November 8, 2014

A Free E-Book for You!!!

Jesus Beside Me Free E-Book
Last year I had the privilege of writing a short foreword for my friend David's e-book, Jesus Beside Me, Volume 2. He recently blogged here on adventure, and you can catch him over at Dave vs. Life and David Ramos. I'm sharing with you blog readers the foreward and a link to go download it for free! We both hope and pray it blesses you in reading it. Enjoy!
      Unapologetically, I pray for myself this earnest plea found in the beloved hymn Come Thou Fount: “Bind my wandering heart to Thee!” For the Christian there remains a deep desire to live out our days closely tied to the heart of our great, gracious King Jesus. To daily live aware of his presence, to commune with him, and to enjoy him. The paths and ways in which we draw close to Christ are innumerable, diverse, and divine, but one so sweet to the heart and soul is that of the reading and soaking in of his very own words to us through scripture.

     The act sounds too simple, sometimes even elementary for the seasoned Christian, including myself, but if the cliché holds true—that the Bible is God’s love letter written to us—why would we want to nonchalantly dismiss or put it away? After all, who’s ever heard of a lover, who upon receiving a letter from their significant other, toss it aside, never reading their words? Reading the words found in scripture illuminates who our Savior is as well as his character, wisdom, good commands, and wonderful grace. It’s through the meditation of these same words that Christ comes near to the heart of man that we may know and love him, and be known and loved by him.

       The book you’re holding does just this: Marrying the art of reading God’s word then meditating upon it. In doing so, David gets you up beside the Savior so you may know Him all the more. And it’s my hope that through this book that your heart may be tethered a bit more to Christ… that you would cry out to him, “Here’s my heart, take and seal it!” 
You can read and download Jesus Beside Me, Volume 2, here.

October 15, 2014

In All Seasons

In All Seasons Devotional

Where I live here in the States, fall is in full swing now. Cooler temperatures make way for cozy sweaters, mugs filled to the brim with apple cider, apple dumplings, apple pie, apple crisp (in case you hadn't caught on, we're big on apples here… don't get me started on all the desserts we make with pumpkin as well), and the trees are shimmering in hues of red, orange, and yellow.

I have this "thing" for seasons, and I don't just mean the literal weather type ones, but the various seasons of our faith, or as one pastor put it "soul seasons." Autumn is normally seen as a time of harvest; the seeds and labor put forth finally coming to abundant fruition. We too have soul seasons kind of like autumn... but we also have seasons like spring, summer, and (the usually dreaded) winter. Maybe you're like me, and an autumnal soul season is not where you find yourself in but in a season of barrenness; a season with a little harvest.

But I've learned that God is just as active in the times of harvest as He is in the times of dormancy--alive, but not active at the moment... temporarily slowed. In John chapter 15, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (verses 4 & 5). Jesus is talking about remaining connected to Him, the true vine... to live near to Him in all seasons. Grapevines, and for that matter any type of fruit, have life cycles... clusters of grapes don't just appear overnight: In the winter, the vinedresser predetermines how many buds he wants on each shoot of the vine. During spring, buds come forth, turning into flowers, and then into berries. In late summer and early fall, the fruit is harvested, to be enjoyed by others. The leaves fall from the vine and the vinedresser prepares the soil for winter so that the process can start all over again. Such it is with us.

We all have those times of barrenness, planting, swelling (slow, continual growth), and gleaning. The important thing though is to remain close to Christ... to trust in His timing and His role as THE vinedresser of our hearts, for in all, and through all, He is faithful to accomplish His work in you and I. "Barrenness," as the prince of preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon said, "is the platform for his fruit-creating power." It's not permanent, but a platform to lead to greater things. 

Let this be an encouragement to you if you find yourself in such a place. God has not forgotten you, and the dormancy will pass into vibrant, fresh fruit once again. The work in the winter is just as important as the crop gathering of autumn. But remain connected to Him, the true vine. 
Living near to Jesus, thou art covered with the wings of God, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Let nothing keep thee from that hallowed intercourse, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to THE WELL-BELOVED. Be not content with an interview now and then, but seek always to retain his company, for only in his presence hast thou either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk evermore. ~C.H. Spurgeon

~This post was originally written and shared on Darling Companion, 2013, by Natalie Grimm~

October 13, 2014

Autumnal Joys

Shauna Niequist Fall Quote
The scents and scenes of autumn are finally being welcomed here, and it's my favorite season of them all. But it's all short-lived in this area, so I have to relish it while I can.

Autumn is what ushers in that steady rhythm of work and play for me. August and September are always crazy busy, and I wear a stress level to match it. But by the time October shows its lovely face, I've settled into my work routine with a new group of kiddos, and finally, have gotten around to planning get-togethers with friends and family that I put off temporarily. 

Everything about this season speaks joy to me.

