A Letter to my Husband

2.14.2017 | No comments

I am pretty sure my husband doesn't read much of what I put on the internet, not because he doesn't care or support me, but he literally has twenty thousand other things to read for work and grad school.  I know he cares, and I know he loves me.  He shows his love to me every day in word and in deed.  I am dedicating this one to him, because after all, he is my biggest cheerleader, my most dedicated listener, and my most favorite person.

Dear Mark,

When I first met you in Starbucks over 5 years ago, I really couldn't have predicted that it would land us in an 800-square foot apartment in Virginia with two kids and a cat. (Okay, the cat maybe, you were forced to inherit her) After meeting you for the third time, I am glad I finally remembered your name.  Day after day, sitting in Starbucks at the same table did something to me.  You showed me what being a man hungry for the Lord looked like on a daily basis; for the first time in my life I witnessed what it looks like for a man to be intentional in dating.  I saw what a platonic relationship formed from conversations on the pages of scriptures looked like, and got to feel that first hand.  You were everything I did not want to lose, but everything I told myself I wasn't worthy to have. So friends I convinced myself that's all we'd ever be.

On the night of my 23rd birthday you asked me if you could "pursue me in a dating relationship the way that Christ pursues the Church."  After picking up my jaw from the ground and scooping up my melted heart, I obliged, but wanted to take it slow.  So naturally, you thought 9 days later for our first date was slow.  Thank you for not going at my pace.

I am so grateful you didn't count my messy life before Christ against me.  I am so glad you only saw who Christ saw me to be: new, pure, whole.

Mark, your passionate and aggressive pursuit of the Lord is what I find so abnormally attractive in you.  Of course, there's your washboard abs, perfectly styled Hollywood hair, and those legs.....oh I'm sorry, I digress.  But when all your physical attractiveness fades from the world's standards, there you will be absolutely brilliant in Christ.  That is what is so unnaturally attractive in you, it's Christ.

I see the way you read your bible first thing in the morning.  I would be lying if it didn't irritate me to a degree.  Here I am slaving away trying to get Ezra to stop screaming, and all you can do is read your bible.  And then I have to stop myself and repent, because it is so incredibly beautiful and manly to see you seek the Lord.  There is nothing I would rather see you do in the morning.  I see the way you pray every night on your knees beside our bed.  And I would be lying if I didn't feel convicted watching you as I scroll aimlessly on my phone.  But again, that is what I find so attractive in you.  It's your ability to trust Jesus with not just our kids, not just our marriage, not just our finances or job, but it's literally the way you trust Jesus with your entire being.

Now is the part where you are too humble to accept me thinking all this of you, but this is what I see on a daily basis.  Now is the part where you say, "Yeah, but I know my heart, and I don't trust the Lord as I should."  But Mark, that's not what I see.

You challenge me daily to grow closer to the Lord.  I wish every marriage could have this element.  I wish every husband could offer as much encouragement as you offer me.  I wish every husband offered as much support to their wives as you provide for me.  Your plate is fuller than most, but still you find time to set aside specially for me.  I wish every husband could see their wives body language they way you see mine and talk it out.  I know you're not a mind reader, and I am sorry for trying to make you one.  Thank you for being patient with me, I know I am not the easiest person.

Thank you for listening to me, and not just for listening, but also hearing me.  You really hear me and it causes you to act in love in ways people drool over in movies.  I know we're not perfect and we don't have a perfect marriage, but as I see it, it's really close to what a lot of people probably dream of.  I know we have our disagreements, but thank you for not getting animated or heated about them.  Thank you for being a rational man and seeing me as your equal in marriage and parenting.  Submitting has always been a struggle for me, but being married to a man of your caliber sure makes it not only easier, but super enjoyable.  I wish all women found the joy in submitting to their husbands the way I have with you.  I am sorry for some of the words I say in anger or the numerous eye rolls and huffs under my breath in frustration.

I want to effectively emulate the porcelain the bible says women are.  I want to have the quiet and gentle spirit the bible commands women to embody.  I want to be diligent in seeking the Lord and raising our children to love Christ.  I want you to know I respect you, and I want to honor you in front of all, because you my Husband, are unmatched.  

