Thursday, September 19, 2013

My response to your questions..

Thank you all so much for your honest and thoughtful theological questions, I hope it has been helpful. You are always welcome to ask more- I love it! I just want to encourage you all to not take my word for it. Please continue to read scripture, pray for understanding, listen to sermons, go to church, talk to friends, and talk to your pastor to come to your own understanding. If you do not have a pastor and are not a Christian, that is so totally fine, keep asking your good questions and go to church, just to see...even go to a pastor- he would loooove with talk with you.

Also, I want to remind us that answers are not the point, they are a means to an end of loving and trusting Jesus more. Theology is good and we should seek it. But we cannot know everything, and this is where we trust in the goodness of God that we know is true because he sacrificed his one and only son for us. When we get lost in our questions, let's go back to what we do know, the good news:

he saved us, NOT because of works done by US in righteousness, but according to HIS OWN MERCY, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through JESUS CHRIST our Savior, so that being justified BY HIS GRACE we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3: 5-7

Saturday, September 14, 2013

a theological conversation with an anonymous stranger: the real reason i blog.

  1. What a joy it has been to have this interaction with Anonymous :). Anonymous agreed that he/she probably was not the only one with these questions and so we wanted to do a post on our conversation in hopes that it would bring theological clarity and more of a love for the gospel to others. Anonymous' original comment was in response to my "following jesus to walmart" post...
  2. I never comment on blogs so this is a bit awkward for me. However, I keep returning to this post and reading it over and over. I am a Christian and rely heavily on my faith but in all honestly am not well versed in scripture. Can you please explain to me what you mean when you say " my unbelief."? I feel this blog is really speaking to me and I want to understand fully what I am intended to get from it. Thank you so much.
  3. Hey! That's ok! Thank you so much for commenting, Im honored to interact with you about this:)! I struggle with loving the bible and understanding it too. "I believe, help my unbelief" is a reference from Mark 9:24.

    Im going to rewind all the way... So (theologically) our story is: 1) CREATION (God created all things), 2) FALL (adam sinned and the world broke, pain & death entered), 3) REDEMPTION (Jesus came and is fixing the world~ which is where we are now), 4) CONSUMMATION (Jesus will come again and completely fix the world, and there will be no more sin, death or pain, and only joy & peace).

    So, we were (are) created in the image of God and to be in relationship with God (that's why we ever long for something more and better). But, because of the FALL, that relationship was broken. We are all sinners, and so we struggle with doubt and believing the Gospel. I mean, even Adam, who physically took evening strolls with God, and personally knew God's goodness, decided that God was actually a lier and he ate the fruit (unbelief). How much more will WE struggle!

    On this side of the CONSUMMATION, we can't NOT sin. After CONSUMMATION, we CAN'T sin. God gives Christians the Holy Spirit which helps us believe, but because of the fall & sin we cannot believe perfectly. EVERY Christian will be a mix of belief and unbelief- Which is why we need Jesus. Thankfully, it is not the strength of our faith that saves us, but Jesus who saves us. We are all glorious ruins, a beautiful mess, wounded healers... because we are full of belief and unbelief.

    one more thing...picture a head on train wreck. CREATION is one train going in the "belief" direction and The FALL is the other train going in the "unbelief" direction- we are the wreckage that Jesus is and will fully put right.

    Did I say too much and make it worse? thanks for reading and asking :) let me know if youd like to email..
  4. Thank you so, so much for taking the time out of your busy life to offer such a detailed and easy to understand explanation. This is so helpful! It means more than you can know that you are willing to offer so much to a stranger. It's a comfort to know others doubt and struggle with the gospel although my biggest issue is understanding what the message is. I hope that makes sense. For example, I thought Jesus died on the cross for us in order to carry the burden of original sin so that we would be born in Gods image in a pure form, so to speak? Also, when you refer to dying to self what exactly do you mean? Is that turning everything over to God and trusting that he knows better than we do what's best for us? I am sorry. As you can see I am full of confusion and questions. Emailing would be nice but honestly I know as a mother to your two beautiful girlies you are busy with things far more important than my confusion. You are a beautiful and giving person and I am grateful for that. Thank you.
  5. Don't be sorry! I love discussing this, and our theology is so important! It is good to ask questions and discuss.

    What is the gospel message is a great question. Tim Keller defines it as 1) the good news of gracious acceptance 2) the good news of changed lives 3) the good news of a new world coming. check out this article:

    You are correct that Jesus died to atone for original sin; sin corporate and personal, past, present, and future. However, until Jesus returns, nothing is pure because there is still sin. That is why we need to rely on Jesus all the time, not just once (although you are saved just once). Additionally, we are all (christian and non) made in God's image. But, when someone becomes a Christian, God gives them the Spirit, and they go from spiritual death to spiritual life and this allows them change through the process of sanctification and become more and more Christ like. We can never be perfect or sinless though until Christ comes again.

    you are correct about what it means to die to self. It is trusting Jesus that he is good and loves us even when it is painful for us. It is giving up our will for his. So that post was about how it is painful for me to shop at walmart and live in a dilapidated house on the highway (which I do not, praise god!) but I do it because that is what it is for me to follow jesus into a life of ministry. It is painful for me (a giving up of self), but I am trusting is it what is best for me, and God loves me and He is good. Does that make sense?

