Thursday, November 9, 2017

Intense Desire




“Those who grow spiritually do not merely enjoy the Scriptures; they have a desire for it that is equal to the most fundamental longing of human experience” - John Koessler


As I read the quote above I was reminded of a long and drawn out conversation I had with my brother-in-law a couple years ago about cultivating desire. (I may have even publisged a blog post about it).  In order to attract something into our lives, we first need to have a deep desire for it. Desire is a mental state that we need to cultivate. The things that we desire most are what consume our lives, and whatever we most desire becomes a priority and is something we make time for no matter what. I found a lot of things that I struggle to making time for that should be at the top of my list. Reading, and spending time in the bible fall into that category, which means that my desire to read the bible must be really low, or, there are other things that I have a higher desire to do than read my bible. I do want to be in God’s word every day. But just wanting it doesn't seem to get me anywhere. I think I need to cultivate that "want" into an absolute desire. A want is very much like a desire, but, without the passion or commitment. A want says, "I wish I could have this." and a desire says, "I will find a way to have this, no matter what." There are always some not 'so important things' in your life that tend to take over. And there are things that easily help you waste time that you could be using to do things, such as, read your bible. I know there are things in my life that I have allowed to become a huge distraction to my spiritual life. How do I get rid of unhealthy desires though? And how do I re-kindle and build up right desires?
“Can we create a hunger for Gods word by sheer force of our will? The best way to develop a hunger for Gods word is to 'Taste and see that the Lord is good'" - John Koessler
In other words, the desire to know God and his word is not likely to develop instantaneously without knowledge of what his word is like. In the same way that we would not crave and develop a liking for certain foods unless we’ve tasted it before and know that we like it. Another way that I think you can cultivate desire is by being around hungry people, or people who are further on in the journey than you. Spiritual hunger is contagious. Is it not?

Just a little food for thought.

Rosanna ♥

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

When autumn comes | Spiritual seasons

I have experienced times in my spiritual growth that I would describe as a stand still. Everything seems as though it is moving in slow motion. I neither feel Spiritually rich, nor spiritually lacking. I feel stuck somewhere between the lines, as though my spiritual life is just vapid. During these times when I would read my bible, I often struggled to find any significant meaning in the passage I was reading. Its not like my world was shattering, or falling apart.....there is just a peace that is missing. I know what it feels like to be completely at peace! I've experienced that blessed gift before, so, I know when it is absent.

In Ecclesiastics chapter 3 it talks about how there is "a time for everything". I am always encouraged by those verses! It's good to know that there are always going to be different seasons in life, whether they be joyful or hard....it's all a part of God equipping and strengthening me. But I also know that is is so confusing to go from a time of complete peace to a time of restlessness and discouragement....it doesn't seem right.

Once when I was going through one of my spiritual lows I approached a friend and told him about my struggle. This is what he shared with me;

