September 24, 25 & 26, 2012 (Olga)

Everyday, the 27thWell, last night was not my best effort at taking every thought captive. I did not control my words at all. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until it was already done. I really don’t feel like we have a problem. Not until we start talking about it. I am there most of the time now.  I don’t go off in my head very often at all. I don’t think about terrible things much. Just once in a while when I’m lazy. Mostly, I’m there. I try to focus on you and how we’re there because we love each other. It’s a relationship, not an activity.

And, in the context of every action, every thought, every feeling being something that directly affects how close I am to God, I want what runs through my head, especially when we’re together, to glorify God. And God gives us a new start when we come to him. He promises to make us new creations. I want to claim that promise in full. I want to go into this like I’ve never been anywhere. I know that God has a glorious, wonderful design for intimacy and marriage. I don’t have any idea what it is or what it might be like, but I want to find out and I am praying that God will show it to us.
*****

So we are talking about how different this trip is for you. It is really true that these last few years and, especially the last year, has been really big for us. I can’t even really express the changes I see in you. And us. We are so blessed to be touched by God’s hand. I see it all the time, everywhere. And I want more. And I know you do, too. So I have immense hope for the future. No matter what we do, I know we will be trying to do what God wants as much as possible, as far as we can discern it.
*****

Well, only one more day and you’ll be back. I tried to be mature and generous and loving, thinking of you and serving God with my words. As Jeff would say, I think I might have done a 5 on that. Luckily, God has sufficient grace for all of us. But it’s helping me see how important it is to check our words and our attitudes. When I am bitter, it makes me not want to talk to you or to be mean to you and neither one is good for us. And, contrary to popular belief, “venting your spleen” doesn’t make it go away. Sometimes it makes it worse and worse. Also contrary to popular belief, we don’t have to say everything that comes into our heads. Authentic and real don’t mean thoughtless and flippant.

You can think about things and consider your words and still be who you are. Or, if you can’t, maybe you shouldn’t be “who you really are.” I don’t think that is an idea that is supported by the Bible either: expressing your “real” authentic self. There is being who God made you to be, but that’s not what you were born with. You were born with a fallen sin nature. There’s using the gifts God gave you to do the good works he planned for you, but that’s hardly the same thing. I just don’t think God cares about us being authentic and true to our fleshy selves. I think he wants us to be holy and righteous and outrageously committed to him.

And the wonderful thing is that every crazy thing I come up with, you are right there with me. I still wonder sometimes what your reaction will be when I take all our extra money and send it to the orphans or the Bible planters or some missionary. I should know better but old habits die hard, I guess. Also, a lot of times it seems really crazy to me. I mean, who does that? “We’re getting ahead. We’ve got a bit extra to pay of some bills. Let’s give it away.” Or, worse, “We’re tight this month, we barely made it. Now is a great time to commit to more monthly giving.” But you never disappoint me. You are always supportive and you never (seem to) worry. I am completely awed and humbled that God would allow me to travel this road with you.

September 23, 2012 (Olga)

This entry was written while Eli was on a business trip. He was gone from the 23rd to the 27th of September, so I wrote a little bit every day and then gave the whole thing to him upon his return. To keep from posting a ginormous entry all on one day, I guess I will post a bit each day, now, as well.

Thursday the 27thSo I’m early! I decided that since I am here alone, the next best thing to being with you is writing the longest monthiversary entry EVAR. =) I was sitting in church today trying not to miss you too much. I’ve never been in that church for service without you. So. Weird. But then we sang I Belong and we got to that line, “Not distance, nor dangers, no trouble now or ever,” and I realized that just like God’s love is like that, so is ours. Our marriage is meant to mirror the union of the Trinity, it only falls short because of sin – ours and the world’s. So God’s love is independent of distance or danger or anything. Nothing comes close to touching it. Our marriage and our love is designed by God to be just like that. Nothing can touch it. Not you being gone or me being worried. Not anything but our own brokenness; and my worry is the first symptom of that.

And then I remembered those ten years that we didn’t talk. And I thought about the years before when you were my friend. And I remembered how God kept you in my heart. I remembered how I always felt so comfortable around you even when I hadn’t seen you for 10 years. And I knew that if God would keep his hand on me through all that darkness, if he would make my heart and my soul fit so perfectly together with yours so that all it took was the whisper of a suggestion to put me in your arms, if he would do all this to get me to you so that we could both be closer to him, then I have nothing to worry about and nothing to be mad/upset/worked up about.

