Inspiration, Encouragement & Instructions
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
Your Invitation to IF:Gathering 2016
I want you to close your eyes and imagine some scenarios with me. You are a mom. Walk through your day. Start with this morning. What all took place so that you could exit the house with both yourself and your children fed and clothed? Today is a Sunday for me. I am a pastor's wife, so my morning including some of the following: some crying, some arguing, some negotiating, some bribing. You too perhaps experienced some of these? Maybe also some sighs…some coddling of faces and warm snuggles after waking from bed?
As a mom, what all did you do in the last four hours to care for, nurture and love your child? Can you even count them? Now multiply those acts of caring, love, consoling and teaching you have lead in your home by a thousand and maybe you are close to what happens in a month or two in your home.
It is exhausting, heart-breaking, rewarding and full of a passion to do this mom thing well, right? We all just so deeply want to care for and love our children, to raise them well. To see them grow. To provide opportunities for them to mature, learn and love…to become the best person they can possibly be. So even though the days are long and years are short, we spend our moments giving of ourselves to this mission of motherhood.
And this is good. We were made for this. As women, we were built for this compassionate, passionate, caring, desire-filled, creative, innovative, multi-tasking, love-making, child-bearing, dream-equipping, soul-soothing, kind of life.
But sometimes in our rush to meet the needs of crying babes, tantrum throwing toddlers, question-asking school children, and sassy teenagers we forget we have a caregiver too. We forget that when life feels cold and confusing there is someone waiting to wrap us up in peace and hope. We forget that when we are crying out in emotional, spiritual or sleep-deprived hunger pains, there is someone who desperately desires for us to turn to him to meet our needs. We forget that there is someone offering us healing when we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We forget to believe that we have a caregiver who sees us—who pulls us to himself, just as a mother puts a bottle to her babe’s mouth or pulls an infant to her breast to provide comfort, nourishment and attachment. We forget that when we fall down and scrape our knee and are screaming to have someone come and fix us up, that we are heard. We are loved. We are seen in the moments we feel low to the ground, exhausted and worn from loving our hearts out of our chest.
And this caregiver, this Abba father, he loves us even more than we can love those we have birthed or brought into our homes through the pregnancy of hope, love and compassion. This care-giver never sleeps, he is not awakened by our crying. Instead, is always attentive to it, prepared and ready to be our steady-rock when all we seem to do is rock back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. This care-giver gives us the love and life we need to be the women he has designed us to be, but we often forget to believe he is there. We forget to believe we are cared for, sought after, loved beyond measure. We forget to believe that just as we dream big dreams for our children, he dreams big dreams for us.
Why do we forget to believe? How do we forget to believe?
There are likely thousands of answers to these questions—as many as the unique tangents that make up the culminating stories of our lives. And I am willing to bet that if you took some time to reflect on why or how you forget, your list would look both similar and different to mine.
Here are a few of mine:
Did any of these resonate with you? Maybe you have a more unique list. Maybe you have never consider this idea of forgetting to believe that you are cared for and loved by a God who knows you and has big dreams for you. Or maybe you knew at one time but somehow life has taken over and you have forgotten--not on purpose, it just happened somehow.
Regardless, of why or how, I am here to let you know God came down to earth as a man named Jesus. He walked on this dirty ground and spent his life and poured out his blood to make sure you knew He cared for you. But he didn’t stop caring for you on that day. He wasn’t born and then put to death just to get you into heaven--He came to redeem every corner of your life, every part of your story, every moment you feel failed or experience thoughts of inadequacy because he is in love with you. He does not forget you even if you feel forget to abide in his love and presence.
And while Jesus was here, he showed us what love looked like in human form and human action. He showed us what it meant to give compassion, to find peace, to seek to remember to live like heaven actually sees earth. Through stories and miracles Jesus also taught us to see God as one who cares for us more deeply than we can imagine or understand, and to love others the same. To believe the promises of God and know that we each have a big-dreamer God making purposeful and perfect plans for our futures.
What IF we sought to not forget our care-giver God’s presence in our daily lives? What IF we chose to remind ourselves daily of the life of Jesus? To study it, know it, believe it and walk it?
What IF in our remembering we chose to live like Jesus, believing that we are loved and nurtured by a God who gets us?
What IF we believed that God loves and cares for us even more than we have the capacity to love and care for our children?
