Remembering to Make Room

Standing at the beginning of December, I’m already seeing very full days when I look at my calendar.  The joy and excitement of the Christmas season can often be matched equally with busyness, and busyness quickly leaves little room for anything else.  

We find packed calendars instead of leaving room for quieting ourselves.  We find ourselves wading deep in stress instead of leaving room for peace.  We begin drowning in parades, lights, parties, baking, Santa, holiday movies and Christmas shopping, instead of leaving room for being still and remembering why we are celebrating.  We can easily find ourselves doing so much, yet not remembering to intentionally make room for the One who we are celebrating this season.

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Even on that very night when Jesus was born into this world, there was no room for Him.  As Mary and Joseph searched for a place to come in that night, they couldn’t find anyone who had room for them.  It wasn’t until an innkeeper finally made room that the Savior of the world was born.  We need to remember this season to make room for the most important part of Christmas: Christ.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in the manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” –  Luke 2:7

I’m a Christmas junkie and love all things Christmas celebration, lights, parades, parties, and all of the festivities.  In the same breath, I’m also a homebody: an introvert who not just likes her quiet and alone time but desperately needs it for sanity and de-stressing.  When I pull up my calendar and see something marked on nearly every box in the month of December, I can feel my stress levels rise without having even done any activities yet, despite how good and fun those activities would be.

When both my introvert-self and Christmas-junkie-self come hand in hand, it makes for a rather awkward marriage.  I imagine there are a number of you who resonate and understand exactly what I mean; the deep desire to do all the fun Christmas things (because despite the Christmas season being more than three weeks, it just doesn’t feel like enough time for it all!) and simultaneously the aching need to just curl up in the quiet of your home in front of the fire.  How do you do both and not sacrifice one for the other? How do you make room for what matters in this season?

For me to try to successfully do both, I’ve had to carve out specific time to quiet myself.  I already wake up earlier than my children for such a reason so this seems like a perfectly good time to be intentional with my heart, mind, and relationships in this Christmas season.  Women, if you’re like me, you’re the member of your family leading what activities get put on your calendar. With this also comes the responsibility of not tiring your family with so many activities that the proper room is not made for Christ.  We must not just be hopeful in trying to leave room for Jesus, but we need to intentionally make room.  

My morning quiet times are always dear to me but especially so in the Christmas season.  Sitting quietly in the soft light of the tree, with the fireplace raging, and a hot cup of coffee in hand makes for a beautiful and delightful quiet time.  Not just for the glamour and ambiance of the space but for the intentional room and rest I make in my heart during this otherwise busy time. For if I am not first pointing my own heart back to Jesus and clearing space for Him, how well can I lead my family’s activities to do the same?  

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Friends, I want to encourage you to intentionally make room for Christ this season.  Let the other noise quiet down and rest in praise and the knowledge that a Savior was born unto us, and God is with us. He made room for our names in his book of life and gave up his space in heaven to come down to redeem our broken world.   

“’Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.  For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’  All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:18-25


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.
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I Doubted the Power of My Story

When I was in high school I was constantly surrounded by one youth group speaker after another, each with a powerful testimony of how they came to know Christ after some dark and troublesome time in their life.  Each person had a heavy story – a life of drug dependency, a life of running from the law, a life of selling their body, a life of anger and hatred, a life trapped in a cult – and all of these intense stories ended the same.  In the end, they all had a radical encounter with discovering Christ their Savior, they turned 180 degrees and life was drastically different.

Each of these stories felt incredible; I often was met with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I heard of God’s saving, redemption plan for these lives that were deep in muck and mire.  I was in awe.  God is good!  And look at these incredible people, look at them going around and telling of the gospel of Jesus, of the one who saved them from their pits.