There are three points I would like to give you.
1. Jesus and his disciples make a prominent point to symbolize our spiritual lives as botanical, or plant like. Think of a fruit bearing tree as you think of your life, there are four stages in the cycle of a year; or point in life.  spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each has a very important part in our lives. In spring a tree sprouts leaves and prepares to bear fruit. In the summer fruit is born and much energy is expended. In the autumn the fruit has been harvested and the leaves fall. In the winter the tree seems inactive. But in truth, without this winter stage the tree would not survive. Winter is a time to recoup and to store energy up for the coming spring. Unlike a tree, our stages are not equally spaced in the four seasons of the year, but can span for much longer or shorter time frames. 
2. There is a time and a place for everything.. Ecclesiastes is probably one of my favorite books of the bible :) Along with that, a theme of the book is the meaninglessness of our arduous cycles of life and growth in and of ourselves. God alone is what makes anything worth while and profitable. God alone is good, and God does not need us for anything. Yet he desires to use us and allows us to glorify him... Again not in and of ourselves but in him working THROUGH us.... Not with us, not along side us, only through us. It is when we fully submit to him that good is done and that his timing can be fully realized. We don't choose God, we are just shown that which has always been true and part of the plan. And we conform to that divine revelation of who God is and what his purpose is for our life, moment-to-moment, not just in the eternal sense.
3. There are times that we seem disconnected from God or that "spiritual high" seems to dissipate. When we are stricken down by situations in our lives we may have a misguided view of what our relationship with God is and how our identity in Him is assured.  It is not in what He does, but in who He is. When we take our joy and purpose in WHO God is, our joy and purpose are infallible and eternally assured. When we take our joy and purpose from the situations of how we are feeling or how we seem to be growing in Christ, our dormant stages will bring us down and make us doubt that which is so evident when God chooses to bless us with obvious proof of his work in our life.
P.S. just as a tree grows, we grow. When you watch a tree day by day you don't notice drastic change if any change at all. But over long periods of time you notice a tree has grown leaves or blossoms and in even longer spans of time the tree grows in height or width. Also, a tree does not notice itself grow, so don't expect to see yourself growing all the time. Take heart from the growth that has already been shown to you.

Even though this conversation happened years ago (at least 4), I still think of these words and I am so thankful that God placed people, like Justin, in my life to encourage me through my struggles.

Discouragement is one of the enemies greatest tools. Don't give him the satisfaction of giving up. Continue to read your bible during those dry seasons. Continue to pray, and always surround yourself with good fellowship. A tree cant grow without sun and air and water and food, so neither can you grow spiritually if you give-in to discouragement and cut yourself off from your sources of spiritual food.

A Time for Everything
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. 

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him." 
(
Ecclesiastes 3:3-14)



Rosanna ♥

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Control is an illusion



We run faster and faster to gain more and more control, but we never arrive at our destination. However, control is an illusion. No amount of control will ever be enough to make sure of our safety or remove our fears. So, how can we be set free from fear apart from our feeble attempts at control? The answer is found in 1 John 4:18, "Perfect Love casts out fear." It is the very presence of God that removes fear, for God himself is love. (1 John 4:8)  Fear loses its grip on our souls when it is confronted with the love of God, as our hearts and minds delight Him. There's no point in forming my own thoughts on something that Sky Jethani has already verbalized so perfectly in his book With. He says "It is the experiential knowledge of Gods love---his unyielding goodness towards us---that delivers us from fear and gives us the courage to surrender to him." Those who live with God are set free from fear. Even though it may seem like it, God has not abandoned this world to chaos. He is still able to bring order out of the chaos, and those united with Him do not have to fear the unpredictable and powerful forces that surround them. God is the ultimate source of hope even in a world that appears to be drowning in chaos. (Isaiah 43:1-3)

What is hope? Sky Jethani describes hope in these ways-

  • Hope is the opposite of despair.
  • Hope is the conviction that despite what we may see and experience, everything is not meaningless. 
  • Hope is much more than wishful thinking or unfounded optimism. 
  • Hope is a "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul" (Hebrews 16:19)
  • Hope is what allows us to keep our bearing in turbulent seas; it is the assurance that the chaos we experience in this world will not win, but God's purposes will overcome. 
  • Hope should not be contingent on morality or circumstances.

"A great many of us have come to believe that hope and significance is an external construct--something contingent on our circumstances. As a result, we fail to believe that the Christian life, at least in its fullest and most abundant form, can be lived anywhere. Os Guinness said it this way; first and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or outer Mongolia). In other words, it is not our circumstances or behaviors or radical decisions that give our lives meaning and hope, but our unity with God himself."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             - Sky Jethani  

Finding our hope with God rather than in the condition of life, means that if something were to happen to change our circumstances, perhaps even by tragedy, our hope would not be diminished, but remain steadfast. When we live life with God it breaks the cycle of fear and control that plagues other postures of life. Once our lifestyle of fear is interrupted, genuine faith and hope become accessible to us. But faith and hope are not the only, nor are they the greatest, qualities to be cultivated when we live life with God. "And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13) (John 13:35)  Life with God begins with delighting in God himself rather than seeking to use Him. Sky Jethani says that God does not victimize or manipulate us as instruments of his will regardless of what the world may think. Rather His joy is found in using us as the objects of his love because we are his beloved children (Zeph 3:17). What do you think about that?

