Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Hard Lessons pt. 2

So we just read about how Jesus let a lot of disciples quit (The Hard lessons pt.1). He just let them go. Things got hard, and they just chose to walk away from eternity because of a hard lesson. Woah.

This leads me to my next thought.

In Matthew 19:24 Jesus said to his disciples "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." This is a lesson he was trying to teach the disciples after an encounter with a rich young man who desired eternal life (to know Jesus). He was asking what he had to do to get eternal life. Jesus told him that even after he honored all the commandments that he was still lacking something. Sell your possessions. Give up the one thing in your life you trust in the most. The most comforting thing you have, the thing you have that you feel valued by. Go, give it up.

vs 22 "When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth."

Jesus just let this kid walk away from him sad.

Doesn't that go against everything you feel like you know about Jesus? Doesn't He go after that 1 lost sheep? Doesn't He love everyone?

Stop the presses. Jesus didn't chase that kid down. He didn't run to him, or put His arm around him and comfort him, saying "maybe you'll feel like giving up that idol one day, just come along." No. Jesus immediately goes and teaches us a hard lesson, and let the kid leave, sad.

Being a Christian and following God means you surrender it ALL. We cannot love God with all our hearts and yet keep our ______ to ourselves. (name your vice).

Jesus teaches us hard lessons because God is Holy. Because he LOVES us and wants to be with us for eternity (not just feel happy on earth).  If we want to be with Him for all eternity, we must be willing to give up everything to gain EVERYTHING. Capital, EVERYTHING meaning His eternal love, His presence and the benefits of the Creator of the Universe! And the sobering truth is, not everyone will finish the race.

There are many people out there today that will try to make those hard lessons easier, try to make that eye of the needle bigger, so people don't feel rejected or sad. Jesus doesn't need our help. He drew that line in the sand. He loves with a perfect and holy love, and we must love others that way too... but we must Know Jesus, and learn these hard lessons so we can live like Him and with Him for eternity.

The Hard Lessons pt. 1

John 6:60 "On hearing it [the message Jesus taught], many of his disciples said "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"... "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him."

Woah. These were disciples. Not just random people hearing Jesus for the first time. They had been with JESUS. In the flesh. God. The epitome of Love. Jesus. Yet they turned back and no longer followed him. After one hard lesson. OUCH!

I'm not gonna lie. When I read passages like this, they get to me. That is tough! How can people, who are considered disciples, so easily turn away from Jesus? They aren't just church hopping. They aren't just taking their ball and going home. They are walking away from... God. Jesus just let those disciples quit.

Why would they quit?

  • A lot of them may have realized He wasn't who they thought He was. They were expecting the Messiah to come in the form of a conquering King. Jesus wasn't who they expected. Following Him didn't live up to their expectations.
  • A lot of them might have felt like their requests and needs weren't getting met (selfish maybe?).
  • A lot of them might have thought His words were offensive and had trouble understanding things like faith vs. deeds or what He was trying to get across.

It's so easy to be tempted to turn away when Jesus' lessons are hard. Will you give up? Will you ignore what you don't like about Jesus and what he challenges us in? Will you reject the one true God?

Have courage. Jesus teaches us hard lessons sometimes, that's nothing new. It's so easy in this day and age to give into the easy way out, to make excuses and reason to yourself why "giving up everything to follow Jesus didn't really mean "everything""... or did it. He is Holy, set apart, and has to set us apart so we can be with Him.

... verse 67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

When hard lessons in life happen, which perspective will you have? "there is no where else to go but with you Jesus" or "this is too hard, I quit". Jesus is the Holy One of God. I hope I can walk with Him through the hard lessons of life.

Read more in The Hard Lessons pt. 2

Friday, January 11, 2013


The correlation between eating healthy foods and being spiritually healthy is pretty amazing. It's the start of a new year. How many of you are saying "I'm going to eat better" or  "I'm going to start reading the Bible more", etc... I know I'm in that boat! So what are some things we need to change to get spiritually hungry, and to be healthy? Many times when we feel like God is far away or like we can't muster up enough energy to spend time with Him, the reason is because you aren't doing anything to get hungry.

When you want to get healthy one of the keys is to stop snacking on junk food. To stop filling up on unhealthy things. How many times do we choose the easy way out, stick to our comfort foods and graze, just getting bits and pieces here and there, or picking the pre-packaged, boxed "fillers"... yet remain hungry or start realizing you are filling on junk, that leaves you feeling worse? A good place to start is to begin by fasting. It's good to detox every once in a while! Fasting is like hitting the reset button physically and spiritually. It's showing God what is most important to you. It's a great place to check the motives of your heart and to stop for a moment and re-align where you are getting your nourishment from.

It dawned on me recently that the reason we (I) don't feel spiritually hungry (a deep desire to spend time with God/ know more about Him) sometimes is because we are filling ourselves with junk food. We snack on things which turns out to be just enough to curb our appetite, but not enough to nourish us and keep us satisfied. We snack on sermons, books, worship, godly advice etc, but we don't sit down at God's table and dine with him. We don't go deep in the Word or prayer where the real nuggets of truth can fill us and nourish us. Some of those snacks seem healthy, and can be, but they are never as whole as sitting down and reading the Bible, allowing God to speak revelation to you, seeking His face. We can even snack on completely unhealthy things- things that can lead to or are sin... or even the things that don't "seem that bad" like TV or advice from someone, or social media (and the list can go on). They are just enough to hold us off emotionally so we don't feel the need or desire to spend time with God.

