Notes From My Study of Haggai and Zechariah: Issues of the Heart

The books of Haggai and Zechariah both take place during the reign of Kind Darius, over the course of his second to fourth year of reigning. These books seem to be intertwined in their messages to the people of God. While studying these books, I immediately see two major heart issues with God’s people- priority and heart motive.

Beginning in Haggai 1, we see that God’s people, while maintaining some semblance of godliness, are neglecting God and His temple. In Haggai 1:4 God inquires through the prophet Haggai, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” They are prioritizing their own desires while ignoring the temple of God. Throughout the book of Haggai, God reminds them that their works have amounted to little and that they are never satisfied because of this lack of proper prioritization. God uses this lack of success and other hardships to turn their hearts back toward Him. We then see in Zechariah that God also questions the people on their heart motive. Zechariah 7:5-6 asks, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?” While in outward appearance, the people were doing Godly things, their motive in doing so was selfish and flawed.

This shows us two things. 1- Our priorities matter. We must not only tend to God’s business and to His working in our hearts, but we must also prioritize Him. What do we reach for first thing in the morning? Do we grab our Bibles or our phones? What do we dwell on throughout our day? Is it social media or is it His promises? What are we feeding our souls? Is is truth or is it entertainment? What we prioritize is what we serve. 2- Our heart motive matters. Are we picking up our Bibles and reading a verse to check it off our to do list or to get to know more of His heart? Are we showing up for church each week to maintain an appearance of holiness to our peers or to spend time communing with other believers in God’s presence. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Our motive for serving Him or others matters.

We will all fall into cycles of improper priorities and improper heart motives, time and time again. Scripture attests to that. However, we must allow the Lord to reveal and correct these heart issues; because the Lord will receive back a repentant heart. In Zechariah 8:14, God tells His people, “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not.” We see here that there seems to be a continual cycle with God’s people (and with us)- one of sin and repentance, one of wrath and of grace. God corrects those He loves, but He welcomes back a repentant heart and restores peace and provision unto His people.

In conclusion, hope in anything but the Lord is faulty, and we must be mindful of both our priorities and our heart motives.

Advertisements
Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I am.

I want to know You in the mundane.

I want to know You and be known by You in the every day.

I want to know You in the magnificent and in the ordinary.

I want to know You in the natural and in the supernatural.

I want to see You in everything You’ve made.

I want to see You for everything You are.

I want my eyes to see You, really see You.

And I want my heart to know Yours.

I want every false notion or pretense to be shattered.

I want to know You, not a you that I’ve fabricated in my mind.

I want to know and love and be loved by the same Creator that formed not only me and the world that I reside in but also the very words I use to describe Him.

I want to know I am.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

In our pursuit of self-care, we have forgotten the ultimate act of self-care.

In our pursuit of self-care, we have forgotten the ultimate act of self-care: time in His presence.

This year, there has been plenty of talk about self-care. We are encouraged to take long baths, incorporate retail therapy, meditate, or read a book. We are taught to step back and take care of ourselves first, so we can take care of others. Yet, we are only pushed toward things that provide a very temporary form of relief. These things are fine in and of themselves, but believing that they are the answer is similar to slapping a bandaid on a wound.

Self-care is important but will only do so much when we have forgotten the ultimate act of self-care. There is a God who has come to give us “life abundant,” who asks us to “cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us.” There is a God who desires to give us “peace that passes understanding,” far more powerful than any soak in a tub. Meditating cannot compare to meditating on His Word and His promises. There is a God who wants to renew your mind and transform your heart, so you can then impact the world.

My prayer is that as believers we would be quicker to go to the Word than to our Netflix accounts. Preaching to myself right here…

I pray that we would turn on our worship music and lift up our voices to Him when all we want to do is drown out the worries of this world.

Satan has taken self-care, a good thing, and has distorted it, to direct our focus away from the only One who can give us lasting peace.

I pray that the next time that we feel anxious or overwhelmed, that we would remember Who and What to turn to for the ultimate act of self-care.

IMG_8260.jpg

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

When My To-Do List is an Idol

Motherhood is full of conflicting emotions. As a mother, you somehow feel both deep sadness and deep joy with each passing moment. You mourn the time that has gone by and the moments that you can’t get back, while rejoicing over each new achievement and memory. Gone are the days of separating these emotions. Motherhood is an enigma, a difficult but wonderful gift. I truly understand the term “bittersweet” after having a child.

