My Garden

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. Romans 5:18

“One trespass resulted in condemnation for all people. You may be tempted to ask, is that fair?” began the preacher, “but I would then ask, do you really think you could’ve done a better job than Adam?

I heard shuffling on the row behind me as a voice, tiny but confident, squeaks out a strong “yes!” and the room erupts with laughter. It was the voice of a small girl, maybe four or five years old, and I was trying to hold in my own laughter as I took the girl’s feelings into account. The laughter died down, the pastor smoothed things over, and the sermon continued as though nothing had happened.

But in the corner of my eye, I saw the small girl crawl into her father’s lap. I heard her whimpering quietly. I was just enough distracted from the sermon to continue feeling sorry for the young girl’s embarrassing moment when I heard her father speak. Stroking her hair, I heard him say, “It’s alright, baby. Everything’s okay. I’m so proud of you for paying attention. You did so good.”

Aside from sharing this touching moment between father and daughter (parenting win!), I’ve told this story so that we might take a moment to think about that little girl’s point-of-view. When the pastor asked if anyone could’ve done a better job than Adam in the Garden, he was asking a rhetorical question. A question to make a point. A question that is meant to make you think and is not meant to be answered. Hence the hysterical laughter of 600+ people when that unknowing little girl gave her answer anyways.

The pastor’s point was that we would NOT have outdone Adam. I would’ve eaten the apple. You would have too. We can all be wise adults and own up to such things. Especially in church.

But in our heart of hearts, your heart and mine, do we really believe that? Because I know that day after day I find myself trying to out-do Adam in every aspect of my life. My Garden is just a little different than his.

We look at Adam and scoff because God literally gave him EVERYTHING besides that one tree. Everything. And we look back to the Garden and wish that we could have walked and talked with God. Adam did. How could you choose an apple over that?

But my Garden is no less filled with God’s presence, and my temptations are no more tempting. While Adam may have walked with God, I have Him in my heart. And while Adam felt God’s love though His grace and provision, all I have to do is look at the cross.

All of God’s people have been blessed through a relationship with Him, but salvation does not bring perfection–YET. Thanks to Jesus’s one righteous act, I will one day spend my eternity in Heaven. God WILL make me perfect! And until that day, I want to spend my every day on this earth striving to be more and more like Him.

But the important truth is, we can’t do it on our own. And that’s easy to say when we’re begging God’s grace. Easy to agree with when the pastor preaches it from the pulpit. But I hope that day after day as we continue to eat apple after apple, constantly proving our own unworthiness, that we will see ourselves as the little girl sitting behind me in church and understand that much of the time we DO think we could’ve done better than Adam; we try to prove that over and over again in our vain attempts at perfection.

So, while on this earth I may answer rhetorical questions and try unsuccessfully to direct my own heart, I’m thankful for a Father Who pulls me into His lap, strokes my hair, and says, “It’s alright, baby. Everything’s okay.” And thanks to the second half of the verse and God’s unending mercy, I can say with confidence that everything will be okay.

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. Romans 5:18

Thank you, Jesus, for justification and life.

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A Prayer for North Carolina

Oh Lord, why?

Why must the people of this country be so violent?

Why must they be so hateful?

God, I don’t understand why……well.

Sin.

Sin is what causes this. The devil causes this. Lies and deception of the heart cause this. People are being brainwashed. Their own selfishness and pride cause them to seek what they perceive to be “justice.” Because their sin tells them that they must vindicate the death of one of “their kind.” Because they take it as a threat to themselves.

Lord, thank you for the brave law enforcement officers of this country. For all of those men and women in riot gear throwing tear gas at the oncoming oppressors. For the officers of this country who protect and serve the people, no matter the skin color of the threat.

Please God, take it back. Take America back to you. Rid this foul country of the hatred and death. Let the Christians of this nation RISE UP and stand for truth and righteousness. Teach America to love.

“The cords of death entangled me;

    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

 The cords of the grave coiled around me;

    the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the Lord;

    I cried to my God for help.

From his temple he heard my voice;

    my cry came before him, into his ears.