"Love is the beginning and the end, the origin and culmination of our relationship with God. And along the way it provokes wonder, illuminates discoveries, and ignites joy.
Solitude with God is what fuels an engine of love within us--love that is courageous, generous, and unending. Amid the throngs, there will continue to be a secret and intensely intimate communion shared only between each individual and God. That is what we have been created for. Life under, over, from, and for God will pass away. But life with God, like the love that fuels it, will never end. Until then we continue to pursue our lives with him, find refreshment in the undeserved rain of love, long for the day when we shall see him face-to-face, and there discover who we really are." 

Reading the book With has caused me to be very introspective. I know that the biggest challenges in my life right now are fear and discouragement. They are things I feel I lack control over. I cannot say that I have found revelation through Skye Jethani. If I did I would be lying. I am affected by fear, anxiety, and discouragement in the same ways now as I was when I began this reading. I am trying ever so hard to surrender my fears to God. . . It is just so incredibly hard.


Rosanna ♥

Friday, January 6, 2017

Mis·con·cep·tion


When I was at bible school, back in the fall of 2015, I read the book True Discipleship by John Koessler, and while I was making my way through the first couple of chapters I began to think about a common misconception that I have witnessed in believers. It points to their lack of understanding that christ has freed us from sin’s domination, but not from its influence. The drift I observe seems to start's with confusion when circumstances get hard and sin becomes a temptation. It is then that these people retaliate and accuse the Christian belief as untrustworthy because of the idea that- as believers, we are freed from the clutches of our sin nature. That, and the conclusion that God is a God of love, compassion, and grace, therefore our struggles will be "narrow" and the way "good/easy". Where is this idea being sold from?


My belief is that our life on earth as followers of Christ [should] be a life that is full of love, delight, serenity, hope, gratification, and sanctification! However, in John 16:33, Jesus clearly tells us that “In the world, you will have trials and tribulation.” Then, he goes on to say “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Our walk with Christ is not meant to be easy, but it is worth the effort. Philippians 3:8-10 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I might gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”

There was a certain part that really stuck out to me as I read through a section in the book titled "The Struggle Continues." The topic struck me because of the many people that I have talked to that begin to doubt Gods love, and even His existence because the struggles in their life after confessing Christ do not become easier, but rather more difficult. My understanding and belief is that at the point of repentance from our old self, and adoption into the family of Christ, it is then that we become eternal warriors, fighting sin in ourselves. Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm....” 

The war has just begun.


Rosanna ♥

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hospitality


When I hear the word "hospitality" I think of the welcoming homes I have known: those where the owners were glad to see me, ushered me into their abode as if I were royalty and proceeded to serve and visit until way past the time we should have parted.  These are the homes whose memories warm my heart, and these are the people who have had the most impact on me in my life.

True hospitality is genuine, warm, and servant-hearted.  To me, hospitality is a way of life that stems from a desire to share what the Lord has given us, be it food, drink, wisdom, counsel, or a good story- for the encouragement of others and furtherment of the gospel of Christ.

Hospitality is transparent and relational, and that is who God is. My family has utilized hospitality in our home for as long as I can recollect, to minister to and disciple people.  Hospitality is a more personal way to accommodate people and it touches people emotionally because you spend quality time with them, show them care, often in a comforting home environment, and that influences people's hearts to be more receptive. Something surreal transpires when we have guests over to our home, as if a cloud of grace has enveloped our home. Guests have noted this. All I can verbalize is that hospitality is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it must be His presence we feel. I believe this is because we intentionally share our very selves. God is a relational God, and he wants his children to pursue relationship. Not only because that is a way to communicate his gospel, but also because when believers practice love one to another it is a whiteness (John 13:35)(1 John 4:7) that they are Gods disciples.