Similarly, motherhood is a constant shift between thinking you’re a rockstar mom and the world’s worst mom to date. You have moments where you feel like you conquered the day: where the laundry was folded and dinner was cooked and the baby had plenty of snuggles and play. Then there are other days, where you feel like you’re barely holding it all together, as you bump your child’s head on the car door trying to load him into his carseat. It is what it is.

My son’s first birthday is coming up, and as you can imagine, in this media saturated world that we live in, I’ve been a little obsessed with getting all of the details just right… to the point that it’s kept me up a couple of nights. The Lord is so sweet, however, to speak to us even in the midst of our self absorbency and to calm our worried hearts. Last week, when I was having one of these nights, the Holy Spirit stopped my thoughts, and I felt Him ask me what I’d like my son to say of me when he’s older. Did I want him to say that his mom threw the best birthday parties? Did I want him to say that I took the cutest pictures on his milestone blanket? Or did I want him to say that his mother knew and feared the Lord, that his mother was constantly on her knees in prayer, and that his mother loved others well? And in that moment, everything changed. Yes, I’m sure I’ll keep up with the milestone blankets or whatever new trend is in by the time we have other children, but that’s not the point. The point was that I was so focused on things that didn’t matter, that I was forgetting about the things that hold eternal significance in my son’s life.

If these extra, non-important things are causing stress and holding more of my attention than they should, then I may as well just forget about them. It’s very easy to elevate our accomplishments and our to-do list to a god-like status in our lives. We have to remember that if our purpose and joy comes from checking off a to-do list or becoming the perfect spouse, parent, etc., then we’ve missed the point. We’ve idolized something that can never fill that God-sized hole inside our hearts. After all, it’s not what we’ve done; it’s what He’s done. It’s not who we are; it’s Whose we are.

I pray today that we would give ourselves grace and that instead of aiming for perfection, we would aim for eternal significance. We would aim to know God more deeply and to impart that knowledge and love to others.

God bless!

IMG_8271.jpg

Posted in Motherhood / Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everyday Faithfulness

I remember so clearly the moment when God first put it on my heart to start a Bible study at my college. It was the summer before my sophomore year. I was so scared to begin, because I wanted my Bible study to be open to anyone and everyone that wanted to hear the Word. I didn’t know how well received this idea would be by my peers, and I debated whether or not I should ignore the call I felt to do this. In my quiet time with the Lord immediately before the school year began, I promised Him that I would begin the work. I promised to begin pouring into others and to show up week after week, even if I was the only one there. I promised God that if nothing else, I would be there by myself studying the Word and crying out in worship. By His grace, there were five guys that joined my group. It seemed unconventional, but they came week after week. They called themselves the “Faithful Five.” Slowly, over time, the group grew, and I continued it year after year. There were great, fulfilling moments- moments when the conference room was packed. Moments when there were fifteen to twenty people at a time. However, there were also seasons where the group became small, and there were even moments where I honored my word to the Lord and sat by myself studying the Word. Regardless of the size of the group, the most beautiful part was that this Bible study continued throughout my college career and even after, when I passed it off to a fellow believer and friend.

Flash forward four years, and I felt a similar draw from the Lord. I felt a draw to begin a Bible study on the pursuit of purity. Again, I felt crippled by fear and was scared to pursue this call. The Lord reminded me, however, of those faithful college Bible study days and encouraged me to walk in obedience, despite my fears. He reminded me that ministry is not a “one day I’ll do that” kind of pursuit. Ministry is the everyday faithfulness of serving the Lord and seeking to save the lost. Ministry is keeping in step with the Holy Spirit and responding in obedience. So, in my room, as I mapped out this study, I made promises to the Lord once again. I promised to seek Him for wisdom and the words to speak. I promised to show up week after week, even if that meant no one came and I sat alone worshipping Him. The first two weeks were wonderful and were so full of hope. Individuals were so excited at the chance to study this topic. I couldn’t believe the startup of this study was so quick and painless. Yet, this morning, I found myself alone, honoring my promise to sit before Him and show up in obedience, even if no-one else arrived.

