Aug 182015
 

HRT-Store-Daniel_legacybook

You didn’t read that title incorrectly.  I’m so happy to announce Monday’s public launch of the new site  He Reads Truth.   Many husbands & small groups asked for a man’s counterpart to the She Reads Truth Bible reading & devotional plans.  It was launched on Monday with the kick-off of the Daniel series.

He Reads Truth is in conjunction with She Reads Truth – meaning that they’ll cover the same Biblical reading & topic.  But each devotional will be written to the target audience of either men or women.  The tone, conversation and application will be for each gender.  Both sites offer the online plans or the option to purchase paper journal copies.  He reads truth also has a t-shirt & mug for some good men gift options!

If your family or small group would like to use on of the studies as “curriculum” you can have She & He both use the daily plan and talk about it when you get together.  If any fathers & teenage boys want to use this site, it would be a great addition to family devotions and conversations. (I’m assuming some Moms & daughters are already walking through She Reads Truth together!)

My husband & I have consistently used She Reads Truth for our Advent & Lent family readings. Now we have the option for any study to be specific to our needs but uniting in our conversation.

So proud of all the hard work to launch this new site & app.  Make sure you check it out and pass the word along to the “He” in your life.

Aug 152015
 

SummerPrayer

An excerpt of the 31st psalm:
 
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress.
My eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also,
for my life is spent with sorrow
and my years with sighing.
My strength fails because of my misery
and my bones waste away.
But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand.
(Psalm 31:9-10, 14-15a)
 
Through all things, in moments of delight and days spent in sorrow, whether we are bounding in joy or weary to the bone, our times are in God’s hand.
 
Pray for your time: the hours, the seconds, the seasons. (Here is my Friday post.)
 
Many blessings,
Rachel
 
P.S. Did you dive into my new book Sacred Pause: A Creative Retreat for the Word-weary Christian this summer? I would welcome your review on Amazon! Thank you.
Aug 142015
 

LPL-simulcast-hero-2015-v2

It’s that time of year again.  Last trips to the lake.  Sweatshirts for the evening cool breeze.  Lists of school supplies.  Restocking the sandwich baggies & tupperware containers.  And getting excited about the Living Proof Live Simulcast with our dear, Beth Moore.   It’s a fall tradition here on the porch (actually in the living room since its  often too cold to sit on the porch on a Saturday in September!)

I know that many of you are having large simulcast events at your church or MOPS group.  As an administrator & Bible teacher, I love this.  Everyone at your church gets to sit under great Bible teaching & worship…without having to plan & prepare.  A win-win day for everyone involved.

I want to encourage those of you who feel alone.  Maybe you’re isolated due to location.  Maybe you’re homebound due to newborns or medical issues.  Maybe you’re one of the only girls your age at your church.  Maybe you don’t have an established church home in the middle of life’s transition.   I’m talking to you, sweet friend who doesn’t have a large group of girlfriends to attend this simulcast with you.

Living Proof wants to make sure you’re included in this powerful day.  You’ve been prayed over.  You need the corporate worship.  You need your heart filled with Jesus and His Word.  You need this day maybe more than the girl headed to the simulcast with her besties with a starbucks in hand.

You can register as an individual.  It will cost $20.  You can watch the simulcast anywhere you have internet.   I’ve watched this simulcast alone in the past.  It was powerful to spend the day alone with Jesus and this online group of women.  I know it feels lame.  Yep, it is – but don’t let that stop you!  Get over to Lifeway and get your individual ticket. 

(Note:  The simulcast “pass” is good for a month.  If you’re working or unable to view the simulcast that day, you can pick a day in the next month and have your very own Simulcast. Don’t let your work or kid’s soccer keep you from the goodness of this simulcast)

Audacious-Cover

An additional piece that is part of this year’s simulcast is the release of Beth’s new book, Audacious.  As a Liberty University Alum, I’m taking pride that the content for this book came from a chapel address she gave at Liberty.  What words of wisdom & challenge would she speak to students…and to us?  The title gives a peek of where she’s going with this book.

Pop over to Lifeway and get information on the Simulcast & book release. What a wonderful day with Jesus & His community of women world-wide.  I’d love it if you’d join us – wherever in the world you are.

 

Aug 082015
 

SummerPrayer

Friends,

 
Perhaps my favorite assurance of scripture, repeated throughout the Old and New Testaments:
 
Do not fear, for I am with you.
Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10)
 
Pray over a fear that is unsettling your spirit. And give thanks that God is our God. (Here is my Friday post.)
 
Peace to you,
Rachel
Aug 012015
 
IMG_1177(This isn’t a blue moon – it’s a pink moon!  It occurred earlier this summer in the Seattle night sky.  The moon was pink due to the ash in the atmosphere from the fires in Vancouver, B.C.)