I love how the weather finally hits that perfect temperature; it's cool enough to wear jeans and comfy tops without having to wear a parka on top of everything. It's the start of all things cozy: fuzzy socks, sweaters, blankets, and sleeping under down comforters. If you've never slept underneath a down comforter on a crisp, cool, breezy night, you've missed out friend. I want to perpetually live in the state of cozy.

Weekends are spent hitting the trails to enjoy the scenic views and taking trips to local pumpkin patches and apple orchards. Evenings in front of the occasional campfire or snuggled in bed watching old black and white movies--because that Cary Grant... he's charming and classy folks. I like to steal away to bookstores with a cider or chai in hand, because this is also the season I tend to romanticize, and books--words--are one of the love languages I speak so well. I've always thought this would be the perfect time of year to fall in love... 

And can we just talk about the food for a moment? Personally, this is prime baking season: apple dumplings, apple crisp, apple crumble top pie, pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls, cranberry hand-pies, and maple scones. Pretty much just all things apple, pumpkin, cinnamon, maple, and cranberry. Let's not fail to mention the hearty stews and soups either. Or kettle corn. Or butternut squash. Or sweet potatoes. Or turkey. Just comfort food galore.

Autumnal Joy List

Enough about my fall favorites though, share with me some of yours!

August 20, 2014

Our Neighbor's Worth & Our Call to Love

I've been thinking about what it really means to love others--to love my neighbor as it were--lately. 

My natural default position is to love those who I deem are worthy or deserving by an internal checklist my mind has conjured up. I'd be willing to bet you do the same thing. If someone doesn't cut it via the list, then I don't really go to a whole lot of trouble to affirm their value and purpose here on earth. Sounds horrible, right? It is. (Fess up--you do this as well too.) It's really horrible. It calls for repentance on my part. A repentance that leads to pro-action in the reverse of this apathetic, surface-y, polite, but not-really-caring type of courteousness. 

Loving people how Christ desires me to often doesn't look a thing like the scenes I've scripted and played in my head.

I've been finding it increasingly more and more disturbing to not be building relationships with non-believers--who are my neighbors... or at least they're supposed to be. There's a part of me that's really uncomfortable with being constantly surrounded by people who think and act and believe the same things I do. And then there's a part of me that's terrified to actually share my faith. 


I remember back to those preschool days when my teacher taught us songs. Songs about Noah's ark, and Jesus love a-bubblin'-over (or something like that), and another on how others would know we are Christians by our love.

By our love. 

I don't think that's really what Christians at large are known for by those looking in on us. You know those outsiders.

These days it just seems that people know a person is a Christians by their politics, by their stances from the big to the infinitesimal, by their show-y success and celebrity status. But that's not how that simple, profoundly true children's song goes.

We've given up loving people to win arguments, to win points of debate, to win fame. We lost people in that though.

I'm tired of having to come up with reasons to justify loving a person though. Seriously, it's exhausting. I don't want to have to think too hard to extend a hand of graciousness, kindness, or sisterhood.

Here's a dose of truth: Every. Single. Person. Has. Worth. They just do. We cannot take away or give out worth, because that's God's business alone, and he's imprinted each and every human being with his image. People we find difficult or don't particularly like... maybe even hate--still have worth in their Maker's eye. God doesn't see you and I or any other human being as we do. He sees them as his children. It's not a perspective I stand in often when looking at others.

No. Worth is not something we give or take. But what you and I can--and as Christian should--do is affirm one another's immense value to the heavenly Father. That's loving our neighbor.


Sometimes we have moments where we get that inner sense of God speaking to us so crystal clear: "Natalie, would you still love this person if you never got the opportunity to see them change... to know me? What if you're just a seed planter in their life, not the cultivator, nor the harvester? Would you still love them?"

Somewhere in me, grace swells, and I find myself responding, "Yes. As you have loved me I will love them, regardless of the outcome." 

This is what it means to obligate ourselves to love. This is what loving our neighbor looks like. 

We get caught in our Christian bubbles though. We get comfortable. But we have to start somewhere. And I had to start with the question I now pose to you...

Do you actually know non-Christians?
If you don't then, why?

If we believe in a rich relationship with the Savior, shouldn't we be heeding his words to go out and make disciples? Go means action. Go means meeting, seeking, and relating to those who haven't yet heard the same sweetness you and I have in the Savior's voice. Go is not living in perpetual comfort in the church pew.
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age. ~Matthew 28:16-20 MSG

June 30, 2014

Glory Bearers

Glory Bearers

In the beginning, God created bright, brilliant light. A sun that would warm and dancing around it planets--Earth. He created an expanse of stars--heavenly bodies which would sparkle like glitter; which would later guide mankind to new territories of beauty to discover. In the beginning, God created bodies of water and beaches that would house seashells and tiny creatures to be hunted down by barefooted children as valuable treasures housed in old jars to take out later and remember the thrill of the seeking. In the beginning, God created valleys filled with wildflowers colored with hues artists would try to mimic in their mirroring works. Mountains to climb that would leave us in awe and fear at the summit. Oceans to sail through, lakes to plunge into by a rope hung on a nearby tree, rivers to skip rocks on.  

