September 30, 2013

News! (And a Giveaway, for Moms!!)

Today I have some fun news to share!  I have been invited to join an amazing group of women as a contributor on Sally Clarkson's blog,  Writing alongside the likes of blogging superstars like Ann Voskamp and Sarah Mae is humbling and intimidating; I feel completely out of my league.  But I'm also thrilled by the opportunity, because I know the Good Lord started opening up doors years ago to lead up to this.  My first article will post on November 12.  Yay!  If you're not familiar with Sally or the MomHeart ministry and are looking for encouragement and wisdom as a mother, please make your way to and soon!!

In connection to this news, I'd like to share with you that is merging with Sally's blog, to free Sally to do more book writing, without leaving too much dead time at  To celebrate the 6th anniversary of her blog and the blog merger, Sally is hosting a giveaway of three gift sets, which include two of her foundational books on motherhood and a sweet mom heart necklace.  God used reading those books to change me and our family in dramatic ways, for the good.  So, I encourage you to pop on over to and get your name in to win!  If I win, perhaps I'll turn around and host a giveaway myself, since I already have them.  Oooh, yeah, that would be fun!

And finally, in totally unrelated news, (but giving me a reason to add a picture to this post), the Pittsburgh Pirates are in a play-off game tomorrow for the first time since 1992.  Let's go Bucs!

September 18, 2013

Three Effects of Hanging Out Close to the Cross

Last time I wrote, I promised you I'd be back to share a little about the difference it makes in our life when we hang out close to the cross.  Sorry to have taken so long to return!  I wish I could say it was because I was doing extensive study and editing to make this post just right.  But honestly, it's because I have not figured out where writing is going to fit into life at the moment.  With the move I've been thinking about priorities, how I use my time, etc.  Also, my husband has been very occupied with his new job.  It's a season, and I'm okay with the busyness of it.  But I also hope that I can make myself take the time to be more intentional about writing and sharing with you all what God's putting on my heart.  I've been working on being more disciplined and focused.  Does anyone else feel like they "fight the lazy" all day, like me?

Well, that was all to fill you in a little on why it's so quiet around here.  Now it's time to get back on topic:


What difference does it make in our lives when we hang out close to the cross?
I'll be there are lots of answers to this question.  I'd love to hear each of you respond, because I know I won't exhaust the topic!  I think my short answer would be that hanging out at the foot off the cross keeps me balanced, not thinking so highly of myself and thinking rightly highly of God and others.  That thought will give form to today's blost.*

Hanging out close to the cross makes a difference to how we think about and interact with

God - Remembering, as we do regularly with the sacrament of communion, for example, that the Lord's body was broken and His blood shed for our sin and the sin of the world, transforms the way we interact with God.  We did not participate in the creation of this plan to redeem sinners.  That was all of grace.  God the Father desired that we be able to have relation ship with Him and he went to the necessary extreme to make it possible.  Jesus, in love and obedience to the Father, went through with the plan.

Hanging out close to the cross reminds us how gracious and loving our God is.  Starting there calms our fears.  The cup of wrath has been drunk by Jesus our Lord.  There is no condemnation for those who are clothed in His righteousness.  We can run into the Father's presence and confess our day-to-day sins, rejoice in His goodness, ask for His help, and enjoy His company.  The cross opened the door for a life-giving relationship with our Creator.  Praise God for the cross!

Others - At the foot of the cross, we are all equals.  Gazing at the cross and remembering that Jesus had to die for each and every one of us gives our pride a nice one-two punch.  We are not in competition with our brothers and sisters, we are all desperate for what is offered through Jesus.  The cross reminds me that I am what I am only because of grace.  It's all a gift.  The same goes for others.  So for those who know Christ, we want to encourage them to drink deeply of the hope and life found in Him; and for those who do not yet know Him, we want to share the Good News and invite them to sit at the foot of the cross with us and be transformed.

Hanging out close to the cross reminds us of our testimony and our calling, keeping history and future in perspective, reminding us of what is of first importance in this life.  Petty issues fall into their rightful places at the back of the line, allowing loving God and loving our neighbor move up to the front.  The cross makes a huge difference in how you and I think about and interact with one another.