But also, then… what about me?  What about my story and my testimony of how I came to know my Savior? I was a “good girl” and always had been.  I’d grown up in a loving Christian home with two parents who always pointed me back to Jesus.  I’d known the name of Jesus for as long as my memory served me.  I told myself that because of the limited drama in my life that I would never be a speaker giving my testimony to a youth group crowd. What in the world did I have to share?!  I didn’t have some wild “before” life!  I didn’t feel like I had a testimony that anyone would care to hear. It only takes two seconds to say “I’ve known Jesus all of my life,” and who would sit before me to listen to that?  I doubted the importance of my testimony – one of a life rooted and with a foundation of knowing Christ since birth.  I doubted that it mattered one bit in the pool of all of the awe-inspiring tales of conversion out there.  Frankly, I doubted the power of Christ to show up and be revealed in a story as mundane as my own.

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I remember when the time came in my college group when we were asked to take turns sharing our testimonies with the group.  I asked the leader, “but what if you don’t have a testimony?  What if you don’t have anything to share?” I didn’t doubt the goodness of God in my life which had been constant and steady, but I doubted what felt like His lack of display of power in my life.

I didn’t have a gripping story.  I didn’t have an “ah ha” moment.  Did I even have a “real” testimony?   My lifelong knowledge of Jesus, who He is, and what He always did for me didn’t feel exciting or gripping, it just was.

At some point in those early college years, I realized that it was enough.  More than enough.  My story may not be one for the books or speaking engagements but my story is just as powerful as the one who came out of a life of addiction or a life of utter brokenness.

My story is powerful because it drips with the power of God: His power to save me from all of the muck and mire that I didn’t have to walk through, His power of steadfastness to walk beside me as a constant for all of my life, His power to be a strong and firm foundation, laying the brickwork for the mess that my adult life can sometimes look like.

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Today, I don’t doubt the power of my testimony or the power of Christ through my seemingly mundane story.  I don’t doubt that He can and will use it, boring as it may seem.  I’m not discouraged by my come to Jesus moment being something that feels like it ought to be more.  After all, it’s not me and my mess that the power and glory comes from.  The power is in Him alone and His saving grace – His grace over my sin-filled life.  A life where, despite being “a good girl”, I am still a sinner, just as in need of a Savior as the girl whose life was more outwardly messy or had a more exciting story.

I no longer doubt the power of my testimony, for I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.  I am saved by His grace; there is nothing which can snatch me up out of His loving hands and that is a mighty display of His power in my life.  Thanks be to God for saving a sinner like me.

Faith in the Face of Doubt

Show me a Christian and you will have shown me a human prone to doubt.  Faith isn’t for the weak.  It takes a certain amount of tenacity to stand faithful to God alone while the world calls us foolish, silly, and uneducated.  It takes a level of tenacity to stand firm in faith when life, or perhaps our enemy, throws flaming arrows of difficulty at us.  Sickness, death, sorrow, financial ruin, and abuse are enough to make even the stoutest believer cry out in dismay.  Why does God allow such turmoil?  Why is life so hard?

It isn’t just the harsh reality of this life that allows doubt to creep in.  Our own sin issues get in the way of believing.  Fear, insecurity, selfish ambition, greed, and pride all raise their head in defiance at faith.

In fact, faith is not for the weak or foolish.  Faith is the life song of those with enough grit to quiet their prideful heart, and trust God in the deepest, darkest periods of life. Faith fills individuals with enough tenacity to cling to what is unseen when what is seen is ugly and painful.  Faith is for those willing to put aside their own ideas, dreams, and perceptions and ask the unseen God of the universe to “take the wheel” and drive their life.  It isn’t a crutch.  It isn’t easy.

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Is it not easier to live our lives the way we want?  To pursue money and ambition and fame?  Is it not simpler to do what makes us happy with little regard for the next person?  Is it not more convenient to believe that our lives are our own and subject to no one else, not even God?