So thank you for seeking the Lord, for loving him far above any one else or any thing.  Thank you for loving coffee as much as I do, for it is partly responsible for the last 5 years.  Thank you for being the most thoughtful husband and kindest dad.  You are so adored.

I love you,

What I Mean When I Say I am "Pro-Life"

2.11.2017 | No comments

When I say I am "pro-life," I literally mean I value life, ALL life, made in the image of God.  A life He fashioned for a purpose.  He desires ALL persons to turn to him. All, not just the persons that look similar to your reflection.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
- 1 Peter 3:9
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
- Acts 4:12
I am pro-human; pro-unborn; pro-unsure pregnant mom; pro-poor; pro-wealthy; pro-refugee; pro-woman; pro-man; pro-LGBT; pro-enemy; pro-leaders; pro-police; pro-black; pro-white; pro-muslim; pro-christian. pro-LIFE. I am pro-PERSON.  I am "pro-life" because life is valuable in the eyes of our Maker.  We have value because of who created us.  Just like Starry Night is valuable because van Gogh painted it.  We are valuable because of who made us; and who made us is the great I AM.  From before the foundation of the world, he knew us and had us in mind.  As Jesus died on the cross, he had us in mind.  We are valuable because God says we are.  So from conception to resurrection, we are valuable and valued, all of us.  He created us in His likeness with dignity and purpose.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
- Isaiah 64:8
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!
- Psalm 8:3-8
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
- Genesis 1:26-27

Whether we agree with decisions made by such persons or even support the lifestyles choices of those persons is contrary to whether or not we re able to extend love in a Christ-like way.  Others' sins are not to hinder our ability to demonstrate Christ's love; for if this was the case, we would still be separated from the great love of Christ.  He sought us in our sin, loved us, pulled us out of that sin, and walks with us in the path of righteousness.   Agreeing or disagreeing with someone's life choices is separate from our ability to care and value their lives.  It is unrelated to our responsibility and ability to share the redeeming love and salvation message of Christ.  Disagreeing with someone's choices should not cause us to see them as less than human or unworthy of Christ's love.  Whether they run this country, are growing inside the womb, have broken relationships, are fleeing from an oppressive government, or practice a different religion; if we shut out those who differ from us, how can we possibly demonstrate biblical Love to our neighbors.

my friend Sepideh and her parents: all are Iranian refugees
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
- Mark 12:30-31
'For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
- Matthew 25:35-46
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’  Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.
- Luke 10:29-37 

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 4:19

So when I say I am "pro-life," that is what I mean.

(updated from my original Facebook post)

Joy: February Link-Up

1.29.2017 | No comments

It seems like yesterday the ball dropped and we issued in 2017; however, here we are welcoming in February.  This month's link-up theme is JOY.
"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

Joy is described as a feeling of great pleasure or happiness.  The fullness of JOY is only found in total surrender to Christ.  This means giving up control, yielding to the Lord's will, submitting to his Lordship; and in the process, receiving and experiencing the ultimate joy of freedom.

It's no surprise to anyone that life changes quicker than the seasons.  Sometimes those changes are expected, and sometimes they aren't.  Regardless, life continues and we must adapt.  This past month our second child, Piper Joy, was born.  For as much as you can prepare your home, heart, routine, and attitude for a new addition to your family, you never are prepared until you get thrown into it first hand.  We can read all the books, get all the advice, go to all the prenatal classes, and even practice taking care of little ones; but it in no way compares to living out the daily grind of a changed life.

If there is one thing I have learned in the past two weeks since Piper's arrival, is I have to actively choose joy.  I have to actively seek joy.  I have to commit to patience. I have to demonstrate patience.  I have to call upon the Lord.  I have to rely fully on the Lord.
"The meek shall obtain fresh JOY in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel."
- Isaiah 29:19