"Inviting neighbors and friends into our home for a meal provides the perfect atmosphere for sharing the gospel. Our Lord used table talk effectively to engage people in spiritual discussions and life-changing encounters. (Luke 7:36-50, 11:37-54, 14:1-24.)

The gospel in itself is a gracious invitation to come and enjoy God's home and lavish banquet for eternity. (Luke 14:16-24, John 14:2,3.) "
-- "The Hospitality Commands"' by Alexander Strauch, pp21, 22

"Hospitality is more than just a talent, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a supernatural ministry which, when combined with righteous living, bathed in prayer, and dedicated to the Lord, can be used by God far beyond anything we ask or think."
-- "Open Heart Open Home" by Karen Maines, pp24

 The belief that hospitality is important and the actual practice of hospitality are two different things. Many Christians never advance beyond the theory level. Although hospitality is a gift of the Holy Spirit, Christians are to practice it and develop the gift, regardless of whether it comes naturally, or easily. You may say, "This is important, the Bible instructs us to do this, and it will help our church; it will make our congregation a closer, more loving place." But unless you plan ahead, you'll be busy this week, and the next, and the week after that. You may rarely get around to opening your home to people in your church or your non-Christian friends and neighbors.

God requires every Christian to pursue hospitality. Rom. 12:13, and 1 Tim. 3:2. The Greek word translated "hospitality" means "love of strangers." When Paul speaks of being "given to hospitality" Rom. 12:13, he is calling us to pursue relationships with people who are in need. It is not an easy task.

Christian hospitality is a practical expression of brotherly and sisterly love. (Heb. 13: 1, 2.) In Genesis 18 Abraham shows hospitality to three strangers that show up at his home. Bowing to them as a sign of respect, begging them to honor him with their presence, and serving them a huge feast.

Christian hospitality seeks to minister to friends, family, and neighbors. As well as the poor, the uninvited, and the needy of society. ( Acts 5:42, 20:20, Luke 5:29, Luke 14:12-14.) There have always been refugees; People who have run away from their own countries because of bad treatment or something else, and who must find new homes and new lives in other countries. Because of this crisis there are hundreds of men woman and children that are left out on the streets. What if we were to show these refugees the same kindness and care that we show to our dearest friends and own families?

At heart, we are all selfish. Selfishness is the greatest enemy of hospitality. We do not want to be discommoded. Our own comforts take precedent in our lives above all else. Our privacy or our time are idolized and not often given to others. We want to be free to go about our business without interference or concern for other people's needs. We don't want the work and responsibility that cordial reception entails. Does this sound like a child of God or a selfish sinner? Ultimately, these attitudes, thoughts, and behavior are worldly. It is the opposite of love. It is totally opposed to everything Jesus taught and lived. Therefore, we must confess our sin against God and his people and seek to serve others as He has commanded.

Despite the joy experienced when practicing Christian hospitality, it is easy to neglect it during times of spiritual stress and apathy. Neglect, however, is a sure sign of slacking love. It is a sign that you are more concerned with yourself than others. Remember the recipe for JOY is Jesus, Others, (then) You. Often it is during times when we are most tempted to neglect hospitality that we are in need of it the most. Persevering and seeing it through by an act of obedience often brings an abundant blessing that you otherwise would have missed. Also, it is a great way to get your eyes off yourself and minister to others, a known healing balm for depression. Truthfully, if we wait for circumstances to be just right, and everybody in the right mood, it will never happen. Don't let the enemy distract you from obeying God's command to be hospitable to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Satan doesn't want our churches to be strong loving places. He wants people to be so wrapped up in themselves that they don't reach out to others. As long as it stays that way, the church will not be a powerful tool in the building of the kingdom of God. God's people will not be blessed by the affections of Christian love. Our neighbors will never know what a Christian home looks like, and the needy will remain needy.


