A Home for the Uprooted

Home is sewn into the seams of my suitcase –  

Caught up in the fragments of childhood memories

Where I can’t place the country or state, let alone the date;

But I remember who was there

 

Home is in the beauty of silver-tipped mountains

And sweeping red canyons;

Where snow sneaks in for Easter

And July Fourth bakes the earth to a crisp

 

Home is in fierce, drumming rainstorms

Crashes of thunder

And the soft blink of fireflies;

Where stars pierce the sky

And mosquitoes outnumber them

Rachel olson home

Home.

The land of ever-changing, ever-flying, ever-new.

And the question, “what are roots?”

 

The longing for something constant in life –

Something else besides “goodbye”

 

The familiar taste of spicy meals and bustling market stalls

A far-off airport terminal I’ve known for as long as I can remember

And the voice of a treasured friend spanning oceans

Or sitting next to me

Home Rachel Olson

Home.

Both everywhere and nowhere

In heartfelt conversations or the scent

of my grandmother’s Irish Spring soap

 

And when it seems shattered, scattered to the winds

In a million pieces too tiny to recover

Home is still here in the promise of the Psalms:

 

“Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. ” (Psalm 90:1-2)

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” (
Psalm 139:7-10)

 

Inspired by this post from Communicating Across Boundaries.


Rachel Olson moved back to the US last year after making Africa home for a while. She is now living in her 17th home and has yet to find a simple answer to the question “where are you from?” She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes and is currently wondering if that might mean returning to Madagascar (one of her previous homes in Africa). You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram, or visit here to help her get back to Madagascar.
Advertisements

Longing for Home

With the advent of a new school year, I’ve been thinking about what home means and especially what it means for my daughter when she returns from school. I want our home to always be that safe haven for her, a place where she feels secure, and a place where she ALWAYS feels she belongs. I like to make things as cozy and welcoming as possible. I’ve put out fall garlands and orange fairy lights and this morning I’m baking peanut butter cookies. I try to be emotionally available and ready to read books or just talk once she’s off school. Hopefully, she’ll look back in years to come and remember the welcoming and warmth of our home.

A lot of money and time is offered to consumerism in order to  create our own private haven in our homes. We do this with decorations and landscaping. I’ve heard people describe their yard as a “little piece of paradise.”  Our hearts yearn for that safety and satisfaction of home, and homemaking can be a redemptive act.

Home Sarah Clews

Home can be that place where we practice for a coming eternity with Jesus, mimicking what’s to come. It’s where we practice and employ the fruits of the spirit–where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control can be practiced regularly.

Yet no matter how “homey” I make things, there is always that discontent, that longing for something more, that sense that something is missing. Selfishness, impatience, and sin seem to always come in and try to spoil the peace of our homes.

This quote from C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity comes to mind, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

We should not be surprised then that there’s no true satisfaction to be found in this world because we were made for a DIFFERENT world. Jesus tells us in John 14:2, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? ” The ways we make a home here on earth offer just a shadow of the true home that awaits us in heaven. I get chills when I hear the lyrics of the song “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong United.

“I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me”

It’s the kind of home that will always satisfy. It’s the kind of home where we always belong. It’s the kind of home where we’ll look around and say, “Ah yes, this is what I’ve been longing for.”

Sarah Clews Home

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop decorating my house or trying to create a haven for my family or stop imitating Jesus. It just means that I’ll know that whatever is missing, I’ll find in the next life. Because my true home is in heaven. I’m just a traveler here on earth making the best of what God has given me.


Sarah Clews HeadshotSarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.

The Curriculum of Character

I found myself heavily contemplating less formal curriculum questions as I spent the last month of summer preparing for the start of our fourth year of home education with our four children.  Many questions I had centered around the core concept of “Who are we in this home?” Also, “Who and what do we serve in this home?  What characteristics do we need to learn about and strive towards this year?”  

While I’ve piled high a collection of teaching tools for Math, Language Arts, Science, and Spanish, I’ve also piled along with the teaching tools for manners, etiquette, and most importantly, Godly characteristic traits. I’ve watched my children, particularly my two oldest, grow in their knowledge and understanding this past year of homeschool.  I’ve watched them start to master different primary concepts, and I remember each time that I realized they had learned something new.

Home Kayla Anderson (1).png

 

I cherish the memories of when my oldest started reading with fluidity, and when my middle son started using addition on his own accord. I couldn’t believe that they had learned it. I did not doubt their intelligence, but I felt I lacked as a sufficient teacher.  Surely I didn’t do much in helping them actually learn something … did I?!

