2021: A Year In Books

2021: A Year In Books

I don’t normally make New Years resolutions, but with 2020 the way that it was, I wanted to enrich my mind. So I decided to challenge myself to read twelve books in a year, one book per month. Well, I surprised myself and read DOUBLE that. Now, no one wants to read my reviews of 24 books so I decided to stick to my top 4 (see below) . So I present to you: Ali’s Book Recommendations 2021!

  1. Jesus & John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation By Kristin Kobes Du Mez

    This was one of the first books I read in 2021 and set the tone for the selection of books I chose to read throughout the year. A New York Times bestseller, this book chronicles the rise of the “Religious Right” and the history of modern evangelicalism in the United States. Having grown up in evangelicalism, reading this book was like reading my life story. Everything Du Mez writes about had some connection to my upbringing or my parents’ and was an extremely surreal experience to read. If you are like me and wondering “how on earth did we get here?” this book is for you.

  2. Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope By Esau McCaulley

    This book was Christianity Today’s Book of the Year for 2020. Esau McCaulley beautifully explains Black exegesis through story, history, and scripture. It was enlightening to read McCaulley’s insights on how the Bible is read through Black eyes. I’ve included it in my top 4 because it made me fall back in love with the Bible. Scripture really is living and breathing and it was impactful to recognize how much our own unique backgrounds affect how we read God’s word.

  3. Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength By Kat Armas

    I won a copy of this book in a giveaway. It was one of three books and, truthfully, it was the one I was least excited about so I put it on my shelf and forgot about it. After watching In The Heights and being inspired by Abuela Claudia’s ‘paciencia y fe’, I remembered that Abuelita Faith was on my bookshelf and I decided to give it a read. I’m so glad I did. This book is beautiful. Kat Armas does an exceptional job walking the reader through her life, her culture, and the overlooked women of the Bible in a way that is inviting, humble, and brave. As someone who has been on a journey the last year to discover and learn from marginalized voices of faith, Abuelita Faith was so life giving. Armas doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable. Instead, she takes the reader’s hand and lovingly shows them how the Bible is full of the uncomfortable and how God uses the uncomfortable to grow us all.

  4. Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair By Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson

    This was one of the last books that I read this year and I’m glad that it was. I’m not sure I would have been ready to read it back in January. This book was inspiring, convicting, and challenging as it broke down the authors’ arguments for reparations from a uniquely Christian and biblical perspective. Weaving together the history of slavery, race, the Church’s role in both, as well as biblical history, this book encapsulated all the books I read in 2021 in a beautiful way.

My other goal this year was to talk less and listen more. I wanted to listen to people who look differently than me, who think differently than me, and who feel differently than me. Books do that. They allow us to humbly sit at the feet of a person and listen. Ultimately, I’m walking into 2022 with more understanding toward others and more knowledge of our history and of the injustices in our country, and I am hopeful. God is working amidst the pain and injustices I see all around me and hopefully 2022 will be a year of putting what I’ve learned into action. If you are interested in any of the books that I read this year, let me know! I’m looking to give a lot of them away and make room for the next 24. And if you have any recommendations, hit me up! HAPPY READING!