 

It happened last night…a blue moon.  The last blue moon was in 2012.  I thought about all that’s happened in our family life since the last blue moon.

  • My boys graduated from high school and left for college.
  • Our church re-located to a new building in the city.
  • My beloved Grandmother passed away.
  • Martha Street gained momentum.
  • We said goodbye to our loving beagle, George.
  • I spent a year loving on a little boy, Abraham
  • We’re about to bring our 3 year Sunday School curriculum to the end of the Bible.

The period between these two blue moons has been marked by change.  Transition.  A touch of something new. An ebb and flow.  Did I mention change?

I’m in the middle of another change.  This one feels big.  Tsunami Big as I’m often feeling overwhelmed by it all.  I will be working full time at Northstar Christian Academy next year.  I’ve been there in a part time capacity for several years and love my role as Guidance Counselor.  This year I’ll expand that role as our school continues to grow with more Seniors and an increasing international student population.

At my request (begging!)  I get to break up my guidance paperwork to teach two classes.  I will be teaching AP Art History and AP Psychology.  I’m in the process of becoming an adjunct professor at Roberts Wesleyan College so the Psychology course can be offered as dual credit through their college.    IF I can make it through the preparation stage, this sounds like my dream job.  Teaching art history & psychology & talking to kids about their futures & keeping paperwork moving on time.  But there is that big IF….IF I can make it through the preparation.

These classes require an approved syllabus to both AP & Roberts Wesleyan.  Both have huge content to learn and organize.  Both are on a tight schedule due to set dates of testing in early May.  I’m feeling the pressure to get it all in my head, write an accurate syllabus, and inject some fun & passion into the teaching for my students.

That’s why it’s been so quiet here on the porch.  When life gets Tsunami overwhelming, I re-arrange my priorities.  Here they are:

  • Read my Bible & pray
  • Eat as healthy as I can
  • Try to keep a consistent bedtime
  • Keep drinking…water…coffee…bubbly water…iced tea…repeat
  • Keep washing clothes & towels.  This family is either the dirtiest or the cleanest!
  • Sit on the porch as much as possible
  • Work on school work with great purpose and focus

Martha Street still gets my heart and mind, but computer time & work focus have been re-directed this past month.  I’d love for school to get into a rhythm and Martha Street to get at least a post or two a week from me.  That would keep us on a slow & steady porch pace.

So check into the porch from time to time.  I’ll post whenever I can make space.  Until then, know I love & adore you.  I pray for you and the ministries you represent – even if I don’t get space to write a new post.  I can’t wait to see all that God will do in our hearts, families and communities between now and the next blue moon.

Jul 162015
 

SRT-WITW-OT_instagramday1

I continue to lag behind in the She Reads Truth summer study of Women in the Word.  I traveled to my visit my brother in Seattle and left the large, heavy book out of my carry on luggage.  So I’ve picked up where I left off once I returned.  Now I’m WAY WAY behind.  No shame, girls.  If you purchase any study in the She Reads Truth app it stays forever.  That way you can finish up on your own schedule.

My intention for this study was to read the passages about each woman and really sit with her for a bit in my mind.  To insert myself into the situation.  Add my voice to the conversation.  Let the life of these stories bleed into my life.  Sometimes the most familiar stories are the most “flat” in our minds. Enter Jochebed, the mother of Moses. (Day 16 of Women of the Old Testament).

Jochebed is raised a Levite in Egypt.  In faith she feels her son is special at birth, and keeps him hidden at home for as long as possible.  We’re unsure where she got the idea of a reed basket bed – but Moses takes his baby boat ride into Egyptian history.  Moses’ sister, Miriam, is the one who negotiates the deal of her mother nursing Moses to the age of weaning…for a wage!

Here’s where my mind sat:  How do you think Jochebed’s neighbors responded to her between Exodus chapter 2 versus 9 and 10?

Moses is the only boy his age in the neighborhood.  The sight of his quickly developing body reminds neighbor women of their sons that were slaughtered.  Did women watch him playing and wonder what was so “special” about this boy and not their sons?

Did the neighborhood grocer roll her eyes at the money Jochebed spent on extra items?  What did she do with that unexpected income?

Was there a pushy mama of a daughter that was arranging a future marriage to Moses in her mind?  Remember, there was a generation with exponentially more women than men.  Match-making Mamas had to start early!

When Jochebed had to wean him and send him off to the Egyptian palace, did any women weep with her in the midst of her grief?  Did others feel satisfaction that she’d FINALLY felt their wrenching pain of loss?  Did she cry alone in her home?

