With summer weather right around the corner, I am reaching for dresses like this nearly every day. I love a lightweight, flowing dress to stay cool during the hot Kansas heat. This dress is so beautiful and the movement is my most favorite part of it. It comes in this pretty pink color as well as a soft yellow and a deeper red/rust.
With summer right around the corner, I am working on putting together a reading list in hopes of getting some reading done. I have always been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, but sadly for the past couple of years I have not gotten near as much reading done between work and school. Since this summer is shaping up to be a slower summer though, I have high hopes of making some headway with my never ending list of books I want to read. Below, I’m sharing some of my all time favorites as well as some that I hope to read for the first time this year.
I hope that if nothing else this inspires you to maybe pull out an old favorite or start a new book that you’ve been wanting to read. I’d love to hear any recommendations you have, leave them in the comments for me!
For Easter this year I wanted to share something I was able to recently share with my Sunday school class via zoom, so this post is going to be a variation of what I was privileged to teach a week ago.
Early on in Scripture, there were two questions asked. God had just created the world and planted a garden known as Eden and placed Adam and Eve there to live. Everything was perfect and God was pleased with His creation. Within this garden He had planted two trees, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. God gave Adam and Eve instructions that they could eat from any plant in the garden that they wanted, except from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or else they would die. Yet, as we have all heard, Satan came into the garden disguised as a snake and spoke to Eve. Essentially he asked her, “Are you sure that God really has your best interests at heart? Are you sure you can trust Him?” That is question one, and as we all know, Eve chose to listen to the doubt that question planted in her heart instead of the truth that she knew. When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree, they were essentially removing God from the throne of their lives and placing themselves and their own desires on the throne instead. They decided that they could be better kings and queens over their lives than God, which then leads to the second question. Shortly after Adam and Eve chose sin, we see God pursuing His people whom He created and loves, and He says, “Where are you?” Now, God didn’t loose them, what he was asking is, “what is the posture of your heart towards me?”
Now, if you have your Bibles we are going to turn to Genesis 22. By time Genesis 22 happens, a lot of time has happened since the creation of the world. We see a continued story of rebellion against the kingship of God. With each generation, sin continues to seemingly reign and there looks like there is little hope for humanity, but God was not done yet. There is a shift in Genesis 12, where we see God calling a man named Abram whom was later renamed, Abraham. God called Abraham to leave his land he grew up to follow Him to an unknown location where God promised He would make Him into a great nation through which He would bless the entire world. Over the next ten chapters we see Abraham following God. He wasn’t always perfect, but he was faithful and kept following God. Yet one problem persisted, Abraham and his wife Sarah had no children and they were getting older. Eventually, it is seen that they began to give up hope that God would keep His promise to give them children as we are told that Sarah was well past the childbearing age. Yet God was still faithful, when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90, God blessed them with their promised son, Isaac and our story today picks up sometime after this.
