2016 – The Year of Inspiration {The Moderate Wife}

New Years, the time of year when millions of people all across America resolve to do things that they will have forgotten about by February 1st! Just kidding… sort of 😉 Last year my one resolution was to not have any resolutions. There may have been some pregnancy hormones at play bringing out my rebellious, stick-it-to-conventional-practices side, but irregardless that’s what I said. While that was probably a realistic decision for where I was at at the time, I have to say that it wasn’t very gratifying to arrive at the end of the year and not be able to look back on how I’d done or see if I had met some specific goals. Unless of course, the goal was to survive, push out a baby sans-drugs, and soak up every single second I possibly could of that little girl’s miraculous existence. To which I can proudly say: #nailedit. Resolutions or not, I think I can safely say 2015 was a really good year! That said, I am now very inspired to jump back on the New Years resolutions bandwagon with passion and expectancy for all that is waiting for me in this upcoming year.
 
A daughter after my mother’s heart, I decided to write a “mission statement” to summarize my ultimate intention for this year, and I thought I would share it with you here, along with my resolutions:
 
In 2016, I want to be a faithful seeker and savorer of Jesus Christ. I will strive to find grace, wonder, and inspiration as I thoughtfully interact with the world and the people in it. I will purpose to make Jesus the center of all that I think, say, and do as I make the best use of the time He has given me. I will be intentional in my actions and present with my attention.
 
My Resolutions:
1. I will be physically active daily, outdoors (whenever possible), for at least 30 minutes.

2. I will take one photo a day.
 
3. I will read many books, thoughtfully.
  • At last one fiction and one non-fiction per month
  • Write a blog post about each one
 
4. I will blog and journal faithfully.
  • Minimum of 2x per week

 

For me, this year is about setting a direction and running after it. I don’t want to just do things. Rather, I want to do all that I can in a way that is intentional and inspiring. I want to take hold of the moments. I want to walk in the joy that comes from bringing Christ into all that I do. I am praying that 2016 is the year…

of long walks and talks with my Savior.

of learning to submerse myself in the grace I have been given in Christ.
of holding myself and others to a standard of grace rather than perfection.
of bringing majesty into the mundane through music, sermons, and audiobooks.
of learning to love what must be done.
of enjoying the artistry and beauty all around me that is a reflection of our creative Maker.
of proactively pursuing and creatively resting.
of inspiring others through my  journey to long for more of Jesus in their own lives.
Hopefully, as I seek after all that, at the end of the year I will be able to look back and see tangible ways that the Lord has grown me. I know that I’m going to fail often. I have an unshakeable idealism in my mind that is excellent for brainstorming and daydreaming about the future, but that makes reality a hard pill to swallow when the rubber meets the road. But I’m going to hold on to the hope that the Holy Spirit is working in me, and that He is the giver of godly desires. When my desires align with His will, His answer will always be, “Yes.”

 

What are you resolving to do in 2016? Whatever it may be, I pray that each of us prioritize faithfully seeking Christ with all of our hearts, minds, and souls above all else… and then trust Him with the results!
 
Love,
Amanda
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When You Aren’t Changing Fast Enough {The Moderate Wife}

Have you ever felt like gospel transformation and life change is something that God does in other people’s lives, but when it comes to yourself it just doesn’t seem to be happening? As someone who has known Jesus from a young age, I can often battle a sense that I’m not as far along in my journey as I “should” be. There are so many areas where I am lacking, different sins that I am still struggling with, that I can wind up feeling discouraged because I know better. It can feel like I’m caught in a cyclical pattern with the same battles, taking two steps forward only to take three steps back. When I begin to focus too much on my failures and not enough on the One who redeemed me from my sin, the burden of my own fallenness keeps me from resting under the light yolk of the gospel. Last month, I found myself feeling discouraged and lacking hope that I could have any kind of victory over some specific areas of sin. This sense of failing was increased as I contemplated the weightiness of becoming Emery’s mom six quick months ago. I felt an urgency like never before to figure everything all out and overcome every big sin struggle before she will be able to remember or catch my sinful tendencies through imitation. Yes, rational me knows that is unrealistic, but I’ll be the first to admit I am irrational sometimes;)

 

