“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have…” (Hebrews 13:5) This verse circled around and around in my mind as I washed the lunch dishes. A few struggles, small though they really were in the grand scope of life, had surfaced and I was wrestling through what it meant to just rest… rest in what our loving Father had ordained, rest when it seemed the “ideal” would definitely be something different. “Be content…” These words sounded cold and impossible. Though in my heart I knew it was not the case, I had always viewed contentment as something I had to generate. A character quality needing cultivation, a checklist requiring marks of accomplishment. At the same time, though, I knew my own efforts would last about as long as the bubbles on the pan I was scrubbing. They may look attractive and shiny for a moment, but quickly pop and disappear into nothing (John 15:4-5). But amidst the emotions of this dishwater moment, what was I supposed to do with the aching longing in my heart? What about that funny little desire that seemed so silly and immature when voiced even to my darling husband, but which often captured my thoughts and sapped my peace? The Lord gave grace to continue dwelling on His Word. “… without covetousness; and be content… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” And then He highlighted it for me. “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” As the clean hot water poured from the faucet, the words flooded my heart in warming reassurance. Contentment, rest, peace in the sunshine or the storm… is possible, because He is near. Our ability to be content lies not in natural disposition or optimism, nor in how well we can mentally rectify the situation or even focus on the blessings of it. Rather, it lies in Jesus Christ Himself. Emmanuel, the One Who is with us. Our contentment stands upon His promise… His beautiful promise to walk beside us all the way. With such a Companion, Guide, and Friend, how can we wallow in the mire of self-pity or become unsettled when challenge befalls us? The feelings and emotions we experience are intended to draw us back into His presence. He is our peace, our rest, our reason for rejoicing. His command for contentment has not only been coupled with the grace and enabling we need, but also with the comfort of His everlasting love and compassion. The promise of His presence is sure, and it is there that we will find true and lasting contentment.
We know it has been a long time since you have heard from us (hoping to change that soon…) but we wanted to wish you a blessed Resurrection Week, remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us and His triumph over sin and death. He is alive – we serve a Risen Savior!
Welcome Happy Morning
V.F., translation by John Ellerton
“Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say;
“Hell today is vanquished! Heaven is won today!”
Lo! The dead is living; God for evermore,
Him, their true Creator, all His works adore.
“Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say;
“Hell today is vanquished! Heaven is won today!”
Earth with joy confesses, clothing her for spring,
All good gifts return with her returning King;
Bloom in every meadow, leaves on every bough,
Speak His sorrows ended, hail His triumph now.
Maker and Redeemer, life and health of all,
Thou from heaven beholding human nature’s fall,
Of the eternal Father true and only Son,
Manhood to deliver, manhood didst put on.
Thou, of life, the author, death didst undergo,
Tread the path of darkness, saving strength to show;
Come then, True and Faithful, now fulfill Thy Word;
‘Tis Thine own third morning; rise, O buried Lord!
Since our wedding, it has been a joy to watch the Lord bring several other couples together in marriage, and be able to send gifts to them as our own household now! Knowing what an unspeakable blessing so many dear ones’ generosity to us was as we started out, it is always fun to browse through registries and pick out “the perfect thing” for those we love as they too start their lives together.
Often though, I have been very surprised at what I have seen. Perhaps these different couples were already well set up for their new home, and so really had very few needs, but the most common theme I have seen is registries that were surprisingly tiny (or had a very odd selection of items… more on that later)! This, along with the fact that multiple people have been asking questions about the delights of wedding preparations recently, made me get excited about it all over again! Hopefully the thoughts below (listed in no particular order) will be of use to you if you are setting up a wedding registry, or even creating a baby shower or other type of list! All credit goes to my mom, sisters, Aunt Miriam, and many others from whom we learned when doing ours… and from whom I am still learning! Enjoy!
- Put at least one item on your registry for every person that you invite to your wedding. Not every family, and not everyone that rsvp’s positively… EVERY PERSON YOU INVITE. If you invite 200 guests, then make sure there is a minimum of 200 items. This will help ensure a multitude of options for those desiring to give to you. Remember that even those who cannot attend the wedding will still often send a gift.