Xdivider

None of us have lived through this scenario.  But I was in a similar spot 12 years ago when I was healed of my physical suffering.  People rejoiced with me for about a week.  Then it got very quiet.  And then critical.   I was living as a missionary in Europe at the time and church members started taking offense with my healthy body.  They sneered, “Of course God healed HER.  She’s an American.”

Local ladies continued to pray for their healing or for the healing of their family members.  And I walked into church obviously better & healthy.  My health felt like salt in the rawness of their unanswered prayers.

I made me realize the need for the command to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.  In our flesh we don’t want to join in the joy or sorrow of someone else when it pushes big buttons in our hearts.  It’s an act of the Spirit to live beyond ourselves.  To join someone when their journey is opposite our own.  To un-barricade our hearts to really embrace the joys and sorrows of another.

May we be good neighbors & church friends to the “Jochebeds” in our lives.  Move us, Spirit of God, towards love, unity and compassion for one another.

Jul 012015
 

book1

Chapter 8 is one of my favorites.  These words could be life-savers for some of you who are ministering in hard, isolated, difficult places.  Chapter 8:  One Prayer you Don’t Pray but Should.

Margaret Feinberg inspects the story of Caleb’s daughter Achsah, who is given in marriage as a prize to the man who captured the enemy land of Kiriath Sepher.  Achsah and her husband are given the land of the Negev, a rocky desert landscape, to call their home.  She is one of the few old-testament women who speaks up and makes a bold request.

“Since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also a spring of water”

In response to her bold request, she is given BOTH the upper & lower springs. Abundant water to sustain her difficult position:  newly married to a man she didn’t know in a land that is hard & desolate.   Here is Margaret’s quote for this chapter:

In the desert of despair, springs of water unlock reservoirs of joy.

Here’s the prayer you don’t pray but should:  “God, I didn’t imagine life turning out like this.  It’s hard.  Barren.  I’m not sure I’m going to make it through this season.   Since you’ve called me to this season, give me what I need to sustain me.  Give me nourishment and refreshment.  Life and satisfaction in the middle of this place.”

So often we cry to get out of a hard spot.  Why not ask for a pillow to make the hard spot more manageable?  We whine and ask for a change of scenery.  Why not ask for an addition of goodness in the middle of your normal terrain?

I don’t know what is on your calendar this summer.   A hospital visit.  Weeks in a row of visitors. A missions project.  Extra hours at work.  A house full of kids and all those schedules to juggle.  Whatever is hard in your present or looming in your future needs some prayer.  Sustain me…grant me wells of water…give me life & refreshment in this place.

Be bold.  Come before the throne of grace and ask for some help in the middle of your need.  This is a prayer your Heavenly Father loves to answer!

Jun 262015
 

SRT-WITW-OT_instagramday1

Because of my week at college, I’m behind on my She Reads Truth summer devotional, Women of the Word – Old Testament.  I’m starting where I left off, so this conversation may be behind you already.  I’ve spent a couple of mornings reading and pondering the tangled lives of Rachel and Leah – sister wives of Jacob.

If we had to name our children according to the drama in our lives, what would we be calling them?  In Rachel’s barrenness, she had her handmaid, Bilhah,  bear two children “on her knees” or on her behalf.  Including her adopted sons, here is what she named her boys:

Dan = vindicated (or my translation:  Got You!)

Naphtali = winning!

Joseph = I want another one

Ben-oni = sorrow

Luckily, we get to name our children names we like – not representative of our inner struggles & inter-family conflicts!

Leah, who seems to have found some comfort from God after the birth of her fourth son, Judah, jumps back into the competition game when Rachel starts relying on a maidservant for children.  Leah subs her maidservant, Zilpah, into the family fertility game.  And now we’ve got four women, lots of boys, little girl Dinah, and fighting mothers.   Makes you glad you don’t have to spend Thanksgiving dinner around this family table!

But here’s my real thought for this morning:   In this study of Women of the Word we’re talking in depth about Rachel & Leah.  But we’re merely passing by Bilhah and Zilpah as minor chess pieces in this family game.  THEY’RE Women of the Word.  

We don’t know much about them.  We’d have to read between the lines of Scripture.  We can surmise that they were servants, owned body and soul by Laban.  They were given as wedding gifts to his daughters for use in their married households.

They were owned and given away without their consent or desire.

They were required to physically meet the needs of petty, competitive women.

They were given sexually to a man for the purpose of conception.

They carried a child and went through labor so that another could “claim” their son.

They carried, birthed and gave up two sons each.

They continued to work and labor as servants.

The competition between the sisters never ceased.

I don’t know what history could tell us about these two servant women.   I don’t know how race & privilege & social ranking played into this story in ways we don’t understand from these few verses.  I don’t know what Bilhah or Zilpah thought or felt about their lot in life.  I don’t know what Jacob’s feelings were towards these women and their children.   I don’t know if they believed in the God of Jacob or cursed him for the pain and brutality of their existence.

