a directed heart

a glimpse inside


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Faithfulness Abounds

God is so good. SO GOOD.

Do you forget that sometimes? I do. I really don’t understand why I do… but I do.

But over the past few weeks, God has been tugging at my heart, reminding me what it was like when I first fell in love with him. He’s also been planting seeds. Exciting seeds! Seeds bursting, eager to bloom.

I’m not sure what those seeds are, exactly, but I’m praying about them. Praying and letting my excitement grow.

Our God is big, and I’m ready to be used. I’m ready for those seeds to grow!!

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Instead of my Usual Review

By this time I normally would have been working on a “2012 in Review” post for a few weeks, ready to hit “publish” this morning… but I’m taking a different route this year.

2012 has been full of ups and downs, struggles and victories, and celebrations of new lives coming together. It’s been a great year on the outside, but it also has been a giant spiritual struggle on the inside for quite a while now.

I’ve struggled to dig into the Scriptures with a hunger for the Word I once I had. I’ve been apathetic toward spending time with the Lord and my attention span quickly dissolves when I finally convince myself to sit and try to focus.

This past Sunday the Lord moved in my heart, stirring up all the pieces that had settled into the dust. I clearly heard him speaking to me, addressing this problem I’ve been struggling with and angry/depressed about for what seems like so long now. When John writes to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5, he says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” I have abandoned the joy I had in Christ. That joy we all experience when we first meet him- we are so excited to dig into the Word and read until our eyes fall out! We’re eager to pray- all the time and about everything. We’re eager to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn. I’ve forgotten my first love and let myself become apathetic about what I sometimes feel I’ve “read so many times already.” (How arrogant is that?!)

Yeah Yeah

So it’s time to repent, Lauren, and return to your first love. It’s time to do the works I did at first, when I first fell in love with Christ. It’s time to sit at his feet and soak in every word he says. Part of the “works I did at first” included spending a lot of time with other women studying the word together, both older women, women my own age, and younger women. It’s time to return to intentional community, and the Lord planted some exciting ideas about those very things in my heart yesterday.

I asked the Lord to give me fresh eyes when I read his Word, and he did. I’m so excited to tell you that I could not get enough of Bible last night, and it was so, so refreshing.

So in light of the new year, I am returning to my first love and pursuing him the way I did at first.

For the grace of God has appeared (!), bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce all ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us for all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14) What beauty!!


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Recover my sight

Luke 18As many of you know, Jacob and I transitioned to a new church at the beginning of this semester. To say it has been a roller coaster for me does not even begin to scratch the surface of the situation.

We have been blessed by so many people in our new church family–even before we became a part of that church family–and they have done nothing but absolutely welcome us in from day one. I am so, so thankful for those people and their sincerity in loving us. It has been so encouraging and has made great lengths at easing my transition.

Keeping that in mind, it has also been really hard. It’s been hard because, even while we know a lot of people’s names, I don’t feel like I have real friends there yet. Relationships take time, of course, so it is completely unrealistic for me to be disappointed by that already…but reminding myself of that true statement does not make me feel any less lonely, awkward, or out of place. It’s easy for me to let that loneliness simmer into discouragement, and that’s a dangerous place to hang out. Today, the blind man in Luke 18: 35-43 resonated with me. I’ve let myself be blinded from Jesus’ goodness lately. I’ve been so blinded by my own inadequacies as a wife, friend, daughter, church-goer, and Christian that I forgot who makes me adequate despite all those things. So today, I am renouncing blindness and asking Jesus in faith to recover my sight. And I’ll do it again tomorrow.


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On Random Accomplishments & Hope

-I have spent the last few weeks organizing & reorganizing the bookshelves in our living room. Not reluctantly, trust me… I love organizing. And reorganizing. So I have thoroughly enjoyed myself each time I emptied all the shelves just to put the same items back on them. Jacob, however, has laughed at me and told me our apartment does not need to look like Pottery Barn. Here’s a sneak peek at my favorite shelf:

Since we used a lot of chalkboards at our wedding, we now have lots around our apartment. I think it’s so fun… we can personalize and change the messages whenever we want!