In fact, I need to focus on being calm and loving and serving God and you and our family. Getting mad at Bob for making you go or being mad at you for not refusing to go isn’t going to help and it won’t solve the real problem: I miss you. I am sad that you are not here. Period. And it doesn’t need to go beyond that because that’s ALL it is. And the way I use that to serve you is to tell you and be as loving and connective as possible, even when you’re gone. And to not shut down on the girls while you are gone.

And they way I serve God is by submitting to the human authorities he has put over me and doing it with a loving, obedient heart. Not a bitter, resentful complaining one. I need to see this as a struggle (a pretty lame one, really) and deal with it. And I need to deal with it like we try to deal with everything else – with love and mercy and obedience. And that doesn’t really allow for pissy-baby temper fits.

God said take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. I can’t parse the Greek =) but I have to think “every” thought means EVERY THOUGHT. Bob today was talking about how casual we are – society in general and “Pacific NorthUs.” We view it as a virtue and a right. We seem to think that we are most authentically authentic when we are relaxed, informal, thoughtless, dancing with one hand flying free, letting it all hang out. If you are considering the consequences or other people’s feelings or anything besides your own “realness,” then you’re being oppressed. Or whatever. But I don’t think the Bible supports that. I think the Bible calls us to examine and study every single thing: action, motive, thought. We are to examine and control them; pick them apart and discuss them with God. When they are found wanting and unholy, we need to repent and ask God to change them. And really be open to that change.

August 27, 2012

Everyday, the 27thWell! Family meeting went pretty good. We’ll see how the questions are tomorrow. You know, the closer we get to all this foster-child stuff, the more confident I am that we can actually do it. I mean, we’re not perfect parents, or citizens, or homeowners – not by any stretch. But we’re not lousy, either. We’re “fair to middlin’ ” as they would say in the midwest, but – and here’s the point – we’re getting better all the time. If nothing else, I’m confident that getting ready to foster is going to make us better people. Better parents, citizens, and, yes, homeowners. Most importantly, better Christians. That’s the real point, to glorify Christ in EVERY thing we do. I think of a lot of what we’ve been doing and it’s not terrible or anything, but it’s good for us to improve. To – how’s it go? – “strive toward the goal.” I feel like we’re moving in a positive direction, on almost every front. Well, every front that we have any control of. (Exes, parents, and church – there’s not much to be done about that, right?)

…That’s all just to say, that if the last few months have been about anxiety and uncertainty and lacking focus or direction, then this month, it’s more about confidence. We has a plan, and with Jesus on our side, nothing bad can happen – even if the plan turns out to be complete rubbish. Even if it’s all for naught, if all our plans fall through – doesn’t matter. We have Jesus, and more importantly, He has us. I just can’t get over that verse where it says: Don’t be afraid because I am with you. I am with you always. See! I will never leave you, I have inscribed you on my palms.

I’m sure I mangled that, but look – Jesus won’t leave us. We’re inscribed on his palms.

You are inscribed on my heart.
I love you, Husband xxoo

WIth A Tip of His Hat

I was 16 years old when I met John LeBret. It took over a year for us to actually become a couple, but it was totally worth it. He was the first boy to tell me he loved me, and the first boy I said that to. He was the first person I ever had a knock-down drag out fight with. He totalled my first car. He was there the first time I got drunk. He was the first person I ever lived with who didn’t share my DNA. He was the first boy I ever talked about forever with. If not for him, I might not have met either of my husbands. When we broke up, I thought I wouldn’t survive. When he cheated on me, I thought my heart was broken beyond repair. He hurt me more than anyone ever had (and it would be years before someone else hurt me that much again) because I loved him more than I ever thought possible.  He was talented and fun and everybody loved him. He was one of those people that just took over a room when he walked in. He was Jim Carrey’s Riddler meets Armand Goldman from The Birdcage. Even when things were really terrible, he could still make a joke. Because, why would you ever let tragedy get in the way of a good joke?

