Submission: Reverence for Christ

Many women gasp when they hear the word submission. The truth is that submission is a Biblical concept and without it there would be no Salvation and no personal relationship with God. You see, a very tender and beautiful act of submission occurred moments before Jesus was betrayed. He sat in the Garden of Gethsemane praying to His Father, His God, His everything. As blood dripped from His skin from the anguish of knowing what would be unleashed upon Him, Jesus fell face down on the ground and uttered these words:

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

Submission is a posture of the heart translated through behavior. It is a loving response to leadership and respecting the order which God has placed. Ephesians 5 alludes to God’s order for marriage, stating that a husband and wife should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submission does not suggest that the wife is a “doormat” as some tend to think. God calls both the husband and wife to submit to each other equally. A beautiful quote by Matthew Henry depicts the purpose of how God created woman, which states:

“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”

Woman was fashioned from the very side of man, designed with beauty and honor as man’s beloved helper. God gave man the incredible gift of companionship through marriage, thus marking the beginning of an amazing love story. Although man and woman were both created equal in God’s image, there is still order.

You see, Christ leads the church through love and her response is submission to Him. In marriage the husband mirrors Christ as he leads his wife and family through love, her response is submission to him. Why? Because that is the way God ordered it, and God’s ways are perfect!

Submission is tender and beautiful.

— Jennifer Smith, Wife After God

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My Pro-Life Ice Bucket Challenge

I knew this day would inevitably come – I finally got nominated to do the ALS Bucket Challenge by my brother-in-law today.  I’ve seen video after video fill up my Facebook news feed and requests to donate to the cause (ALSA.org). I’ve also seen people actually grumble about the videos clogging up with their feeds that would normally be filled with complaints, negativity, celebrity nonsense, selfies, and clutter and noise. I love that this has gone viral and brought so much attention and money to actually HELPING people who really and truly need it.

I’ll admit, I know very little about ALS (or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and I can’t even begin to empathize with the people who suffer from it or the caretakers who lovingly support and care for these people around the clock. I won’t even pretend to be an expert or say I’ve given this disease much thought before this campaign started. So naturally, I wanted to investigate into what I’m exactly donating towards and see where all this campaign’s success was going.

Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t one I could stand behind.

I’ve never been the silent type when it comes to my faith and it’s no secret that I’m adamantly pro-life so this ALS bucket challenge is no different for me. In 2013, ALSA.org contributed over $500,000 to NEALS (Northeast ALS Consortium) and I’m sure that dollar amount will be much higher with all their fundraising success this year.

Here’s where the problem for me lies – NEALS conducts embryonic stem cell research on electively aborted babies past the 8-week pregnancy mark. Research on aborted babies. It actually made me sick to my stomach when I read this. All those unwanted babies, not only treated like disposable garbage by their own mothers but then passed along to be dissected and experimented on without their own consent. All those precious tiny toes and little  fingers, kissable chubby cheeks and bubbly giggles, small hearts that will never beat in this world and curious eyes that will never see their mother’s face. Not okay.

JP2Instead, my donation for ALS will be going towards John Paul II Medical Research Institute, an organization that is dedicated to pro-life ethical research for ALS and many other neurological diseases. People like this are the reasons we are doing this and the reason why research is so important – this is a deadly, scary disease and it affects real people.

But I urge you, no matter where your donations dollar goes, to investigate how and where your money is being used and make sure it aligns with your own beliefs. Don’t donate just to donate but put your dollar into something you truly believe in. For me, it’ll always be LIFE.

Without further ado, here’s my video 🙂

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Our Days are Counted

balmertsLast week, my Grandmother past away after living with bad lungs for years and a really rare heart disease without a cure for the past 6 months.

Without rehashing all the sad details here, I can say that this past week has been so incredibly hard. Losing someone I loved so very much is hard. Watching my mom lose her best friend is hard. Going into her empty house with all her things is hard. Even though she was only 78 – which is far too young to die – I find a bit of comfort in the fact that she is now with my Grandpa, who died last spring and that almost makes it feel…complete, somehow.

There are so many ways to rationalize death, to try and make it feel better. She’s no longer in pain. She lived a long, good life. She was so proud of us all. Everyone has to die sometime. It’s the natural progression of life. She wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. She touched so many lives with her hands and her love. She was surrounded by all her family and loved ones. At least she got to tell us goodbye. She’s in a better place now.

I was reading this Psalm again the other night and found such peace in it:

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
–Psalm 139:16

Before each of us are even born, God has already counted the days of our lives. I think about both my grandparents and all the “what ifs” thoughts we went through as a family. What if…we had taken them in sooner, tried a better hospital, diagnosed them quicker, gave them a different medicine…would they still be with us?