The earth trembled and quaked,

    and the foundations of the mountains shook;

    they trembled because he was angry.

Smoke rose from his nostrils;

    consuming fire came from his mouth,

    burning coals blazed out of it.

He parted the heavens and came down;

   dark clouds were under his feet.

He mounted the cherubim and flew;

    he soared on the wings of the wind.

He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—

    the dark rain clouds of the sky.

Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,

    with hailstones and bolts of lightning.

The Lord thundered from heaven;

    the voice of the Most High resounded.

He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,

    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.

The valleys of the sea were exposed

    and the foundations of the earth laid bare

at your rebuke, Lord,

    at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

    he drew me out of deep waters.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

    from my foes, who were too strong for me.

They confronted me in the day of my disaster,

    but the Lord was my support.

He brought me out into a spacious place;

    he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

Psalm 18:4-19

 

Delight in me, Lord, and rescue me.

Amen.

 

 

**For information about the riots in North Carolina, go here.

Wrapping up the Summer like a CHRISTmas Present

As much as some may not like to admit it, it’s August now. The summer (but not the heat) is rolling to a stop as school is beginning (or has begun) for many. I personally go back to school a week from Monday. And as my summer internship ends and school is about to begin, I’ve been thinking a lot about what God has been teaching me this summer– and what I’ve still yet to learn:

Trust and control.

A little strange, right? If you grew up in a hymn-singing Southern Baptist church like me, you’ve probably heard these lyrics a little differently:

Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.

Well sorry church, but this summer I changed the words. Trust and control. God, I trust you! I trust you with my marriage, my job, my finances, my future. But I still get to control them right? Like, I get to know all of the answers now? And everything will happen like I think it should? No struggling?

Nah.

I think the writer of the lyrics got it right the first time. God tells me to trust him AND give him control. And doing so will NOT make me happy, but it WILL make me happy in Jesus. The second verse of the song goes on to say that Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but His smile quickly drives it away; Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear, can abide while we trust and obey.

I pray that I can give God complete control.

I pray that no shadow can rise.

I pray that no doubt, fear, sigh, or tear can abide in my life. And trust me friend, that’s praying for a miracle. (Good thing my God is a God of miracles.)

That’s the happiness I want. Are you trusting the Lord today?

 

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
  Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove
The delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do;
Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.

**P.S. There was your summer wrap-up, and here is your CHRISTmas present:

CHRISTmas IS COMING!!!!!!!

THIS. IS. NOT. A DRILL.

I know some of you claim to share my enthusiasm, but not until after Thanksgiving. Well that just won’t do for me. CHRISTmas only comes around once a year, so I’m going to milk it for all that it’s worth. And (speaking of God being a God of miracles) if you know what CHRISTmas is really about, then you know it’s worth a lot.

So, I haven’t decided how CHRISTmas will affect my blogs yet, but I just wanted you all to know that I’m getting ready. This will be my first CHRISTmas in my own place with my own decorations, and since Trigg and I are choosing to save money on gifts and decorations this CHRISTmas, I have no clue what that will look like. But get ready 😀

Countdown Cari says………. 135 days, 5 hours, 58 minutes, and 15 seconds until CHRISTmas!!!!!!!

Cari

 

W-day!!

Yeah, so, I’ve been pretty busy.

In the past month, I became a wife, left the country, came back, moved into my first home with my husband, had my first day of work at my first full-time job, and spent four days at Kids Camp.

Phew.

In all honesty, I can’t tell you (everyone) who was at my wedding…or even what it looked like. I remember walking out at the top of the hill (I walked down a hill instead of an aisle), looking down, and seeing over 250 people who care about me. In fact, many were standing for me. Not because I was the bride (though they did all eventually stand for that reason), but because there were not enough seats, and that didn’t matter.

And I can’t tell you what it looked like because flowers, decorations, food, and tables, etc., were all taken care of by an amazing group of people I get to call my family. Talk about love. Thank you to all of you for being so helpful, loving, and supportive through it all. All weekend I was shown over and over how much my friends and family love me. And then Saturday morning I got to show Trigg how much I love him! Yay!