While I often feel they learned despite me, I know that it was my instruction and, more importantly, my example which taught my children these life skills.  This realization was both awesome and terrifying as I then questioned, “What else are they learning from me just from my example?!”

With this realization, I knew I needed to place higher importance this school year on life skills of manners, etiquette, and Godly characteristic traits – just as much for myself as for them.  If they are learning from what I am modeling, I’d better be something I’d want them to model after!

I started by asking my husband and myself what those things we hoped to teach and model to our children were; we had to determine the core values and traits for the six of us dwelling in our home.  We needed to determine what it looked like to have a Christ-centered home, to have a home which served the Lord.

For our family, we’ve landed on these characteristics, based on several verses, to point our children to Jesus in our goal of living in a Christ-centered home:

Love:  Firstly and most importantly, our family must be rooted in love.  Love Jesus, love each other, and love others.

  • 1 Peter 4:8-9 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
  • 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
  • Ephesians 4:2 “Always be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

Kindness & Grace:  Our family ought to speak, behave and think kindly and have grace with each other.

  • Ephesians 1:7 “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”
  • Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
  • Titus 3:4 “But – When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

 

Kayla Anderson Home

Honest & Faithful:  Our family ought to be honest at all times and faithful with all things.

  • Proverbs 28:6 “Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich.”
  • Proverbs 28:23 “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.”
  • Luke 16:10,12 “If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in the large ones.  But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. . . And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?”

 

Servant-hearted: Our family ought to be servant-hearted toward family, friends, and strangers.

  • Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Galatians 5:13 “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters.  But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
  • Philippians 2:3-5 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”

 

Obedient: Our family ought to be obedient quickly, without delay, to parents, and to the Lord.

  • Proverbs 19:20 “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.”
  • Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for it is the right thing to do.”
  • Jeremiah 42:6 “Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea.  For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”

 

Forgiveness: Our family ought to seek and extend forgiveness to all.

  • Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
  • Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

There are many Godly characteristics worth highlighting, but for our family and our home, these are the ones we have determined to focus on. I’ve printed and laminated a sheet of these characteristics and verses and now have it hanging on our command center in the heart of our homeschool room.  I am starting this new school year eager to dive into these traits further, practice them more, and although sometimes painful, be held accountable to my own characteristics which I seek to model for the little disciples who dwell in our home.

 


 

Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

The Journey Home

Author: Jessica Stinson

Recently, I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend.  We got to talking about Romans 8:28. We acknowledged it is easy for us to think when it says “all things work together for good,” it means good for us, but a lot of the time, good for us is not really what is best.  

Sometimes God leads us to good after what seems like a lot of bad.  Yet His good is way sweeter than the best good we could have imagined.  That is because when we surrender our lives to God, He orchestrates every moment to bring glory to Himself.  This describes my last year, and the seven moves within it perfectly.

The first three moves were a result of graduating college and waiting out fifty applications.  By July, I was offered a 4th-grade teaching position, and amazingly already had housing lined up; things seemed perfect.  Three weeks after moving in, perfect was farthest from the truth. My uncle’s sister offered me a safe place to live while I searched for a better situation, and within hours my belongings were in a pile in her garage.  That moment seemed so backward. Here I was now living 1-1 ½ hours away from work depending on traffic, not to mention a different state! Yet, I wouldn’t trade those next 11 weeks. I began to heal and got to spend precious time with her parents who were visiting from Nigeria.

Jessica Stinson Home

 

Each night as I walked in the door, Grandpa would look up with a warm smile and sparkling eyes and say, “Jessica, you are home.  Welcome.” My aunt was happy to let me rent from her and joked I could stay until my wedding day. However, we both agreed the commute was killer and could be dangerous come winter.  By then all the other housing situations I had looked into had fallen through, and I told God that I gave up on looking.

Isn’t it funny that the next Sunday at church I was approached by a friend and asked to consider renting a room from him and his wife?  It was everything I had been praying for, except I couldn’t afford it. I was so disappointed. I cried and asked God why He would show me such a great situation but not make it possible?  Silly me, 3 weeks would change that.

The weekend after Thanksgiving I moved in with my two friends and their two kids; knowing that we would move again when they bought a house. I’m not going to lie, though I was excited to move in with them, I had fears of everything falling apart.  What if it turned out to be everything like Move #4? I’m so glad it has been everything but. I have continued to heal and come back out of the shell I retreated to after being hurt. It has been refreshing to witness the genuine love they have for each other, and a joy to play with their kids.  Every day I find myself thanking God that I get to live with them, knowing only God could have carried me through this crazy year.