The Dangers of a Backyard Bumblebee

The Dangers of a Backyard Bumblebee

This morning, Jake and I were outside playing in the backyard, taking full advantage of the unseasonably cooler morning temperatures. I was sitting and enjoying my iced coffee while he toddled about the yard. As a new walker, I sit in the balance of letting him explore his new found independence while trying to keep him from smashing his face into the hard concrete. It can be difficult at times to allow him to hurt himself, knowing he won’t fully learn how to walk unless he knows how to fall. So I sat. Half relaxed and half ready to scoop him up at a moments notice. As Jake played, a bumblebee appeared. An intruder of our backyard haven. I jumped up ready to swat him away if he veered to close. Jake, on the other hand, was mesmerized. He was fascinated by this buzzing creature, a new addition to his tiny world. He watched in a trance until the bee got closer and then reached out with his chubby little hand. I immediately snatched him up. Perplexed, he writhed in my arms, trying to touch his new friend. I explained to him that this little bee, though cute, had a stinger and that if provoked, he would sting his little arm and it would hurt. But all Jake could see was something new and exciting… something he wanted to touch. In that moment, I realized that the next seventeen years will be filled with many moments just like that. Those moments will range from simple explanations of the dangers of a backyard bumblebee to life’s more complex subjects. And as I was lost in thought, I got a bit sad. The bee buzzed away in his quest for a flower and Jake went back to exploring the yard. But Jake’s little life had flashed before my eyes and the realization of his autonomy and free will hit me like a load of bricks. He won’t be a toddler forever (I’ve already accepted that). But the many life lessons yet to come seemed daunting. As his parents, we are tasked to train him and equip him. To get him ready for the big wide world beyond the backyard. We can have great conversations. Give him sage wisdom and deep insights learned from our own lives but, ultimately, the choice to apply that wisdom is up to him. We have no control over his life choices and, if I’m honest, that can be a hard pill to swallow at times. At the end of the day, Jake is a sinner just like me. He will be faced with moral quandaries and tough choices. He will be tempted by all the bumblebees of the world and will probably get stung more than once as he grows into the man he wants to be. Just as I can’t catch Jake every time he falls now, I have to allow him to make his own mistakes and learn his own lessons. The next seventeen years will be full of joy and probably some pain but thats how we grow. But for now, I choose to soak up our backyard adventures, watching my little person take his first steps in the wonderful journey we call life.



Reflections from 10 years of Student Ministry

Reflections from 10 years of Student Ministry

In a few weeks, my time leading high-schoolers will come to an end. I’ve been serving with Watermark’s student ministries since 2008, when I was a freshman in college. Working with middle and high-schoolers has honestly been one of the highlights of my life and something I will truly miss. I am very passionate about this age group because I feel that they have been largely misunderstood and undervalued by our society. It’s such a precious time of coming of age and the time you really start learning what a personal relationship with the Lord looks like. I’ve learned a lot by watching my girls grow from gangly 6th graders to opinionated 18 year olds and now that I am a parent, there are some things that I want to make sure I remember about this stage of life:

Being a teen doesn’t make your feelings invalid.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of middle school? Hormones. It’s a crazy time of changing bodies, hormonal swings, and ridiculously short dating relationships. However, I think it’s really dangerous to disregard teenager’s emotions as just hormone swings. Teens are typically a lot more open with their feelings than adults. They just don’t know how to process them yet. So when a teen is hyper emotional about something, don’t dismiss it. This is a great opportunity to help them learn how to process their emotions by talking about them and teach them how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way.  You may think whatever they are going through is the stupidest thing in the world, but it is VERY real to them. Just because they are a teenager doesn’t mean they aren’t old enough to be taken seriously. Meet them where they are.


Students deal with very real and tough situations. 

I’ve heard time and time again, “you’re only 16, how hard can your life really be?” Very hard actually. I have walked through situations with students that I wouldn’t wish on anyone: Sexual assault, death of a parent, abandonment, rejection, suicide… the list goes on and on. Tragedy and evil do not discriminate against young people. To qualify how hard someone’s life is by how old they are is naive and dangerous. We live in a sinful world and that sin has horrendous effects on the lives of children. When tragedy strikes, they need people in their lives who will treat them with dignity, jump in the trenches with them, and point them toward Christ.

Social media cannot be avoided.

It is no surprise that social media is having a negative affect on kids of all ages. In my community group, the top parenting topic we always discuss is how to protect our kids from technology and I’ve seen how dangerous Instagram and Snapchat have been in the teen girls’ lives. However, I don’t think we need to keep our kids away from social media. I think we need to equip them to use it properly. Tools are only dangerous when used in dangerous ways. The key is to have open conversations about what tech kids are using and being educated on what those platforms can be used for.