- That last sentence brings up the next thought: DISMISS the idea that lots of items means you are greedy or expecting everything that is on the list. I too struggled with this… it seemed so selfish to load our registry down with so many things, but in reality (and I see this more every time I go to purchase for someone else!) it is actually kinder to have lots of options for them to choose from. You may or may not receive anywhere close to all that you put on, but the more you have on there the easier it is for others to find something they really want to send you. (Keep in mind too that the store you register with often gives a discount to you for any item you don’t receive, that you would still like to purchase for yourselves after the wedding.)
- Have a TON of variety in price range! From $1-2 kitchen gadgets, to the $500 mixer you have always dreamed of and everything in between, the more variety you have, the better. This allows your rich dentist uncle to give a gift he is really happy about, but also allows for several smaller purchases by the large family who loves you dearly but cannot afford anything over $15. Obviously there will probably be more of the cheaper items, and that is great, but don’t be afraid to put the big ones on too.
- Plan ahead and think about how you hope to decorate your future home, even if you don’t know exactly where you will be living yet; this will help tremendously when selecting items that are color/style-specific. Recently someone asked me where I obtained some something in our home (if I remember correctly it matched our gray and yellow kitchen or coral laundry room perfectly), and my response was that ___ gave it to us from our registry! They looked at me, shocked – “You knew your colors before you registered?!” Yes (and we did not know what our apartment/house would be like until 3-4 weeks before the wedding)! You should too. 🙂 Or at least have a good idea for the main areas (kitchen, living room, master bedroom, master bathroom).
- Think outside the box, and remember to register for more than just the normal homemaking items. Board games, tools (or gift cards to well-known hardware stores), a cooler, camping gear, beach towels, organizational shelving/storage bins, books, essential oils, spices, household paper products, candles, and on and on are all great ideas! For this, we enjoyed using a registry compilation site (like MyRegistry.com), which allowed us to pool items from places where we had set up an actual registry (Bed, Bath, & Beyond or Amazon, for instance), as well as those sites which did not offer one or for which it wasn’t worth it for the small number of items we included (music from the Wilds, a gift card from Lowe’s, etc.).
- While you are thinking outside the box, give consideration to your givers as well. You may be avid football fans, but packing your registry completely full of team-specific cups and accessories may not be the best idea. 😉 A few of your favorite items might be fine, but be considerate of the thoughts/beliefs/values of those who will be purchasing from your registry, and be sure to have a great supply of general items.
- If at all possible, compile the bulk of your registry together as a couple. Not only is this a ton of fun, 😉 but it provides an excellent opportunity to learn more of each other’s tastes and preferences, whether that be the kind of toaster you each grew up with, what kind of vacuum cleaner is most cost efficient, or whether or not your travel cups are monogrammed!
- Again if possible, take your mom, sister, and/or another trusted friend with you to register as well. It worked beautifully for us this way! Even for someone like me who just LOVES thinking through the aspects of operating a home, the process of trying to think of everything can be overwhelming. While Daniel and I were making bigger decisions (dishes, flatware, etc.), my dear Mama and sister were with us and added a ton of the smaller things they knew we needed… they ALSO helped us not get lost in all the choices, remember that we might need more than just one blanket in our house, 🙂 and on and on. Their help was invaluable!!
- Don’t agonize over decisions. Register with places that have good return policies, and remember that it is perfectly acceptable to return gifts if you need to or change your mind.
- Finally, remember that each registry is unique. Just like you and your soon-to-be spouse… that is the way the Lord has designed it, and it is beautiful!
Do you have any other thoughts or ideas? Please leave a comment and share them!
“‘Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward, ‘ or a reward from God. He gives children, not as a penalty nor as a burden, but as a favour. They are a token for good if men know how to receive them, and educate them. They are ‘doubtful blessings’ only because we are doubtful persons. Where society is rightly ordered children are regarded, not as an incumbrance, but as an inheritance; and they are received, not with regret, but as a reward. If we are over-crowded in England, and so seem to be embarrassed with too large an increase, we must remember that the Lord does not order us to remain in this narrow island, but would have us fill those boundless regions which wait for the axe and the plough. Yet even here, with all the straits of limited incomes, our best possessions are our own dear offspring, for whom we bless God every day.” – C.H. Spurgeon
Yes, it’s a bit late… but our second Valentine’s Day together was absolutely wonderful! Marriage is truly a joy, a precious gift from the Lord not to be taken for granted.
