completely coming behind me
And he is completely walking right beside me, holding my hand

As I woke up yesterday morning I looked at my to-do list
And then I looked at my phone to see a missed call from someone
Whose voice I haven’t heard in months
So of course I ditched the at home things to do that were on the list
Rushed to get ready and hopped in my car so I could talk while driving
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God knew I needed to get away from the list
To get away from the stress of everything that needs to be done in eleven short days
To just hear words of encouragement and love

As I wrapped up this conversation it was time for lunch
A lunch with two women who I know have my back through this whole thing
A time for laughter, lots of laughter
But also a time to ask questions and receive peace about upcoming situations

God knew I needed a lunch date where I didn’t feel interrogated
He knew I needed a time where I could sit and listen but also explain my heart
A time for deep laughter
And a time where I could honestly just receive love from older, wise women
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I left lunch and rushed home for a conference call with two more incredible women
A call where I could discuss my fears and talk about my dreams
A call where I was comfortable enough to say whatever was on my heart
A call that was just the beginning of lots of hard work
But also a call to show me how wide open the doors are

God knew I needed to rush home and have this conversation
To get to know a woman full of wisdom, grace, encouragement and love
He knew I needed this call as a reality check
But also to hear someone who doesn’t even know me
Tell me she believes in what God is going to do

As I hung up the phone I rushed to find something to wear for the night
My closet and room are one huge mess right now so this is more of a task than it seems
By the time I had finally decided on an outfit I realized it truly didn’t matter what I wore
The night wasn’t about me and the spotlight would not land on me at all
The night was about celebrating a marriage soon to take place
And celebrating one last night of fun with the bride to be
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God knew I needed a night with no guidelines
A night to just do whatever and laugh about everything
A night to talk about marriage and babies and adoption
All of which scare the mess out of me
A night to just enjoy home and the people who make it just that

So as I got home and crawled into bed I couldn’t help but just breathe for the first time that day
To just sit for a moment and thank God for each person who took time to extend a hand of love
To thank him for giving me a day full of blessings

You can also be a blessing in making these dreams I talked all day about come true! Click here to partner with me and truly be a blessing in my life.

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Dads & Their Princesses

Yesterday I sat at a stop light
And caught myself doing some major creeping on the car beside me
But I just couldn’t pull my eyes away from the inside of this car
I even drove away with fall in my eyes
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In the backseat was a precious little girl sitting tall in her car seat
In the driver seat sat her father

I say these things as if I knew the family personally
But boy did I have a great story made up about them as I pulled away!

As the dad sat with his foot on the brake
He would look in the backseat and tickle his little girl
The look on her face was one of nothing but pure delight and joy
Their windows were rolled up but oh the sound of laughter radiating from the car

This playful attitude of a father and his daughter continued the entirety of the red light
And yes I stared at them the whole time

But as I drove away the tear came just thinking about dads

Ladies and gentlemen, dads have a hard job!
Especially dads of little girls
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Think about it for a moment
Little girls are their dad’s princesses
From the moment they are born dads love their little princess
With a love so deep they never knew was possible

They will play dress up with their princess
They will have tea parties with stuffed animals and their little princess
They will hold and love
They will kiss even the smallest of scraps and cuts
They will have tickle fights
They will swing on swings and slide down slides
They will be there to catch her as she jumps in the pool for the first time

But as their little princess grows older they have to learn how to loosen their tight fist
To pry their fingers back even just a little and release the grasp of their princess’ hand
They begin to watch their princess leave the house with another boy
They begin to see their little girl growing into a lovely woman
They notice their princess is no longer having tea parties
But instead hosting their own parties without dad receiving an invitation
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Until eventually their hand is held completely open and their little princess
Is walking down the aisle to be held in another man’s hand

These dads have loved their little princess with all they have
They have made sure they are taken care of, provided for and taught how to love others
They have invested their life in raising a princess
And then the day comes when they have to let go
The day when as hard as it is, with tears in their eyes, they release their little princess to someone else
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I found a new appreciation for my dad at that red light yesterday

Now for a moment picture our Father
There he is just chilling in heaven with his son having a grand ole time
And then he looks down at the world and sees their desperate need for a savior
So he opens his hand completely and lets go
He allows his son to leave his side and come live on earth
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As if that wasn’t hard enough
He then allows his son after living here for thirty-three years
To go to a cross and die for you and for me
If his job as a father hadn’t been hard enough by sending him to earth
It got harder in those moments on the cross when he abandoned his son
All because of his love for his other children, you and me

Dads have a hard job! 

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ddd…dddrre…dreams!

There is something I’ve known about myself for a while. I’ve even vocalized it a few times.

The most recent would have been back in November when I was on the race and my team leader asked a question for us to think on and then talk about in team time. It was pretty open ended and asked without guidelines or restrictions.

What is your biggest fear?
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If memory serves me correctly I had only talked about this one other time but I knew right away my answer. I also knew that the next night when I gave my answer it would then turn into a discussion of how to overcome the fear. How to step out of the comfort zone and challenge the fear.

The time came to discuss fears and I said I would go. I would share my heart. So I began explaining how my biggest fear was failure. Maybe not so much the act of failing but vocalizing my dreams or passions or desires or things I want to do and then never achieving them. The fear of telling someone what my plans were and then them not happening so I looked like a failure.
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Don’t get all psychological on me here….I don’t have scars and wounds from childhood that cause this fear.  It’s just a fear of mine. Whether it’s fear of letting others down. Or fear of not following through with something. Or fear of just simply failing. I don’t know.

What I know is that vocalizing dreams or future plans for fear of failing is something that has kept me from speaking of things many, many, many times in life.