I think we get caught up on the fact that Social media provides access to porn, bullying, body image issues, comparison, jealousy, online predators, etc. Those are all things we obviously want teens to avoid but these things have existed much longer than Instagram and will continue to exist long after. At the end of the day, we live in a sinful world and until Jesus comes back, that isn’t going to change. If a teen wants to access something, they are going to find a way to do it. They are way smarter than us! We just have to equip teens to deal with sin in a biblical way and train them on how to avoid falling into sinful habits.


If you lower the bar, they will go lower. 

It’s hard to motivate a teenager to do something they don’t want to do. Bribery and compromise as parenting tools start young (my 9 month old is well acquainted to them). But I found that when challenged, by and large, teens will rise to the occasion. They want you to challenge them. They want to be pushed beyond what they think they can achieve and if you set the bar low, they will under-deliver every time. Why would they want to give their best when you aren’t expecting the best from them? I think it can be so easy as a small group leader to dumb down the curriculum or decrease the amount of ‘homework’ in the hopes that it will guarantee that the students will do it. But you are ultimately cheating them of the opportunity and cheapening the activity. Ultimately, challenging them sets them up for success.

Care about what they care about.

When my girls were in middle school you know what I did? I made sure I knew the names of the members of One Direction and the top shows on Disney Channel. Now that they are in high school, I am up-to-date on who Logan Paul is and the current teenage slang (“Weird flex but ok.”).  Why? Because when you want to get teens talking, you talk to them about stuff they know and are interested in. If you belittle their hobbies and their fandoms, you are essentially calling them silly and unimportant. Educating yourself on what’s popular at the time is a great way to stay connected and to stay aware of what your teen is filling your brain with. A win-win!


Don’t expect change overnight. 

It can be so frustrating to teach the same thing week after week for years and years and not see any change. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes it takes years of teaching for things to click. Everyone learns and grows at their own pace. Don’t rush the process. I think it’s so easy to blame yourself for someone’s lack of growth, especially spiritual growth. But as a small group leader, you just have to be faithful to show up, teach, and trust that God will do the rest. It’s really up to the student on whether they want to take what they have been taught and apply it. Ultimately, a relationship with the Lord is a personal choice that each person has to make for themselves.


They may be angsty, they may be moody, and they may not want to but spending quality time is so important. Actions speak louder than words so being physically present speaks volumes. That means going to games, going to plays, having late night phone calls, coffee meet ups, etc etc. Make them a priority. That way when they need to talk to someone, they know that they can call you and you’ll pick up the phone. Being physically there means you’ll be emotionally there.

Share your life.

A lot can happen in a decade and my girls have had a front seat at the major moments of my life. They watched me date my would-be husband. They watched me plan a wedding. They passed our programs at the wedding. They were some of the first people to know I was pregnant and are now watching me learn how to be a parent (not to mention the life that happened in between!). My goal was to live a life that I wouldn’t be ashamed to tell the girls about. This kept me out of trouble and (hopefully) allowed the girls to get an honest look at the highs and lows of adulthood. I pray that my son has someone in his life who he can watch pursue Christ and be honest at how hard it is to pursue Him well.



My favorite memories of the last 10 years are the silly times. The bad jokes, the Disney jam sessions. The farkles and the really bad Halloween costumes. Life is hard so have fun doing it. Being silly and having fun brings people together and creates lifelong memories. The last 10 years have been challenging, rewarding, and SO FUN. I’m just so thankful that God gave me this opportunity. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to love on my girls. They have changed me in ways they could never know and for that I am forever grateful.


A Day in Ezra: Chapter 3

A Day in Ezra: Chapter 3


Key Verses:

12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses,old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Central Truth:

Don’t let the memory of past troubles drown out the knowledge of current blessings.

In Chapter 3, the Jewish people are laying the foundation of God’s temple. Many of overjoyed at the prospect at having a place to worship their God again. However, there are some who remember the old Temple and the old days and weep because they are gone. The Temple will never be as glorious as the first. We often do the same thing today. At least, I do. I focus on the negatives and blind myself to the blessings God gives me NOW. At THIS moment. It is easy to get caught up in how rough you had/have it. I’ve gotten pretty good at picking out how sinful I am and how messed up my life is. I forget to be thankful. I forget to worship Him for all the things he has given me. He has even given me His son so that I can live in perfection with him forever. And I find that once I stop concentrating on all the bad things and focus on the good, my attitude toward life, others, and Christ changes! I am happier and hopeful, knowing full well that this world is not my home. God loves me and He love you and we will see His glory. That’s a promise (Psalm 27:13-14).