Home Jessica Stinson.png

Clearly, I have thought a lot about home this year.  Home is not just a place to rest your head, home is a place to be at rest and belong.  The thing is, I can guarantee no matter how great your home is now, it is not perfect. That is because as Christians, our true home is in Heaven.  The fact that Heaven is home, gives us hope and freedom while we remain on earth.  This year has been an adventure.  But my ultimate adventure is following Jesus every day.  Which means home is wherever God has called me to be in this moment.  That is why I have been able to call the side of a mountain, a foreign country, a dorm room, where I live now, and so many other places home.  It does not need to make sense to others, because God will be faithful to provide for me.

I still live across the state border from work.  But God has blessed me with a reliable car, a safe place to live, a joyful place to work, great music for the ride between, and funds to survive. Plus, who else gets to see skyscrapers, mountain sunrises, a pink limousine, and cows in their commute?

In return, I will be faithful to go where God leads me and do what he has called me to. Looking towards the future can be ominous sometimes. But by trusting God, and doing what He says, I can be sure that He will make a way.  It may not always be perfect, or what I imagined, but it will definitely be good and leave me with a grateful heart as I follow my Savior to my true home.


IMG_5532Jessica is a lover of laughter and adventures. She enjoys pointing out the fun and beauty of learning to her 4th-grade students. The best compliment she ever received from a student was, “Miss Stinson, I feel like everything you do relates to Jesus, math, or singing.” Outside of the classroom, you will most likely find her hiking and taking pictures. Mountain summits, sunrises, s’mores, hot apple cider, dalmatians, and puns hold a special place in her heart. Her ultimate adventure is following Jesus each and every day.

Finding Home

Author: Karly Grant

What do Chris Daughtry, Macaulay Culkin, Bowflex, and The Bible have in common? They all, in varying ways, have used their platform to influence our culture’s ideas about home.

What is this vague, yet familiar idea of “home” that we all use in our daily lives, yet have a hard time defining? Is it a place? Is it people? Is it an ideal? Is it a concept that can never be fully understood or reached?

This elusive ideal seems difficult to pin down because it is subjectively based on our own life experiences. Below are some of the influences that have shaped my view of this seemingly abstract word.  

Music

Music has always played a huge role in my life.  Often songs can put my thoughts and prayers into words better than I can. Musicians have long tapped into the nostalgia that we create around this place called home. From classics like “Home on the Range” to holiday comforts like “I’ll be Home for Christmas” something about our dwelling places awakens our emotions.  

This is where Chris Daughtry comes in. If you recall, Chris Daughtry was on the fifth season of American Idol (and got sent home way too early in my heart-throbbing opinion). After the show, he successfully made a career out of being a musician. One of his most popular songs is simply called “Home,” with lyrics such as, “I’m going home, back to the place where I belong, and where your love has always been enough for me.” Is home a place? Is it people? Is it about having somewhere we belong?

Growing up in the church, another voice that influenced my teen years was Steven Curtis Chapman’s. In 1997, he released the song, “Not Home Yet” and you better believe that CD was spinning in my Discman on repeat. The idea is that, no matter how comfortable we are, we will not really reach our home until we’re in Heaven praising God. There is a longing only met outside of this world, a longing that awakened after the exile from Eden.

Movies

Another vociferous influence in our lives is the film industry. Home is an ideal that we can all relate to, so there are several movies that focus on this. One of the first things that pops into my head is Macaulay Culkin and the beloved Home Alone franchise. I can’t tell you how many times I watched and laughed through these movies as a kid. I watched the first two again around Christmas this last year, and sadly (maybe proudly) could still recite most of the lines. Just in case you need a refresher, Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home alone while his family goes on a vacation, people try to break into his house, and hilarious shenanigans ensue. By the end of it, while he had technically been home all along he misses his family. So what is home? Is it people more than a place? Is it knowing to whom we belong?

Home Karly Grant (1).png

Advertisements

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all influenced by advertisements every day. From billboards to infomercials, from radio ads to catchy jingles, it is impossible to avoid. One major selling tactic that is used is to convince you that you never need to leave your house because you can use this product or that “from the comfort of your own home” (i.e. Bowflex home gym)! Whether it be online shopping, working out, or even taking college courses, these advertisers are all about comfort. So what is home? Is it where you’re most comfortable? Is it our belongings?