Let me just say from experience on the roller coaster of life, you gotta always check your appetite. Check what you are filling up on. Check where you get refreshed and if you ARE really getting refreshed at all! I don't think you can truly be refreshed aside from being in God's presence. Sit at the table and DINE with God. Eat of HIS food, and see how healthy you get! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Middleton's!

Merry Christmas 2012! 

Technology sure has changed the way we keep in touch these days! For the past 7 years we have always mailed out Christmas cards with an updated family photo. It feels a little strange to do a digital version, but it just fit our family this year! Feel free to print out the picture if you want a hard copy, haha!

This year has been a blur, in a great way! Time really does fly when you have fun! As you can see in the photo above, our kids are growing like weeds! Keeping up with the 3 balls of energy in our house has made the time fly!

We are on year 2 of our church plant to South Florida! It's been quite a journey so far and we are just beginning! We have our challenges, but God has been so good and we are seeing awesome things happening around us. It is an honor and privilege to be here, and we are blessed with the people God has been surrounding us with! The best is definitely yet to come!

For a little family update, Ross just turned 32! He loves learning how to navigate being a lead pastor and building relationships with people in our church and community. Best of all, is his love for his role of husband and father! For his 32nd birthday, he has a Rocket Man experience (water jet pack in the ocean!) to do! It's never boring around here! 

For myself, 31 (yikes!), the 1st half of 2012 was survival mode with the addition of baby boy #3 (Will) and his learning how to sleep. Once the 2nd half of the year began I finally feel back in the groove of life. This is the first year both Aiden & Eli have been in school, so it's been a nice to have the one on one time with Will. I have really enjoyed leading small groups and our KidNation children's ministry. Recently, you'll find me most often bike riding with the boys, grocery shopping or folding laundry, haha! 

Aiden is now 7 years old! He is in 1st grade. He is Mr. Socialite. Aiden would tell you his favorite thing in school is math (doesn't get that from me!).  He also has really started getting into chapter books, his favorite right now- Captain Underpants. :) Aiden and Eli both played on a basketball league this year, and that was so fun, Ross got to coach too! It may be hard to believe but they are really starting to show signs of growing up, Lightning McQueen has been over taken with super hero's in capturing Aiden's heart! You can sum up Aiden's personality as "I want to impress you," haha. 

Eli is 5 years old, and in Pre-K. He never ceases to surprise us. He picked up bike riding with no training wheels real quick and practically lives on his bike now. When he's not riding, he practices basketball so he can play for FSU one day (according to him). :) Eli had a hard adjustment to school (even though it's only 3 hours a day) haha, but now he loves it and has made some good friends. Eli is best friends with Aiden and one of the best big brother's ever to Will. I couldn't ask for anything more, and pray it stays that way for life! A summary of Eli's personality is "I'll do it when and how I want to," lol. 

Will is now 15 months old! He started walking on his own just a few weeks ago, and that kid is fearless! This past year has been such a joy to watch him grow. His smile is priceless and he is always keeping us on our toes. He is fascinated with light, and I think he knows more Korean words than English words (thanks to our friends Bella & Elizabeth). He is happiest outside or climbing things (like the ladder to the top bunk of the boys bed!). He really is a sweet heart that loves to give hugs and make us all laugh. So far, Will's personality is "I'm a mama's boy." :)

On a sadder note, Ross' grandpa, Papa, passed away today. We'd appreciate a prayer for the family as they hold the funeral over the weekend. Thanks!

We hope your Christmas season finds you well, and hopeful for the future! 
On to the future-  Happy 2013!

With love in Christ,
Ross, Amy & the boys

Monday, July 02, 2012

Aiden & Eli's 1st Basketball games!

The big boys are on different teams- Eli is on the "Sharks" and he is the one (#1 white team) with his arms up in the middle of the screen (at both sides of the court, haha!), his team won 12-6! Aiden is (#14 white team) the cute (but dorky) one with the tucked in jersey & short shorts (they got wrong sizes, haha!) Aiden actually gets an assist, and he made a score later on to tie up the game 4-4! His team is the "FireBalls". Ross gets to help coach both teams.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Good Fight of Faith

The topic of faith has been on my mind a lot lately. What it really means to have faith in God. There is a song by Caedmon's Call called Shifting Sand that used to always bother me because as you can see in the lyrics it said "my faith is like shifting sand, changed by every wave". I guess I never really related to that feeling until recently with some things I've been dealing with. I've felt like Jekyll & Hyde lately with my faith and doubt. Thankfully faith days have been winning out lately.

As I was reading Romans 4 one day I came across this passage, vs. 19: 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness."