Trigg managed to keep our honeymoon destination a surprise to me. Sunday morning, Trigg and I had our first flight at 6 am. By around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, we landed on the beautiful island of St. Lucia, in the West Indies! All week I saw some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my life.

The first resort we stayed at, Ladera, only had 3 walls. You heard me right– 3 walls! And the room wasn’t shaped like a triangle. The fourth wall was open to a spectacular view of St. Lucia’s twin mountains, the Pitons. Check out this picture I took of the view:

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Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.

We stayed at Ladera for two nights. While we were in the vicinity, we took in the beautiful views, explored a drive-in volcano, and visited a warm-water waterfall!

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We spent the rest of our stay at the Sandals Halcyon of Castries. There, we swam in the Caribbean, sailed our own Hobie Catamaran sailboat, snorkeled, made our own chocolate bars, had a mud bath, read a book together, and drank lots of coffee. Overall, the week was beautiful, restful, and an absolute blast with my husband.

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We left St. Lucia on Sunday, flew to Atlanta, and stayed the night in an airport hotel. The next day was super great, as we woke up leisurely, headed to the airport for a fantastic breakfast of bagels and coffee at Einstein’s, and boarded the plane for home.

After a sweet week away, it was so exciting to finally be together in our very own place. I started my job the next day (and I LOVE it!), and we’ve been busy ever since.

Just in my first four weeks of marriage, Jesus has been speaking to me in so many ways. He’s spoken to me through the love and selflessness of my husband. He’s spoken to me through all of the staff at Cross Church Fayetteville. He even spoke to me a couple of weeks ago at Kids Camp! Trigg and I both were counselors, Trigg for second grade boys and myself for second grade girls, and we both agree that Kids Camp was an amazing opportunity to invest in the lives of some precious children.

I’m so thankful that God chooses to work through me, and I praise Him for His unfailing love and continuing grace.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.            2 Peter 1:2

-Cari

Hey guys!! If you weren’t able to attend the wedding, check out our wedding video here!

**UPDATE** Our wedding pictures are in! To see our gallery, click here!

The Twelve Day Mark

As I am 12 days away from being a wife, God has been working in my life tremendously. It’s still not real to me that I’m getting married next Saturday. But, as I have been talking about marriage with Trigg and a few married couples in our lives, God has been working on my heart, and I am forever thankful.

As I mentioned in my About Me section (check it out if you haven’t already!), this summer I will be working full-time as the children’s ministry summer intern at Cross Church Fayetteville. This means I get to help prepare for and attend Kids Camp and VBX, and I get to be a part of the preparations and planning for Awana in the fall. I get to make sure classrooms are ready for Sunday during the week, and I get to spend lots of time with the little ones at the end of the week. I couldn’t be more excited about this door God has opened in my life!

This past Thursday, I met with Jill, the Director of Children’s and Preschool Ministries at Cross Church Fayetteville. I’ll be working under Jill all summer, and since I’m going to miss the intern orientation (for my honeymoon 🙂 ) I wanted to meet to talk more about my job. And may I just say I am so glad I did!

It was amazing to hear Jill’s heart for the kiddos and to spend time talking about tentative plans and ideas for this summer. But, I didn’t realize going into this meeting that God would use Jill not only to prepare me for my upcoming internship, but also to prepare me for my upcoming marriage.

Jill and I talked a little about the wedding and honeymoon, and I shared a lot of our plans. We moved into conversation about her own marriage, and I learned that she and her husband have been married for 15 years. As a sister in Christ, she told me that her marriage has been sanctifying.

Sanctifying.

And I think about all of the conversations I’ve had lately about the struggles of marriage and the imperfections. The hardships and the arguments. Don’t get me wrong– I know marriage will be the best experience of my life. I know that through Jesus we will overcome every obstacle. And Trigg will always be by my side!

But I’ve also had lies in my heart telling me that I will never be good enough. I’ve been worried about how I will treat Trigg in our marriage, after the wedding…even on our honeymoon. Just in the short three years and four months that we’ve been together, I’ve seen myself say nasty things to tear him down. I’ve seen myself be selfish and self-serving. And I know that’s my flesh. That’s me. Without Jesus, I am nasty, selfish, and self-serving. I am dust.

