If I pop, I hope that it’s into confetti…

Hey friends,

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that this post is the first in a long time! I’ve been in a season that has been challenging to share because I really have not felt that I had anything that could help to equip another.

Maybe you can relate to feeling in a season where you just keep walking, keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep trusting, and keep trying.

My three-year-old daughter in her adorableness will sometimes ask me, “Did you feel cute this morning(I seriously don’t know where she got this question, she’s so funny)?” But even funnier is that if I don’t answer, “yes” she goes, “Awww, you’re trying???”

While feeling cute has not been my biggest goal, “trying” in general is definitely an adjective I can relate to daily right now!

I love that one of God’s names is El Roi– “The God who sees”. It helps me to remember that not only Juliana can see the trying, but God does. He sees us trying, He sees us striving to surrender daily, and He also sees so much more that we do not, and He is at work in those things unseen to us, but seen to Him. In those moments that we feel like we may be at the end of ourselves, He is there and at work.

In thinking about these things, I wanted to share a verse that has been encouraging me so much…

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

This verse reminds that He is renewing us day by day. This pressing that we can see and feel is temporary, but its results are working in a way that has an impact that can be used for His glory in some way, for purposes that we may not ever truly see the full measure of.

I try to imagine in my own understanding that maybe the pressing is being used to shape me into a person that is perhaps more compassionate, more understanding, and more able to relate in gentleness to those around me. That future “me” may be able to encourage from an, “I’ve been there too, and I can tell you that God is faithful and going to walk you through this,” perspective. But that is just a small sliver of my own understanding and thoughts of how God may work these things for His glory, and if God uses any hardship to do that in my life, I am blessed.

However, I know that He is doing even more than that. His word says that it’s working a far more  “exceeding and eternal weight of glory”.

The verses leading up to the last one I shared say,

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.”

2 Corinthians 4: 7-12

It is challenging for me to write about this because truly I’m not a lofty theologian by any means, but it cannot go without saying, friend, that what we have inside of us, the hope of God and His salvation, is for His purpose carried by us, even in our frailties. Even though we may feel absolutely pressed and crushed, what we feel has been felt and understood by Jesus, even unto the point of His death. And with that shared death is also life, by God’s power, shown through us. It is such a deep and beautiful concept that my mind cannot fully plunge those depths of understanding. But through Him, we can trust that even in these struggles that feel like they can bring us to death, God even more so can bring beautiful life out of.

I was reminded of this recently at a Bible study for the little kiddos in the school that I teach at. A teacher was talking about faithfulness and she used an example of a balloon popping. She first popped a balloon that nothing was inside of, and then popped another that exploded confetti everywhere, in hopes to encourage the kids to just keep being faithful, and good is sure to come. The thought of, “If I pop, I hope confetti comes out” has been crossing my mind, encouraging me, and making me laugh lately. I hope it does for you too.

I just wanted to share and hopefully encourage you friend! I do very much intend to keep updating with writings on this blog as God permits!

With love,

Angelina

Belonging

A couple of years ago my family was living in my in-law’s(or as I call them, my  in-love’s) basement. We had just come off the mission field in Mexico and were transitioning back into life in the US. It was a really crazy time– because of circumstances, it wasn’t just us living with them, but most of our family was there too (there’s sixteen of us total). We would joke and say that the house must have elastic walls because it seemed to miraculously stretch for us all to be able to fit there. And we really did, it was pretty miraculous honestly. And more miraculous was the grace God gave us all in that season too–did I mention there was only one shower?? 

But something that would always make me laugh in that season was when I would hear the song “Who You say I am” by Hillsong. The lyrics go, 

“Who the Son sets free

Oh is free indeed

I’m a child of God

Yes I am

In my Father’s house

There’s a place for me

I’m a child of God

Yes I am”

I would literally like have to hold back bursts of laughter in church singing that song. I guess it’s just my sense of humor, but somehow the thought of how in my father in law’s house there was a space for us all would make me laugh so hard.

Right before we moved back to the West Coast though, at the last church service in New Hampshire that I went to, the worship team sang that song and my reaction was so strongly the opposite. I could not stop crying. The thought of moving away from our family felt like my heart was being ripped out.God met me in that moment though and ministered to my heart about the same lyrics that used to crack me up. He reminded me of the original point of that song– that it is in HIS house that I would always have a place. 