Starting in Genesis 22:1, “Sometime after these things God tested Abraham.” We’re going to pause for a second to observe something, God tested Abraham. If anyone ever tells you that God does not test you, they are wrong. Tempting and testing are two very different things. Also, just as a side note, have you ever heard someone tell you when you’re going through a hard time, “God won’t give you more than you can handle?” Just for the record, that’s not true. I think that as we can all attest after these past couple of weeks that this whole life is more than we can handle, that’s why we need Jesus. The real truth is that God won’t give us more than HE can handle. So we see that god tests Abraham and he calls to him, “HE said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am” (side note: Throughout scripture we see this pattern of God calling out to his saints and them replying, “here I am”, this is a pattern for us to follow.) God said, ‘Take your son- your only son, whom you love, Isaac” (-this is the first time the word love appears in scripture, and it is talking about a father’s love for his son.) ‘and go to the land of Moriah! Offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you.’ Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants with him, along with his son Isaac. When he had cut the wood for the burnt offering, he started out for the place God had spoken to him about. On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place in the distance. So he said to his servants,’You two stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go up there. We will worship and then return to you,’ Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. Then he took the fire and the knife in his hand, and the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father, Abraham, ‘My father?’ ‘What is it my son?’ he replied. ‘Here is the fire and the wood,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’”
Throughout this entire passage of scripture there are so many similarities that can be drawn between Isaac and Jesus. Within the Old Testament, God would often use events in the lives of his peoples to work as an allegory to show the promise of what was going to be coming in the form of Jesus. Here are just a few of the many similarities that can be drawn from this passage:
Isaac was Abraham’s only son- John 3:16 (For God so loved the world he gave his ONLY SON)
Isaac is the intended sacrifice- Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10 we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all)
Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice- Jesus carried his cross
Abraham was asked to sacrifice His son out of His love for God- God would sacrifice His son Jesus out of His love for the world
Returning to Genesis 22, Abraham and Isaac are walking up the mountain and Isaac asks Abraham where the lamb for the offering is, and Abraham in vs. 8 replies, ‘“God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together’ It is at this point that we reach the place of testing. As the following verses show, they build the altar and Abraham binds Isaac and places him on the altar to sacrifice him, and Abraham reaches out his knife to sacrifice his son. Now remember, Isaac was the son that God had promised Abraham that Abraham didn’t receive until he was a hundred years old. At this point, there aren’t going to be anymore children. Isaac was the son of the promise and Abraham was about to give him up to God. Stop for a moment and think about how hard that must have been. Abraham had waited all of those years for the promise to be fulfilled, and now God was about to have him give up that very promise.
Yet right as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, the Angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven in vs. 11-12 and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not witheld your son, your only son, from me.” Now, many scholars believe that the angel of the Lord mentioned here is actually a per-incarnate Jesus. And in the next verse we see that Abraham looked up and sees a ram caught in the thicket and the ram is sacrificed in the place of Isaac. Abraham then gets to walk down the mountain with his son and calls this place, “The Lord will provide.” This is the part of the story where we all smile and say, “God answered a promise.” Yet, I want to encourage you guys to look back at verse 8, “God will provide for himself the lamb.” He never said anything about a ram, the promise was the lamb. Now let’s jump back to where the Angel of God called out to Abraham. If the scholars are right that this angel of God is a per-incarnate Jesus, then the very Jesus that stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and provided the ram is the very lamb that would later come 2000 years later as the perfect sacrifice for all our sins on that very same mountain range. When we walk through tests and trials in our life, we are never promised the ram, but we are always promised the lamb. When Abraham mentioned at the beginning that God would provide the lamb himself for the sacrifice, there was a short term answer that day in the form of the ram, but the complete fulfillment wouldn’t happen until two thousand years later. The lamb did show up that day in the per-incarnate form of Jesus, but the complete fulfillment would happen all those years years later when the incarnate Jesus, the lamb of God, would lay his life down as a sacrifice for all of mankind.
Many times throughout our lives we are going to be asked to walk up that mountain. I actually had to walk up that mountain myself last year five different tines, and each time leave without a ram being provided. January a year ago my grandpa was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had spread throughout his body. For eight weeks I begged God for a ram to be provided, that I could walk down the mountain with my grandpa, yet at the end of those 8 weeks I walked down the mountain alone. Then again just weeks later my family received a phone call that a dear family friend had been diagnosed with cancer a few days prior and died that night. I once again walked down the mountain without a ram. Then again in June when a friend lost their battle with mental illness, and again in August when a friend from my Bible study went in to have a brain tumor operated on and didn’t wake up from surgery. And finally one more time when my uncle was diagnosed with cancer and gone a few weeks later. Each time I had to walk away from someone I loved, each time I begged God for a ram, but no ram was provided, yet one thing never failed. Each time I walked down that mountain with the Lamb! He never once left me alone. He held me when I cried, he listened to my questions, and through it all reminded me that he was there. That lamb is the reason I am still standing today. That lamb is why I have hope for the future and can now trust him at a level I never knew was possible. If he can carry me down the mountain five times in a year when a ram was not provided, I can trust him to carry me during these uncertain and sometimes scary times. That lambs reputation in the past is his resume for our futures! We don’t have to be afraid in these times, because we can know that while a ram is not promised, the lamb is and the lamb is what we need!