The Bible

Why is there so much confusion about this idea of home? Is it about comfort? Is it about people? Is home where your family is? This is something I’ve been pondering a lot in my own life. If it’s about people, how does that fit with where God has me as a single person who lives alone? We often use comfort or familiarity to define home. For instance, our place of employment is often called our home away from home because it’s where we spend a large chunk of our lives. We call our places of worship our home churches. All of these things seem to play a role in what we see as home, but I think that maybe the reason we have a hard time pinpointing what exactly defines this idea is because Steven Curtis Chapman had it right all along. We’re not home yet.

Karly Grant Home

Our home is ultimately with Christ, in a world without sin, where we will know ultimate comfort, peace, and be in the presence of our perfect King who loves us more than anyone in our current lives ever could. It is where our hope belongs.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2, ESV).


Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption.

 

 

Images found at Pixabay

 

To My Daughter and Her Friends as the Final Year of High School Begins

Lazy days of summer are quickly moving towards the inevitable first days of school.  The countdown is on as the last “first day of high school” approaches for my daughter.

Like most mamas with a child ready to fly out into the world, this has me reeling. We all know the time goes too fast, but this day has come so quickly. I became a mom for the first time only five years ago. My daughter was 12 when she walked through our door, and in so many ways we are still figuring each other out.

Just like any other life transition, people are captivated by the “next step” questions. Everywhere we go, someone will ask, “What do you plan to do next year? Are you going to college? What do you want to do?” Even though I am well aware that few of the 17-year-olds eating popcorn on my couch have that figured out, I find myself mindlessly asking the same question.

Holly Hawes Identity.png

So, to the brand new seniors, preparing to explore all the options, leaving the familiar behind, and desperate to find their path in life, my prayer for you this year is that you will be able to relax into your true identity rather than trying to mold your identity around some future vocation or goal.

If you remember these hard-learned truths they will help you along your way.

God will direct your steps one at a time. It is ok to course correct.

I can remember being so afraid of making the wrong decision, choosing the wrong college, choosing the wrong major, or dating the wrong guy.  The list of choices to be made in your late teens and early twenties is endless. Somehow, I had gotten stuck in a fatalistic viewpoint that the oft-quoted Jer 29:11 meant that there was ONE plan and I had to figure it out.  But when read in context of the whole Bible I noticed that sometimes God lets us wander a bit before providing the perfect next steps. I have been captivated by the story of the Israelites leaving slavery in Egypt through the miraculous provision of dry land at the bottom of the Red Sea as recorded in the book of Exodus.

God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near….But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea…”  Exodus 13:17-18 (abbreviated)

Sometimes the “near” way, the way that “makes sense” is in opposition to the leading that comes from God.  This is your chance to pray, test your choices by the word of God, and search out wise spiritual mentors. But know that it is ok to course correct. Whether you try a career that isn’t your favorite six months later, or you find yourself far off track, God never stops leading and loving his children.

You are not what you do, but you will be known for what you do.

The great lie you will fight in your college years, is that your identity comes from what you do.  We think of people by their roles. The Doctor. The Mechanic. The Mom. The Librarian.

You may be known by what you do vocationally.  But more than that you will be known by whose you are. Jesus gives us the great freedom to be completely at rest, because we have nothing to prove. He already loves you enough to go to the cross for you. You don’t have to do anything, or become someone important.  You are already secure, loved, and important.

As you are making new friends, you will tend to drift into groups who are into the same things. But the most important parts of these relationships boil down to the fruits of the spirit being (Galatians 6) shown in your love (1 Corinthians 13). How you love a friend when they’ve had a bad day. If you are kind even when it is inconvenient.

You don’t need to be an expert to learn. No experience is wasted.

Right now, you are the oldest students at your school. The best at what you do. For years your teachers have passed out awards for excellence in various fields. You are about the enter a world of billions of people. It can be hard to stop learning for the outside applause or the competitive edge rather than because learning and growing as a person is a constant journey.

So, just try lots of things. This is your chance to see if you come alive creating art, studying abroad, or managing people. Take a cooking class, self-defense, or a course in medieval literature. You don’t have to be good at something right away. There will be lots of things you try that will be a funny story someday and some you will love. Summer jobs you find could last just a few months, or you could find a new passion you never dreamed of.

Someone once told me that “God packs your bags.” Over and over I have realized that the surprising moments of clarity or purpose God brought me to was informed and equipped through the very things that seemed “random” earlier on. Good and bad experiences are somehow morphed as we see our lives through the lens of God’s purposes rather than our own.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” –Romans 9:28

Identity Holly Hawes

Find out how God gifted and wired you and use that.