    Feel free to email: anderson(dot)laurahope(at)gmail(dot)com

    you will find that with theology, the more questions you ask the more you have... :\ :)
  6. Hi Laura,
    I continue to read this post and your detailed answers to my questions over and over again. It is weird. I understand what you are saying but it feels even more than ever that I am meant to understand even more. I know I sound crazy in an insane kind of way but I promise you I am not. I am however confused by how drawn I am to the words(meaning) in this post. I read the article by Tim Keller several times which I am sure doesn't surprise you at this point. It is excellent and answered my questions in just the right way. I do think I may email but I'm so taken back by my behavior over a blog post that I worry I might be too bothersome or a pest. This is just so out of my comfort zone that I feel a bit uncertain. I am wondering if you would mind explaining sanctification to me. I am sorry if that's a silly question with an obvious answer but would love an explanation. If you don't have the time I understand and thank you for all the time you have already given me.
  7. It's me again. I would also be interested in discussing your winter update post at some time if you are willing. That was one that peeked my sense of curiosity in wanting to know your perspective. Taking Jesus to Walmart is different in that I feel drawn to it over and over again-almost like a thirst or a hunger. Ironically I started following your blog to pray for you and your girls and what I am finding is a place for my own spiritual growth and scriptural understanding.
  8. hey, i think your curiosity and interest are awesome. i think alot of people have the same questions, but just aren't asking... also, I am so happy to continue this conversation, but just FYI, if you would like to meet with someone and talk face to face, you know your pastor is there for that too! you might enjoy that as well.

    sanctification is a process that happens by the holy spirit after someone is justified by christ (saved) in which God makes them more holy/christ like. God commits to doing this by his spirit, the person does not do it by trying harder to be good...this is part of how Jesus is redeeming the world now. often times sanctification is painful, and God using hard things to make us more holy. honestly, i love my husband and marriage, but God has used my marriage as my biggest mode of sanctification. this is bc ryan calls me out on my sin, asks me to change and repent, etc. that is hard!

    does that make sense? what can i answer about the winter update post??:)

    you may want to listen to Tim Keller's sermons online and read anything you can find- he is an incredible preacher and so understandable. thank you so much for praying for my girls! XO
  9. Hi and thanks again. I thought I had a good understanding of sanctification and I was right. My downfall is trying to grasp the idea that God makes us more Christ like w the the spirit which is unrelated to how hard we try. I really understand accepting Jesus as my savior but I can't let go of the feeling that I need to work for His love, for my place in His kingdom. I guess it's a glaring example of how far I have to go. No matter how hard I want to let go and turn everything over, I realize that I don't. Obviously lots of work to do-lots of prayer to put in.
    I read Winter Update again and I think I am ok with my understanding.
    I will explore Tim Keller-thanks for the suggestion. I am not likely to seek out face to face sessions with our pastor although I know it would be the sensible thing to do. For some reason I feel awkward in doing so.
    You have been a great help and I thank you again for all of your time.
  10. that is all of our downfalls. the place of the will is so hard for me. We do have "means of grace" that God gives us to help us; such as, the church, the sacraments, scripture, and prayer, and there is a place for "trying" to access these. but we do not do them to get God to love us, we do them because he already does and we want more relationship with him. what is absolutely true is that you are accepted and loved by Jesus in spite of your very best works. In fact, scripture says that even your best works are like dirty rags, so we need a savior! we DO NOT do good works SO THAT God will love us, we do good works BECAUSE he loves us and we desire to obey freely because we know it is for our good! We love others and give ourselves up for others because he already has for us! The acceptance comes first so that we can love and give freely trusting in him. keep up your curiosity! it is so good! best wishes.
  11. Hi Laura,
    This is my favorite response so far and it actually made me teary-eyed. I am not sure why although I think the enormity of the concept that God loves me with all of my faults and shortcomings is always overwhelming. I love how you said......." we do good works BECAUSE he loves us...."

    Jesus welcomes your questions, christian and non christian. He would love nothing more than to wrestle with you through them. Do not turn off your brains- He gave us really good ones, keep asking!! Theology is hard and we (ALL) are in it together. If anyone; Christian, Christian hater, agnostic, cynic, skeptic, whatever, would like to anonymously post a theological comment/question, I would be honored to interact with you below. I do not pretend have all the answers, and there are many answers we simply cannot know, but I'd love to discuss, and I  do have a husband that pretty much knows everything :)... 