I will be honest with you guys though, in the beginning, it was not easy for me to look at those places and call them “the place the Lord provided.” And when God started working in them showing me how he was going to use what I was going through to bring others into the kingdom, I was not excited about it. It has taken nearly a year for me to be able to say, “Thy will be done.”
So now I want to encourage you guys as we go through this season, when you are getting fearful, and not sure what the future is going to hold: during this season, are you spending more time with your eyes locked on a thicket or on the cross? Is your hope in a ram or in THE LAMB, Jesus? We have no guarantees about the ram, we have every guarantee about the lamb. Which now brings us back to those two questions we first discussed, because during this season you are going to hear them over and over again. When you hear the enemy whisper“Are you certain that God has your best interests at heart during this season of Covid-19?” here is your answer, “I am not sure about the ram, I am certain about the lamb.” And the next question, “where are you?” Abraham gave us the answer to this question, “Here I am Lord, ready and willing for wherever you call me.” This is going to look different for each of us during this season, but I want to encourage you guys, when I was going through my season of testing last year, I had a lot of people watching me who didn’t know Jesus that were also going through hard times. And as they watched me go through that season, they saw that I handled it differently than them, I had a hope they did not have and it sparked conversations, some of those conversations are still going on to this day, and others have resulted in people placing their trust in Jesus, the Lamb of God. Right now, our world is lost and scared in the midst of this pandemic desperately searching for a ram. What they don’t realize is that they don’t need a ram, they need the lamb. As Christians, how we face this crisis must be different than those around us. We have the lamb and we are called to point our lost and terrified world to Him.
So now, what do we do with this? I want to end this post with three questions to consider throughout the next week:
Do you truly believe that God has your best interests at heart during this season when you can’t necessarily see that for yourself?
When God asks you what the posture of your heart towards him during this time, are you going to choose fear or answer, “Here am I, ready and willing”?
And finally, Are you looking for a ram, or are you looking to the lamb?
I feel like there is so much bad news right now that it can be so easy to lose sight of the blessings that are still in our lives, or perhaps have actually come out of the pandemic. As a result, I thought I would list ten things that I am currently grateful for during this season:
Being forced to slow down. For a couple of months now I have been running at such a fast pace that I could feel myself starting to head towards burnout. I began praying that God would provide an opportunity for me to slowdown, and while I never would have imagined a pandemic, I am choosing to see the blessing of being given the ability to slow down.
School. I am so grateful to be able to continue taking my college classes online during this season and actually having more time to focus on them.
Early morning quiet times. I have always loved my early morning quiet times alone with God, but I appreciate them on a whole new level now. When it feels like the world can be careening out of control, it is so comforting to start the day reminding myself that while the world is out of my control, it is never out of God’s control.
FaceTime. I have loved being able to utilize technology so many times over the past few weeks by facetiming several friends. Even though we can’t connect in person, it is such a blessing to be able to still see each other’s faces and stay connected.
Food. I never thought I would see the day living in a first world country that the grocery stores shelves would be empty. Yet that is exactly what has happened. While I may not have all of my most favorite foods in the house and be able to run to the grocery store to grab my latest food craving, I am grateful that God has provided and that I have food in the pantry I can eat.
The Church. I have been loving seeing how God is reviving the church during this season and watching believers come together. While we all have known that the church is not a building but the people, it is so amazing to actually see that being acted out in real life.
Medical Professionals. I am so thankful for all of the brave men and women that are putting themselves in danger as they face the front lines of caring for the sick. I am praying for you everyday and so grateful for your sacrifice!