My husband is such a thoughtful, gentle, and strong man.  He knows how difficult it is for me to be content in my sacrifice to be a stay-at-home-mom, but he also knows it is a daily struggle for me to rest in the peace of Christ, exhibit joy in my attitude, and deal patiently in my speech.  He's seen the tears and he's heard the cries.  When Piper was born, he presented me with a homemade prayer project.  He created a guide with a bible verse each day for me to prayer over for Piper, Ezra, and myself.  Each verse has to do with JOY since that is Piper's middle name.  After praying over these verses the last couple days, it has been amazing to see Christ provide strength in care-taking, soften my speech, and definitely provide JOY despite the thunderous cries, shotty routines, cranky toddler and milk-guzzling newborn, and a blown out diaper.
Our daughter Piper Joy has brought a fresh perspective of what it means to have JOY in our lives and what it means to rely on Christ for strength, joy, and patience.  I am grateful for this change in our lives.  It has truly brought great pleasure and happiness, but I only get to experience this joy to the fullest extent because my life belongs to Christ Jesus.

Are you linking up this month?

If you do decide to participate, please put one of the buttons on your page so others will be sent to the link-up and can link their posts too. (More button options HERE, if you don't like any of them, feel free to make your own.)

  • Any link that is unrelated to the specific topic or does not link back to this blog will be deleted. 
  • Make sure you give some love to at least 2 other bloggers who have linked their posts.  I will be reading and commenting on each link that is left. YAY!  Remember, it's about community. 
  • This link-up with expire on February 10.
  • If you tag me in your post on Twitter, I will retweet you! (#linkupJOY and @noodlenay42)

28-Day Prayer Guide for Women

1.21.2017 | No comments

Over the next 28-days, I pray that you will be able to draw closer to the Lord in the spiritual discipline of prayer.   I pray that you would commit to pouring out your heart to him and commit to listening to his precious Word.

Grab a journal, a pen, and your bible, and with a willing heart sit down before the Father in the stillness and write out your requests to him.  It might be a struggle at first, but stick with it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or eloquent. We have a Father in Heaven who hears and listens, and he delights in us.

  • There is no right or wrong way to begin writing down your prayers. You may have had a diary when you were younger. The premise is the same, except you are writing to holy Jesus, not a lifeless, emotionless journal.
  • There is no right or wrong length of prayer. Some days you may write a few lines, while other days may take a page or two. It’s your time with the Lord, an intimate fellowship that is an open line of communication between you both. You make your requests, but you also listen.
  • Prayer asserts our dependence on God. We are helpless. We are not in control. We need to pour out our hearts to the one who has rescued us and holds the universe together. We need to tap into that rich love and that incredible power.
  • Prayer is your lifeline to the Father. You may find that writing your prayers done will help you stayed focused. You may be a doodler and draw in the margins. You may find that the first few days are awkward. And that is all okay. God does not think you sound stupid or wordy or weird or whiney, he just wants to hear you. Don’t neglect this spiritual discipline. Commit to being with him.

You can download the 28-day prayer guide by clicking on the graphic below. 

Have a question? 
Ask me in the comments below. 

We are not Self-Sufficient

1.18.2017 | No comments

Why do we treat dependence as such a negative thing, and celebrate every aspect of independence?  I am reading the book "None Like Him" by Jen Wilkin, and she talks about the unique self-sufficiency of God among other unparalleled attributes of our God.

When I think of self-sufficiency in my own life, I automatically think of that as a good thing, a celebrated thing by society, and something on which I can instantly pride myself.  However, God is truly the only self-sufficient One.  We are finite, created beings, and severely limited by our needs.  Our needs drive us to action, sometimes that's a good thing and many times that can be a bad thing.

For me, I get a kick on being able to do it all.  I selfishly love that people might think, "Wow, she's got it going on."  But the truth is, I don't; and I'm not sure I have really ever fooled anyone except myself.  Certainly I have never fooled God.  I often times pride myself on being able to do most things without asking for help, but it leaves me drained and overwhelmed.  That festers into an unpleasant demeanor and a bitter spirit.  I definitely do not have it going on.
I simply can't do everything by myself, and neither were you.  We weren't created to be.

"We are not needy because of sin, we are needy by divine design."
None Like Him, page 63

And finally, I am okay with that reality.  Are you?

We were created to be dependent on the One who created us and on other believers.  Only God, the uncreated One; the One who has always been, is incapable of being dependent on anything he creates.