 – Jacob and I stayed up until almost 2am last night catching up on the first two nights of TheVoice. Tisk, tisk if you want, but we LOVE that show. And we’re determined not to miss out just because we don’t have cable. That’s what Hulu is for! Needless to say, this morning when we both tried/had to wake up early, we concluded we cannot stay up that late anymore. Those days have passed.

– Today’s weather makes me want to sit in a rocking chair on the porch all day long. Since we don’t have a rocking chair or a porch that we don’t share with our neighbors, I’m looking forward to the day we will have both, whenever that day comes.

Thanks to the Johnsons for the sweet Disney Cup, which is perfect for my morning coffee! And, yes, that is the massive amount of coffee currently in our fridge just waiting for a date with the creamer and that cup.

– I FINALLY made the iced coffee I’ve been talking about for weeks! I’ve been using this coffee creamer for a few weeks now…. and let me tell you folks, it has been a glorious morning thanks to this stuff. I actually wanted to get up this morning because I knew I had this treasure waiting for me.

– Can we just take a moment to celebrate the fact that I have been so hungry to be in the Word these past two weeks? What a refreshment and source of renewal each day! Praise God! If you’re struggling to be in the Word today, I encourage and challenge you to do it anyway. Just for 5 minutes… once you get going, I’m sure you’ll stay there longer than you planned:)

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)


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Bands and a Few Thoughts for Sarah Kaiser:)

 12 days from today Jacob & I will exchange these rings and say I do.

We still can’t believe it’s finally this close:). It seems like we’ve been counting down for so long-8 months to go, 6 months, 4 months, etc- that it didn’t seem like it would ever actually get here. Well, it’s here! So that means projects are in full swing & last minute details will have us running all across, down, and around town for the next week and a half.

I’m back in Springboro for the days leading up to the wedding and Jacob will come into town on Friday. We had a great shower from the ladies at Cross Roads Christian Church yesterday (thank you so much!) and left feeling so blessed and very, very showered with gifts!

This week Jacob has some projects to finish up for the wedding back in Tennessee and I’ll be finishing up the centerpieces, finalizing & printing the programs, and meeting with every person involved in the big day–the musicians, photographer, tent/chair/table rental business, etc… it’s time to write those last checks!

We’re also finalizing our apartment lease and will sign it this week, hopefully!

So, how are we doing? you might ask (this is for you Sarah)? We are growing and seeing a lot of sin, but choosing to love each other anyway. We’ve struggled with not meeting each other’s expectations in pretty much every facet of wedding planning in some way or another, learning to communicate better and being really honest with each other. We’ve struggled with jealousy and I’ve struggled with comparing our relationship, apartment, jobs, income, relationships with Jesus–the list just keeps going on–with several of our married or engaged friends. Honestly, it’s been messy and not loving to Jacob and more importantly not out of a heart that is satisfied and fully confident in the Lord.

So what, we don’t have a dishwasher and it’s a one-bedroom apartment? Praise God we have somewhere to live on our own and a place to show hospitality to others! Why in the WORLD am I concerned with the size, layout, and convenience of our apartment in comparison to our friends when, honestly, it’s not all about us. It’s about God. Just like our wedding day. And every day, for that matter. Our wedding is not about us; it’s about God. And how could my deceitful heart ever desire it to be any other way? Lord, may the gospel be heard and believed true in our hearts and our friends’ and family’s hearts on June 16!

I have been experiencing, learning about, and drinking in the Lord’s patience and faithfulness toward me during a season when it is so easy to throw a big party that is “all about me” and “my day.” Oh, how I pray that our day can be His day–a day when we will celebrate the truth, freedom, and beauty of the gospel and that Jesus is coming back for us all soon and very soon! Jacob, I am so excited to marry you! And I am so excited to experience with you a marriage that is a shadow of the marriage that we already have with Christ and will experience to its fullest some day soon.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends (1 Cor 13:7-8a).