I walked out knowing I was being obedient and remembering the familiar growing pains but filled with disappointment, nonetheless. But our God is so incredible and so faithful to lift our weary hearts at the perfect time. When I walked out the door, I came across the very man I had handed my college Bible study off to. Across from him sat the man he had handed it off to when he graduated. That man proceeded to tell me about the man he had passed it off to. They then told me that my Bible study, started in 2010, was continuing to this day. They said because of those moments of faithfulness, the last two leaders of that Bible study had come to repentance and became followers of our Lord and Savior. I couldn’t help but cry and rejoice. There were so many days when I was sitting alone, honoring that promise of faithfulness, that I wanted to give up. I considered it many times, but the Holy Spirit would not let me. By God’s grace, I showed up week after week until the chairs would fill up again. And by God’s grace, fruit came about because of that obedience. It’s not often that we see the fruit from our everyday faithfulness, but God knew that today I needed that reminder. He knew that as I sat alone and once again honored that promise to Him, that I needed to be reminded to be faithful day after day and to leave the fruit up to Him.

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Worthwhile Sacrifice

Deciding to embrace the idea of parenthood and trust God’s timing on the start of our family was a little terrifying to me. I always desired to be a wife, but I never gave much thought to being a mother. I didn’t want to give of myself to the extent that I knew would be required. I didn’t want to sacrifice my body, my time, and my sleep. I felt so blessed by my spouse and my marriage that I feared parenthood surely couldn’t hold much joy for me. I somehow assumed that because the transition of marriage was easy for me, God would even things out with a difficult transition into parenting. As absurd as that idea may have been, fear was gripping my heart, and I was choosing to believe that fear over God’s Word.

I will always be thankful for the day James asked me to simply pray and seek the Lord for His will regarding children. That day and that season of prayer changed my heart and my life. While the fear would rear its head from time to time in the waiting and in my pregnancy, I chose to walk in obedience and trust the Lord’s direction in spite of those feelings. And I am so very thankful I did, because the Lord dispelled every single one of those fears with Ryman’s arrival.

Being a mom is the best job I’ve ever had. Somehow, while standing in his room, swaying him to sleep, as his tiny fingers tightly grasp the top of my shirt so he’ll feel if I try to slip away, I find purpose. As his breathing becomes slower and his face relaxes, love and joy wash over me. It all feels so bittersweet… this attempt to capture every single moment and bottle it up- every word of gibberish, every belly laugh, every scent of lavender baby lotion on his skin, and every sight of him staring sweetly into my eyes or drifting off to sleep. I just did this whole process five minutes before, but I heard him cry, so we’re doing it all again. I run to comfort him, because I just can’t help but think that these days go all too quickly. These days that I never thought I’d even want, have restructured the very desires of my heart. These days have given me unimaginable joy. I would get up and hold that sweet boy and rock him to sleep time and time again, because these days have given my heart a fierce purpose to know and love and nurture this precious gift from God and to slowly and patiently teach him that there’s a Man who loves him even more than I ever could. These days are worth it. As my lunch grows cold and my list of tasks lay forgotten, I realize that every bit of it is a worthwhile sacrifice.

Posted in Motherhood / Parenting | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ryman Thomas

8 weeks. I can hardly believe it, but our sweet little one is set to arrive in only 8 short weeks. We had a baby shower for him two weeks ago, and the excitement has been steadily rising. It seems only fitting that I share his name with you now.

IMG_0839.jpg

The name Ryman Thomas is many things. It’s a way to honor my grandfather, Thomas. It’s a representation of the love my husband and I have for music and for the city of Nashville. Lastly, it’s a unique name for a child set apart for the kingdom of God. Our little Ry guy has already brought us so much joy, and we can’t wait to introduce him to you all in January.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5

Posted in Motherhood / Parenting | Leave a comment

Year 25

Most people get excited about their golden birthday and for good reason. It seems so monumental to finally hit that year. I still have a couple of years to go before I can claim mine, however. Strangely enough, my excitement wasn't over turning 27 on the 27th. I had a strange hope and anticipation about year 25.

Months before my 25th birthday, the Lord spoke to me concerning this year and placed an expectancy in my heart. While I didn't know the specifics, I was absolutely sure that this year was so crucial and that it would be the spark of something new and big. I spent a lot of time in prayer for this change and even joyfully shared my promise with my mom, my spouse, and a friend. I knew that year 25 would carry with it change that would involve my ministry and calling. At the time, I couldn't have known how true that was.