This challenged me. I don't have to ignorantly, blindly step out in faith... but I can face the facts. Realize what reality looks like... while not weakening in my faith or waver in unbelief, but I can look at reality and see that God is bigger, stronger and mightier than any situation and circumstance I see as reality and trust that He cares for me, and is a victorious God that can bring transformation.

I always battle with trying to muster up in my own strength, faith. Which ends up looking like "talking myself into it" and ignoring the facts and determining whether I feel faith well up in me or not. When in reality faith is not something I can "do" to get results. I can't tell myself "have faith, and God will answer your prayers". It is a gift of God that I must call upon him for.

Meeting the Needs

There are so many needs out there. It can be overwhelming when you think too much about it. From tasks in your job, to taking care of the poor, hurt, or homeless, to friendships and relationships, how do you do it all without getting burned out?

I've been thinking about this lately. Dealing within our family alone, meeting the needs of a husband and 3 young boys, as well as serving in the church and connecting with family and friends, it does get overwhelming at times. The last thing I want is to be incapacitated simply because I was too concerned with what was going on around me, rather than meeting the needs within myself.

What I get back to each time is we must make sure we are refilling our cup. How easy is it for us to constantly give, serve and pour out, to the point it comes from our own strength and eventually runs dry. In 1 Cor. 10 Paul saw the tendency of people to be so concerned with helping others (which is a good thing) all the while neglecting their own spiritual lives, disciplines and health (enter the bad part). It is much harder to give of yourself when you are empty, and that is where we put ourselves at risk.

Where it is a GREAT thing to put others needs before ourselves, and to desire to help others, if we aren't taking care of ourselves, how will we truly be of any help? In our small group this week, we talked about this very thing. An example from my own life we laughed at, was as a mom, how concerned are we that our kids are bathed, fed well, and sleep well, yet we forget to eat lunch ourselves, or even sometimes take a shower (gasp!). How similar is it with our spiritual lives.

When our relationship with God is put first, we will be able to really help others. When we find the way that we refresh ourselves best, we can refresh others. That is when we find as we are generous and refresh others, we will be refreshed, (Prov 11:25). The point: how can you give and be generous if you don't have anything stored up to give? If Jesus needed to retreat and refill with God, how much more do we as humans need to!

On a practical note, here are some ways I have been thinking that best re-energize my life:
- Spending time with God- reading, praying, worshiping. (for me it looks more broken up throughout the day according to nap times, etc at this phase of my life).
- Really engaging with worship and responding to the Word (at church & at home).
- Getting some extended quality time with God when I can.
- Staying accountable with someone (for me it's Ross- when we go on a date we ask each other what God is speaking to us lately)
- 1x a year Ross and I try to do a "spiritual retreat"(overnight with no kids, intentionally praying and seeking God together).

What are some things you need to change, or what are tips you have to refill your cup? 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mean Girls turn Nice?

When the movie Mean Girls came out, I thought it was hilarious. I think everyone can identify coming across characters like at some point in their life. I was reminded of this story last week when I shared about True Beauty at a girls night.

I was in middle school. As if that time of your life isn't hard enough with your hormones raging, pimples rearing their ugly heads (stories of that to come), the word awkward pretty much sums up how you dress/look/feel. Well, I had braces & bangs. BIG bangs, the kind that started half way back on my head. That didn't help. I was desperate to grow those suckers out, but of course bangs are the slowest to ever grow.

One morning I had enough. I was going to pin those bad boys up some how. I pulled a "pebbles" and used a nice fluffy scrunchy and TONS of hairspray and tamed them in a way that looked like some of the cheerleaders (aka cool girls).

I was feeling pretty good about myself. When I got to about 4th period that day our class was watching a movie and the hairspray started wearing off. One by one my bangs started jetting STRAIGHT out, eventually looking like stiff fingers coming out of my forehead. OMG. What do I do? I started to panic. I frantically looked around the room for help.

I saw 2 cheerleaders (who typically played the mean girls role) across the room snickering at me. I thought I was a goner. They motioned to me to crawl over to their desks in the back of the room. I thought for sure it was to make fun of me.

I think they saw how desperate I was and actually played the good samaritan! Mean girls with compassion?! I couldn't believe it, I was humiliated, but this gave me a glimmer of hope. I will never forget how those girls helped me out. Needless to say I never pulled a pebbles again.

Moral of the story: Don't try to be someone you're not.... and be kind to everyone, you never know when you may need their help.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dusting it off...

it's been a good minute, okay, okay, 2 solid years since I have used my keyboard for blogging purposes. I am interested to see where this goes. I've been a bit busy, but it has been on my mind.

I have been weighing the purpose- I think twitter temporarily satisfied my need to share thoughts/ happenings/ humorous moments/ life lessons I'm learning along the way... I mean, is blogging as popular as it was or is it a dying fad? I've always enjoyed writing, and this is a great way to practice and learn how to form thought-out ideas, I won't lie when I say I wouldn't be disappointed if this turned into something a little more permanent (even paperback). :)

So as to not put the cart before the horse, let's see if I can be consistent. If I have anything worth sharing. If I can put to words all these silly little thoughts swirling around in my mind.

Any topics of interest out there? Do share!