So I saw myself headed down the wrong path in my heart and immediately put a stop to it, right? I wish. But not this time. Instead of humbling myself and clinging to the cross as my awareness of my weakness increased, my fleshly response was to avoid the Lord instead of running to him. I stopped praying. I didn’t read the Word. My heart resisted every word of encouragement that I heard taught from the pulpit. I was broken inside under the constant barrage of condemnation that was streaming through my mind. My thoughts went something like this: You’re still going to be battling the same sins 20 years from now. You’ll never overcome that sin. You will be a stumbling block to Emery believing in the truth of the Word because she will see your hypocrisy as you don’t live up to what you teach. You want to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God, but you aren’t going to because He doesn’t use broken, messy people like you. Look at so-and-so. They have it together. He will use them. But not you. Because, look at you… I was getting crippled by fear and condemnation. I was believing lies. I was believing them so hard that I didn’t even realize they were lies! Then, as I felt weighed down with my own guilt, doubts, and fears, I began turning that condemnation on others.

My thoughts and attitudes towards my interactions with those closest to me turned harsh, and I began assuming the worst about their motives. Not only was I doubting God’s ability to sanctify and grow me, then I was doubting his work in them as well. This was the tool that the Lord used to reveal what was going on in my heart as I began to realize that edifying relationships were being hindered by my lack of grace. It was easier for me to realize that I was condemning others before I was capable of acknowledging that this was coming from a heart flooded with self-condemnation. As Patrick noticed what was happening, he gently reminded me that a lack of granting love and grace to others is symptomatic of a heart that isn’t walking in Christ’s love and grace itself. My heart needed to be renewed by truth.

After weeks of battling, I finally came to my knees and acknowledged my desperate need for the Lord to lead me and humble my heart. Through the advent devotional I had committed to reading each day at the beginning of December, He brought me the exact truth I needed to hear. John Piper said, “The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God. So Paul prays, ‘May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing’ (Romans 15:13).” There was peace and joy for me to be found in the promises of God. In case you ever find yourself struggling through similar issues I thought I’d share with you some of the promises of scriptures that took my eyes off of myself and onto sweet hope.

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure,” (Philippians 2:13).

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life,” (Romans 6:22).

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory, O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

God IS working in us, even if He isn’t doing it on our timetable. He promises that He is sanctifying us and that our striving is not in vain. Our battles with sin will not go away until we are in Heaven with Christ, but until that day comes we can hold on to the hope that someday we will indeed be made perfect and live eternally in the presence of our holy, perfect God. Until then, we can entrust ourselves to the Lord and accept his abundant grace over our lives as we fail, and likely fail often. The gospel is made all the more amazing when we are able to look at ourselves, acknowledge our brokenness, and allow it to push us closer to Jesus.

Having walked through that spiritual trial (and knowing that I’ll likely have to walk through it again), I am left overwhelmed and grateful that I am not saved because of my works. I am thankful that God has prepared good works for me to do, but that when I accomplish them it will be through dependence on Him, 100% because of grace, instead of because of my own merits or abilities. Left to my own devices I am just a downright messy, broken individual. But there is healing and hope in the arms of my Savior.

“Come Thou fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing thy grace.”

 

12/20/15-12/26/15 {The Moderate Wife}

On Sunday, Patrick got to stand by his good friend Andrew as he married his best friend, the beautiful Simona. It was so festive to get to celebrate a wedding the week of Christmas!

I can’t believe these two belong to me! I am so blessed. They are the cutest daddy-daughter duo I’ve ever seen!

This year, some of the women on my mom’s side of the family decided to do an extended family secret Santa gift exchange! I had so much fun shopping for my great aunt, Julie. I am hoping this becomes an annual tradition, with even more family members joining in next year!

 She said she liked old things, so I hunted around a local antique store in Old Town and found this darling vintage enamel tea pot and scrabble piece ornament. 

Procrastinators united together in one very, very long line at the post office 😉

Tuesday was Patrick’s 27th birthday! My gift to him was a date, just the two of us, to L.A. to do the Warner Bros. studio tour. They are currently hosting a Batman exhibit with all kinds of original props from every Batman movie ever made. Patrick was stoked to see all the bat suites and batmobiles, including those from his much anticipated Batman vs. Superman. I also had a fan girl moment seeing some of Gilmore Girls old sets! They were working on painting Luke’s Diner in preparation for the upcoming reunion series that will be filming and I literally got butterflies. The whole day was so much fun! We are in such a busy season as Patrick is on his final year of college before we leave for seminary, and it was so nice to get to just enjoy one another’s company. 