Today’s Prayer:

Lord, thank you for all your blessings. Thank you for who you are. I confess that my mind is clouded with the past and I tend to dwell in these thoughts. Please help me to focus on your love and truth and not myself. Amen.

Trials: God’s Teaching Tool

Trials: God’s Teaching Tool

We’ve all been through trials, though they look different to everyone. A trial could be a bad day at work, parent’s divorce, battling depression, or a a midlife crisis. One person’s trial is no different than another’s and all can be pretty tough to deal with. I’ve had a pretty rough time these past few months and through the pain, confusion, and despair, God has amazingly shown me the benefits of going through tough times:

  1. Compassion for Others
    I have always considered myself an empathetic person, but no matter how empathetic you are, it is still hard to relate to something someone is going through if you’ve never been there. For example, I have never lost someone super close to me so the grief that accompanies the loss of a loved one is foreign to me. Suffering through a trial creates relatable experiences and opens our minds and hearts to others’ loss.
    “…That there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15
  2. The Realization that we need Christ
    Even if your trials are not brought about by a sin you committed or something you have personal done, they have a way of humbling us. I have never felt so unredeemingly broken as I do when going through a trial. I have felt lost, confused, a sinner, not enough and too much all at the same time. And Jesus lovingly reminds me that it’s ok. He doesn’t need me to be anything else than what I am. I don’t need to do anything. Just wait on Him as He moves.
    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39
  3. Patience is a virtue
    I always think I am the most patient person ever until I have to wait on a trial or ‘season’ in my life to pass. WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?  I always wants to be ‘fixed’ now. Learn whatever God is teaching me NOW. But alas, God has his own timing. And me being impatient often makes the trials even more agonizing. I’m still learning to trust God and his way of doing things. Because if I’ve learned one thing in my life, its that I have the worse timing.“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! “- Psalm 27:14

    “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”Habakkuk 2:3

    “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” – Proverbs 16:9


  4. The Need for Others
    Growing up I always kept things to myself. I kept all my emotions, worries, and fears locked inside a tiny box deep inside and wouldn’t share them. I have come to find that my reasons for that were two things: The fear of being “too-much” for people and the desire to be completely self-sufficient. And unfortunately, I didn’t have the community I have now back when I was little (or at least I didn’t reach out to one). Over the past year, God has shown me the power that comes from biblical community. There is love, compassion, accountability  and strength in that power. And we need that. God did not create man to be alone. And through community I have learned that I am never “too much” and that God gave me community to share my burdens with me. And most importantly, I can’t depend on myself. I will undoubtedly lead myself down the wrong path if unchecked by loving and faithful community. I need to depend on Christ and on the people he put in my life.“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”Hebrews 10:24-25

    “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

  5. Hope
    Hope. It sounds easy but it’s actually quite hard. It requires faith. And though Faith is my middle name (true story.) , in the midst of a trial its pretty shaky. It’s hard to believe in something good when everything around you is anything but. But God promises good to us. To those who know and love him. And though we may not feel hopeful or cheery and the idea of considering the trial “as pure joy” is infuriating, it doesn’t matter. God’s truth remains true. Everything will work out for our best.“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28

    “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

    Hebrews 12

So my ‘trial’ isn’t over and some days I feel like giving up, curling into the fetal position, and crying. But I am confident that God’s goodness will prevail over my circumstances. And that gives me the strength and stubbornness to reject Satan’s lies. And though James 2:3-4 can make me so mad sometimes, I am starting to see how you can truly consider your trials as pure joy. And I am excited to see the end result.