But nothing could make any difference because God already knows. He knows the exact day of my death before I even lived one single day. He knows my life from beginning to end and it’s not over until He says it’s over. So Thursday, August 7, 2014 was my Grandma’s pre-ordained day to pass away and not one of us was going to change that.

It makes death seem so much more on purpose and it takes away the fear. It gives it meaning when all understanding flies out the window. He has a very distinct design for our lives, even until the very last breath we take. When most people feel abandoned or alone, this Psalm reminds us that God is with us and He will never leave us. Because we are His and He is faithful. This is exactly the way it’s suppose to be.

While it may not take away the tears or the pain, there’s such hope and comfort in God’s perfect love.

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Anxious? Look to the Birds.

bird4Today on lunch I had to swing by the bank and when I was waiting in the drive-thru in my car with my windows down, I heard the sweet sound of birds chirping their little hearts out. I noticed a large bird’s nest tucked in the corner of the overhang with four small baby birds sitting in a row. With their little beaks hanging open, they were obviously hungry and the Mama was flying back and forth with food, dropping tiny pieces into each of their waiting mouths.

I sat there for the 3-4 minutes it took to get my deposit back, watching this Mama bird fly to and fro to provide for her four babies with the smallest pieces of food. One of my favorite Scriptures popped into my head, a gentle reminder for the start of a new week:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
–Matthew 6:25-32

Our heavenly Father knows that you needs these things. Above our own earthly wants and desires, He knows exactly what we need. We all carry baggage with us through life, things that worry us, things that stress us out. Anxiety, worry, stress is a waste of our heart beats because it won’t add a second to our lives. This I know too well – I love being in control and I’ve spent too much time being stressed out and worried over things out of my control. And for what? Anxiety changes nothing but adds wrinkles to my face and worry to my heart.

I love this.

A bird. A small, inconsequential bird will not go hungry, nor will we. When life seems so hard and things get really messy, it’s easy to forget that God provides for each of the smallest of birds and He WILL provide for us. What trust we must have in Him that He will never abandon us in our need. We are worth it and He is with us.

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Secular Pro-Lifers on the Rise

“The same far-right Christian fundamentalists who favor outlawing abortion and overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision of 1973…” blah, blah, blah.

I came across an article – it really doesn’t matter who or where – and immediately I am bothered by the above small excerpt. The thing that gets to me the most is the assumption that you have to be a radical far-right Christian to believe that murdering an unborn baby is wrong and should not be legal.

This whole thing has been on my mind for some time and it just doesn’t make sense to me. Why do you have to believe in Jesus to believe killing a baby is wrong? Shouldn’t you believe killing a baby is wrong, whether you are Jewish, Hindu or even just a sane human living on Planet Earth? Isn’t it murder, taking of a life, killing a human person, no matter where you spend your Sunday morning?

Here’s a hopeful fact: there are over six million non-religious pro-lifers in the United States.

mother-tSIX million people who value life, who believe murdering an unborn baby inside a mother is wrong and who don’t associate with any religion.

Since the late 1960s, abortion advocates have deliberately framed abortion in religious terms. Why? Because it pegs ALL pro-lifers as crazy radical religious nuts, scaring away secular people from taking sides and standing up for our unborn babies. Americans under the age of 30 are both the least religious and the most pro-life generation to date and yet leftist liberals even today are constantly portraying pro-lifers as religious lunatics. We need more secular people standing up, being vocal and pushing against this stereotype.

I am a Christian and I have been for my entire life. And maybe I am a bit “radical” about it (mostly just Jesus). BUT…this goes beyond faith or a set of beliefs right down to the core of our conscious. I really believe that – apart from being a crazy “radical” Christian – there is something inherently good in the human soul that recognizes what a tragedy abortion is. That realizes how insane and deranged America is for legalizing then promoting and celebrating the killing of 50 million of our own people, helpless innocent babies.

You don’t have to be a follower of Jesus to understand how incredibly devastating this situation is. Being a human with a moral conscious is enough. At least, you would think, it should be enough.

So enough already. For the sake of us all, this whole “crazy religious lunatic” bit is over-done and exhausted so I think it’s time for them to change their tune.

PS – You have to read this testimony from an ex-Planned Parenthood employee. It’s incredibly haunting, raw and powerful.

What is God blessing?

Don’t ask God to bless the things we want to do.
Just do the things He is already blessing.

Up unto maybe a year or so ago, I had big plans for myself. Things I wanted to do professionally and personally, opportunities I pursued that felt right at the time but ended up going nowhere. I had my hopes up so high and I was devastated when my plans were silenced. For the first time in my life, I felt a bit lost. Like I was in a rut and wasn’t sure how to dig myself out of it.

I think many people can easily slip into this same attitude, where the mundane every day life leaves you feeling like you should be doing something more. Like your own life is passing you by without being an active part in it. Like there’s something great waiting out there for you and you just need to figure out what it is and how to reach it.

I realized three important things that have changed my perspective:

  1. God is on my side. He is for ME. I have said this many times before…I’m not big into the whole destiny/fate concept but I believe that God has a very specific plan for my life. Truly, a real, actual plan. He is working on me everyday, molding me, pursuing me, romancing me. If God – Lord of all –  is for ME, who can stand against me? I have such confidence walking through life knowing He is on my side and it makes the every day little things seem so beautiful and alive.
  2. I can give glory to God through the everyday things. Not everyone is meant to live this exciting, jet-setting life and honestly, it doesn’t matter how much money I make or if I am the President of the U.S. or a McDonald’s cashier. There are many ways to give glory to God, no matter where I am in life. Really and truly. Now I go to work with with a whole new attitude of appreciation and just pure gratitude. I get to wake up and spend the better part of my days raising my kids and my family is the very most important thing to me, besides my faith. Something greater? What is greater than tucking in my kids into bed every night? How can I complain? Why spend a single second more being miserable?
  3. Don’t ignore my God-given talents. God gives each us very specific talents and gifts that are wasted if we don’t use them. A year or two ago, I tried my hardest to break through a new opportunity and every avenue I pursued to reach this dream was shut down on me. It was my plan, my hopes, my pursuit and it got me nowhere. So when doors are clearly shutting in my face, I know He is there redirecting me. God has placed certain passions and talents in me and I am learning to find His voice and pursue what He places in my heart. A huge challenge of this desire to let Him lead is also knowing when to say yes to Him, here I am Lord.

Which all brings me back to one of my favorite quotes: Don’t ask God to bless the things we want to do. Just do the things He is already blessing. Why have I been so insistent on “finding my calling” and “living out my passions” and “pursuing my dream job”? Why do I push, push push for what I want and what I think is right for me? When I take a step back and look around me, there are areas of my life He is clearly leading me to, so why not pursue these blessing whole-heartedly instead of trying to create my own?

I am waiting, listening and letting Him pull me in whatever direction He wants and it’s working.

He’s working.

And I have never felt more at peace with where I am at.

Happiness Apart from God

happiness“Happy are those whose hope is in the Lord their God.”–Psalm 146:5

Happiness. What a loaded word that is thrown out there so casually and commonly. Where do you even begin to look for happiness? We are all searching for something in life – for contentment, love, fulfillment…and most of all, people naturally just want to be happy.

Sadly, we live in a country with broken families, unhealthy bodies, lost souls and crushed spirits and the priorities of the world, the media, Hollywood, reality shows, etc. have become the priorities of people. They are telling us we need to live like them to be happy. But here’s the thing about worldly happiness – it is fleeting. It is always fleeting. You may think that new purse or designer shoes or a better boyfriend or a different career or a bigger house will finally give you happiness in your life but those things are empty. These are shallow, materialistic priorities of the world that will leave you searching for more. Or maybe you’ve turned to a self-loving, self-centered life where you think doing the things that you love, spending time and money on you, raising yourself up for your own dreams will finally give you the happiness you deserve. The “you” may be exactly where your unhappiness lies.

“You can’t fully enjoy creation without enjoying the Creator.”

Here’s the thing…God alone can provide true, everlasting happiness to your life. Seriously. Think about it. Who can possibly love you more than the One who created you? The God who breathed the stars into existence sky is the same God who breathed life into your lungs. He knows every corner of your heart, hears every thought in your brain and counts every hair on your head. He loves us with an unconditional, selfless, forever love that we can’t possibly begin to comprehend. He wants us to be happy, to lead fulfilling, fruitful lives. He is on our side if we invite Him into our lives to stay and God NEVER fails. Ever. Can you name one time in the last 3,000 years that God has broken a promise to anyone? Never.

We will all leave this world one day and the second we die, we cannot take one single worldly thing with us. So why, then, do we invest so much of our energy, money and heart on things that do not matter? There has to come a point in everyone’s life where we let go of control, a huge challenge that I’ve struggled with. I used to love control, love knowing exactly what will happen, having everything perfectly tied up with a neat bow. I had all these plans and dreams for how my life should look. But God looked at my plans, laughed and said, No, daughter of mine. I am the one who created you so how can you possibly know what my plans are for your life?

We are each designed for a specific purpose in our lives. Literally, God has a very detailed outline of what His plans are for each and every one of our lives. So only when we truly leave things up to God – and trust He will lead our lives – will we find the life of happiness that we’ve always imagined.