    Let's love people who are different from us well- we are all trying to figure out this beautiful, broken, and confusing world together. Thanks for reading! And special thanks to my "no longer a stranger, but still anonymous" new friend :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

7 indoor toddler activities for $10 at the Dollar Store!

When this is your weekly forecast, you know you best be finding some indoor activities, and fast!

  I just had to come up with something to engage my girls at home as it is just too hot to do anything! We are on a tight budget, so I decided I would run to the Dollar Store and try to piece together some activities to keep them occupied. Depending on what you already have at home, these activities should cost you between $10-15. If I had gone to Target instead I'm sure the cost would have at least doubled. 

Ok, I love the Dollar Store! This is the toy aisle! My girls were wide-eyed & drooling.

1) Dino-eggs
~Learning opening and closing~
 This kept them busy a while- they loved it, and were just so proud when they were able to open an egg and find a baby dino! I already had the eggs, and the dinos were obviously $1!

 2) Put the ball in the can :)
~Learning to sort and clean up~ 
The girls love these types of trash cans, so I knew this was a must have. They enjoyed putting the balls in and taking them out- over and over :). The can was $1, you can really use any objects you already have at home for this..

3) Roll on paint
~Learning about colors, patterns, and creativity~
(Ok, the $1 wrapping kraft paper is worth the trip on its own!) I bought a vinyl table cloth to paint on and the kraft paper, but if you already have those things, it'd just be $3!

4) Car Track
~Learning to follow the lines~
The girls love pushing cars! We don't totally get the "track" yet though. For this, I just bought painter's tape and a little wood taxi and school bus- $2

 5) Growing animals in the bath
~Learning types of animals and colors~
We sometimes do baths just for fun. They loved these and wouldn't let them go! Do supervise the whole time though because until the capsule is dissolved, they are a choking hazard. The animals stick to the wall too, so they thought that was very exciting. $1

 6) Dance party
~Learning rhythm~
We love to dance! I just bought this tambourine and made a rattle, and we're ready for some Robin Thicke ;). $1

 7) Bowling
~Learning hand/eye coordination, throwing, kicking, rolling~
Balls are a huge hit! Use anything for pins; blocks, cups. etc. Ball $1. 

The Dollar Store has so much more to offer older kids too; books, instruments, dress up, crafts, puzzles, games, etc. Check it out!

I am keeping all this stuff in the closet and only breaking it out at special times so that it doesn't lose it's luster ;)
I hope these might buy you a few days too! Have fun!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Silhouette Art

I had been wanting to get the girl's silhouettes done, and thought maybe I could just DIY. I researched some "how tos" and they required setting up a photo studio and using photo shop, etc. I wasn't up for all that, and so I just did my own and I'm really happy with them!

Time: less than 30min
Difficulty: super easy!
Cost: less than $1 for a sheet of black card stock, $7 for a frame

- profile pic of your child on your computer
- white paper
- black paper
- pen
- frame :)

1- Take or find a profile picture of your child, then zoom in and crop to the size you like. 

2- Use a sheet of printer paper and trace with a fine pen right from the computer screen. Increase the illumination to the highest amount. Embellish hair, eyelashes, and a bow if need be.

3- Cut out your outline.

4- Trace that image onto black construction paper and cut out that image.

5- Done! 20 minutes, right?? Glue onto cute patterned paper (wrapping paper works) and frame!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Following Jesus to Walmart.

just a little daily reflection...
I never wanted to be in ministry or marry a pastor. In fact, Ryan asked me out 3 times before I agreed. But the truth was, I enjoyed him, and I believed the gospel just enough to say yes to one date. And then to say yes to a second date, and a third... and then to a proposal. I was scared (I still am scared). I believed that God was in control, that He was good, and that He would be with me as I entered a life of ministry. I knew that following Jesus (particularly in vocational ministry), meant a life of dying to self. I chose to trust that God cannot give a bad gift to his children, but only the very best (because that is what scripture says), so I dove in. Ryan and I both came from comfortable/ well off families and when we were engaged we often road tripped from St Louis to Nashville. Whenever we would pass a dilapidated house on the side of the highway we would joke that it was probably the kind of house we would live in as people in ministry, and we would probably be people that shop at Walmart (nervous laughter..)

I want to be a Christian that loves Jesus but does not have to give up anything for Him (even though He gave up EVERYTHING for me). Wouldn't that be easy and comfortable? Unfortunately, those are mutually exclusive categories, and He loves his children too much to allow them to go through life comfortably (sanctification).

  “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

The more we die to our self the more we rely on and draw near to Him, which is painful and beautiful and good and hard and true.

Yesterday Ryan asked me if I could start shopping at Walmart.

Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

1 year old family photo shoot!

We had such a blast at our family photo shoot with the talented, Courtney Jewett!