COLOR RUN: A REFLECTION

I suppose it’s only fair that if my good friend pastor Bryan has to preach twice on the topic of sexual temptation that I should be able to write the blog post (click to hear his sermon). However if I would have known about the topic ahead of time I would have been tempted to trade with another writer.

My hesitance stems from the fact that this is an area that I have struggled with more than any other throughout my life. Starting from puberty the preponderance of sex in our American culture invaded my teenage brain and setup shop. Throughout my adolescent years the temptation consisted of programs on tv, images in magazines and the advent of the internet.

Coming from a very strong faith background and practically growing up at Immanuel I was very aware of the dangers of sex outside of God’s design in marriage. I knew the stories of great men like King David and Solomon who were corrupted by giving into their sexual lusts and was positive that I didn’t want to be counted among them. However every time I resisted by tearing up magazines or smashing DVD’s the temptation would just show up around the next corner. This constant back and forth persisted constantly up until a couple years into college when something changed. Instead of looking for ways I could fight and do battle with the sexual temptation in my life I started pursuing God more regularly and fervently.

Without even realizing it the desire and temptation had by and large disappeared. At times there would inevitably come periods when I wasn’t as diligent in my pursuit of God and like clockwork those were the times when sexual temptation reared its head. Through this experience I learned first-hand that the words Bryan gave us Sunday were absolutely true. “Fleeing sin is less about running away from something and more about running toward someone.”

My encouragement to you as we reflect back on Sunday’s message is when faced with any temptation fix your eyes, thoughts and behaviors on God and His word and the power that sin can have will begin to melt away. For me this looks like spending time regularly in Scripture and in intentional spiritual relationships where I can find accountability and support during times when I may be struggling. Our bodies are a temple purchased at a high price, let’s be sure to honor God with our whole selves and “run from sexual sin” (1 Cor. 6:18-20 NLT).


 

 John Worth is a lifelong attender of Immanuel and husband to Hyacynth. John and Hy are parents of four ranging in age from 4 to 14. When he’s not nose deep in spreadsheets at work John enjoys helping others navigate the waters of life.

 

BEAUTY AND LIGHT-BEARING

It’s 45 degrees and raining, and I’m outside attempting to make our house festive by hanging the Christmas lights because, darn it, this year, we’re going to have lights and pretty and shimmery adorning the outside as well!

We will not be the neighborhood “Scrooges” again this year. We WILL have pretty, and we will have light lighting up the December darkness.

However… there’s no Christmas music playing or excited children gathered around to cheerfully hand me the next strand of lights. 

No, they’re inside arguing themselves into oblivion while my saint-like husband is at the helm, cooking dinner; two had offered to help. But I said I’d rather decorate alone than listen to their bickering. 

But what if I fell off the ladder, one mused?

“So be it!” I declared in a moment of supreme maturity and drama before shutting them inside the house. 

(Can you hear the tiny violin playing the saddest music as our heroine begins her decking of the halls?)

It didn’t take long before I realized there was nothing perfect or iconic about the not-so-quintessential-fairytale-Christmas happening with the hanging of these lights; there’s just me, the cold rain, a wobbly ladder and a little epiphany ready to unfold around the time I’m totally soaked and at the end of my figurative and literal strand.

So here’s the truth about this situation.

I am really angry with my children because they are acting like a bunch of angry bees.

I am angry they are ruining a perfectly good Norman Rockwell Christmas scene. 

I huff up the ladder, in all of its wiggly glory, and exhale in frustration.

As I string the lights, I continually try to steady myself. 

It’s sorta exhausting. 

I figure this out by 1/18 of the way through. 

(But our heroine, she perseveres in her exasperation and continues to climb the wobbly ladder time and again to hang another section of the strand.)

At this point, I almost face plant into the front shrubbery. 

It’s only then that I begin to realize something: wobbly ladders are a whole lot like pedestals; God help the fool who climbs onto them. 

Oh, and I feel quite foolish as I climb down carefully as possible. I am angry with my children for falling short of my vision for a beautiful Advent. 

And I am standing on the shakiest of ladders, perched up on my high horse hanging lights on hooks carrying around an anger at those who fall short when I, too, am at risk of falling as well. 

This is where the guilt comes in:

I never should have been up on that rickety ladder alone anyway. 

I never should have … 

I should have just smiled through the kids’ complaining and arguing and controlled myself.

I should have …

Slowly, I plant my last foot on wet cement of our front porch. 

I exhale. 

I don’t know about you, but I can get lost is a whole sea of should-haves and could-haves.

Before I do, though… grace. 

I breathe it in. I exhale it out. I let go of that which doesn’t serve any of us, and I regroup, ready to reenter the house and try again. 

But before I do, I take a few steps back.