In honor of the couples each year, the campus staff young people put together a special themed dinner! This year’s theme was the 1950’s, complete with an authentic burger joint diner and bowling alley! Attendees, of course, were encouraged to dress the part… hilarious. We had a blast, and are so grateful for the hearts of love and service that went into each detail.
Just before dinner, we also had some fun with a double-date photoshoot with some friends… 😉
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35
Today I am grateful for:
- running water, both hot and cold!
- beautiful walks in the breezy weather
- times to sing while working in the kitchen
- iced coffee
- a peacefully resting little man
- my amazingly loving, hardworking husband
- air conditioning… which normally works 🙂
- God’s grace during especially busy seasons
“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:11-12
Happy almost spring-time! The glowing sunlight, vibrant green colors of the grass, and sweetly singing birds remind us that a fresh new season is nearly here! Recently the Lord has been reminding me of the joy, the strength, the beautiful, glorious rest… of TRUSTING in Him. So many precious truths of Scripture, all centered around this thought… may your heart be encouraged today with these verses, as mine has been! <3
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.“ Psalm 84:11-12
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
“Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.“ Psalm 32:10
“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.“ Psalm 33: 20-21
“… for they creid to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him.“ 1 Chronicles 5:20
And just because… here is my newest favorite picture of my men. 😉 <3
Last weekend I had the joy of taking a few photos for some lovely Purple Princesses that stopped by our house! 😉 Together the girls had hosted a tea party, in honor of one of their birthdays, for all of the little girls here on campus. Their hearts for discipleship and for using this time as a way to encourage young ones in the ways of the Lord, blessed me so much! It was truly a delight to help them capture the memories from this special day.
Thank you, girls, for walking in the ways of our Savior… for seeking Him, trusting Him, and loving Him with all of your hearts, and for allowing His light and joy in you to flow out to so many others! You encourage us!!
Throughout the past month or two, Daniel and I have been memorizing and meditating in Ephesians 1. Such a power-packed, rich mine of truth… it has been an incredible blessing to begin delving into its treasures together!
One of the verses that the Lord has particularly highlighted for me is verse two:
“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now if you are like me, these typical “intro” verses into the epistles lend themselves to be read over rapidly, or perhaps just skimmed or skipped in haste to reach the “real message.” After all, so many books of Scripture start with them, and they all sound so similar! To my shame, I think I have often missed the blessing the Lord had for me in such “little” passages. How important to deeply value every Word of our God, coming before Him with open hearts and allowing Him to speak however He chooses.
So, back to this simple little verse…
“Grace be to you…”
I was at the kitchen sink, hurriedly washing a few dinner prep dishes, when these words first struck my heart.
It wasn’t in reference to anything monumental or especially painful or difficult (evidenced now in the fact that I cannot even remember what it was), but suddenly the burden was not so heavy anymore.
Grace… God’s abundant enabling, Jehovah’s favor and sustaining strength to do His will.
And then it really hit me: God’s grace is offered to ME… at every moment. In Christ, the riches of the Father’s grace are mine. Such joy and peace flooded my heart.
Over the past several weeks we have seen God’s grace repeatedly played out in our own lives as well as the lives of many we hold dear. The small things… hectic situations, little failures, perplexing dilemmas, troubling emotions or feelings… and the big things… days on end in the hospital to sustain the life of precious baby, the unforeseen death of another precious baby, the possibility of cancer, the pain of hearing that someone you have looked up to for years has fallen into grievous sin… and on and on… NOTHING is too hard, too bad, too hopeless, too difficult, for His grace.
It seems so simple, something most of us have heard all of our lives. But may the newness and richness of His grace never die within our hearts.
Over and over again I have found myself singing the lyrics to the following hymn… “for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.” To God be praise for His grace. Truly, where would we be without it?
He Giveth More Grace
Annie J. Flint
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
To read another encouraging blog post on this topic, click here. <3
As we focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ, may the season be filled with silent wonder…
“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10-11
… simple joys…
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness… For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61: 10-11
… and treasured memories.