He creates entire kingdoms of animals and vegetation; carves and forms the earth. He went and created a universe above and beyond us so vast we cannot even begin to comprehend where it may end... if it even does. God looks upon it declaring it good, but then He says something utterly remarkable: "Let us make man in our image and likeness."

So God creates Adam from the dust of the earth. Adam--a man of strength, valor, and virtue; Adam--made in His image and likeness. And from Adam, God fashioned Eve in His own image and likeness. Eve was beautiful in every sense. She was a woman of strength, valor, and virtue in her own right as well; a crown for Adam's life after God. Together they became one flesh and the first to ever covenant in marriage. Together they were to steward this new creation; Adam would lead, Eve would help. Together they displayed and encompassed the glory of the Trinity: God, Son, Holy Ghost. In this they were perfect, life was perfect, earth and everything about it was perfect; all was perfect and harmonious in the universe.

Of course, anyone who's read beyond Genesis three knows that this utopia does not last long, and it all becomes fractured, laced with death--sin. And God the father promises to undo all this wickedness that was done in the hands of mankind. At the appointed time He sends a Savior, Jesus Christ, to rescue, redeem, reconcile, and heal everything. It's the greatest thing to ever happen in the whole of history. This work on the cross is life changing in every way, and even now He is making a path back to Eden which those who call themselves Christians will one day go home to. 

I've glossed over and condensed a great deal here. But there's something else here you and I gloss over and try to condense on a very daily basis; we often don't even think about it: We were made in the image and likeness of God, made in the Imago Dei.

After the fall this still remained. It cannot, in fact, be undone for the human. Regardless of size, age, background, motivations, what we say, do, or think... every single human being is made in the Imago Dei. Don't misunderstand: This side of heaven we're depraved, sinful, and imperfect. We still can't do anything value apart from Christ. But the sheer fact that all humans are image bearers speaks massive volumes of the capacity each individual carries within them.

We each hold the capacity to sub-create through all the various crafts and materials. We've created incredible things over the course of history: whole movements with our words and actions, architecture and works of art, forged families and friendships, safe havens, and berry pies. I could go on and one, but you get the idea. Even minute things seem so large when we sit and dwell on all the intricacies that are in place there.

There is absolutely nothing ordinary, nor plain about this life or a single human being. Nothing coincidental. All the memories and moments that make up a lifetime for one person are monumental in themselves.

As image bearers of this great God we were meant to hold and shine the glory of Him for all of those around us to witness in a million different, messy, beautiful, profound ways.

And sometimes I shudder by just how unmoved we seem to be over this, especially those of us who call ourselves Christians. Are we not the ones to see the Imago Dei in everyone, even in those who are not yet followers of the one, true God? We're supposed to be the hands and feet God uses to awaken those around us to this truth: That there's a God who made you, loves you so much that he sent His only son, Jesus, to free you. And that being made in His likeness means that in His leading and guiding, you have such a great capacity to shine His glory!

See, sometimes the best and most powerful evangelism tool you have is this: Living your life fully awakened to the beauty, brilliance, and love of Christ.

When people encounter that, in many ways it sells itself. Jesus can sell and defend himself.

Christian brother or sister, you don't have to scream, you don't have to defend, you don't have to fight and throw blows. You just have to live awakened to Christ. You just have to let Him love, heal, and use you, because that's how He in turn loves, heals, and then uses others. You have to let God be glorified in your life (which is far more like living poetry than anything else in this world), because that's how He awaken others that they were made for glory themselves as well.

June 12, 2014

Home Behind The Sun

Home Behind the Sun Book Review
The sweetest things in all my life has been the longing... to find the place where all the beauty came from. ~C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
Written in the vain of Ann Voskamp and C.S. Lewis (a rich, poetic deepness), Home Behind the Sun: Connect with God in the Brilliance of the Everyday is a beautiful collection of exposés that explore seeking and admiring the beauty in our everyday lives, as well as in one another. As image bearers, we were created and designed as vessels to hold God's glory. This is what makes us what Willard and Locy call 'brilliance makers.' It's such a weighty truth that so often we forget in the daily activities of our lives. But, throughout the book, the authors beckon us to stop and see God's glory all around us, because life through these lenses is anything but mundane or ordinary. Life is a messy, beautiful, divine adventure to be had and enjoyed.

Home Behind the Sun hinges itself on these glory truths but then takes the reader on a journey to see what it actually looks like in the life of the author's everyday lives, with the hope that the reader themselves would start to see all the glory God wants to shine in their own. As a lover of poetry and literature, I enjoyed having tidbits of the likes of Lewis, Longfellow, and Flannery O'Connor painted into the work. Really, one could pick up and read any chapter they wished at the moment; no need to read in the regular linear fashion. Reading the words in this book was like opening a window to let warm sun rays in to shine. It's a book I will keep out to pick up whenever I need reminding of how extraordinary all of life, from the big to the minuscule, truly is when I start to gaze at it as God would.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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