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A Note to Jackson: Your 7th Birthday

Keep being who God created you to be; don’t shy away from the way He created you. This was my prayer on the eve of your birthday last year. In your year of being 6, I prayed you’d lean into this wild, caring soul you are.

You see, even at age 6 I’ve seen this world press on your heart to conform, but baby this world is not our home and being fully who you are in Christ means you’re going to stand out a little.

Even still, this year I saw you fight for comfort in your own skin. You set goals, developed skills, sought out new friends and claimed the freedom to be fully you. As your mama, it’s a hard yet rewarding season to see you step into.

A Look at the Heart of Lent

This week, the Church turned its calendar to Lent. This is a season near to my heart and walk as a believer. If you’re unfamiliar with the Church calendar, it’s simply a way for believers to structure our seasons and offers us an opportunity to mark our days by the life of Christ.

Observing Lent isn’t a requirement commanded in scripture. Rather, it’s a rhythm developed by the early Church to realign the posture of our hearts as we prepare for Easter. Lent is a slow, still season of remembrance and repentance as we look to the life of Jesus leading up to His death and resurrection.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes with Holy Week, the final week before Easter Sunday. It’s a season spanning 40 days with Sundays serving as feast days (46 days total). Congregations observe Lent in various ways, but the overarching purpose of Lent is to return, repent and remember the life of Jesus Christ.

God beckons each of us to a quiet, reflective season of fasting and repentance. Every person will approach Lent differently just as congregations do. It’s a personal time in the walk of a believer that can’t be compared to one another.

Jesus' cross at Calvary made a way for us to return to the Father. So, we return in acknowledging our sin nature and remembering that we fall short of the glory of God but are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23)

As we return, we enter into the refining practice of repentance. We humbly bring our sin before God in confession and turn toward Him with our whole hearts (Joel 2:12). We repent and turn to Him not to dwell in despair, but so times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19-20). Lent is an invitation to sit in the tension of the weight of our sin and the depth of His grace.

There’s always much talk about giving up something during Lent. The practice of self-denial or fasting isn’t one we should take on flippantly. It's an opportunity to intentionally fast from things of the world to feast on the Word of God and work of Christ. Through prayer and supplication we should seek personal discernment for how God wants us to observe Lent.

Fasting and self-denial are practiced during this season to reflect and engage with Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. It’s not a time to outdo your brother or sister in Christ. It’s a personal conviction the Lord will be faithful to reveal if you ask Him. Fasting or self-denial is an opportunity to elevate Christ over self.

“For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Through spiritual disciplines and quiet reflection God uses the season of Lent to renew our minds, transform our hearts and restore us to the joy of His salvation.

My pastor once challenged us to begin each day at Calvary. Can I renew this challenge to us during this season of Lent? As our feet hit the ground each morning may we be a people whose eyes are fixed on the Cross.

"After all it is meant to be the church's springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin's winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges." Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

Wholehearted Finishings: February Goals

It took me a few seasons to embrace goal setting as a spiritual discipline. Through surrender, discernment and perseverance I've found a joyful rhythm in goal setting. Monthly goals, even annual goals, aren't about checking off a list rather it's about bridging the gap between professed Gospel values and practiced Gospel values.

Wholehearted Finishing is all about taking off the old self and putting on the new. Each month I breakdown my big-picture annual goals into actionable monthly, weekly and daily items. Little by little progress adds up. And in evaluating the little by little margin to see God's faithfulness is created. 

Good Reads: Church of the Small Things

Sometimes the biggest things God does start out in the smallest most ordinary acts of daily faithfulness. The things we do so often and with so little fanfare that we don’t even think about them anymore. We can spend so much time wondering and worrying if we’re fulfilling God’s primary will for our lives. Yet, ultimately God’s will isn’t about the things we achieve it’s about the people we become. Life is more about how He uses us to make a difference to the people who cross our paths even when we’re just going about our normal sometimes boring lives.

Cultivate What Matters: My Word for 2018

The revelation of Jesus as my Good Shepherd shifted everything for me last year. It shifted how I know Him, how I trust Him, but mostly how I’m satisfied by Him alone.

Though 2017 was a hard year of pruning and suffering, in Christ alone it was still blessed and abundant. To dwell at the Well with my Savior is the place I'll return over and over knowing He is the wellspring of eternal life, fully satisfying to my soul.

I've prayerfully reflected on 2017, gained clarity on where I stand and unpacked what matters most to me. So where does this leave me looking toward 2018?