It is so weird to think about how much a person can change your life in just four short years, how important that person can become. At the time, it seemed like an eternity and now it feels like the blink of an eye. He was here and then he was gone and now he’s really gone. I guess at the right time and the right place, things just fall together some times. Or maybe there’s just nothing like first love. I would not be the person I am today if I had not known John. If I were memorializing him for myself, I would probably use Garth Brooks lyrics, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance” or “Yes, I do think about you, every now and then”. But, since I’d like this to be less about me than him, I will leave you with words that remind me of the John I knew back in the day.

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!”     – Edgar Allan Poe

July 31, 2012 (Olga)

Thursday the 27thHm, I have to admit,  I’m kind of at a loss this month as to what to write. I feel like the whole last month has just been a blur. I mean, who ever thought that laundry would be such a big deal? =)

Seriously, though, this month always gets me thinking about where I’ve been and how i got where I am now. On the one hand, four years sounds like nothing. On the other hand, I’m not even sure who that person was before. But I was thinking about what Matt Chandler said. I think he’s right. We need to keep an eye on where we came from. I mean, what more intense, personal, clean-cut picture of God’s grace and mercy do we have than where we are and where we were. The fact that he rescued us, personally, is the best and brightest arrow we have to point us to who and what God is.

And I’m starting to really feel this paradigm shift. Like every time I think about doing something or what the kids need or whatever, I find myself more and more re-framing things with an eye toward eternity. On the one hand, our parenting is kind of a ridiculous failure. Even for Americans, this is pretty pathetic. And I know some of that is nature and some of that is nurture. Doesn’t matter. What I’m starting to realize is that I don’t have to worry about them going to college or being successful or any of that. Our job is to impress upon them exactly who Jesus is. Our focus needs to be giving them a real, biblical picture of who God is and what all of history has been about. The most troubling things about the kids is not how irresponsible or lazy or ridiculous they are. The real issue is how self-focused they are. What we need to teach them and show them is that our focus should be God. Everything else is secondary. So I love the fact that Mae is following through the job and driving, but I think our focus has to be ministering to her bible study, prayer, bringing the gospel into the conversation whenever possible.

And, at the end of the day, it all has to come back to the fact that God is in control and nothing we do or don’t do is going to thwart his plans. I mean, I don’t have to worry specifically about whether I should be witnessing more to my parents or my siblings. If God wants them, he will have them and he already knows if he can count on me or not. Does that mean I don’t take every opportunity to talk about my faith? Of course not. But it does mean that I don’t let it be distracting. I focus on being open to God’s will and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and when I am prompted in my heart to speak, I try to only filter it with an eye to whether or not it glorifies God and not if it will make me or anyone else uncomfortable.

I just want to shift my perspective so that I am totally focused and enraptured with God and his mission for us and the work of his kingdom and everything else is a distraction that I only let get in my way as long as it absolutely has to. When my mind is idle, I want it to drift naturally to God, not to actors or movies or anything else. And when I have to think about other things, I want it to still be in the framework of a conversation with God.

So it’s not like I think that doing laundry by hand is a kingdom endeavor. But I don’t want to do what I’m going to be distracted by in order to avoid it. If our machine is broke, I’m going to take the route which gets me back to regular life the quickest and, right now, I’m more worried about the residual mental energy we would spend on an extra $800 of credit card debt than my extra time spent on laundry. But, on the other hand, I don’t want it to become this thing where doing laundry by hand makes me holier in my head. I just want it to be a non-issue. Of course, that always makes me want to go to a place where I don’t worry about worldly things: housework, cooking, etc. =) But that’s a whole other story. I’m feeling good about where we are, too. I mean, I know we’ll never really get there but I feel like we’re heading in the right direction. I feel us turning more and more toward God and being less and less concerned about the world. I feel us trying to focus more on submission and obedience and less on what we want. And I feel you becoming more trusting and more open.

When I think over the last four years, I see that you have become more faithful and you have loosened your grip on things like worrying about money and your responsibilities. You seem much less concerned about doing it all and taking care of everything. And now you are taking that willingness to jump in with both feet and using it on things that are more scary (like adopting or giving away our money) rather than just on fun things (like running off to Disneyland or planning a wedding in four months). It’s like I used to say, “God will take care of us,” and your response was, “yeah, but we still have to be reasonable.” Now your response is getting closer to a resounding, “Yes, he will!” I guess what I’m saying is that what I hoped for has proven to be true: you are willing to grab after the truth with both hands, even when it’s not comfortable and it means we have to change – drastically.