What IF we allow him to meet our needs, letting those who disappoint or fail us off the hook, and instead securing our hearts to the only steady, unfailing, perfect one—Jesus?
I believe we would live radically different lives: Maybe not on the outside, but for sure in our minds and hearts.
It might be worth finding out, don’t you think?
I would love it if you could join us for IF:Local, Alexandria in February. To register, click on this link: https://ifgathering.com/gather/local/attend/
Some details you may want to know:
To read more about my personal journey to IF and how it has impacted my life and community, click on the "Read More" button below --------------------------------------------------------------V
My journey to believing God cares for me was dark, confusing and refining. I wish I could tell you this truth that God sees me and cares passionately about nooks and crannies of life was something I have believed my entire life . And I think I did to some degree. But not in the personal way I have experienced in recent years. I had to be stripped of nearly all that defined me before I recognized my need for a care-giver, seeker, seeing God.
Eleven and half years ago I met a man who took my life by surprise and set me on a path of adventure and ministry in a country thousands of miles from home. I never knew just how much I loved travel and adventure until I began my married, international-educator life with my husband at an amazing Christian school in South Korea. Yes, initially I was somewhat homesick and wondering what we had done. But the phase passed quickly. Before we knew it we had built a life on the other side of the world. Seven years and two babies later, we had made a home in a foreign place.
Then we moved “home” and I felt completely stripped of every thing that had made up my adult life. I was lost. I was lonely. I was stuck. I was angry. I was not talking to God. I was pretty sure he cared about everyone else, but that my role was to sacrifice all of me for the betterment of others. (By nature I am a “stuffer” so I stuffed it all way down where I didn’t have to deal with it and tried to pretend I was just fine--I may have moved away from MN-nice, but it was still in my blood. Smile and nod and be polite and everyone will think you are a-okay.)
At some point on this journey a close college friend called-my bluff. She said, you don’t really mean you want to ignore God and pretend he doesn’t care about your life? I was stumped…did I?
I didn’t quite know what to do, but I knew I had to start looking for some answers, instead of giving God the cold shoulder. I started reading my Bible, books and blogs—which was how I came across IF:Gathering in the Fall of 2013. I found the goal and message compelling. I was so lonely and in need of people, I thought perhaps leading a local gathering would at least help me get busy with a purpose. God had bigger plans.
As I listened to the speakers for two years in a row and kept reading more of my Bible and Christian authors connected to IF, God kept bringing up these themes: I see you. I know you. You are loved. Get to know my promises. Believe my promises. Trust me. You are mine. I have purposes laid out for you—live like you believe in me.
Once you hear the same message a few times from various sources, including the Bible, you start to pay attention—you start to want to quit forgetting to believe what the God's promises: “I am sovereign. I work all things together for your good. I am here to love you. I care about your needs and dreams. Who you are, with all your unique experiences and attributes, matters to me. I see you. Believing me will change your life.”
My experience with IF has had a impact on my faith, my belief in who God is in my present and future, and my ability to see my times of pain as instrumental in guiding me toward my purposes. And I have had the unique benefit to walk along side other women (who came from completely different experiences and backgrounds) experience transformation in their lives too. I can’t explain it. I don’t completely understand it. I take no credit for it. I only know that in the last two years of IF:Local, Alexandria, God has shown up and changed lives. And once you witness a changed life, whether it be your own or someone else’s, your faith grows deeper, your trust increases, and your boldness to live into the callings God has for you expands.
God has changed some things about my circumstances over the course of the last three years, but not my place. I thought it was my circumstances and place that were the problem of my life. What I discovered is that I had to be stripped of my place and comfort in order to seek out a God who wanted to let me know he will never leave me or forsake me, that he sees me, knows me, and loves me…but I needed to actually believe it in the moments of my everyday life in order for this to impact my life. I have to choose to seek to remember and not let forgetting get the best of me. This has made all the difference in the world.
What IF God is inviting you to some time away from your normal life for him to wrap you in a blanket of comfort, rock you in the arms of grace, and patch you up with bandages and salve of forgiveness and mercy?
What IF he is wanting to show you how his son, Jesus, demonstrated the greatest love of all time to YOU?
What IF he is waiting in anticipation for you to choose to get to know more about him so that you can know yourself and others better?
It might be worth finding out, don’t you think?
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Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: