This year I turned 30! I have been looking forward to this for a long time. Weird, I know, but somehow entering my 30’s psychologically has given me more permission to be at peace.
My 20’s were spent hustling, graduating, building, growing our family and simply just surviving. Seven years of school, marriage, mortgages, two businesses and seven children will make you feel like you’re running a race with no end in sight. On my birthday I made a choice to allow my 30’s to be filled with many more moments of contentment and joy. God has me and it has taken me thirty years to believe that; to rest in that, but not without tension.
I am reminded of the character Billy from my favorite book, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” who after promising his dog that if they treed a coon he would do the rest in chopping down the tree. He finds himself staring up at the biggest sycamore in the Ozarks. Feeling nearly defeated before he started, he looks down at his two precious Redbone Coonhounds, who he had saved and sacrificed for. Remembering his promise to cut down any tree they put a coon in, he prays.
“Please God, give me the strength to finish the job. I don’t want to leave the big tree like that. Please help me finish the job.”
The picture of a son begging his father to help him is exactly how we should come before our Heavenly Father. Like Billy, I have asked God to finish the work he has started in me and in my family. Billy easily could have given up and walked away from the challenge of having to cut down a hundred-year-old tree just for a raccoon, but he kept his promise to Old Dan and Little Ann, a promise he couldn’t keep without some help from the Almighty and his command over all of creation.
Whatever you ask in the name of Jesus, God will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
God answers those who ask in faith, out of dependence on Him & in the name of Jesus, yet His Grace extends to all who believe. Very clearly: If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
This verse shakes me to my core, simply because I do not ask enough. Somehow I rely on my own human strength and understanding, which is really just Google and the body & mind God has given me in the first place, instead of taking a moment to be a child asking His Heavenly Father for the simplest of requests.
Often I don’t ask God because I simply do not know what to ask God for? It can feel so pointless to simply ask God for things we’re not even sure we should really want in the first place. Maybe you can relate?
I know how God has answered my prayers. I am reminded of his goodness every day, yet I grumble and complain over just about everything that doesn’t go as planned. The shortcomings of a perfectionist are endless. Blessings often don’t feel like blessings when we’re looking for ways to make them better. I am guilty of this daily and it robs me of joy.
It is impossible to seek God when we’re focused on ourselves. The very nature of self-centeredness puts at enmity with God. We can’t love the world and love Jesus too.
We are called to pray without ceasing; to remain in constant communion with our Heavenly Father, but that requires absolute humility and discipline.
When John sees God’s heavenly throne he is overwhelmed by the majesty of who God is and what he has done. He created all things by his will; we are his created beings designed to bring him glory & praise. I don’t feel like that most days. I’m either a hot mess or think I have it all together and can conquer the world. How do we see ourselves rightly at the throne of God?
The truth is we can’t, not without Jesus.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” John 6:44a
There is a reason God does the calling because even in our salvation we may boast in ourselves. Eph 2:8 Isn’t that like us, to take credit for something God has done?
It is so easy to point to ourselves. We take every opportunity to tell the world how great we are. Our self-promotion has no limits.
While we’re looking at how ‘great’ humanity is or isn’t, admiring beauty and seeking to be entertained – we’re distracted, which is the biggest reason I don’t pray. I make everything else more important.
My pride forces me to look for ways to make myself bigger, better, more known and all the while God is whispering to me at the foot of the tree to make yourself smaller. To kneel before Him and give Him everything – really everything. “Yes, even that!”
But how, God? What does that look like? Can I still serve two masters? Matthew 6:24
I am in this constant struggle of despising the hustle and resenting the tension. We have elevated our goals to the status of gods. Hustling to what end? What purpose?
We’re tired. Tired of making much of ourselves. We’re tired of expectations that come before you, God.
Jesus is calling us to himself, even in the barrage of social media, constant entertainment, sports and civil unrest. He isn’t where you would think to look. He is in the brokenness behind the perfectly curated Instagram posts and smiling Christmas cards. Intermingled in the binary code there is truth. In the stillness, He beckons us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him, especially in our unrefined mess.
Follow in our cultural context doesn’t quite fit what was actually meant when Jesus told the disciples to follow him and become fishers of men.
