Books · Discipleship · Motherhood · Rooted in Christ · Testimony

Finding God’s Speed – Living Slow

Siestas in Mexico, teatime in the Swiss Alps, or foamed milk with honey in the Northwest. Taking time out of our days, to savor the flavors and relationships in our lives has taught me to slow down in different seasons of life. When my husband suggested I watch a recent short documentary called “Godspeed: The Pace of Being Known”, I found myself retreating into the rolling green fields and woodlands of Scotland as I listened to the story of a preacher who had to relearn what it meant to know and be known.

This film reminded me of the joys I experience when I intentionally live slowly, to sit in and smell the fresh cut green grass as winter fades into spring, to lay down in the middle of a mountain stream and immerse myself in its refreshing currents, to watch the birds bounce from branch to branch outside my window. Years ago, I was living in Scotland working at a church. It was common for me to walk down the main street of the village to the train station, jump on a train to visit a town just a few villages away along the west coast of Ayrshire. I didn’t have a phone to look at and scroll through, so I looked out the window and took in the beauty of the woodlands and the old stone flats. Perhaps I would listen in on the conversations of other passengers. Arriving into one of my favorite villages, I ordered a latte at the cozy coffee and gift shop, and wrote in my journal for a couple hours, took walks through the town’s shops or took a ferry to a nearby island. Life was slow.

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And in the years of starting a family, it was the walks in the pine forests with my husband and kids, or the walks along the boardwalk breathing in the ocean air, as they fell asleep in the stroller, or exploring a canyon, or sitting at the park while they excitedly climbed and chased and played. It was the afternoon feedings that brought stillness to my soul and caused me to slow down. As my children are now all in the school age years, I am noticing this phenomenon of how fast the years go by every time I stop to observe how tall my children are – they are growing up fast! Each one so precious, so loved, such a treasure! I want to take it all in. I want to observe every special moment and lock it into my memory. I want to walk slowly, read aloud, and drink tea. My kids are all tea drinkers… that makes my mama heart happy.

I’m taking a break from writing on my blog for a while. We are about to enter into another season of transition as a family and it is time to put this little writing space to rest for a while. But before I go, I want to share four resources that have really blessed me lately. I hope they bless you too!

First, this video called “Godspeed: The Pace of Being Known

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Second, this little classic book I read when I was just 19 years old. Andrew Murray’s little book on Humility is a treasure and was part of our discipleship training that I was a part of when attending His Hill Bible School in Texas many, many moons ago. This is by far the most incredible teaching I have ever read/heard on the much needed topic of humility. (A paperback version can be found here).

Third, this podcast on Identity by Journey Woman. This is an episode I will go back to often as the struggle to put our identity in Christ and not the things of this world is a battle we face every day, and we need these truth reminders every day.

Fourth, the podcast Emotionally Healthy Leader is an excellent encouragement for anyone wanting to live an emotionally healthy life.

In Christ alone,
Jen

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Holidays · Music · Rooted in Christ · Vignettes & Poetry

The Perfect Easter Morning – Some Day

On a perfect Easter morning, I imagine that I would wake up with the sun shining its rays through my window after a full night’s sleep. My Easter lily that sits on my kitchen table would have opened and bloomed already. I would have my paska bread already baked and awaiting the finally decorating stages. My children’s clothes would be neatly washed, dried, and ironed, and no stressful moments trying to get out the door to church.

On a perfect Easter morning, my friend’s 10 month old baby would still be alive. My dear elderly friend would greet me and the kids at church as she sat beside the coffee table with the warmest smile as if she had been waiting just for me. Its how she greeted everyone she knew. She would still be with us. I would have woken up with no anxiety, no depression. On a perfect Easter morning…

But its not a perfect world, which is why we needed a Savior. It is why we needed a Rescuer to purchase our freedom from sin and redeem us. It is why we needed a King to defeat death itself.

Resurrection Sunday is a day of rejoicing that our Savior rose from the dead. It is a day of rejoicing, and yet I still feel the darkness. I still feel the sadness of loss and grief. I still struggle with a depression that I can’t explain. It is a day of rejoicing and rejoice, I do, with all my heart. Every word that is sung, sung with passion. I sing the songs of my freedom, purchased for me by my Savior. I love Him more than ever before and I have loved Him that deeply since I was seven years old. I look to the sky and remind my four year old as we look out the window at the rising sun in the early morning, that Jesus is coming back one day.

The light in the darkness, the hope in the sorrow, the joy in the pain. The Lord walks with us in our weakness and His grace is sufficient. His light pierces our darkness. I tucked in the corners of our patchwork quilt as I made the bed this morning and sang,

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
Life is worth the living, just because He lives
-Kristin Chenoweth

I look forward to the day when Jesus returns, when there will be no more tears, where there will be no more suffering. While we remain, the Lord is present with us and we continue to speak truth and light into the darkness, and continue to seek His beauty, with eyes to see and ears to hear, we sing the songs of our freedom. That perfect Easter morning is coming and some day will be.