So this morning you’re in for a treat! This morning I’m doing the unthinkable and putting in stone (or typing on a computer) my dream.

I can’t tell you the exact moment I became burdened for the homeless community. But I can tell you it’s been years. Years I’ve spent wanting to just be able to hear their stories, let them know their stories are important and in some way help them.
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If I sat and gave myself a grade for how well I’ve taken action against this burden I would receive a subpar, failing grade. Oh look, failure number one! Yes I’ve done things here and there. But the majority of what I’ve thought of doing I’ve never actually followed through with.

In my blocked off mind homeless people were older adults, usually men at that. But this past year my eyes were opened to homelessness in a new way. God kept that burden for homeless people in my life but brought it to light in a new perspective. I have seen those without adequate water, food and shelter. Those fighting daily just to physically survive. Those who were literally starving, not just the term we use when we’re hungry.
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But towards the end of this past year God showed me a different side of things. He gave me his eyes for the children. The kids who sat on the street huddled in groups sniffing glue out of brown paper bags. The kids who huffed that same glue to fight off the hunger pains. The kids who ran away from home because in their minds living on the street was better than the physical, emotional and sexual abuse they received at home. The kids whose parents didn’t value them. The kids who find themselves worthless. The kids who have to fight and steal just to survive each and every day.

These kids I am speaking about have earned the term “street kids”. These kids are in every country. Yes, they are in America. They may even be in the park closest to your house. I saw these kids for the first time in the city in Kathmandu, Nepal and they caught my eye. But it wasn’t until the Philippines that I was broken for these kids. There are two boys I saw on two different occasions that I never spoke a word to but they hold a piece of my heart. If you’ve heard me talk about street children at all you have probably heard me talk about these two boys. They are the face of every street child to me.
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The past four months I’ve pictured their faces more times than I want to count. I’ve prayed endlessly for these children. For each and every one of them to see their worth. To see that there is a hope found in Christ that will bring freedom like they have never experienced before. That they would know they have a father who created them beautifully, with a plan and with a purpose. That someone would come across their path and notice them. And in noticing them they would give them something to eat. That the government would stop turning their eyes and instead awaken to this problem and do something about it.

This is all a really big set up to say that I’ve had four months to be home and dream up big things. I catch myself not thinking of small things I can do. Instead I find myself in the midst of dreaming about the humongous possibilities. Every time I think about it the possibilities seem a little larger, like there is always a little more to dream to be done.

So what do I want to see happen?

I want to build and establish relationships with these kids. I want them to know that I see them. That I know there is so much more for them. I want to begin to physically feed these kids. I want them to be able to trust me. I simply want to be their friend.
Action International among the Philippine's urban poor.
As these relationships build and they understand trusting people in a new way I want to be able to provide for them. I want to open homes for these kids. A place where the doubts flee. A place where every need of theirs is met. A home where they are offered education and life skills. A home that is run by the Filipino people.

So that I can go and start the process all over on a different street.

Do I know every detail of how this will play out? Not a clue!

Do I know everything I am dreaming is possible with God leading the way? Absolutely! You better believe it!

***you can be a part of making this dream come to life by clicking HERE!

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Post Weekend Ramblings

Easter weekend is over. For many people that means Easter will not be given another thought for three hundred plus days.
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But as I sit here on this Monday morning with a cup of coffee in my hand there’s just some thoughts I can’t shake. And the longer I think about it the more it bothers me.

In the social media world I read lots of updates from pastors and church staff from all over. So for the past few days my updates have largely consisted of a common theme. It was always worded different but the same meaning was there lying at the bottom of it all.

Invite someone to church this Sunday for Easter!

Who are you bringing with you to our Easter services?

What family will you invite to come to church with you on Easter Sunday?

Easter is a time when people who don’t normally come to church will attend, who are you inviting?

People will come to church on Easter if only they are invited.

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As I began scrolling through and reading them I would think how great it was that people were trying to get others into church to hear the incredible story of Christ’s life. But the more I saw them the more my mind began to wander. What makes Easter Sunday so special?

No I don’t mean why is it a special day….I understand the significance of remembering and celebrating what Christ did for me so many years ago. I LOVE that!

I question what makes Easter so special that people will agree to go to church this one Sunday out of the year. What makes this one Sunday so special that numbers will rise substantially only to drop back to the average seven days later? I’m not just making this stuff up. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. My church had a huge increase in numbers for two hours yesterday. The same people who updated about inviting people were hours later updating how many people came or how great the service was and how many new faces they saw.
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I just want to know what makes this one Sunday out of a year so special? Why not choose a Sunday in May when the weather will be beautiful? Or why not choose a Sunday that falls on your birthday? Or why not choose a Sunday when your kids spent the night with friends and you don’t have to worry about getting them ready as well? Why choose Easter Sunday?

I can’t help but wonder if Easter Sunday is the day people choose because of the huge significance of the day. Because the greatest story that ever happened is told and proclaimed from every stage. Because the ending of the story is already known. And it’s known that it happily ends with “HE IS RISEN!”

I don’t know the reason why people choose Easter to attend a church service. But this morning I’m super curious. And sad. Jesus came to live on earth for me and you. He left a place of perfection to enter a world of darkness. He brought light into the darkness. But as so many rejected him he went to the cross and died…again for me and you. Then Easter Sunday comes into play. Where Christ was too powerful for the enemy to hold him in the grave and he rose from the dead. He walked on the earth again and showed people how his life was full of truth. And then he eventually went back to his place in heaven with his father. He did all of that for me and you and the best we’re giving him is one Sunday morning out of a year. One Sunday where we cram in a celebration of his life, but mainly of his resurrection.
TheLifeOfChrist
Why? Why do we place such a significance on just this one day? Why are we not celebrating every day?

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