From the outside to those looking in, I know that I seem like a good person with a good life marked by good things. Others may question, what can I know of sorrow, pain and questioning God?  Yet my song, the song of my soul, is His Eye is On the Sparrow because I do know sorrow.  Sorrow so deep my heart sometimes feels ready to burst out of my chest under the pressure of the pain.  Sorrow that tears can’t describe; the sorrow of a life touched by illness, death, murder, suicide, mental illness, poverty, and abuse.  A life that was uprooted and left without a home for so many years that the idea of home seemed lost forever; a thing to be grasped that lays just out of reach.

My life…

But, even in the darkness and the sorrow, there is a knowing.  The kind of centered knowing that can only be found with a solid faith foundation in Christ Jesus, carried on by the work of the Holy Spirit, and rooted in experiencing the great and gracious love of God the Father.

In those dark spaces…there is no room for doubt.  Doubt is a liar.  Doubt is a thief that steals our joy and gets us off the right path.  And yet, Doubt is there.  Always questioning, always wondering.  And questioning and wondering bring new understanding and new insight.  Maybe it isn’t the doubt itself that causes us to lose our way, but the fear of what we will find when we wonder.

Fear, it seems to me, is the real enemy behind our doubt.  The enemy that says, don’t ask and don’t wonder and don’t grow.  Fear, as Zach Williams sings, is the liar behind us whispering that the truth is too hard and too scary and too disappointing.

But, fear can’t stand and doubts melt into assurance in the face of truth.  The truth is that we are wanted, loved, and precious Children of God Almighty.  We are righteous without our own merit and forgiven.  We are reconciled, and our souls are eternally free.  The truth is that no weapons formed against us can stand and the enemy must flee at the name of Jesus.  The truth is that we can suit up, arm up, and pray against our enemy and victory can be ours, in the name of Jesus.  We are filled by the Holy Spirit, backed up by the heavenly hosts, and set free by the blood of Christ!!

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Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8: 32 and Paul said, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…”  Ephesians 6: 14. Truth takes the power away from doubt and casts out fear. So, put on the belt of truth, rebuke fear, and stand firm in the face of doubt.

No, life isn’t perfect.  Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen.  Pain and sorrow can be overwhelming and hard to take.  Sickness can be discouraging and relentless, but even then…

Even then, I am learning to “sing because I’m happy.”  Not happy with circumstances, but happy because my soul is free, restored, and whole, because my eternity is secure with Christ and I know this life isn’t all there is.  In that, there is also hope.  And Hope and Truth shut the mouth of Doubt.


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook

Raising Disciples

As a Christian, anytime the word “home” is mentioned, I tend to think long-term, as in our heavenly “home”.

But what do we do with the time we’ve been given right now? What should our earthly home look like?

As my friends and siblings are beginning their own families, I fondly remember the home I grew up in. It was a place that was filled with hospitality: hungry teenagers, sleepovers, parents who encouraged us to invite friends over. I grew up in a home where my parents loved Jesus, and they couldn’t help but want to love on all our friends. My parents took us to church, prayed with us, and ultimately, discipled us.

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I share this free print today to encourage your heart, dear friend. If you have little people running at your feet, these are your small disciples. The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:16-20, says go and make disciples. And to the young parents who are now at home on a Friday or Saturday night, knee-deep in diapers and bottles, bedtimes and Bible stories, simple prayers and sleepless nights, this is my encouragement to you.

These little people, gifted by God, are your disciples. Pray for them, read God’s Word to them. Show them what it means to love Jesus. The seeds of truth you plant when they are young have the opportunity, Lord-willing, to grow into flourishing adults who love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. You may not have it all together; heck, you may feel hopeless at times. But your faith in the Lord is not wasted. It is imprinted into the hearts of those you are raising. I know this to be true, as I am living proof of Jesus-loving, God-fearing parents.

Print this verse out, hang it up, and let it remind you that your work at home is not unnoticed. Your greatest gift to your children is to raise them up loving and knowing Jesus, who will always, always, lead them “home”.