A few steps back from the reentry. 

A few steps back from the micro lens portrait. 

A few steps back from the porch and into the darkened cover of night. 

And I realize though we didn’t get there perfectly, not all is lost. 

There is still time to redo, regroup and rebuild.

And the intent of beauty and light-bearing remains. 

Because the lights, just like the Light of the world, they are shining, glimmering beautiful against the inky sky. 


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Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother. 

EXTRA STRENGTH: REBIRTH DAYS

A friend asked me yesterday via Skype my thoughts on why we started celebrating birthdays in the first place.

There’s no mention of this kind of celebration anywhere in the Bible, so where, she mused, did it come from anyway?

I’m sure someone, somewhere who is burning with curiosity can consult with Mr. Google and discover the answer relatively quickly; I am not her. But her question got me thinking about the beautiful things in our lives like relationships and celebration.

Birthdays in our house are big deals. These days remind me of the beauty and wonder of new life as well as what is and the hopeful anticipation of what that life will hold, do, be. I hold so tightly to these celebrations of our births, guarding fiercely these days of joyful remembrance and hopeful anticipation, planning purposefully and lavishly for each one in our family. Birthday celebrations are reflections of the individual we’re celebrating that day, and we often go around the dinner table recalling a favorite memory with that person or our favorite thing about that person. Birthday celebrations often end in our home with a blessing for what’s to come. And every year (starting this one), I began writing in the children’s birthday books (created as a way to preserve memories and thoughts and all.the.feelings because cards get lost) about what we see in their lives, what we hope for their lives and what they’ve been in our lives.

As I reflected on these celebrations and why I hold them so closely, my mind went immediately to how God lavishes the best gifts in the world on us in the form of people. He’s done it in my own life with my family and circle of friends, and on a much grander scale by sending us Jesus, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of a baby boy, our Savior.

It is God’s way to celebrate life.

And so we do. We celebrate these lives we’re given in all of their beautiful messiness. We take the time at least once per year to honor the God who gave us these very unique lives because daily these lives bring something to the table  — our dinner table, the lunch table at school, the tables at the coffee shop, the train tables at church — that wasn’t there before God made it so.

And this is so for everyone we encounter, so what if we encountered everyone with a spirit of celebration? What if we, instead of simply passing by, put to words the very things we see God doing in their lives? What if we began calling them by their very names and naming them as what they are — creations of God meant to do and be very specific, individual, beautiful people bringing much to each of their respective tables… including the tables at which we find ourselves sitting with them.

I think every relationship in which we commune might look pretty different, and I think each day of being in relationship with the people who sit at all of our respective tables might look at a whole lot more like a rebirth day than just any other day.


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Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother. 

Extra Strength: Be the Love Letter

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

We are Church: We Alter  {Sunday, September 20, 2015 }

By Hyacynth Worth

It’s a little bit like my secret weapon, but keep this between us, ok?

I don’t know about you, but I can ask my four children myriad questions about their days — what was great? what was terrible? what just was plain old funny? — and I barely get any responses.

But I can go, on a whim, nonetheless, print out 48 questions from Momastery and stick them in a jar, thus creating The Key Jar, and we have people almost arm wrestling to pick the question out of the jar each night while we eat dinner.

I’ll admit: the questions are good. Really, really good.

But they are deep. Like, really, really deep. And while I knew our 13-year-old and eight-year-old would likely have something to say about those really, really deep questions, I wasn’t sure about our 6-year-old or our 3-year-old … and I definitely wasn’t prepared for the kind of conversations these questions would spark.

So one night last week we’re sitting around the table and my oldest son picks a doozy of a question from The Key Jar.

“What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the world today?”

The table goes silent and then my youngest son shoots up his hand and shouts: “moving an erupting volcano from one place to another!!”

We all laugh, because, you know, that’s pretty much true. That would be an enormous challenge. But the most interesting thing happens when the big kids answer: our oldest daughter says, “I think the biggest challenge is people believing in God.”

Our oldest son disagrees; “That’s not hard,” he says. He’s so black and white, and he wears his concreteness in his answers.

And then the real conversation revs up when the kids start talking about why God doesn’t just put an end to suffering and pain and hardships and humanitarian crises.

Both of the big kids grow pretty perplexed by this in only just moments, and so we begin discussing the role of people, God’s church, and how God puts His Holy Spirit in us and calls us the light of the world. 

You know — light dinner conversation, my friends.

We talk about how when things make us really angry (like people not having enough food) or when things make us sad (like disasters or humanitarian crises) that God can use that to help spur us to action.