Time with family. Even though large chunks of my day are spent studying for school, I am so grateful for the extended time with my family. I don’t normally get to see them that much between all of my jobs and schoolwork, but I am loving getting to see them more and spend more time with them!
Spring. I am going to be honest, social distancing would have been so much harder if it had happened in the winter. I am so grateful for the weather warming up and being able to go on long walks everyday enjoying watching the world come back alive. It reminds me that if God can bring life back every spring after the death of winter, He can definitely bring life back to our world from this pandemic.
And the thing I am most grateful for is Jesus. In the midst of all of this turmoil and uncertainty, I can honestly say I have peace because I know my future is held in God’s hands. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the occasional moment where I feel stir crazy or sad and cry. What it does mean is that when those emotions come, I am able to carry them straight to Jesus and rest in the knowledge that He is carrying me through all of this. As a result, I have hope for the future and peace in the present.
What are some things that you have been learning during this pandemic and are grateful for? I’d love to hear, please share in the comments!
Happy Spring sweet friends! If you have been following me for any amount of time, then you know that I am currently obsessed with animal print. I saw a skirt almost identical to this last summer in the Nordstrom’s Anniversary sale, but it sadly sold out and never restocked. However, I ended up finding this dupe on Amazon for less than half the price! It is great quality and fully lined. I am loving using it as a good transition piece from winter to spring.
This past weekend I had so much fun traveling up to Louisburg, KS for the local Cider Fest. For many of us it was our first time, but we are already discussing making it a yearly tradition. I don’t care what stage of life you are in at the moment, the Cider Fest had something for everyone. To name just a few of the fun activities available: corn mazes, a pumpkin patch, orchard, craft fair, a darling general store packed with all the fall goodies, live music, and so much more! If you live in the Kansas/ Missouri area, you should definitely add this to your fall bucket list.
If you decide to go, be sure to try the apple cider donuts, they are so good and I cannot recommend them enough. Also, while the free portion is wonderful and so much fun and you could make a complete day there alone, you should still go to the pumpkin patch portion. This is where the corn maze, apple orchard, hay rack rides and so many other fun activities is located. I have even heard that at night they have fun family friendly movies playing! They are open all October long and it is the perfect fall activity. (And if you didn’t notice, it would also be the perfect place to take some family pictures!)
As we slowly move into the cooler months, I like to make sure I have a few good pairs of staple jeans in my closet rotation. While I still love my trusty skinny jeans, I was so excited to add these cute girlfriend jeans to my jeans stash. They are so much fun with a simple bodysuit like I am wearing here, or dress up beautifully with a blouse or silk tank for a night out. I cuffed them to show off the boots for this look, but they have a great length when rolled down to wear with wedges or pumps. What is your favorite jean style for fall this year?
Happy Fourth of July! I am so thankful for this amazing country that we are blessed to live in that is full of so many freedoms! I’m grateful for all of the men and women, both past and present, who have fought for that freedom and the families that have sacrificed as their loved ones were away fighting. I am thankful for the blessing of living in a country where we are free to worship God and gather together with other believers without fear of persecution. We are so blessed in more ways than we can count, so today let’s not forget to take the time amidst all of the fun and celebrations to thank God for this beautiful country called America.
One of my most favorite colors to wear during the week of the Fourth of July is red. It is such a fun pop of colour that is very patriotic. I decided to share a more dressy look for this outfit, but it could just as easily be dressed down with a pair of slides and a denim jacket for a more casual celebration. It is a fun and easy look to recreate that you’re sure to reach for beyond Independence Day.
I’m so excited to be sharing this second look for the Fourth of July. I love the simplicity of the all white with the little pops of red. The fun gingham ruffles on the sleeves keep the Americana vibe going and the red shoes tie the red in perfectly. The basket purse was the perfect accessory to tie this whole outfit together. If you recreate this look for the Fourth, be sure to tag me on Instagram so I can see!