Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New blog post!

In my last blog post I mentioned that I was expanding my blogging platform to include fiction. Today I hit publish on my first fiction book recommendation at FaithRaiderFiction.blogspot.com. So if fiction reading is something you're interested in and you can never get enough book recommendations and reveiws then be sure to jump over there and subscribe to future blog posts!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Changing...

I don't know if you noticed that I changed my header for the blog? I changed from Sweet Violet to my name: Faith Raider. It has been a HUGE hurdle for me to get over using my name as my anything online but it was time. I reached out, asked the question to someone I trusted and got some super loving feedback saying, basically "yes. Use your name. It's lovely." So here I am - as me.

One more thing that I did was set up a new blog that is just my name that will become my devotional/Bible Study blog so that Faith R Photog can go back to being a photography blog and my writing can all be in one place. I also created a blog for fiction writing, because it's okay to be more than just one thing. Maybe this is all a terrible idea. But it's how I'm compartmentalizing this for now so that you can subscribe to the piece of my writing that you like. The subscription option should be in the sidebar. If you're viewing on mobile you may need to scroll to the bottom of the page and tap "view web version"  to see the desktop version of my design.

I wrote my first post for my new blog and it is here: http://faithraider.blogspot.com/2016/05/faithful-steward.html It would mean a lot to me if you could let me know you saw it either on the blog or on social media :) 

Thank you - because if you are still reading here it means that you're probably one of the handfuls of people who have been encouraging me and have been reading what I've been writing, even when I've been quiet for awhile and/or not currently making a lot of sense. Love you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Delight and Duty

a party in my mouth

I wrote yesterday about the sermon I that had me feeling like my spirit had been twisted into pretzel. Duty to delight in and pursue joy God? A delight to pursue my duty? What? And what does this really mean on an ordinary Wedesday morning. The other day at lunch I felt like a little piece of my puzzle snapped into place. 

Sometimes I say to myself "I am going to eat whatever makes me feel happy" and I eat donuts and yet pizza and those foods don't love me back because I have a wheat intolerance. Other times I tell myself "I'm going to eat whatever makes me feel happy" and I eat salads because salads make me happy and they make my body happy. 

When I was pregnant with Grayson I was super sick. In an attempt salvage what was left of my life I decided to be more strict with my diet and gave up all things wheat. I decided that the headaches and the tummy problems I had accepted as normal were really not worth it. I had finally hit a point where enjoying the doughnut wasn't worth the headache and enduring the stomach problems weren't worth giving into the craving. At first I felt like I could not survive without it but gradually I found solutions that worked for me and my body started to heal itself. The surprising thing was that after a while I even stopped craving the things that had made me feel sick.

Maybe duty and delight are a little bit like that. Sometimes I say I'm going to pursue God but it feels almost exactly like going on one of those awful diets where I hate every minute of it. Sometimes I say "forget this I'm going to do what makes me happy" but I end up paying for it later. 

Maybe life in Christ is like making my body happy with a salad. I'm eating what I should and I'm happy about it. I'm not always happy about it, like as I pull all the ingredients out to make my salad, when what I'm craving is the pizza, but I'm usually happy with the salad by the time the plate is empty. I am not living by my feelings because I'm not always eating what I feel like in the moment but I am making the choice that I know will make me happiest in the long run. I am choosing happiness. I'm just not choosing immediate gratification. Does that make sense? 

What I am pretty certain of is that God isn't asking us to live a life of self-deprivation. He doesn't want to deprive us of anything except for the things that are making us sick - physically, emotionally, spiritually... He wants us to deprive ourselves of the things that are making us sick so we can be filled by the things that bring life to our souls. His "no" is for the sake of a better "yes". Duty is, I guess, the beat between when we say no to the things that make us sick and yes to things that bring us life. It's all of the minutes between when we say yes to tithing and then watching God provide. It's all the heartbeats between when we begin to pray and when the Holy Spirit is drawing near.

I guess duty is kind of like lacing up your running shoes or grabbing the gym bag or driving past the drive through (without stopping!) - because we have confidence in the delight we'll eventually get from making the better choice. It's dragging yourself to small group, even when the morning has already been a disaster, it's showing up for the coffee date wholeheartedly even when you'd rather hide behind "sure, I'm fine. How are you?" It's sending that message, engaging with that friend. Sitting down with your Bible, lifting up your heart in prayer.

Monday, May 16, 2016

When I forgot everything I have learned


I watched the sermon from last Mother's Day at my church, Eli has been sick and I'd missed hearing it in person. I sat in my kitchen as my kiddos played outside on the trampoline, and it made my house of cards of Sunday school right answers come tumbling down and twisted my spirit into a pretzel, that I have still not been able to make straight again. I have found myself questioning everything that I thought I knew. I've been in the church my entire life and still I'm asking myself: What is joy?  I know I have experienced in my life but how do you define it? I know it's different than happiness but how? I have always felt that joy was more like a surprise gift from my husband out of the blue for no special reason. But to go after it intentionally blows my mind. Even though I've been hearing about this literally my whole entire life still here I sit and ponder, completely tangled up in duty and delight and joy and trying to figure out how they all go together. How do I pursue joy in my duties? How do I delight in what I ought to do? How is it my duty to be joyful? And what in the world does that even really mean?

I spent some time this morning looking at verses about joy. I wrote them down in my notebook in various translations because that is what I do. I also borrowed a book from my friend, because providentially I signed up for a small group about joy. So expect to hear more about it this summer.

I've only read a few chapters from the book (it's called "Fight Back with Joy") but here are a couple of my favorite quotes so far:

"I assumed I could take joy lightly, capturing it in my free time like fireflies in a mason jar" 

Um, yes!! Me too!! I thought joy just showed up at the back door at the end of a good day and the whole I idea of pursuing joy with intention blows. my. mind. Like I'm hearing this for the first time. 

"We don't just sense joy; we embody it by how we respond to the circumstances before us."

I get this. I can vaguely see how I have lived this out in my life and watched others do the same.

Margaret Feinberg goes on to write that the source of our joy is the abiding sense of God's love for us and that our identity is beloved, joyful children of God. 

I woke up with that echoing between my mind and my heart - an abiding sense of God's love for me... my identity as a beloved joyful child of God. 

I'm still wrestling with the duty/delight thing. I've been hearing the message of duty & delight for nearly twenty years and I still struggle to wrap my mind around what it means on a regular Tuesday. But more about that tomorrow...


Monday, May 2, 2016

What can I say?

Lately I have been studying people in the Bible who showed bravery. One of my favorites so far is Hannah. I love the way that she brought her heartache to God and asked Him boldly for the thing that was tearing her heart up.

This morning I was writing down some verses that speak about coming to God with confidence and I turned to one of my favorites - Romans 8:26-39. 

When I don't know what to ask for - the Holy Spirit is right here, giving words to my longing, and to the desires of my heart I keep stuffed down so deep that they can't bother me anymore. He brings them to God because He knows the path God has laid out for me, with all of the mountain tops and valleys. He knows that every single little bit of it - the good times and the hard times, all of it, is working together to tell a beautiful story - not about me but about Him. So how can I sit here on my hands, silent before my Savior? Jesus gave up His very life for me. My Daddy-God sent his own dearly loved son to take my place, what can possibly compare to that? Everything else that I could possibly ask for is trivial compared to what He has already given for us. So why are you beating yourself up with all of this condemnation? Nothing can keep you away from God. He doesn't move away from you when times get tough. No! There is nothing that can keep Him from you. Nothing you have done, nothing someone else has done to you - nothing changes His love for you.

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