I am excited to let you know that this blog is moving to a new location! Please visit jessrietema.wordpress.com to continue with me in any future thoughts and writings.
Monday, July 29, 2013
After an unintentional blogging hiatus, today I am hoping to ease my way back in. About six weeks ago there was a disruption to my life that completely changed my schedule. It's called going back to work. Maternity leave is over and I have been back on the job since late May. Thankfully, I genuinely enjoy my job and thankfully my girl is doing amazing in daycare, so the transition has been as smooth as possible.
I have really enjoyed using this blog over the past few years as a way to "think outloud" so to speak. It has been a place for me to process thoughts and challenges on my own journey as a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, a friend. It has also been amazing to be a source of encouragement and challenge for others as they have read my blog. Lately I have been trying to figure out the right place for writing in my life, how to properly continue this blog, how to be more consistent, how to actually add value and not just more noise.
But today as a way of putting thoughts down once again, and as a way of re-orienting my heart at the start of a new week, I want to focus on thankfulness. Today I am thankful for...
- The sounds of my daughter waking up each morning, talking to herself, sounding rested and happy
- Visiting with family, especially those who live far away that I haven't seen in a while
- The feeling of lying down in bed after a long and busy day
- Getting to connect with different people who are all at their own place in their journey with God
- Discovering new favourite foods - like blueberries and oatmeal.
- The power of reading the Bible, how it is alive and able to transform me when I come with an open heart to hear from God
- Learning more about who God is - a caring Father, relentlessly loving, slow to anger, full of grace
- Summertime activities like bonfires, beach days, sandal wearing, berry picking and watching thunderstorms
- Being married to an amazing man who inspires me daily in life and in faith
What are you thankful for today??
If you have a thought on this blog post, an idea for a future post, or a question for me, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Sunday, June 9, 2013
There is a powerful song performed by Kim Walker called "How He Loves Us". I heard it for the first time around five years ago and I was completely taken by how the music and lyrics portray the exhilarating, breath-taking reality that God loves us. It is still a very meaningful song to me and a fairly popular one among many Christians. However, there is one line in the song that has never quite sat right with me before.
The second verse ends, "...Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss / And my heart turns violently inside of my chest / I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way / He loves us, Oh how he loves us..."
When I heard "sloppy wet kiss" the only image that was brought to mind was adolescences who had not quite mastered the art of kissing. Any kiss I had experienced that could be described as "sloppy" and "wet" had not been enjoyable. Why would we use such an image to describe heaven meeting earth, God's love coming down to touch our hearts? If a kiss was being given from heaven to us, I can only assume it would not be sloppy or distasteful in any way! All of this changed in the last week.
I recently have been trying to teach my 11-month old daughter how to give kisses. For a few weeks I have been saying "kiss", and leaning in to kiss her forehead or cheek, hoping sometime the connection would be made and she would mimic this sign of affection back to me. And finally it happened. As she sat on my lap facing me, her chin was covered in drool and her mouth was wide open, but when I asked her for a kiss, she leaned her little face right into mine and planted her sloppy, wet kiss right on my lips! My heart filled to bursting with love and joy and pride and happiness as I received my first kiss from this dear little girl!
And almost right away I thought of this line from this song. I realized heaven is not the sloppy kisser, we are! Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss as we lean in to respond to God's invitation through grace. And when we get it for the first time, when we hear God's "Can I have a kiss?" and lean our messy, wet faces to kiss His, it is not uncomfortable or awkward. It is delightful! God's heart fills to bursting with a Father's love and He is so ecstatic at our return of His affection. He cheers and claps and swings us around in a big bear hug. When we become aware of His overwhelming love, that He is not evaluating, but delighting in us as we surrender to Him, our hearts get rearranged. We cannot hold on to sorrow, regret, or our "if only's" because He loves us!
Oh how He loves us!
Friday, May 17, 2013
Recently the youth group I help lead got to hear a guest speaker talking about his work as an aviator missionary in Mongolia. It was very interesting to hear about the various flights he has made as well as about the culture of the country he serves in.
After his talk, there was a question and answer period, and he was asked about the church in Mongolia, and if there is anything the North American church could learn from them.
He said in Mongolia the church has no denominations. He said we could learn to put aside our differences and focus on what unifies us - the gospel, loving people.
No denominations. I can barely imagine what it is like to have no denominations. I never really considered that outside of North America there are places where the Church does not experience the same fragmentation that we do here. I am so used to being divided by secondary issues, that it truly surprised me to think about a Christian community that does not define itself by the details of what it believes outside of Christ.
All of this made me me think of a quote I read in The Good and Beautiful Community by James Bryan Smith. He writes, "We simply must not divide over things we cannot fully understand. Especially in light of the fact that what we can understand, what is not a murky mystery but a blinding truth, is something we can all agree on: Jesus is Lord! If your heart beats in love for Jesus, then take my hand and we will walk together in fellowship." Our differences of opinion on the things we can only partially understand do not override our unity on the one essential thing we do understand. Again Smith says, "If you do not look, act, worship or believe as I do, but your heart beats in love for Jesus, then regardless of our differences, we can and must have fellowship with one another."