I don’t know, I’m not very focused today and it’s been awhile since I journalled or blogged so I’m a bit scattered. But I can say that my head is not full of worry or fear, but of joy and encouragement. I have been feeling very close to God and very consistently aware of his character and his truth and the implications of them. I guess all that stuff we’ve been listening to and what I’ve been reading over the past month or two has just really put me in a mind to be contemplating how much every single thing points to God’s amazing love for us, his grace and mercy. And how everything else is so utterly meaningless by comparison. And also what it really means to put God’s standards before man’s and how much we take for granted and how jacked up the world and its ideas are and exactly how crafty the enemy is and how easily we are distracted and derailed.

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-52627

I guess if I’m going to bring it around to our relationship, our marriage, what has been becoming obvious to me is that it doesn’t get to be all about us any more than it gets to be all about me. Our marriage can’t be the beginning and the end of my life. I want it to be and I want that to be a righteous focus, but it’s not. If it is, my existence is all about getting to a place where we can just think about each other. What our marriage is for (at least in part) is to keep us focused on something even more amazing and to totally blow our minds with the idea that anything could ever be more awesome than how we feel about each other.

And yet it’s true. The eternal reward is going to be so amazing that this will seem like rubbish. And if – just for argument’s sake – you weren’t there, I would never miss you. And vice versa. That is staggering. I mean, how is it possible? How could anything be more wonderful, more amazing; how could anything make me happier than loving you? I can’t imagine it. I can’t even begin to. But I have to try. And if I can’t, I still have to have faith that it is true. Because if this is the reward, then I lose my true love and we are derailed again.

So I remind myself that it’s not about you or us – it’s about Jesus and the love that we are privileged to image like the shadow cast by a candle. And I am so grateful to be allowed to have this much joy and this wonderful love that the only logical response is to share it with as many people as possible. And that’s where the adoption idea starts to be about something besides obedience.

I love you, not because of who you are or who we are, but because of who we will be – in Christ. All my heart and all that goes with it,
Olga Jean*

Salicylate Intolerance: Discovery and Diet

I have a lot of health issues, particularly with regards to food, and, historically, I have almost always either lacked the spoons or the insurance to seek a doctor’s care. So I have spent my adult life just trying to figure out, on my own, what I am reacting to and how badly I need to avoid it. In God’s grace, he has seen fit to make none of my allergies/sensitivities life-threatening. As far as I know, up to this point. Right now, I finally do have insurance and I am grateful for the gift of being able to afford that. But, while I wait for a referral to an allergist, I am on a self-administered elimination diet because I have recently begun to suspect that I am Salicylate Intolerant. So I thought it might be fun to write about how I got to this point and what I find out when I do go to the doctor.

So without going too far back in history, I think it will be sufficient to say that somewhere between 10 and 15 years ago, I started having more frequent headaches and that’s also when I began noticing the reactions which I believe are symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome, or OAS(that is another story, for another blog post). By about 5 years ago, when I moved to my present home, I was to the point when it was a rare day when I didn’t have at least one headache (usually multiple headaches a day, of various “kinds”) and I was pretty sure that almost everything I ate would hurt me in some way. But there seemed to be so many things I was reacting to with so many symptoms, it was beyond emotionally and physically daunting to try to figure it out (I didn’t know it then, but this was my lack of spoons). In addition, my new husband’s work insurance would have cost me about half our mortgage in premiums. Not really financially feasible to go to the allergist at that time. So I was trudging along with daily headaches, fatigue, brain fog, standard stuff in the chronic illness world. Then, maybe eight months ago, I noticed that I got a very specific headache when I ate margarine. As luck would have it, a few weeks later, we switched brands due to a sale at the Grocery Outlet. ($0.34/lb! w00t!!) This brand did not give me a headache. I compared labels and the only ingredient different was palm kernel oil. Okay, avoid palm kernel oil. No problem.

Fast forward again to last month. I switched shampoo because I colored my hair. My husband and I are alone in the house one weekend, so we snacked. Excessively. =) Same weekend, my brother in law left an open container of gasoline in the garage which vents into our house. Basically, things aligned just right and my face swelled up enough that my husband could see it. There were no hives, just swelling, which I don’t usually have. And my mouth and lips were burning and my teeth hurt and I was a little wheezy. I thought it might be the gasoline, but, swelling, especially face swelling is one of those things that they always tell you to watch out for.  Eli had it, too, but his went away after the gas was gone. When my swelling stayed around, I started to investigate. Reading labels of all the food I had been eating, what do I find? Palm Kernel Oil. So I go to my Google.