I understand why She Reads Truth folded their names and  stories in with their owners, Leah and Rachel.  But I wanted to say their names on the front porch.  To honor the little we know about them. To hurt for the hard, hopeless reality of their lots in life.

Bilhah and Zilpah, you’re Women of the Word and we remember you this morning.

Jun 242015
 

iStock_000009744255Small

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/VallarieE

The porch conversation has been quiet.   I spent the past week at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland being certified to teach AP Art History.  The word that I’d use to describe myself as I poured over the the content, homework and course expectations is overwhelmed.  Scarily overwhelmed at times.  Paralyzed at times.  Frantic, figuring-it-out type of overwhelmed.

I called and talked with my husband in the evenings when homework allowed a break.  I asked friends on Facebook to pray for me that I would keep clarity of thought.  I sat in my dorm room each morning before heading to class praying for wisdom and peace of heart.  I sat by myself during some meals just to let my mind settle down before heading back into the classroom.

You know what happened?  I was still overwhelmed.  The content is still huge and the work is looming.  But I experienced grace.  I was overwhelmed WITH grace.  Not overwhelmed BY grace, which is also a wonderful thing.  This week I’ve been overwhelmed WITH grace.  The work didn’t diminish but grace met me in the moment.

“I don’t know how this will all work out this year…but it WILL work out.”

“This is lots of work but it will allow me to teach skills and life lessons to students.”

“These are my people.  I love being in a room of people who love some of the art & cultures that I love.”

Hear those statements?  They’re grace-full.  They believe that God will keep providing what I need. They step into possibility of goodness and fulfillment.  They bring me closer to people.  They’re evidence of being met by grace in the middle of the load.

The load didn’t lift but grace kept me from despair.  Grace kept me in the game.  Grace draws my eyes to the long-term benefits of this moment.   Overwhelmed WITH grace.

I don’t know what you’re facing this summer.  A DIY house project?  A summer juggling kids & work?  A new ministry or project for the next school year?  The birth of a baby?    Whatever looms on your calendar, I pray that you will experience it WITH grace.  That grace will give you the comfort, perspective and goodness to walk confidently into whatever lays before you.

May you experience God’s goodness as grace in the middle of your overwhelming need.

Jun 082015
 

SRT-WITW-OT_instagramday8

I’m enjoying the Women of the Word study at She Reads Truth.  We’re in week 2 of women of the Old Testament.  Today’s reading & devotional focused on Lot’s wife.  If you haven’t read it, jump on over to She Reads Truth and read Day 8.

You know how questions about Scripture float around your mind?  Lot’s wife was on a replay in my thinking this morning.  Isn’t it natural to look back and the see the cause of the smoke, heat & noise?  Wouldn’t we all look back and weep if our homes, families and friends were destroyed?  Doesn’t this seem a bit harsh?  I know when God’s Spirit is pushing on my heart – so I re-read the Scripture.  I cracked open some commentary on the passage.  What is really going on with Lot’s wife?

Here’s my thoughts:

The angel was begging Lot to leave Sodom.  Choose God’s plan.  Physically move as a way of indicating a heart choice.   Stay here and put your hands in the fate of Sodom.  Leave with the angels and run hard into God’s gracious deliverance.

Seems it wasn’t an easy choice.  They hemmed & hawed & negotiated a shorter distance to run.  God extended compassion and let them run to Zoar instead of the further mountains.  The angels grabbed them by the hands and started to sprint.  They grabbed Lot’s wife.  She went – but reluctantly.

As they ran holding her arms, she lagged behind.

She looked back – maybe weighing the odds if she could go back.

A woman with a divided heart.  She Reads Truth called it a “divided will”.   She was following God minimally.  Reluctantly.  With a divided heart.  Going along with truth but lagging behind.

And suddenly the punishment didn’t feel severe.  We can all quote the “greatest” commandment: “Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart…”    From James we know that a double minded man is unstable in all him ways.   We know to cling to what is good and flee what is evil.

Lot’s wife was double minded.  Divided heart.  Push/Pull willed.  She wanted God AND what her life in Sodom offered.  She wasn’t against God, she just wasn’t satisfied with Him alone.  And she looked back.  Maybe her heart was turning back as she wrenched her arm out of the angel’s grasp.

Words of correction & encouragement for me this morning.  I get so busy in my life that God PLUS my life feel “normal”.   A divided heart looks “good” and “balanced”.  But it makes me argue with God.  Negotiate with an angel.  Lag behind and pull my arm out of his grip.

Create in me a clean heart, O God

and renew a right spirit within me.