The most beautiful thing was occurring inside of me on my 25th birthday, and I had no idea. I couldn't fathom that my little man was already there, right on time, as God had spoken. He promised great and new things with year 25, and there he was. When I first felt that stirring in my heart, I had NO idea that it meant motherhood. I honestly wasn't prepared to open my heart to the thought until April 2, when I decided to trust the Lord wholeheartedly in that area. Even then, it never occurred to me that the Lord had our little one in mind all along. Honestly, I thought He intended to open doors for me to write and speak. I didn't know how this could come about though, because I had absolutely no time.

One thing I now know is that an overly busy schedule can allow no room for quick obedience. Time and time again, I lamented that the Lord wasn't opening any doors for ministry like He once did. One afternoon, I felt the Holy Spirit gently reply. He revealed to me that I had allowed Him no time. Every morsel of my time was already consumed by responsibilities and activities. I was completely booked. It was then that I realized that I had taken on more than He had asked of me. I had blindly said, "yes" to every obligation without even seeking Him. I think we all too often fill our schedules with things that He never asked us to take on. Then, we're too busy to do what He's actually called us to do. I had to take a step back and ask Him what He wanted to stay and what should go. When I did this and truly sought His will, the answer was clear. I knew what to let go and where to continue serving.

I've always felt called to write and to speak, and I definitely assumed that the Lord was referring to that draw on my life when He created an excitement in me for year 25. Maybe in some ways He was. Maybe this time at home with my son will open up the doors to do those things more frequently. But even if it doesn't, I will choose to be content. I'm content to wait on the Lord. I'm content to free my schedule for time with Him and time serving where He draws me. I'm content to recognize the mighty calling of raising a man of God, a man who fiercely follows after Christ and walks in purity and righteousness. I want to be mindful of the importance of raising tiny disciples within my home. I can't think of a more beautiful calling.

Posted in Motherhood / Parenting | 1 Comment

Oh Boy

Today, I want to share not only our exciting reveal but also my heart. My hope is that I would always remain open and vulnerable so that God can use my story. Being transparent is often difficult and is definitely not glamorous. It's easy to make our lives look picture perfect from the outside. I want to instead invite you in to the raw, ever-changing moments of my heart.

If you've kept up with me throughout this four month journey, you've probably heard me say that I was hoping for a girl. Yesterday, I realized that it was more than a hope. Every dream I'd built of my child was of a little girl. I pictured bows and glitter and dance recitals. I pictured girl talk and the kind of close knit relationship that I have with my mom. This idea became in so many ways my dream. I trusted the mommy sense everyone says you have that told me from the moment I saw "Pregnant" that I was having a girl, and I built our story around that. Although in casual conversation I said I would be happy regardless, I have to be honest and let you know that yesterday I was not happy. If anything, I felt devastated.

Now, I went through every possible emotion and scenario in my head. I told myself that I was selfish for complaining when I had a healthy baby, and that's so very true. I told myself that it wasn't fair to my child to be falling apart emotionally. I lectured myself, I guilted myself, and more than anything, I mourned the loss of this little person that only existed in my mind.

It wasn't until this morning that I started to gain some clarity after talking with my spouse. Now let's keep in mind that he held me and let me cry yesterday. He also brought me a coke Icee, which is definitely the way to my heart. Today looked a little more like tough love, however. This morning he reminded me of the reason that I chose to step in faith and allow this baby to come in to our lives. He reminded me of my act of obedience and my faith in God's calling. He reminded me that ultimately we don't get to call the shots. He reminded me that every moment of love shared with my baby still applied to the baby that actually resides within me. Contrary to my belief, that love had not been wasted or stolen from our little boy. Honestly, that just made me mad for about thirty minutes, because I decided that sulking was my best option.

Then came the quiet moments where the Holy Spirit began to speak, and He reminded me of my last blog and the truths written there. He reminded me that this exact bundle of cells needed to be born at this exact moment in time, because it has a calling and a purpose on its life. He reminded me that my calling to raise up a godly child had not changed, and the significance of its life and ministry were the same, even though I was a little mistaken about who he was. I realized that if those things were true, if this baby was called by God for this moment in time, then the beauty of raising this child had not at all diminished, nor had the importance of my calling to motherhood. It was then that I realized that every moment I spent in prayer for my child, I spent in prayer for this exact baby boy and every moment I spent with my hands resting on my stomach loving my child, I had loved this baby boy.