Apparently, it is almost impossible to be allergic, in the technical sense, to palm kernel oil. Generally speaking, allergic reactions are a histamine reaction. Anyway, everything I could find said that an allergic reaction to Palm Kernel Oil would be extremely unlikely. But I did find an article where a woman talked about reacting to palm kernel oil because she has salicylate intolerance. So I looked at the symptoms. Many of them were like mine. What do people react to? Many of the things I knew I react to, that aren’t usually included in the lists for OAS.

But, wait, what are salicylates, you ask? One of them you probably know pretty well. It looks like this:Salicylic-acid-skeletal.svgIt’s salicylic acid or Aspirin. We developed it from salicylates found in the bark of willow trees and now we put it in a lot of health and beauty products as well as OTC medicines. It is related to acetaminophen and other NSAIDS as well. It is also a natural insecticide and, therefore found in a large number of plant things, especially fruits and vegetables. Not, however, in animals, grains or most legumes.

So I got a food list. I highlighted the things that were low in salicylates (that I could eat) and then marked the things I can’t eat anyway. The good news is after just a few days of eating this way, I felt much better. For the first time in years, I went days without headaches. I was less tired. The bad news was my list looked like this:

20150310_084908

20150310_084919_HDR

Also, my face was still a bit swollen even after a week on the diet. On a whim, in the shower, I read the label of my shampoo and, sure enough, it had salicylic acid in it. I had been using it for about two weeks. I had been smearing enough aspirin that my husband could smell it all over my head. No wonder my face was swollen. Sure enough, I went back to good ol’ cheap Suave and the swelling went away.

So it’s been about six weeks, I think. I feel pretty good until I decide that it’s probably all in my head and one granola bar (or whatever) won’t hurt me. How much coconut oil (or palm oil or corn syrup) could be in there? And then I’m on my back all afternoon with a dizzy headache. So however much it is, it’s enough.

It is a restrictive diet, but I still can eat meat, fish, rice, cheese, all sorts of sugar (as long as it’s not honey or corn syrup). Almost all the spices and herbs (except chives, parsley, salt and garlic) are out. I can still have soy sauce, which is good, because I’m Filipina. =)  Coffee and all teas are high in salicylates, which is sad. I managed to time my caffeine withdrawals with having the flu, though, so it kind of got lost in the shuffle. I am almost used to hot lime sugar water as a morning drink. As far as treats go, I know that Pepsi Throwback (“real” sugar, no corn syrup) and Haagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream are completely safe.

Right now, I’m still getting over that flu. I still have a cough and a stuffy nose. In addition to that, I’m crashing from having to teach last night. Even given all that, I still feel better than I did, probably any day last year. It is awesome to not have a headache or dizziness or light-headedness or face pressure and to be fairly certain that what I eat is not going to give me any of those things.

Standard note: I am not a doctor and I don’t give out medical advice. Please don’t take my putting myself on an elimination diet as a recommendation that you do as well. Also, please don’t post comments about how I shouldn’t go on an elimination diet without a doctor’s supervision. I would have waited to talk to a doctor but knowing that that would be at least weeks, if not months, I couldn’t not take the opportunity to feel better. I still eat meat, fish and rice. I actually eat a really good diet. It’s nutritionally sound. Billions of Asians, throughout history, support it.

 

 

 

 

June 29, 2012 (Eli)