Some day my earthly house will fall,
I cannot tell how soon ’twill be,
But this I know, my All in All
Has now a place in heaven for me.

Some day the silver cord will break
And I no more as now shall sing,
But, oh, the joy when I awake
Within the Palace of the King.

Some day, when sets the golden sun
Beneath the rosy-tinted west,
My blessed Lord shall say “Well done!”
And I shall enter into rest.
Some day – till then I’ll watch and wait,
My lamp well-trimmed and burning bright,
That when my Savior opens the gate
My soul to Him may speed its flight.

-Fanny Crosby, Some Day

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But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Luke 24:1-12

 

 

 

Discipleship · Holidays · Music

Good Friday – Songs of Freedom

When I woke up this morning and the kids were all huddled around the tv watching Star Wars Rebels, awaiting the promised pancake breakfast I was about to prepare, I opened the blinds in our living room and watched as squirrels were feasting on the spilled birdseed I had set on the patio step and of course, forgot about as its been raining forever out here, and necessarily, everything that gets left on the porch gets forgotten about! As our woodland friends scattered, I opened the door and felt the sun immediately upon my face. I stood there, enveloped in golden sunshine, muddy garden off to the side of the patio, little green buds of hope on the branches and a mess of spilled birdseed to clean up. I wanted to linger, as I smiled and let the warmth minister to me. It is a beautiful concept to me to think on how God’s created order can bring health and healing, even in a fallen world. Everything is affected by the Fall, by sin, but the created order is still good, very good, and Jesus is coming back to make all things new.

It is Good Friday. We are Christians. We celebrate Good Friday in remembrance of our Lord’s sacrifice for us. This morning I shared with my kids a video clip from The Bible Project to explain, once again, the historical events of Holy Week and what that means for those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As I shared with my kids in our devotional time this morning, my son asked a very good question:

Why is it called “Good” Friday?

I read them this answer from one of my husband’s professors which was a contribution to his latest album by Gateway Hymns:

Why Good Friday?

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;
With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
(From In Memory of W.B. Yates by W.H. Auden)

It is good to celebrate Good Friday. Not because the events of Good Friday are good in themselves. No, we will receive no real comfort in the darkness of the tomb. We will find ourselves alone. It is good to celebrate Good Friday not because suffering is good, but because the Cross is inevitable. And the God who is good is nonetheless there in the dark.

We must practice getting to the bottom of darkness, because that is where we are all headed. In life, we are in death. We have need of knowing the darkness. Of getting acclimated to the arid landscape of our lives. So that we won’t be frightened. So that we will know that there—God is even and especially there.

It is in the midst of Friday that we must confess the goodness of God. It is in our imprisonment that we sing the song of freedom.

Dr. Robbie Griggs

As we remember the day of our Lord’s sacrifice, and prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday to remember and celebrate His historical resurrection, we sing the songs of our freedom.

He comes to make His blessings known
Far as the curse is found…
-Joy To The World

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Holidays · Music · Rooted in Christ

Holy Week – Gateway Hymns

The bare branches outside my window have waited a long winter for their spring dressing. It has been a cold winter and every day the cold lingers, we long for spring and we hope more deeply. Even though I can’t see all the evidence of spring yet, there are hopeful signs all around. The red cardinal and his brown feathered mate have been spotted by my kids as we’ve huddled inside from the rain, peering out the window. A little brown house finch has been perching on the branches from time to time and buds are growing on the trees. We wait for them to unfold their glory.

In a way, I am welcoming spring by faith, with a steadfast hope, knowing that this season will manifest itself in all its evidence soon enough, in time. I need the spring, and the beauty of new life. It has been a long winter.

In the span of several weeks, there has been great loss and sorrow. Supporting others in their losses, and now this past week, walking through the loss of a cherished friend, so dear to me. The Lord was so sweet in giving me one last moment with her several weeks ago. Special moments I treasure in my heart. Last week, I got to hold her hand one more time. Now she holds the hands of Jesus. We have walked a long winter.

This week, I am sharing the most recent album by Gateway Hymns as we celebrate Holy Week. We are desperately in need of life and hope! I will walk this Holy Week with these sorrows fresh in my heart, but with the joy that our Risen King has defeated death forever.

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Gateway Hymns – Good Friday

Gateway Hymns “is a project started by Craig Harris and Brent Johnson as a collaboration effort to supply music for the church.” Several other musicians and artists have contributed to this album. The most recent album, is simply called Good Friday. The five songs are written specifically in remembrance of Good Friday, the day Jesus, the Son of God was crucified, and on him was laid the sins of the world, as he paid the penalty for our sin, so that we don’t have to. The words are powerful, the melodies haunting, and the emotions reflective of the sorrow and pain of our Lord, crucified. The songs carry the listener through a journey from the Garden of Gethsemane to the anguish and lament after Christ’s crucifixion.