Waiting to go in! I love this guy so much

Looking where a scene from Jurassic Park was filmed

Our tour guide caught on pretty quickly that Patrick was a big Batman fan. So when we came into the batmobile room, she let him turn the bat signal on and off. Pretty cool! 

 Luke’s Diner!!

We finished Patrick’s birthday with sushi for dinner with some of his buddies, and then we walked around Bainbridge Circle and looked at all the beautiful Christmas lights. It was extra special for us because last year we saw the lights for the first time the same week we found out that I was pregnant with a girl. We had walked around dreaming about what life was going to be like with our Emery Paige and promised we would come back with her next year. We blinked, and next year was already here. We walked around with our sweet six month old girly until she fell asleep on my chest. Life with our little family is my favorite!

 My super adorable shopping buddy as we braved venturing out with the masses of last-minute Christmas shoppers on Christmas Eve-Eve. 

One of my favorite annual traditions is spending Christmas Eve with my family. We all come together to eat Grandma’s lefse, catch up on family news, sing carols and read the Christmas story all together, and open a ridiculous number of gifts. Some highlights of the evening were Emery opening her wonderful gifts as well as playing a fun game of Left-Right with the presents from my Uncle Joel and Aunt Dorene! We shared many laughs that evening 🙂

Silly Uncle Gabe!

 Emmy Bear already loves her great grandma, Tutu!

 Merry Christmas Eve!

On Christmas Day we always go to my mother-in-law and step-father-in-law’s home. I feel so blessed to have a cherished second family in them! They love Emery to death and spoil her to pieces! She is beyond blessed to have her Grammy and Papa Coco. 

Our one smiley picture of the night!

Who cares about the presents inside? The paper is the really exciting, and not to mention tasty, stuff 😉

After our crazy busy week, Emery was super tired by Christmas Day. She tolerated our attempts at capturing a picture, but she was less then enthusiastic about the whole thing. Really though, she was such a trooper! We had a lot going on for anyone, let alone a little six month old. Grammy and Papa Coco were super understanding, and even let her and I lay down for an afternoon nap in the middle of the festivities.

Once we got home, we finished off the night with our favorite thing – family snuggles in bed! After “nummies” and cuddling up in her pj’s, Emery was back to her happy self. I think she takes after her Daddy, who is a homebody as well 😉

Finally, on Saturday we walked around Best Buy and Super Target looking at laptops, and then we spent the rest of the day snuggled up in our pj’s, watching 48 Hours Mysteries as a family. I think Emery was enjoying herself 😉

Cuteness overload!

Love,

Amanda

Christmas Time is Here {The Moderate Wife}

December 1st! Twenty-four days until that most wonderful day of the year, Christmas. I don’t care how cliche it is to say – this season is undeniably my favorite one. The smells, songs, and sights leave me with a month-long smile in my heart. Cheesy, I know, but it’s true. For the Faus family it really is the most wonderful time of the year. Patrick loves the cold, and I love that the cold equals extra cuddles, so its win-win! We are so excited to celebrate our first Christmas together as a family of three, even if 6 month old Emery won’t really know how much fun she is having. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures to remind her later 😉

I am seeking to really savor this special time as a month of reflection and preparation for the year ahead. For the third year in a row, I will be reading Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. The length of this little devotional belies its depth. Each day’s reading is centered around a scripture and it never fails to focus and excite me as it shepherds my heart to recall Jesus’s first coming to earth. Holy, infinite God, born as a baby. That reality alone is enough to make my mind explode! If you happen to be in search of something to help you meditate on Christ during this season, it can be downloaded as an ebook or Kindle book for free off of the Desiring God website. 

Despite being my favorite season, this time of year can also become one of the most stressful ones when I get caught up in trying to impress others through the gifts I give, the goodies I bake, or the decorations that dress-up my little home. While decorating, baking, and shopping are some of my favorite December past-times, when they become my focus I can become disheartened by all the areas where I find myself falling short of the Pinterest standard, and the warm feelings of yuletide joy that I get from holiday Hallmark movies are superficial at best. But when those same things are used as means to celebrate and accentuate the glorious reality of God’s redemptive plan for man, my heart is filled with a genuine joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. I am learning more and more each day how Christ’s past work affects the here and now of my life, and I am looking forward to sharing more about that with you later. For Christmas 2015 I am making a particular effort to choose simplicity, to love those in my sphere of influence, and to point others to our humble Savior as I remind my own heart first and foremost. I hope you are able to stop in the midst of all the busyness and savor Him with me. He is all-together worthy.

Merry Christmas,

Amanda