Thursday the 27thThis month has been all about two things, I guess: First, the gospel, and second, sanctification. I know the two are inextricably linked, that you can’t really progress one without the other. The Good News of Jesus is not just that he saves us from the penalty of sin (Justification), or that he gives us new hearts of flesh & blood instead of our old heart of stone (Regeneration), but also that he sets us apart to be His people, to do His will, to love Him, and to be with Him. But sanctification is a hard process, right? I’ve been praying lately that God will continue to “root out” the unrighteous parts of my inner self, and that he will cure my unbelief more and more each day, and that he will make me more like Jesus — because that is how I already am in his sight. Already, but not yet. The “not yet” part I really struggle with — I don’t want it to be “not yet” all the time. I want to jump ahead to the part where we’re 100% holy and healthy and with Jesus all the time. I don’t wan to go through the refining process, I just want to be gold. Because being refined means losing yourself. That’s a sin I still feel sick from — I don’t want to lose myself, I want to keep myself and still get to be with God. I (I’m talking about the flesh) want to go into the Holy presence, but still have “indulgence” to be as unholy as I like. Rather, to remain as unholy as is necessary to retain myself. Thank God that He has sanctified me in Christ already, before the Earth and the Heavens were created, before “was” was. Because if it was up to me, (that is, up to my flesh), I might decide against holiness. Thank God that he thinks more of me (or, rather, of his holiness in me through Christ) than I could on my own.

That’s what I’m getting at: the mystery.

I’m saved. Not of my own doing. If it were left to me, alone, I wouldn’t even WANT to be saved. I think – no, I fear – that too many “Christians” don’t realize how sick they are/were in their sin. How they won’t admit that they don’t love God, they can’t love God, they only love themselves. And they’ll put on their “Sunday best” and go to church and be righteous in themselves, by themselves, for themselves, of themselves, toward themselves, forever. And, you know what? That was me, up until a few years ago. It’s like I really was a “zombie Christian” – dead but pretending to be alive and walking around. I’ve been meditating on this crazy thing Jesus said:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but  whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?…For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done.
-Matthew 16:24-28

And the part in the ellipsis is the most important part for me: Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

I can’t give anything for my soul. All I have is nothing, because I don’t have anything – not even my self – which wasn’t given to me by Him. So why did I spend all those years as a “Christian” and not pray, not read my Bible, and not do any evangelizing, and not do any acts of kindness or charity or mercy?

Because I was a fool, I guess. Because I had decided that love was for other people and not for me. I had decided that holiness was something that I’d get started on eventually, maybe, if I ever felt like it. And I decided that being an arrogant self-righteous blowhard was more important – In short, that being MY SELF (according to the flesh) – was more important than being with God, or being like and with Jesus, or being filled with the Holy Spirit.

So, gospel and sanctification. From here on out, that’s our thing.  =)
***
I thank God for you, Olga, not because you’re so amazing, but because God uses you to show me what He is like. I can see now, by loving you and being loved, how God loves me and how I should love Him. I guess I had to learn it from the ground up. I mean, I’ve always known about God’s love, but knowing and KNOWING are two very different things.

This month has been hard on me. I’ve been refined more. And I expect more refining. But it’s hardship that is good for me. I didn’t want to talk to Mark, but I obeyed. I didn’t want that to have ripple effects, but it did, and they have turned out for our good. I don’t want to push Chelanne back into high school, but I’m going to, because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want to ride the bus, or eat on less money, or have you hang clothes, or have the government tell me to buy insurance, or have the hassle that adopting will bring. I don’t want to work for Habitat or the soup kitchen or have people help us remodel. I don’t want any of that stuff, I NEED it. I crave it, because even though it’s difficult, it all brings me closer to God.

And what brings me closer to God also brings me closer to you. We’re headed into God’s Holy Fire, together, and that’s so incredibly, unexpectedly amazing that I can’t even begin to say what it means to me. I was thinking the other day how much God must love me to send you to me, because he knows that I’m not strong enough to come to Him on my own. He knows what I need to bring me to Him and you, dear, figure prominently in that. Ironic? God brought you to me in order to save me? =)

Okay, I’ve gone long. But that’s just because this month has been huge for me. We are going to make it – I have confidence!- because God is going to command us to break out of our comfort zone, and command us to overcome OURSELVES, and better yet, He’s going to give us the strength to OBEY.

I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes…How long must your servant endure?…In your steadfast love, give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.   -Psalm 119:83, 84, 88

And

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ.    – Philippians 1:6

And

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. -Philippians 2:12-13

So, we’re on this whole gospel and sanctification ride together. It’s a scary ride sometimes, but I’m so glad – and so EMBOLDENED – to have you on the adventure with me.

I literally couldn’t do it without you, and God knew that.

I love you, so much. More every day as we both become, through the grace of God, more holy, together, more sold over to the precious love of Jesus, together. More lost to our selves, and found in Him.

Love, as always, and even more, Eli xxoo