Our Self - Finally, hanging out at the cross changes how we interact with and think about ourselves.  No longer are we measured by what we do or accomplish, or do not do or do not accomplish.  We find a new identity at the food of the cross.  When we believe in Jesus, we become God's children, members of a new family where faith and repentance are the bedrock and clinging to Christ is the only criteria for acceptance.  Two things happen, then.  One, we think less highly of ourselves because, as I pointed out in the previous post, we are made increasingly aware of how wretched we are.  (Seriously, the longer you walk with God the more He shows you how much you need His forgiveness in Christ.  Rather than feeling more and more great about yourself, you feel daily more thankful that His love and forgiveness are so great!)  The second thing that happens at the cross, related to the first, is that we are set free.  No longer is our worth tied to our self, what we do, say, and produce.  Rather, our worth comes from the bleeding, dying one who gives life through His death.  We can accept our failings, confess our sins, and find forgiveness and hope, for the Lord is in the transformation business.  And it begins at the foot of the cross.

Hanging out close to the cross puts us in our place and sets us free.  Those two seem like they'd be mutually exclusive when I think about them.  But they're not because of the blood of Jesus that was shed on that very cross.  We're reminded, You're a lot worse off than you think you are AND this is the very place to find the remedy and be set free from yourself.

So my encouragement to you today?  Think about and/or read the Easter story and how it relates to you right now.  Sometimes it can feel like this historical event that has little bearing on the crazy things happening around me right now.  But I believe that Scripture tells us it has EVERYTHING to do with the crazy things happening around us right now.

I wish I had the time to include verse references for many of the things I've said in here, but my time is up.  Children are stirring and I'm ready for my second cup of coffee.  I'm not even going to edit (gasp!) so apologies for typos.  Have a lovely day, friends.  May the Lord bless and keep you.

*BLOST is my shortened version of the words blog post, for those who are new here.  :)

September 7, 2013

Three Reasons You and I Need to Hang Out Close to the Cross

As we've returned to routines over the last few weeks, daily Bible story reading has found its place again in our rhythm.  We picked up where we left off in Catherine Vos' The Child's Story Bible, finding ourselves in the Holy Week narrative of Jesus' life.  In the midst of the story of Jesus hanging on the cross, Vos makes these statements:

It is very painful to you and me to see our beloved Lord hanging there on the cross, with His blood dripping down.  But even though it is painful, we need to look, for He hangs there because of what we have done.  His blood is being shed to pay for our sins.  He loved us so much that He chose to die in our place. (p.323-324)

It is painful to enter into how the Lord suffered on the cross.  I don't know about you, but I closed my eyes and covered my ears for most of the Passion of the Christ.  It's gruesome and terrifying.  But I love how Vos' sentiments reminded me of the beauty and importance of hanging out close to the cross.

So, without further ado and thanks to Ms. Vos, I present for your reading pleasure:

3 Reasons You and I Need to Hang Out Close to the Cross
  1. We're more wretched than we want to believe.  Standing at the foot of the cross and gazing (so to speak) at our suffering Lord reminds us that desperate times call for desperate measures.  Our situation without God's intervention was without remedy.  The condition of sin in which we find ourselves separated from God required blood being shed for the relationship to be made whole.
  2. God's love is more vast than we can fathom.  Our situation without God's intervention was without remedy.  But God intervened!  He started with the sacrificial system He gave to His people under Moses, promising later to send a Messiah to be the slain lamb to save the world.  God's love is so deep He would send His own Son and for a time completely turn His back on Him to save us, the wretched ones.  And Christ, the second person of the God-head, obediently and lovingly followed God the Father's plan, not calling down legions of angels to rescue Him from His unjust sentence, but hanging there and dying, taking the curse that was ours.  "What wondrous love is this, O my soul!", indeed!
  3. Forgiveness in Christ is more complete than we can imagine.  Do you remember what Christ said on the cross before He breathed his last?  "It is finished."  It.  Is.  Finished.  No more regular sacrifices, because the Lamb was slain.  No more Holy of holies, because the curtain was torn in two.  No more measuring up through the law, because Christ died to set us free.  If you are in Christ (having believed in your heart and confessed with your lips) you ARE a new creation.  Period.  You are forgiven.  The gavel has come down and your chains have been loosed and you are set free!

Yeah, But What Difference Does It Make?

Great question!  We'll get into that in my next post, because the kids are done with their Saturday morning shows.  :)  See you then!