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Click Here for your free 11 X 8.5 print.


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.

Unsatisfied Thirst

When I think of being hungry or thirsty, my mind goes to one thought, “never satisfied.” It’s annoying really. We have to eat and drink fluids or we die. Somehow, the body is never satisfied. We fill it knowing we will continue to be thirsty.

The Samaritan woman in the Bible felt that frustration of nagging thirst. In John 4 (NIV), Jesus goes to a well, tired and thirsty, and asks the Samaritan woman approaching the well for a drink.

Hunger and Thirst Sarah Clews“The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

Jesus is offering the gift of eternal lifethe chance to never be thirsty again—the chance to be satisfied!

Hunger and thirst can be a metaphor for the constant striving we call life on Earth. We’re always hungry for something more. Sometimes we look for it in community, hungry for human connection. To find no friend can love us enough to fill the longing in our hearts. Sometimes we look for it in pleasure, hungry for more fun. Yet it’s so dissatisfying. No sooner is the vacation over, then we are longing for the next one. Sometimes we look for it in money, always looking for that higher paying job. This quote by Will Rogers is hauntingly true, “What’s considered enough money? Just a little bit more.”

Sarah Clews Hunger and ThirstCommunity, pleasure, money—none of these are inherently bad. But getting more of them will always leave us empty. They won’t satisfy our souls. When we look for satisfaction in the temporary, we’ll always be disappointed. I must know in my heart that I’ll only find full satisfaction in heaven and in my relationship with the Divine Creator.

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”- Psalm 107:9

Being in the presence of Jesus, that’s an amazing thing to look forward to. Satisfaction is out there, but it won’t be found without him! When I draw near to God, my hunger and thirst are sated. He isn’t disappointing. He is forever. His love is perfect. His gifts are good.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”-Psalm 16:11


sarah-c-squareSarah 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.

Prioritizing Hunger and Thirst

Author: Karly Grant

Recently I had one of those hard/sweet times with God as He has graciously showed me some of the areas in my life where I am hungering and thirsting after other desires instead of Him and His Word. Some of these areas may appear to be good things on the outside, but inwardly they are at war with the place that belongs to God alone. Sadly, he hasn’t been number one overall. As things that I took for granted have been stripped away, my need for God is causing my Spirit to growl. I’m being renewed and reminded that He is truly all I need.

So what has been so distracting? Let’s start with actual, physical hunger and thirst. For the first time in my adult life, I find myself unemployed and waiting on God to provide a place to live as I take steps of faith that He has called me to take. My moving date has come and gone, and all the pieces I thought would be in place have still not revealed themselves, so I am waiting. However, waiting has a cost.

Hunger and Thirst Karly GrantGrowing up, I was taught to be independent. Suddenly, I find myself with no income, and honestly, some days, not knowing where my next meal is going to come from or if bills will be paid. I don’t like to ask for help and feel like I’m doing something wrong without a job or way to provide for myself in the meantime.

When I can’t provide for myself, God provides for me. When I do provide for myself it is actually a gift from him anyway. As I wait for His timing and provision He has provided for my basic physical needs. Just when I don’t know how I’m going to buy groceries, I get a call asking me to babysit, someone invites me over for dinner, or I have even had people give me money. God has satisfied my physical hunger and I know He will continue to do so.

But what about areas of hunger that are not life threatening but feel like it? I have been known to thirst for relationship. I have wanted to be a wife and a mother all my life, but that has not yet come to be. Unfortunately, the lack of this sometimes leaves my emotions weak.

Yet as I find myself seeking God more, I can truly say that I am satisfied single. I’m an introvert, yet I like having close friends to do things with. Though, when waiting for God to open the door to the next phase of life it’s not always easy on the wallet to go out and do things with friends. Those who understand that hanging out in the parks or on couches with conversation, are like water to dry bones. I am assured that the relationships that are woven with fabric stronger than circumstance and convenience will continue, and in the meantime I am cherishing the super sweet times with Jesus I am finding in this time of transition.