But Jesus makes beautiful things out of the dust.

And that was my reminder from God through Jill. I am not perfect, and marrying Trigg will not make me perfect. I will still make mistakes. But I don’t have to be worried about my imperfections because I have faith that my marriage will be sanctifying. Jesus will use my marriage to teach me about my imperfections and make me more like Him. I will experience the most spiritual growth in the valleys of life, and ultimately I will be made more holy.

Ephesians 2:1-5   As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Though I have given in to the cravings of my flesh and followed its desires, Jesus has saved me from the wrath I deserve– because of His great love for me. I am learning to be confident in my identify in Christ, and I am also learning through faith and God’s Word that my upcoming marriage will bring me ever closer to the King of Kings.

And that’s something to be excited about!

Cari

My Very First Blog

My favorite TV show is Full House. All-time. Not gonna change. And since the name of the first episode of Full House is “Our Very First Show”, I thought the name of this blog would be fitting for My Very First Blog.

Cute name: check.

I like the idea of blogging. I like the idea of sharing our lives with each other: the fun times, the hard times. The important times. And I decided that since I’m gonna be a wife (not really sure what that actually had to do with it), now would be a great time to start. So Trigg bought me my own domain! (If you don’t know who he is, check out my About Me section.)

Cute website/blogging platform: check.

So now there’s not much left to do but write. Which is hilarious because everyone I know thinks I hate writing. I’m a math major. I tested out of the only two college English classes I was going to have to take, while I was still in high school, in like, three different ways. Dual Enrollment, AP tests, ACT scores, boom. I was NOT taking any more English after high school. No way.

…but I like to write.

I also like to read. Not in English class…but I like to read. Maybe some day I’ll write a blog about my favorite books. Books are so good…I have a lot!

But reading books inspires me to write. I’m so excited to be able to write about my life. And I hope that I can be a lovesome writer, like the name of my website. Lovesome. Inspiring love. Lovely. Lovable. It amazes me that the word lovesome has three definitions in one. And I want to be all three!

Inspiring Love

I want to inspire love in others! Two Bible verses came to mind with this portion of the definition. One pretty well known, and one that has been at the front of my mind lately. First, from the gospels:

Matthew 7:12 (NIV)   So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The golden rule, as it’s known. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Not the way you think they deserve. Inspire love by loving others.

My next verse is from 1 Peter. I first heard this verse when I was looking to the Bible for verses about women and modesty. But this one hit me hard. Especially because it is specifically speaking to wives…and I’m going to be a wife. I’ll post the whole passage, but I just want to talk about verse 1.

1 Peter 3:1-4 (NIV)   1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

First of all, wow. Just wow. What a tall order. I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead me to be this wife for Trigg.

Like I said, though, verse 1 is the one I really want to look at. That “they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives”. I think a lot of inspiring love happens not with words, but behavior.

God let my behavior inspire love.

Lovely

I have a few different lines of thought with this one.

First, the obvious, I want to be a lovely woman and a lovely writer. I want to be charmingly beautiful. And God says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)! That’s a lovely thought 🙂

When I think about the definition of the word lovely as it applies to spiritual things, I think of praise songs about Jesus and Philippians 4:8. The worship song “Here I am to Worship” says to God, You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. I love the truth of those words. I also think about Philippians 4:8:

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)   Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Just as the Bible commands us to think on lovely things, I want to write about lovely things, that my words will please God in everything.

Lovable

The last portion of the definition of lovesome is lovable. In all of my sin and shame, God says I’m lovable. His Son suffered on the cross because of me…but God says I’m lovable. In fact, Jesus died for me BECAUSE he loves me so much.

John 3:16 (NIV)   For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Praise God. And I hope my blog can be lovable, too!

So, like I said, I’m so excited to open this new door in my life and become a blogger. I’m thankful for the platform I’m blessed to have. And I’m thankful that God gives me countless blessings and teaches me more about Himself every day…so I’ll have a lot to write about! And at that I’ll sign off of this Very First Blog. But there will be more, and I hope you’ll be here to read them!

Cari