God, your love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never ends. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so thankful to experience this great journey and shadow of something even greater with my best friend and soon-to-be-husband. It’s been hard and messy, but beautiful. Oh, how He does make beautiful things out of us.


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learning

God has been teaching me a lot over the past two days.

1. I am prideful and quick to point my finger at everyone else.
2. God is patient with me.
3. Reconciliation is a sweet, sweet thing. Both with God and with others.

Here’s what I read in my Old Testament Images of God class today (not exactly at all what we were talking about, but this passage formed the theme for the rest of my day):

“For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’

Now, in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source… Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-11, 14-18).

What a wonderful Savior we have! God, thank you for your mercy on us through Christ. Thank you for our merciful and faithful High Priest, who atoned for our sins and set us free from slavery. Thank you for our High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses and yet is without sin. Jesus, thank you for suffering to destroy the power of death. Thank you for the gift of reconciliation and for your example of humility.

Today God reminded me of my sweet reconciliation with him through Christ, and today I learned humility from a friend who chose reconciliation. Today I’m overwhelmingly thankful for the gospel and for forgiveness, despite my sinful tendency to hold a grudge. God, break me of that and teach me your humility.


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a briefing that’s not so brief

An update on life in JC, TN:

-School is going surprisingly well… the past week I’ve pretty much had a break from homework, so much that I’ve already finished two assignments that are due next week. I’ve been taking a reporting & writing class, which has brought me serious headaches as well as some joy. It’s been fun to explore that facet of writing and experience the thrill of getting articles published, even when it’s just to our college paper. I don’t want to do reporting post graduation, but this class has certainly stirred my love for writing….. so, we’ll see where that leads.

-Redeemer is gearing up to celebrate our 5th anniversary! The staff is putting together a video celebration where all the members (no matter how long you’ve attended.. from 3 weeks to all 5 years) are invited to submit short videos describing what Redeemer means to them/ how they’ve grown through Redeemer/ etc. I’m pretty excited about it. They’re putting all the videos up on youtube, so I’ll link the page when it’s finished (around Dec. 3 I think).

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of seeing my uniform in person, here is a sneak peak:)

-I’m still working at the Firehouse, usually only 2 shifts a week, but sometimes 3 if I can squeeze in an extra one. Although the work gets redundant (I wait tables… there’s only so much potential variation), it’s been great to see more depth develop in my relationships with my coworkers. I can DEFINITELY see more openness and I’m finally starting to make real connections with people. Be praying for fruit in those relationships.

-Jacob and I are struggling through what is definitely the toughest season in our lives (his schedule is much crazier than mine, granted)… but we have a lot of church family who are embracing us, building us up, and encouraging us. My friend Brandy tells us, “You are the blessed ones!” We are blessed to have the opportunity to rejoice in this suffering, since suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and our hope does not put us to shame… because our hope rests in Christ alone. We’re learning a lot about who we are and the depth of sin, but much greater than that–we’re learning the depth of the gospel. We’re learning that it penetrates, heals, and casts our eyes away from empty worldly hopes and back onto Christ, our real hope.

-I’m on duty for Thanksgiving break, so this will be my first Thanksgiving ever not in Ohio with my family! I’m glad Jacob’s family lives so close, though, so I’ll get to celebrate with them this year. I’m making this delicious recipe I found off of Pinterest for Cookies ‘n Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies… maybe I’ll take some pictures of the process and blog about it next week.

-To wrap this up, I’ll end with a little summary: Jesus reigns, even when I feel stressed, angry, unsupported, weary, and like all odds are against me. Christ reigns, Christ is being made much of, Christ is worthy, God is for me, and God is still sovereign above all. I am prone to selfishness, deceit, anger, ill thoughts, and speech that tears down, but Christ reigns. He has rescued me from the pit of despair and ransomed me from those futile ways with his very own and precious blood. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This Scripture has never been more real to me than in this season of my life–Christ, you are our hope, you are our joy, and you are our strength. Amen.