As you spend this next few years trying to answer the question “what do you do?” know that God has gifted you with seeds of talent and calling. You can choose to investigate and invest in these gifts.  Years down the road, I can see the way that my friends have leaned into the way that God made them. One adores filing and organization. Another can handle blood and is not in the least grossed out or queasy while stitching up a wound.  My Brother was born mechanical, he was picking locks with my bobby pins in elementary school because his brain just understands mechanical things. What I hear from many of them is that they never realized that the natural bents or inclinations they had were more than just a talent or an interest. Pay attention to the places you excel, where you are fascinated and want to know more.

No, it is not just your mom’s job to tell you are good at art, or science, or with people. Open your eyes, listen to what others see, and be aware of where you feel purpose.

Always know that no matter where you go, or what you do, you are incredibly loved.  Not because of what you might be someday, what you plan to do, or the path you are on, but because God calls you his.


holly-square

Holly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been a foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years and works part-time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

 

Images found at Pixabay

Fruit in the Desert

Lately, I’ve been learning about foster care and the brain development of children who grow up in a sea of instability and trauma. One of the most common themes is the discussion of resiliency – questions like, what allows a child to make it through rocky circumstances and come out the other side whole and hope-filled? Leaders in this field are asking, how can we help kids to become more resilient as they face incredibly harsh circumstances?

What I hear time and time again is that the likelihood for heightened resiliency hinges on the child having at least one stable adult to trust and rely on.

When taking this observation and juxtaposing it with the topic of identity, I’m struck by the parallels, how our ability to see God at work in hard spaces is intertwined with our trust. This can be the defining difference between thriving and floundering through life.

Identity Rachel Olson

I think the best example of this is Jesus’ own life — Jesus lived rooted in the Father.

He often took time away to pray, and always directed people’s attention towards his Father.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.” (John 14:10)

While life may lack what we consider “stability”, Jesus remained deeply connected to his Father. Jesus lived every moment with purpose; fully anchored in his Father’s will and his identity as the Son of God. There is no question he knew who he was and why he was here.

For us, it’s easy to forget. We need reminders of who we are and where we find life. Our identity is not based in what happens to us or around us; instead who we are is based in who Jesus is.

Our life flows from Jesus.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8)

Sometimes it’s easy to feel inadequate and weak. Like we can never be enough. On our own, we fail, but that’s ok. When we can find our identity in Jesus we will be resilient flourishing trees, because we rest in the trusted gaze of our Father in heaven. How beautiful, how hopeful it is that we can be in the driest of circumstances and still bear fruit. Good fruit, not because we are trying extra hard, but because we are so deeply rooted in Jesus that his life continues to nourish our souls in the desert.

Rachel Olson Identity

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.
Images from Pixabay

3 Characteristics of God that Shape My Identity

God captured my heart at a young age in a Sunday school class located in the small town of Jefferson, Oregon. Despite the 25+ years of knowing and walking with Him, there have been poignant moments where I have felt my identity be rocked to the core.

For over half of my twenties, I wondered who I was, especially as my friends began to identify as wife, or mother, or career women. I didn’t have any of those titles. I felt like I was floundering. It wasn’t until a few years later that I could place together the pieces of my life’s puzzle (though God already knew the completed picture) and see my identity.

In those months of clarity, I realized my identity was never to be placed in my marital status, or career, or lack of motherhood. My identity rests in being a child of God. As a child of God, at any point in time, I can remind myself of the following three characteristics of this good, good God.

God is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Before time existed, God was. He is beyond time, which means I can trust in His timing. He isn’t anchored to minutes or hours or days, even years. He placed me in this specific time, for such a time as this. Additionally, God is the Omega, or the end. Revelation 1:8 shares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” In the end, God will be there. When my timeline doesn’t make sense, I can fix my eyes upon the God who knows no limits.

Sarah Dohman Identity

When my Soul Feels Unsettled, I Know I am Chosen by God

1 Peter 2:9 states, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” When I fight rejection, whether that be in relationships or career choices, I know my identity as a child of God means that God picked me! Of the millions of people He creates, He sought after me with reckless abandon. At my core, this is what I want. To be chosen, to be loved. I am not forgotten, but hand picked by a loving God.