True Love: A Manual

True Love: A Manual

God must have thought he was pretty funny when he chose to not include a single Bible verse on the subject of dating. If you’re like me, you are frantically looking for a biblical how-to manual on how to date well. As a woman who grew up in the church, I have listened to my fair share of dating sermons, read numerous Christian books on being content in your singleness, and had the Proverbs 31 woman as a role model since forever (That chick is cray! Am I right?). And now that I’m in a relationship, I feel like need more directions than ever. And then it hit me. There are a TON of verses in the Bible about dating! And they all say the same thing: be patient and wait on the Lord. He’s got a plan and it’s awesome (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 32:8, Psalm 118:8, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 2:6-9,Proverbs 16:9, Isaiah 48:17, Philippians 2:13, Psalm 37:23, Psalm 119:105, Matthew 6:33, Psalm 37:7, Proverbs 15:22, 1 Chronicles 16:11, Proverbs 3:7-8, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 48:14, Jeremiah 10:23…).

God’s not going to shine a beam of light upon the head of your future spouse and He’s not going to give you someone who is perfect for you in every way. He will, however, teach you what love is. It is not a feeling, it’s a choice. And, ultimately, dating and marriage are just mediums through which God shows how unfailing and vast His love truly is.

“The world takes a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, “This is love.” God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloody man hangs and says, “This is love”. – Joshua Harris

Not butterflies, not romance, not flowers or chocolates but the willingness to sacrifice yourself for another person when they have wronged you in every way and with every fiber of their being. That is true love.

Dating and marriage are really just journeys. And, if you’re doing it right, a journey that brings you closer to God. So in the end, if you’re dating, you should have one goal in mind: develop a relationship with someone that glorifies God and one that God can use for his Kingdom. With His glory in mind, no matter what the outcome, you can’t go wrong.

An Issue of the Heart

An Issue of the Heart

“Fewer guns means fewer murders” – Bloomberg

I do not condone violence in any shape or form, but I think it is ignorant to assume violence will stop if a weapon is banned. People determined to kill will kill by any means necessary. This isn’t a gun issue. It’s a heart issue. The problem lies in the current moral state of this country and if we don’t change the way we raise our children, these acts of evil will only get worse. We need to drastically change the morals and fundamentals we teach future generations. We don’t teach them to face the consequences of their actions. Instead, we teach them to disrespect authority by eliminating punishment and coddling them. We teach them that they can do whatever makes them happy even at the expense of others, which engenders a mentality of “I can do whatever I want. You can’t touch me”. We teach them to value wealth and status achieved through power, manipulation, and greed instead of teaching them the value of education, service to others, and temperance. We let them have it all and wonder why they can’t practice self-control. We encourage experimentation with sex, drugs, and alcohol at an early age and are surprised at the teen birth rate and the commonness of alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. We teach our children easy fixes to their problems instead of showing them how to persevere through trials, watching in wonder as the abortion rate rises, graduation rates fall, and the number of divorces increase. Guns are not our problem. It is much deeper than that. A little band-aid of a gun control policy will just make the wound messier. We need to take a good look at ourselves and at this country. The United States isn’t the greatest country anymore. But it can be. This next generation has the choice to continue on a path of destruction or to make a change and, in my humble opinion that change starts with the church. We need a revival. We need to start walking the walk and no longer simply practicing what we preach, but LIVING it. No more hatred and legalism, but loving rebuke. We need to not compromise our beliefs but share them with other in love and with purpose. This world is not our home. As believers, we need to start living out our faith, and proving it. A faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:17). The world today is a scary place with evil around every corner. But we have hope. We have a God who loves us to the point of committing his son to die on a cross so that the evil among us and within us won’t separate us from eternity with Him. God will have His justice and Evil will not win.