They left everything they knew. I imagine their nets and boats just sitting there as the waves washed up against the shore. What would it look like to simply drop everything and walk with Jesus? To obey what Jesus teaches?
Would my camera, computer, and phone just remain on my desk? Can I follow you while I fish from shore? Can I bring my camera with? Can a fisherman do art? I am that disciple who asks compromising questions always looking for a loophole.
I ask these questions because I don’t know the answers and because I want my sin too. In this season of life, so much seems to come before the Kingdom of God. We’re spending the majority of our lives in a virtual reality perfecting a facade. (Jesus had some pretty strong words for people who appeared to be beautiful on the outside but were a mess on the inside.)
Do we spend our days seeking the validation of others, searching after likes and followers to fill a void that was only meant to be filled by the awesomeness of our Heavenly Father?
I am fervently praying that my life, my family, my business would all come last in comparison to Christ. I need prayer because this isn’t easy. There are so many tangible obligations that appear so important and take precedence over what has been demanded of my life.
As Christmas draws near, I reflect on a baby who was born in the lowest of circumstances who changed the world and all eternity. I am in awe of His story and how all of creation points to Jesus as the Savior of the World. I am looking up this Christmas at a tree. A Cross so much bigger than I am prepared to carry. I must be confident that he who began a good work, will carry in on to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
May all that I do point to Jesus and may my children Praise His name forever! This is my fervent prayer.
Photographer: James Stokes Photography | Florist: Wedding Gallery | Ceremony Venue: Munson Bridge Winery | Reception Venue: Munson Bridge Winery | DJ/Entertainment Services: Todd Norrel | Cake: Kim Wojnik – Creative Crumbs | Catering: B&S Bar
Photography: James Stokes Photography | Floral Design: Flower & Bee | Wedding Dress: La Sposa by Pronovias, purchased at Bella Bride Boutique | Cake: Ice cream bar from Bubb’s BBQ | Invitations:Violet Press & Paper | Ceremony Venue: The Farm at Dover | Reception Venue: The Farm at Dover | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale, purchased from Nordstrom | Catering: Bubb’s BBQ & Bar Services from Drink Inc. | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Hart Schaffner & Marx, purchased from Nordstrom | Wedding Coordinator: Something Blue Lake Geneva | DJ/ Entertainment Services: Mike Early’s Pro Sound
From the minute the wedding invitation meets your hands, there is much excitement leading up to the event. There aren’t many people who can say they don’t enjoy attending a wedding, but there may be many who don’t enjoy figuring out what to wear to the wedding. Most couples provide all of the details you need to know in the invitation but forget to add the dress code. This can sometimes cause a bit of confusion for you as the guest. In this article, we come to the rescue with a few great wedding guest style tips to help guests decide what to wear and to help brides come up with a good dress code for her wedding invite.
The Black Tux is a snazzy online store that offers a stylish collection of modern formal wear for the men in your life. They have shared with us their wedding guest style guide for both men and women. This guide is a great tool for both brides coming up with a dress code to suit their wedding, as well as guests who aren’t too sure of what to wear.
The age old universal rules of dress etiquette still apply today. These would include:
Don’t wear white or any other shade that is close to white, that is reserved for the bride ONLY.
Don’t wear anything too short or revealing.
Don’t wear anything in the same color as the wedding colors, that is reserved for the bridal party and family only.
Look respectable no matter what your personal style may be.
Some of these rules have changed over time and continue to change as weddings take on a variety of different themes in some less than traditional locations. A great general rule wold be to stick to the dress code if you have been given one. If you haven’t been given a dress code in the wedding invitation, here are a few things to bare in mind when looking for an appropriate outfit:
Dress for the season and location. If you know it will be an outdoor wedding, be sure to choose your shoes wisely ladies.
Dress comfortably, you want to enjoy the reception dancing up a storm to your favorite song, even if this means bringing along a change of shoes.
Be respectful of the bridal couple and their family, if you know they wouldn’t approve of your outfit, then don’t wear it.
Coordinate with your date. You are sure to be the couple who turn heads in complementing colors and patterns.
If you are still in doubt and can’t decide what to wear, rather choose to overdress than underdress. It’s much better to be the only man with a tie, rather than the only one without.