This isn't a beautiful story of immediate obedience or triumph. However, it is an honest glimpse at a girl who had to look past what she thought was good to see that what God had in store was great.

Welcome to the world, baby boy. You are and always have been so loved.

Posted in Motherhood / Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

You Were My Third Best Decision

You were my third best decision. Anyone who knows me well or keeps up with my blogs knows my expression, “Jesus then James.” I always say that marrying James Morgan was my second best decision after receiving Christ as my Lord and Savior. Now, the story reads Jesus then James then you. You were my third best decision.


You were probably my most difficult and one of my most selfless decisions. You required sacrifice- the sacrifice of my image, my time, and probably a good bit of my sleep. You were a step of faith when I felt pure terror at my inadequacy to care for you. I was so scared. I was scared of what I would lose. I didn’t realize that when I chose you, my focus would shift to everything I could possibly gain with your arrival.


James has occasionally asked me about children, and for the past two years I have said, “Maybe in five years.” It just wasn’t on my radar. The fear was too strong to allow me the dream. I was too un-domesticated. I wasn’t the best cook. I didn’t enjoy cleaning. I loved working, and I couldn’t seem to fit the idea of you into my busy schedule. More than anything, I could NOT shake the fear.


One day, right before our two year anniversary, James asked me to pray about children with him. Being the child of God that I am, I said no… Oops. The look on his face was heartbreaking. About an hour later, feeling convicted that I wouldn’t even bring it to the Lord in prayer, I said okay. And right there, sitting on the floor of our office, we prayed. We prayed for wisdom, and I prayed for a heart change in His timing. I didn’t want to pray about this, because I was scared that He really would change my heart. Well, it took about a month. It was sudden and gradual all at the same time. Little moments shifted my perspective and began to set my heart at ease. I began to lean toward the idea of motherhood, although I still had so many reservations and fears. One morning in particular, I began to doubt again and asked the Lord to give me a sign. He clearly answered this prayer.


I met them at Kroger, a local store. They were Italian and were outside with a sign and were asking for help buying their groceries. It was a man, his wife, and their three children, one still in the womb. Thankfully, they knew some Spanish, because my husband and I do not know Italian, and they definitely did not know English. We walked through the store with them, picking out groceries and talking about life and Jesus. The woman asked us if we had any children. We, of course, answered no. As we helped them load their items into their vehicle, she stopped and looked at me and said words that I will never forget. She didn’t know me well, and she certainly didn’t know my situation. She said, “Children are the best and most beautiful part of life. They are a gift from God.” She told me that she would be praying for many beautiful children for me. I walked away from that experience with tears in my eyes, because I knew God had heard my prayer that morning. I knew that he had sent this stranger to confirm what He had been showing me.


So I started thinking about timing. I decided that August would be the perfect time to try, because that would give me a May baby. My husband would be off in the summer, and it would better fit into my schedule. I was still thinking selfishly. A sweet friend of mine named Jen knew I was debating this and gently called me out on it. She asked me if I really needed to keep preventing pregnancy if God had changed my heart. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the problem still existed. I was still trying to control my own destiny. My mom and sister shared Jen’s sentiment and gently spoke truth over me. I decided I would trust the Lord and His timing. On April 2, one day before our second anniversary, I walked in faith and obedience to the Lord. I felt freedom, I felt peace, and I felt joy. From that moment forward, I didn’t look back.


On May 6, the day I went to Niagara Falls, I found out there was a you.


​​


I cried and jumped and shouted. The joy I felt in that moment was unrivaled. I couldn’t believe that His timing was so exact. Our obedience was just in time, because you needed to be born. This exact bundle of cells that makes up you was meant to exist. You were meant to change and shape the world, and I somehow had the honor and privilege of raising you.


Baby Morgan, you are already so very loved. I am enamored by you. You took a woman who was fearful of having a child and completely wrecked her heart for the better. When I found out there was a you, everything changed. I will forever be thankful for the day your daddy asked me to pray and for the gentle, quiet moments where the Lord changed both my heart and my perspective. I cannot wait to know and hold and love the perfect child that is you. You were my third best decision.  

img_0670.jpg

Posted in Motherhood / Parenting | 2 Comments