Karly Grant Hunger and ThirstThis season of life is about God and my reliance,and I have made peace with that. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

I definitely don’t have it all together, and I am okay with that. I am willing to let God strip away the parts of my life that skew my priorities. I haven’t prioritized time in His Word or prayer enough, but I am asking and trusting Him to help me hunger and thirst for those things. I know He is faithful and will always be there. I may chase other things in life, but the God who loves me calls me back to Himself. He is quick to forgive and providing what is needed, so I don’t need relentlessly worry for anything. I can rest in Him and His ways.

 


Karly Grant headshotKarly 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. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is  both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

 

Indescribable Glory

We all have defaults. The route we drive if we’re not thinking about it. The dinner we make on stressful days. The comforts we turn to when life hurts. They tend to pop up most in the hard times. When there isn’t enough time, the money is short, or emotions are frazzled.

But sometimes the default turns out to be faulty. I know for me, default mode just isn’t working for day to day life. I must pause and consider. Why?

Why is this my default mode or belief?

How did I choose it?

What did I know then?

What do I know now?

What will I do next time?

The trouble is, defaults run deep. We often don’t even realize we have slipped into one until it is in some way challenged. This is particularly true in what we believe about God. Our actions and attitudes swing on a spectrum in response not to what we have heard or have understood, but to what we deeply hold to be true, whether or not it is in fact true.

Holly Hawes Character of GodMany people believe in “a god” out there somewhere. Perhaps one who got everything started and flung the stars and planets into motion, but who is far off in their daily experience. Or they see God as someone looking to catch them in something, or they simply deny the existence of God entirely. I grew up in church, and the thoughts I had of God were colored through the lens of the interpretation of the people around me. Some resonated with or emphasized different characteristics while others were left out all together. It is vital to be aware of how I can default to seeing God through the interpretation of my own experiences, knowing my interpretations to be fickle and changing things.

We walk in dangerous territory when we try to manufacture our own ideas about God. The only trajectory that seems secure is to read what God says about himself. As Francis Chan simply stated,“ We don’t get to decide who God is.”

So how do we find out what God is like, and how can we know if we are making up a “god” of our own ideas rather than discovering who our creator is?

  • Story: God is described throughout the Bible primarily in narrative, the story of the actual events as God interacted with his creation through which we glean understanding. It can be confusing and filled with tensions we would rather not fight with, but what can be discovered is worth the wrestle. Try reading with a pen nearby and keep track of patterns or attributes you notice. Some are straightforward and stated in the text (God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love), others are described and must be inferred (God created all things, and must enjoy diversity and beauty).
  • Names of God: The Bible is clear that there is one triune God, but there are so many facets to his character that throughout the Bible God is described by using different parts of his character: The God who sees, the living God, God who provides (to name a few). Find a devotional, or free online tool that delves into the places where the original text of the Bible uses different Hebrew words to illuminate for us what God is like.
  • Are you uncomfortable?: If you never have to grapple with an aspect of what Scripture says about God, you may be cherry-picking verses to create a God you are comfortable with, rather than discovering all of who God says he is. This is important, because we are responding to the reality of who God is and who he has revealed himself to be, not creating who we think he should be.

 

For the rest of eternity, we will go deeper into our understanding and relationship with the inexhaustible God who cannot be defined or limited by our human categories.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

The Character of God Holly HawesThere are so many facets to who God is. The creator, redeemer, triune God of the Bible is constantly surprising me with aspects I have never considered. It is astounding that God has chosen to reveal himself to human beings at all, much less that he decided to love us, and be known by us.

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29

 


holly-squareHolly 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 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.

An Extravagant God

After a cold, rainy, windy, bleary winter, I welcome the signs of spring with open arms. The bright pops of yellow in clusters of daffodils, the tentative pink clusters of cherry blossoms, the days when the sun is actually providing a little warmth; lately, I’ve felt struck by the unnecessary beauty of these things.