Knowing that I always have a place with Him changes everything about how I feel about the uncertainties of the future. It also changes everything about how I feel about my immediate perceived needs. 

In that moment at church where I couldn’t keep the tears back because my heart was breaking thinking about being away from family– knowing that where I was going God was going to have a place for me brought me so much peace. Remembering that truth and having that relationship with Jesus when we arrived and things were rocky for a while was also solely what carried me through.

This week as I was doing homework, I came across this fact that I thought was so interesting and so pertinent, “According to research, a sense of belongingness—of being connected in important ways to others—is one of three basic psychological needs essential to human growth and development, along with autonomy and competence (Osterman, 2000, p. 325).

How important belonging somewhere is to us as people–it’s essential for our growth and development. With the word essential being such a buzzword lately, how interesting for it to be used regarding our need for belonging.

For so many years of my life I longed to belong. I was a mess, and that story is likely unfolding soon in a different post, but ultimately– that longing for what was missing in my life I can see now was really my longing to have a relationship with Jesus. In His house is where I always have a place, and not based on what I do, but based on His love. If I mess up, He isn’t going to kick me out and rent my space to someone else. He’s always there. 

In my own experience, I can look back at my life and see how I tried and tried to fit squares and triangles into the hole of what was really missing in my heart.  But reading in my textbook about how essential belongingness really is for people, it broke my heart because that need, like all of our needs, is found in Jesus.

 I know it can sound overly simple, but that’s because it really is that simple. 

For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

Romans 10: 10-14

I want to encourage you friend, if you haven’t yet met Jesus–He is real, and so is His love for you. I know it can seem impossible how having one relationship can change everything else, but this one really does. It seems impossible because He is God and does the impossible every day. The saving that we receive in a relationship with Him is eternal, but it is also very much about today too. I have to tell you, I could not get through a single day without Him. Looking at the world right now I often think that I don’t know how people are making it through. He walks with me through each moment and will with you too. 

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

With love, 

Angelina

The sixteen of us

When Walking by Faith Isn’t Easy

When I was first learning to drive, my parents were terrified of me behind the wheel. They had good reason, and it’s a really funny story actually– but the point is, because they were afraid, they instead hired someone to teach me to drive. That instructor taught me something super basic that I didn’t know– that when I was driving I needed to focus my eyes far ahead of me because where they were focused was where the car was going to head. 

Sometimes I come to a realization that certain struggles that I’m fighting are similar to this, because my focus is not right. My focus is on the circumstances around me, and my heart is wanting to walk not by faith, but by sight. I want so badly to know how things are going to turn out. The big things and the little things. And I want to somehow try to will them into happening one way or another, and my spiritual car and the bystanders around me are in trouble.

It’s because waiting for answers in the uncertainty of the future is so challenging. At times, I think unfortunately I ignore the unsettling feeling for too long and then it bubbles to the top and has to be dealt with, and I wish that I had right away. The truth is, walking by faith isn’t always easy. I’m pretty sure my flesh just plain hates it. But if I’m not walking by faith, if I have everything figured out, where is the room for God to be glorified, to do the miraculous? I have to repent–forgive me God for trying to run from the discomforts of not seeing how things will work out. He already sees them worked out and is able. It takes faith to walk by faith. Faith in His faithfulness! And He is faithful. I have seen Him be faithful time and time again, but yet in each new circumstance, the choice is there of whether I will choose to trust. 

God doesn’t just deal with the seen–His word says that the things that are seen were not made of things that are visible. Often, that thing I’m walking out or waiting for doesn’t have an answer that is visible to me right now, but it is to God.  But we are still waiting, and praying. One of my favorite quotes says,

“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”

Elisabeth Elliott

In choosing to walk by faith I’m choosing to continue to give those things to God and trust them in His hands. When those untrue thoughts come, perhaps the ones that sound like, “I need to do something right now to make this situation workout”, or the ones that doubt that God may not answer this prayer or isn’t working in this situation, I need to do something about them right then. I need to, as churchy people say 😉 take those thoughts captive(2 Corinthians 10). That means,  I’m not going to let them keep hanging around, bouncing around in my mind and heart. I’m going to stop and pray, and I’m going to choose to trust Him. I’m going to replace those thoughts with the truth. 