Rosanna ♥

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Update: My summer activities



It has been quite a busy summer!

The hustle and bustle began mid-June when I spent two weeks living in the home of some dear friends, taking care of the 7 children still at home, whilst the parents were tied up with a medical emergency. It was such a great experience, learning to run a household on my own, but also because of the blessing of being able to lend my help to this family in their time of need. 

I departed just 2 days after I got home from that adventure and flew to New Mexico with my 10-year-old sister to help our older sister, brother-in-law, and niece in their moving process. It was a 3-day drive from Clovis, NM, to Fort Walton Beach, FL. Plus a day spent in Waco, Texas :-)  just for fun! Then a quick, one-day, unpacking frenzy once we reached their new home in Florida before Beth and I flew back home. 

The following two weeks were filled with summer camps! Counseling a cabin of middle-school girls the first week, and a cabin of high-school girls the second week. As well as leading worship at the morning at evening chapel sessions each day for both weeks! Summer camp is ALWAYS a highlight of my summer. At the end of each camp, I am always asked, "Will you be here next year?" And I always answer, "I sure hope so!"

Whew, I'm starting to get tired just typing all of this out!

After wrapping up summer camp on a Friday afternoon, I headed home to pack for my biggest summer adventure yet, and by the following Monday morning, I was Europe-bound ♥ Yes, EUROPE! I could hardly believe where I was headed either! Now, let me explain, at least a little, how this trip was even possible. 

A friend offered to pay for my ticket in order to chaperone a younger girl, Abby (a family friend) to stay with her Aunt and Uncle that live in Germany. I was invited to stay with them for a while also. A "while" that turned into a month long stay. haha. During that time I was so thankful to become very very close to their 4 daughters, as well as become even closer to sweet Abby. I join them in a week-long summer VBS ministry in a local church, spent many lovely days just relaxing as a "family", we toured all over Germany, and visited Paris! Oh, the endless joys and blessings of my stay!! I cannot even put into words how thankful I am for the opportunity to see and experience so much! I was also fortunate to spend a great amount of time with one of my closest friends, Caleb (Abby's brother) who is stationed in Germany with the Army right now. Oh my goodness, blessing after blessing.

I think I have fallen in love with traveling. The part where you see places you've never seen, and meet people you've never met. It's like I have an insane calling to be where I am not. I know that will change with time. Such as, when God blesses me with a family of my own. But, for the time being, I think I will try to take every opportunity God gives me to see the rest of this beautiful world that he has created. 

So that is what has been going on in my life lately! I am now back at home with my family, working three days a week as a nanny and cleaning, taking voice lessons, leading worship at my church on Sunday mornings, and co-coaching a bible quizzing team. Life hasn't slowed down a bit :-) 

Now for all the pictures! Enjoy!

This family I helped out lives on a farm out in the middle of the Palouse valley.
So beautiful, waking up to this each morning

The three youngest of the 7 children.


    Scott, Anna, Mary Joy, and Beth. Loaded up and ready to go.





These are my high school girls


Tubingen, Germany

A snapshot from one of the mornings during VBS
Touring the ruins of Rheinfels Castle on the Rhein River


Hohenschwangau Castle in Beveria 
Me, Lydia, Abby, Joanna, Grace, and Caleb
NeuSchwanstien Castle
The veiw of the valley from the upper balcany in NeuSchwanstien 
Our first stop in Paris was Louvre Museum.


The origional Mona Lisa, by L. da Vinci
Love Locks ♥



Notre-Dame Cathedral


Arc de Triomphe.
Pastries for breakfast from the P√Ętisserie


Cologne Cathedral towering 515 ft into the air
This guy called himself the "Sidwalk Poet"



The Mideval city of Rothenberg.
And Last but not least, my girls ♥ The bond we build could only have been God ordained. I miss them so much!

Rosanna ♥