IMG_1174At one point as we talk about the kinds of things that make us really sad the conversation turns to John and me, and we talk about how we were really, really heartbroken about children not having parents … And how God used that strong, very hard and heart-wrenching emotion to spur us to act; we talk about how God intended His people to be kind of like a love letter from God’s heart to a broken world. And how do we do that? By loving!

Truth be told, that’s all we’re really attempting here in our house. God broke our hearts so deeply for what breaks His that it spurred us toward action and movement. It made us want to be a love letter to a hurting world through our actions, our giving, our connecting and our time.

The kids leave the table pondering what breaks their hearts, and we find ourselves thinking about it, too, as we witness a world of hurt unfolding in our own home, our communities and across the globe.

Speaking of needs, they are massive and varied, aren’t they? They come in so many forms. But when we boil it all down, we need to love and be loved. God does that for each of us wholly and perfectly and it looks like forgiveness, mercy and grace, to name a few; we are lights in the darkness when we share His love and grow to be more like Him. When we love like God loves, we are like a love letter to a hurting world from the heart of God. And what does love look like? 1 Corinthians gives us a cheat sheet, if you will, and ends the chapter reminding us why it’s so important to get this love thing, right.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

So let’s be the love letter that changes everything, Church.

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Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother. 

Be Challenged:  

Think and pray about how you can be a love letter from the heart of God to those who are around you.

Extra Strength: More than You Can Imagine

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

We are Church: Serve {Sunday, August 23, 2015 }

By Hyacynth Worth

I don’t have enough to fill these people; this is my bathroom confessional.

I’m sitting on the edge of the bathtub behind locked bathroom doors praying for Jesus to help me because there is not enough of me for four children. 

Why did I ever think I could do this mothering thing in the first place let alone mothering four kids?

Just moments prior I’d run into brick wall after brick wall after brick wall with each of our children within moments of each other, and in those moments, as each situation spiraled deeper out of control, I spiraled further down the hole of doubt, fear and anger. 

I knew when the tears started welling, I needed a mommy time out, so I all but dove into the bathroom, intent on hiding from children who were hungry, and I’m not talking for popsicles, though they would disagree. 

They are, indeed, hungry for popsicles all of the time, any time .. and they also are hungry for time, for emotional regulation, for connection, for guidance, for help, for physical love, for a listening ear … If I said hungry, I meant ravenous. 

As I’m praying and gathering my patience, thoughts and resolve, four little fingers slip through the crack beneath the bottom of the door, a small but demanding voice following on repeat, “mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, MOMMY.”

My prayers turn from politely frustrated to desperately real and really desperate. 

“There’s not enough of me. I am not cut out for this. I don’t have enough to fill these people. There are four of them, and one of me, and there’s simply not enough of me to meet their needs. What made me think I could do this?! I’m failing all of the time!” 

I’m rapid-fire confessing this to Jesus like a kid spills his guts when he’s caught red-handed taking from the cookie jar, and I hear the Still-Small Voice say, “I know. But there’s enough of Me for all of you. And you have Me, so you do have enough.”

I remember in this moment of bathroom confession the prayer we’ve been praying throughout our whole adoption journey, throughout the time our family has grown from four to six, “Now to Him who is able to do abundantly more than we could ever hope or imagine, to Him be the glory,” and I remember all of the ways God has shown Himself bigger than all of the impossibilities, bigger than the challenges, bigger than governments and rules and policies and bigger than our own fears and inadequacies. 

It’s as though Jesus Himself is reminding me that He doesn’t call the equipped, but he equips the called. 

And I know that I know that I know I was called to this service — to mothering, to raising another generation of minds and hearts that will seek to love and live in God’s love and truth. 

I know that this is where my “deep passion meets the worlds great need.” (Vantage Point3) 

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This remembering of God’s faithfulness and God’s goodness and God’s love, fuels my mind enough to slowly will my body into taking a deep breath, inhaling the love of my Father, standing up, unlocking the bathroom door and scooping into my arms the small child on the other side. 

And because of His goodness, His Spirit living inside of me gives me enough for the moments that follow, multiplying my little and making it enough. 

I sit and ponder these moments in my own life, and I know that it’s true in my own life, what Pastor Josh Petersen said during his sermon on Sunday when he was talking about how Jesus and the disciples fed the multitudes of people with very little in Matthew 14: “There’s an interesting progression that happens. Jesus gives them a task, or an opportunity, and he says, ‘feed these people.’ Then they take what they have, Jesus blesses it and then He says, ‘go serve the people.’”

And how about you? Where is that place where your deep passion meets the world’s great need? Go there. Know that you’re bringing little. And know that He’ll make it more than you could ever ask or imagine. 

Now to Him be the glory as we serve in His likeness. 

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Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother. 

Be Challenged:  

This week pray about where you feel God may be leading you to serve. Ask God to reveal to you where your deep passion meets the world’s great need.