One of my favorite thoughts of truth that I’ve needed to replace the yucky ones with and meditate on lately is the truth that as Christians, this world is not our actual home. I think of the verse in 1 Peter 2: 9-12 that reminds us that we are chosen, that God called us out of darkness and into light, that we’ve received mercy and that we get to show others His goodness. We are pilgrims here…just passing through, temporary residents here. We’re on a journey to our real home where God has prepared a place for us. And although we are on our way, this journey is still important, and there is temptation to get our mind’s off of the truth and to get caught up in what’s going on around us.

 To walk by sight is to choose our actions based on what we see around us, but by faith is so different. It’s the substance of things hoped for… I’ve seen so many instances of God’s faithfulness in the past come through, things that once were just hopes. Remembering these things helps so much in the waiting. 

To be able to really do what He has for us on the way, as we’re walking though a place not our home, we have to be focusing on Him and not caught up in the things around us. Some of the things around us right now are unsure, sad and heart wrenching. Some of the things I worry about or get caught up in are much smaller in comparison,  and I don’t mean that we ignore these things–we certainly can’t. But we trust that God is not ignoring them either. We have to walk in faith in regards to them, knowing that He is at work with things that may not be visible, but as we keep our eyes focused, we can stay on the right track. 


“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

Hebrews 11:3

Love, Angelina

Our Essential Family Schedule

One of my most constant struggles is doing versus being. The classic Christian internal, “Are you Mary or Martha?” question. Even though I know the right answer is to be Mary, my natural tendency always leads me to Martha first and then I have to seriously track back. You’d think I’d notice this about myself and be quicker to surrender but man I fall into this cycle a lot.

It rolled out pretty quick when we first heard that the quarantine was going to begin–you know that I made a schedule for my family right away for how we would handle the day to day. I laughed so hard because someone put out a “whats your Enneagram type during quarantine” video and it showed the type 1 making a schedule. Yep, that’s me. I tried to be realistic in my planning and considerate of what we needed, like time for Bible study, being outside, chores, homework, rest, regular work, play…

It was a good idea, but it did not go as planned. What was really funny too was that my kids were actually trying to enforce it. Like, “Mom, it’s 10, aren’t we supposed to be on our walk?”

The truth was my focus was all over the place, and I was fighting against my own schedule that I had tried to make. I didn’t even want to follow it. I felt so strange and distracted. Trying to navigate this time with my own understanding, I was fighting to make a normal in my own perspective out of what just isn’t normal. I’ve never walked through this before, why should I pretend I have an idea what I’m doing?

I needed to get Martha in the back seat again and just let go and surrender. What really is essential for our family during this time that isn’t normal? I can’t ask myself; I need to ask the One Who is really in control here and recognize that I never was. And finally have some peace because I needed my eyes back on Him.

“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”

Isaiah 26:3

The same thing that was always essential before is what is essential now. The abiding in Jesus. If that is all we get done today as a family, that’s all we need. I know we can’t force that on other people in our home, but we can control whether we will. It’s so essential that I’m in God’s word and praying right now. I need to let whatever “doing” happens flow from that time with Him, following what He has today, because He knows what really is important. That’s how my schedule needs to be made each day.

It’s essential that I’m loving Him and really loving others too. Only Jesus can really show me how my family needs to be loved right now. With my focus off I don’t feel like I’ve been doing so great at that, but I’m so grateful for His grace and forgiveness and opportunity He gives to try again. We are walking through a time unlike any before, and I don’t want to miss what God has for us in it.

So, here is how I’m trying again…

The schedule is out the window you guys. I’m not talking about being lazy, I know some things still absolutely need to get done, but I’m talking about surrendering. The essentials are first and most important, for me that’s my time with the Lord and doing a short study with our kids and praying together. I’m going to let Him lead, if we end up doing some stuff on my original schedule—awesome, but it’s His idea, not mine. With doing the things that can’t go, like homework, I’m doing it unto Him, like it should be done.

And I’m putting down my phone more. I realized a big reason my focus has been off is because I’m distracted worrying that I’m missing some kind of connection or information I need to have. That information will still be there in an hour, I don’t need to have my phone on me all the time. Everything is on screens right now… church, relationships, school, work, shopping… but it’s more than okay to take a break and just be present in the moment you’re in, to be present with Jesus and with those in your home.

This weekend we get to celebrate that He is alive! While this Easter looks so much different than previous ones, we still have the only thing that was ever truly important about it—our alive Savior. And I want to be present with Him!