 

 

Rooted in Christ · Vignettes & Poetry

It Is Well With My Soul – Winter’s Close

Amid the cold, dark days of winter, the snow, the ice, the wind, something is growing, forming, transforming though the treasure lies hidden deep within. Sometimes the storm  and sometimes the pain are too hard to bear. We live in this broken world where our minds falter, our bodies fail, and our hearts don’t know how to heal. But do not despise the cold winter. There is beauty buried within. And when the warm rays of sunshine bring forth the beauty in its time, that treasure unseen will become seen and the glory of that hidden redemptive beauty will be revealed. At the close of winter, I am reminded not to despise the winter seasons of our lives, for there is beauty in the bare branches, the fresh fallen snow and the knowledge that life is growing deep within the seeds that will soon break forth in their glory.

At the close of winter, I sing this song.

It Is Well With My Soul

Discipleship · Education · Motherhood · Parenting

Educating Our Children & Gospel Freedom

As I drove past the magnolia tree in our community yesterday, I pointed out to the kids that soon there will be flowers on the tree. It gave me great delight that soon the sun will be daily radiating its light in a clear blue sky, and the air will be warm with the smell of blossoms in the early morning. Spring is almost here, boxes are being packed and a season of change is about to blossom. With that change, for many of us in the  community where we live, we are thinking of next steps for us, our jobs, and our childrens’ education. So many factors play into this including income, location, educational options, and the unique needs of our children. We commit these things to prayer and ask God for wisdom, which He will indeed honor.

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about educating our children with grace. I believe so strongly in this that as Christians we need to bring all these factors to the Lord and ask for His wisdom in the path He wants us to take. It will look different for everyone. The following resources from Risen Motherhood are beautifully done and very helpful to me as we consider what this next school year will look like for our children. Since many parents are in the process of considering their options for the next year, I hope these resources can give rest, peace, and a reminder of the freedom we have in Christ, the faith that we can trust God to guide each one of us, and the joy in knowing that our Father God is with us in whatever direction He takes us.

Listen to the Education Series that is currently airing on Risen Motherhood:

Freedom in Education – Choosing an Education Option for your Child

Featured topics and speakers:

How Should I Educate My Children? The Case for Freedom In School Choice, Part 1

Freedom In School Choice: Melissa Kruger – Private School, Part 2 – COMING 3.14.18

Freedom In School Choice: Irene Sun – Homeschool, Part 3 – COMING 3.21.18

Freedom In School Choice: Jen Wilkin – Public School, Part 4 – COMING 3.28.18

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Discipleship · Holidays · Marriage · Rooted in Christ

Serving Together in Marriage {Deeply Rooted Magazine}

There are so many things I love about Valentine’s Day. Making our own Valentine’s cards and crafts, baking cupcakes or cookies with red hearts on top, sharing in our children’s joy and all their little Valentine’s cards and treats that they give and receive from friends, and just taking time to make the day a family and friends celebration of love, ultimately of God’s extravagant love for His people. These are some of the ways we love to celebrate.

As I think about Valentine’s Day, I also reflect on the love I share with my husband and how God has worked in and through our marriage. Today I am sharing some of my heart about marriage, ministry and serving together over on Deeply Rooted Magazine.

Marriage is a picture of Christ and His covenant relationship with the Church. It is an image of God’s intentions in His redemptive plan of salvation. The Church is Christ’s Bride here on Earth with a mission to go out into the world to share the gospel and disciple believers (Mark 16:15). Will not God who has designed marriage to reflect these things, strengthen our marriages when we serve in a way that portrays the function of this image? One way my husband and I have strengthened our marriage is by serving together. -Deeply Rooted Magazine

As I look back over the years, the miles we’ve traveled and the opportunities we’ve had to serve alongside one another for God’s glory, my heart is content with joy. This is God’s work that He prepared for us to enjoy together. The picture above is one memory I have of a trip we took to Papalote, Mexico a few years ago. My husband was to be teaching at a Bible Institute and we had the wonderful opportunity of hearing about the work God is doing in that part of the world. This painting, hanging in the home of a missionary couple held a real life story of God’s faithfulness in reaching the lost in a nearby village. Hearing and experiencing these stories of the gospel reaching the nations is a treasure we share together.

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One of the great outcomes of serving together is the shared joy of seeing fruit produced from mutual service in others’ lives. A shared experience of storing up spiritual treasures in Heaven brings an eternal perspective to the purpose of your marriage. Some of the greatest fruit we have seen serving together in ministry has been to witness lives changed, hearts comforted and people discipled. –Deeply Rooted Magazine

You can read the rest of this post at Deeply Rooted Magazine.

With the love of Christ,
Jen

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