 “For the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” Proverbs 24:20 

“If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still.” Ecclesiastes 5:8

Working For The Weekend

Working For The Weekend

workWe’ve all had those seasons in life where we really could care less about our work or school. For my friends about to graduate, senioritis has kicked in and all you can see is the open road to freedom. For all us post-grads, we are working for the weekend or 5:00 pm. I know too well how easy it is to check out, to coast through responsibilities and projects. Eye on the prize. But we really do miss a lot by not giving our all to the moment at hand. God has given us each life stage, each season, for a reason. These times are opportunities for personal growth and God promises that they are for our ultimate good (Jeremiah 29:11; James 1:2-4). Whatever we do, we are called to work diligently with all our heart, as if working for the Lord and not for man so that our actions can be a testimony for Christ (Colossians 3:23). The world is desperate for Christian accountants, Christian copywriters, Christian grocery store clerks, and Christian college students. Be present where God have placed you.

But work and school aren’t everything.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:27)

It is when work and school start to consume our thoughts and define our worth that we’ve lost sight of their true purpose. God calls us to live in the world but to not be of the world.  So yes, the purpose of work and school in ‘the world’ is to provide income and stability. But in the eternal world, these are just mediums for spiritual growth, whether it is our own or the growth of others through our interaction with them:

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

When our work is hard, we are called to endure:

“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it.” (1 Corinthians 4:12)

We are even called to work in general!:

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues vain things lacks sense.” (Proverbs 12:11)

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. ” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9)

And everything we do, be it filing, that research project, or your business trip, should be done for Christ:

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

so whether you are in a job you love, a job you hate, or your still waiting for graduation, think of your work as an opportunity. Who knows what God will make of it?

A Thrill of Hope

A Thrill of Hope

a-thrill-of-hope-vinyl-wall-design“A thrill of hope. A weary world rejoices.
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees. Oh hear the angel voices.
Oh night divine.”

Can you imagine?
A crisp, cool night softly broken by streaming rays of sun. As the light breaks the darkness, the sweet voices of angels fill the earth with song…

A thrill of hope.

How remarkably beautiful. Those are the lyrics to my favorite Christmas song. I love those words because, when I sing them, I feel like I’m there experiencing the moment when Christ was born. The best part is that that thrill of hope we’re singing about is REAL. It’s going to happen again. He is coming back and we will hear the angels sing once more. But this time, that holy night will be the end of all weeping, all hurt, and all pain. Evil will be destroyed and we will see ultimate redemption. All our waiting, praying, sharing, serving,  and striving will be worth it. The weary world will rejoice. He is real, He is coming, and He will make all things right. That’s a promise.

Missing Out

Missing Out

“I know that life is a doorway to eternity, and yet my heart so often gets lost in petty anxieties. It forgets the great way home that lies before it. Unprepared, given over to childish trivialities, it could be taken by surprise when the great hour comes and find that, for the sake of piffling pleasures, the one great joy has been missed. I am aware of this, but my heart is not. It seems unteachable; it continues its dreaming … always wavering between joy and depression.” – Sophie Scholl

We all get caught up in the ins and outs of everyday life. And I don’t know about you, but I am just WAY to busy. I barely have time to sit down and eat a meal! I always have somewhere I need to be or something I need to do. It can all get pretty overwhelming and exhausting. Recently, I’ve been asking myself “what am I doing?”, “Is this worth it?” etc. And then I realize that there is more to this life than work and the weekend. I am easily distracted by my To Do list and schedule and forget to appreciate the beauty around me and the ultimate prize that lies ahead: Jesus. When I think of all the tasks in front of me (that next project at work, that much needed oil change, texting that friend back…), I have to stop and remind myself that all I do is for the advancement of the Kingdom and not for my me and my selfish reasons. When I remember this, everything became a lot less stressful and a lot more fulfilling. When I have to work late and miss church? What a wonderful opportunity to represent God’s church at the office! Am I receiving a lot of criticism from my boss? Maybe the Lord is trying to teach me to not rely on myself and my abilities but to rely on Him while I show my boss God’s love. Stuck in traffic again? I just got more time to spend with Jesus. Ultimately, everything in life is trivial in comparison to the glory that lies ahead.

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 says,

2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.

Everything we do for ourselves is meaningless. It is what we do for Him that is truly important. And in realty, everything we is for Him (or should be). “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not men” (Colossians 3:23).