What does it look like to have fellowship with one another, regardless of non-essential beliefs? It would not be merely putting up with each other. It would mean genuinely having community with each other - love, growth, mutual grace and taking care of one another. It would mean understanding that there are a diverse number of ways to faithfully follow Christ. It would mean being humble enough to recognize that my own understanding of Scripture and of who God is, is still just a best attempt at truly seeing the truth, and that we have a more complete picture together.
I looked up the word fellowship, and one of the things I found was that it is directly related to the words communion and community. If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are in community with every other follower of Jesus. We are united around Christ, around His grace and love. We are united around the sacrifice He made which broke his body and shed his blood for our redemption. We are united around the table, around remembering and celebrating Christ. We are a diverse, beautiful group of people that have fellowship based on Jesus Christ alone.
If your heart beats in love for Jesus, then take my hand and we will walk together in fellowship
Monday, May 13, 2013
This morning I am feeling grateful that I was able to celebrate Mothers Day yesterday for the first time as a Mom. It has been great to celebrate my Mom in the past as a daughter, but now I'm also one of the ones being celebrated. This past ten months has been a wild ride but so full of laughter, fun and love. It's something you can never go back from. No matter where life leads now, I will always be a mother.
One thing I have been contemplating leading up to Mothers Day is that motherhood inevitably includes both joy and scars. The joy comes in millions of moments like your first ultrasound, holding your baby for the first time, a first year filled with many firsts - smiling, rolling, crawling, walking. There is joy in watching your children grow, develop their own personality and identity, learning and becoming amazing people along the way. The joyful moments are plenty, but there are also moments that cause scars.
For some, motherhood includes the scars of waiting, longing, and even losing.
There are the physical scars of growing, stretching and giving birth.
There are life changes and personal sacrifices that can never fully be anticipated.
There are heart battle wounds from needing to discipline your child, from watching them make mistakes and get hurt, and from moving from being their closest companion to seeing them be embarrassed by you in front of their friends.
There are the bittersweet mile markers of a life-long process of your child becoming an independent adult that include everything from taking your child to daycare to helping them move out after high school to watching them start a life of their own.
Being a mother is a beautiful thing. But even in my first year of it there has been both joy and pain, both memories that I will cherish all my life and scars that will always be a part of who I now am.
So whether you have given birth to a child, raised a child or even just longed for a child, Happy Mothers Day! Be aware of God's presence with you through all the moments motherhood brings.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
For me, I follow a few of my favourite writers, speakers and bakers as they share their thoughts via blogs, facebook and twitter. If Don Miller has a thought he would like to share, I can know about it within minutes. When Michael Hyatt posts a blog that impacts me, I can not only read it but comment and engage in the community discussion that the post creates. I have heard of others who have built relationships with such online mentors, even growing to the point of sharing guest posts on their websites or collaborating on projects together through this online connection.
On a couple occasions I have even had writers respond directly to me when I have commented on their blogs. There is something about knowing that they read my comment and replied themselves that is really exciting to me. Yes, this might make me a nerd. I'm ok with that.
However, in all of this one thing I am learning is that those that I consider celebrities are still just people. They share their thoughts on things they love and are excited about, and attract like-minded people. They are well known and successful but still probably find the most satisfaction in being loved by family and spending time with good friends. They make mistakes, get tired or frustrated, and on occasion have to deal with the shadow side of their lives within their online community too.
I do get excited about the idea of connecting with deep theological thinkers, creative writers, and leaders in various areas of life. I will continue engaging with these people at the level that I am able, and enjoying my occasional online brushes with fame. But the reality is I most likely still will not become their friends, or meet them face to face. And that's ok.
In his song Whom Shall I Fear, Chris Tomlin wrote the line, "The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine. The God of angel armies is always by my side." This blows my excitement about blog post comments out of the water. Forget about fame and celebrity status. Forget about being well known for writing transformational books or baking decadent new treats. The Creator of all people, all beauty, all love knows me. He doesn't just read my comments. He doesn't just know about me. He knows me intimately and is with me. He loves me and invites me to walk every day in His presence. He is not a celebrity but the King of kings, and I am His!
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I have to admit, when I woke up this morning and saw the ground dusted with snow, and more of it falling from the sky, my first thoughts were not happy or grateful. No, they were more along the lines of - how much more of this can we take? I am completely ready for spring. Ready to be able to walk outside without boots and a toque. Ready to teach my girl about grass and bugs and sun protection!
However, it quickly dawned on me that even though it is snowing, I am safe and warm inside my home, and I still have plenty to be thankful for today. So this is an exercise in choosing to be grateful and filled with joy rather than focusing on the negative.
Today I am thankful for...
- My home. That we are not homeless or nomads, needing to endure the elements all day and night. I am thankful to be inside and warm
- My family. My husband and daughter are sources of joy that do not leave me whatever the season
- Maternity Leave. Today I am thankful to live in a country that allows me to be home for a year with my baby. It is such a huge blessing.
- God's presence. That he comes alongside me when I'm being drawn to a bad attitude, and guides me to His love and joy.
- The promise of Spring. Even though it's snowing in April, it is still April!
What are you thankful for today?