It would be like me saying because I painted a picture, I need it to complete me or help me survive in some fashion.  It would be like me saying that the picture is free to do what it pleases: it can hang itself on the wall, it can choose the frame it wants to be put in to, it can copy itself, it can choose its own value.  That's insane, or is it?  Of course that picture would need me to do those things for it.

Same is true for God. We need Him, but he certainly needs us not.  He created us for his good pleasure, but not to sustain him or fill some need.  He is already self-sustaining, self-sufficient.  It is who he has always been, and will always be.

God created us.  We are God's picture.

Maybe a hard and challenging pill to swallow for a finite, created being like us to try and understand the creation of the infinite, uncreated Father.  But let that cause you to fall into a deeper worship of God, the one who created you for his pleasure, who delights in you.
"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.
Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being;' as even some of your own poets have said,  'For we are indeed his offspring'."
Acts 17:24-28

Jen provides a self-evaluation if you think you may be attempting a self-sufficient life without dependence on Christ or fellow believers:
  • Prayerlessness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Anger in trial
  • Lack of conviction of personal sin
  • Avoidance of Christian community
  • Concealment
  • Lack of accountability
  • Lack of humility
  • Exhaustion

So basically if I check myself with this list, I've been living in self-sufficient sin.  Time to repent and seek the Lord.  This is causing me to worship my self-sufficient, self-sustaining, all-knowing Creator even more.

To combat some of these areas, I have created a 28-day prayer guide that I will be walking through in February.  If you are interested in downloading it, you will be able to do that on Saturday right here on the blog.

Where are you at in the battle of self-sufficiency?

Note: I am in no way affiliated with any links, authors, companies.  I do not get paid for any clicks, likes, or shares.  

Day 13 Idolatry + Day 14 Journaling

1.13.2017 | No comments

Today's scripture:
1 Chronicles 16:8-36

When you read the title of today's devotional, a few things might have run through your head.  Upon thinking about idols, you may have thought about the popular TV show American Idol.  Maybe you thought about the carved statues in East Asian religions.  Or perhaps you thought of your celebrity role model.  Regardless, you have a pretty good understanding of what idols can be and may be in your life.

After reading the passage in the Bible however, you might think that titling today "Idolatry" was odd.  True, this is song of thanksgiving from David. However, I think it is really important to note that David understood his place before God.  He knew God, and most importantly, he was known by God.

David refused to worship anything or anyone but the Lord.  In this song of praise, David shows so much adoration to our heavenly Father.  We can learn a lot from that.

When we have a grateful heart toward the Lord that pours out praise and adoration and thanksgiving, it enables us to have a proper posture before the Lord.  We cannot serve two masters as we looked at last week in Matthew (Day 3).  That means we cannot worship both God and something or someone else.  When you are ascribing glory to the Lord, thanking him for your salvation, remembering his great works, trembling before his throne, and seeking him continually; there is no place for worshipping a lowercase-g god.

Idolatry is the act of worshiping some thing instead of the one true God.  Anything is capable of becoming a god in our lives: marriage, money, children, cars, body-image, time, social media, food. 

Verse 11 holds the keep for us.
"Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually."
The Lord promises he will be found if you earnestly seek him (Matthew 7:7).

However, as it says in Psalm 115 (please please don't neglect this passage in your 'New Bloom' devotional), when we forgo the glory of Christ and glorify the man-made, the finite, we become as is our idol: worthless and useless, absolutely dead.

Worship the one true capital-g God.  He is worthy of our praise.  He never ends. He is not man-made. He is living. He sees.  He speaks.  He hears. And he is our empathetic Savior.  Abandon your idols, hold fast to Christ.

What tends to becomes an idol in your life? 

Do you lead a life of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord?

Day 14 is designed to let you reflect on this past week of scripture readings and questions. Revisit a verse that really stuck out to you.  Jot down a phrase with which you really connected.  Scribble a prayer of gratitude or repentance.  Ask Christ to give you a desire for more of him. However you choose to do use your quiet time, stay focused on your time with the Lord.


More from New Bloom:

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, likes or dislikes about the New Bloom devotional, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment below and I will respond.  Thank you so much for taking this 2-week journey with me.  It has truly been an exciting adventure and I hope you grew in your walk with the Lord as much as I have.  I hope you have been encouraged in Christ these past 14 days.  

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