I’ve felt that in these “extras” is bound the loving kindness of God as he shows us his kindness and mercy in a million beautiful colors and ways. That he made so many marvelous things leaves me in awe. That he created food to not only provide nourishment, but to also be interesting and delicious fills me up. That he placed intricacies into the people around me that point to who he is astounds me.

Sarah Clews The Character of GodOur heavenly Father, in his great kindness, loves to give us good gifts! The gifts of beauty in creation, the gifts of friendship and fellowship with others, the gifts of laughter.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

And when I think of the greatest gift He gave us, I overflow with reverential wonder . He gave to us the gift of his Son’s life. In his kindness, God allowed Jesus to enter into our world, and redeem us from our sins. This in itself would certainly have been far more than we deserve. Yet God doesn’t stop there.

I recently attended an event called The Freedom Project featuring speaker and author Jennie Allen. She focused her presentation on pointing to the gospel and explaining it through the scriptures. Towards the end, she said something striking as she explained God’s plan for eternity. “He [God] could have made us slaves. He could have saved us, but made us slaves, but instead He made us coheirs.” Coheirs. Wow! How unnecessary and extravagant.

In his kindness, God has gone over the top for us. He made the earth for our enjoyment. He created an eternity and He wants us to be part of it! Forever.

The Character of God Sarah Clews (1)But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.Titus 4:3-7 (NIV)

Generous. Extravagant. Kind. That’s the God I worship and look forward to the privilege of eternal life with. That’s the God I love.


sarah-c-squareSarah 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.

God is My Provider

One of the most powerful ways I have seen God’s love and presence is through his provision. Whether it’s a physical need or something deeper, God knows it every time. He discerns what things I think are needs that really aren’t, and He also attends to the deep needs I don’t even recognize are there.

As I think back over the last few years, I am in awe of the many ways God has personally provided for needs in the world around me.

I have seen God provide:

Rachel Olson Character of GodHope to people who had none.

Healing to patients who seemed far too sick to find it.

Unexpected gifts to meet financial needs at exactly the right moment.

Tangible comfort and peace in times of grief.

Opportunities for connection between believers on opposite sides of the world who needed each other’s community.

A place for me to put down roots and find community with other believers after the go-go-go atmosphere of the last few years.

Ways for old things to get stirred up from the nooks and crannies of my heart so they could be resolved.

Sometimes in the moment it’s hard to see what God is doing, or it seems like he’s taking a lot longer than we want. But our God sees every need, and he provides for it in his timing.

When the Israelites left Egypt and wandered the desert, they had a hard time finding food and began to question God. Some even talked about going back to Egypt. But God saw their need and showered down manna from heaven, providing the exact amounts they needed to be filled each day. (Exodus 16)

When Abraham agonizingly prepared to sacrifice his son in obedience to God, he held fast to faith that God would provide another way. At the very last moment, God sent a ram in the thicket; the perfect substitute for Abraham to sacrifice. (Genesis 22)

Character of God Rachel OlsonWhen Adam and Eve disobeyed God, all of creation fell into chaos. On our own, we had no hope of recovery. But God provided his own son, making a way for us to be restored to him. (Genesis 3, 1 John 4:9)

It is in our God’s nature to provide.

I write all of these stories and moments down so that I won’t forget. Each one is a tangible reminder to me of God’s sovereignty, his nearness, and his goodness. It stretches and strengthens my faith to see that every time I step out in risky obedience, God meets me there and provides for my needs. He is present, at work in our world, just as he was in Bible times.

Remembering all the times God has provided in the past gives me patience and faith for tomorrow. Whatever life brings, it gives me hope to know that I can always depend on the God who can do more than I might ever ask or imagine; who loves, and does not hold back what I need—even when my deepest need required his Son.


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.