Identity Sarah Dohman

My Identity is Anchored to the Truth that God Knows and Sees Everything

 Psalm 139: 1-6 proclaims, “Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Before I was even a thought in my parents’ heads, God knew me. He knows all of my thoughts and knows exactly what I am going to say before it is even said. God’s omniscience, or all-knowing manner, means He knows and sees my sin, and desires my heart anyway. Nothing I do is hidden from God, and that means I can rest assured as His child—known, seen, and loved deeply.

As I grow and mature in my walk of faith, I know trying times will come. They are guaranteed. My identity will be called into question, no doubt about it. Satan loves to wreak havoc against our souls and cause all sorts of upset. But despite the attacks, my soul will trust in the Alpha & Omega, the God who chooses me, and knows and sees me for who I am, His child.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globetrotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah on her blog or on Instagram.

 

 

Photos from Pixabay

He Told Me I was a Mistake; God said Otherwise

It was spoken over me like a puncture in my lungs, letting all the air out and causing me to gasp for breath. “I regret marrying you. This was the worst mistake of my life.” We’d been married for three weeks by the first time I heard those words spoken to me and it was far from the last. I was 19 when I first heard that spoken over me: Our marriage was a mistake. I was a mistake.

I was only a teenager, one who still was figuring out what my identity was and more importantly, who was the foundation of my identity and where my identity was rooted. Yet there I stood, amidst trying to sort it all out and suddenly I was being shaken. Vigorously.

Everything I thought I had established of who I was, stood feebly by while being threatened. I was a daughter, a sister, a friend to a melting pot of genres in school, a “good person”, a rule follower, a Christian, an A-student, a fun-loving girl who was playful and adventurous, and had just shortly before, proudly added “wife” to that list. I had a whole lot of security within that list and was feeling pretty comfortable with what I deemed as my identity.

Identity Kayla Anderson (1)

That comfort was quickly being challenged as the one who was the closest to me, the one who was meant to be my protector and fight for me started adding more words than I ever had thought to include in that list: controlling, the crazy one, not as pretty as the girls online, a terrible wife… a mistake.

It wasn’t more than a quick breath after I learned of his unfaithfulness in our marriage, that I started adding more of my own words to the list: fat, ugly, not good enough, undeserving, worthless, a used piece of trash tossed to the side. Just like that, my identity (or what I believed my identity to be) had morphed into something unrecognizable.

As our marriage crumbled and I was left to try to pick up the leftover pieces of my life, I started sorting through that list. Was I really fat and ugly? Was I really the one who was crazy? Was it actually my fault that he was unfaithful to me? And God, God, am I really worthless?! Will anyone else ever want me?! I had heard “worthless” and believed it for so long that I really had begun to accept and project it over my life.

It had so far seeped into my own list of my identity that as I sat in my parents’ back yard that late summer afternoon as our marriage broke, I began to weep as I talked to my mom about where my life was at. As I told her I didn’t want to get divorced because I had always committed to being a faithful wife but simultaneously felt so worthless and that my marriage was so far beyond repair and that there was nothing I could do to help it. I still so distinctly remember the words coming out of my mouth between sobs, dropped heavy as lead from the weight of my despair, “Mom, I feel so helpless, so isolated and so worthless that I don’t know what to do to get out of this mess and don’t know how to make my life better. . . I’ve thought a lot about just taking my own life to end it all.”

Within a couple days of that conversation, I was moved into my parents’ house and my ex-husband and I started the divorce process. In so many late nights sitting alone in the room of my childhood home, crying to God, to my Redeemer, I prayed and asked Him to redeem my identity. “God, what is left of me? Who do you say I am?”

One night, so late that it had now become the wee hours of the morning, I cried out, pleading, “God! Show me I have worth!” I so desperately needed God to repair the broken identity that had for so long been spoken over me and that I had started to believe about myself. I reached over to grab the Bible nearest to me, which was The Message (paraphrased version). I flipped it open and looked down. My eyes stopped on Luke 1:28. Right there, right in the dark of the long painful night-turned-morning, my eyes caught this verse. Like the wind being put right back into my lungs and my puncture wound being healed in a moment, my breath filled with life again as I read,

 

“Good morning!

You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,

Beautiful inside and out!

God be with you.”

 

As I read and took those words of life in, I could feel myself begin to heal and transform right there,  as I cried to God to come in and redeem – to remind me of His truth about my identity.

Kayla Anderson Identity (1).png

 

I’m beautiful. Beautiful inside and out. God is with me. I am a child of God. I am full of worth – I’ve been bought with a price. I am secure. I am loved. I am redeemed.

Thank you, Lord, for who you say that I am. Thank you for the secure identity found in you.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.