Thursday, December 9, 2010

You Hold Me Now

At church one of our newer songs is "You Hold Me Now" by Hillsong United. I love the song and I feel especially connected with it at this time in my life. Here are the lyrics:

On that day when I see all that You have for me
When I see You face to face there surrounded by Your grace
All my fears swept away in the light of Your embrace
Where Your love is all I need and forever I am free

Where the streets are made of gold
In Your presence healed and whole
Let the songs of heaven rise to You alone

No weeping no hurt or pain
No suffering You hold me now You hold me now
No darkness no sick or lame
No hiding You hold me now You hold me now

In this life I will stand through my joy and my pain
Knowing there’s a greater day there’s a hope that never fails
Where Your Name is lifted high and forever praises rise
For the glory of Your Name I’m believing for the day

Where the wars and violence cease
All creation lives in peace
Let the songs of heaven rise to You alone

For eternity all my heart will give
All the glory to Your Name

I think about my daughter Evangeline when I think about this song. It's weird, before I had a kid I really had no instincts for what to do with an unhappy kid (other than hand them back to one of their parents). In fact, it made me pretty uncomfortable. I think Emily was the same way. She wasn't really a kid person. Since Evie has been here though, and honestly since early on, a switch just flipped. Parents told us this would happen, but like anything else, it is hard to grasp until you experience it. Emily is an amazing mama and seems to have all the answers for Evie. She loves every second of parenting more than I would have ever thought she would. This stirs my affections for the Lord.

Back to the song. There are a few times when Evie has gotten a shot, or has had a stomach ache or has just been upset and we don't know why. Instinctively, we pick her up and hold her tight. We talk to her and calm her down. We give her this security and comfort. The last two weeks have just been a little bit difficult for a number of reasons. I have been pretty stressed and emotional. I believe with all of my heart that God is holding me tight. The song describes a day when all the hurt and pain is gone. Unfortunately, the promise is not for no pain or suffering now in this current life. I think Hebrews 11 speaks to that clearly. That some suffer and are mocked and even endure terrible deaths. In that time, I think he snatches us up and holds us tight. I'm so thankful for this truth, and for eternity, all my heart will give all the glory to Jesus. We long for the day with no weeping or hurt or pain. In this life though I will stand knowing there is a greater day to come.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sanctification through babies

Evie is 11 weeks old tomorrow and as all parents know, life isn't and will never be the same. I'm thankful for this, but I think it has required me to mature more quickly. The last 11 weeks have brought high highs and low lows. Evie is smiling more and more, making new sounds, sleeping better at night.....every day she seems to do something new. Since I work from home, I have the privilege of hearing Emily when she talks to Evie and does things to make her smile. Emily can be very goofy and it is pretty fun to listen to her make up songs, dance, and love our baby girl well. She is a fantastic mother.

I am now a diaper changing machine, I know what different cries sound like and I am learning a ton. Before Evie....I knew nothing. I didn't know a little...I knew nothing. I had never changed a diaper...really I had never done anything without someone telling me exactly what to do. So I learned quickly! I have found that sleep deprivation and a crying baby can really show you what you are made of. In my case, it showed me a lot of places that "need improvement". These areas, as well as the low lows I referred to, are what God seems to be sanctifying right now in me. I now know how I act when sleep deprived, stressed, confused, depressed, anxious, inadequate, broken...I knew before, but I know better now and I can be very aware of my negative actions.

Through this whole experience God continues to point out the garbage in my life. This in turn makes me press in harder to Him which shows me more stuff, which teaches me to love my wife better, which stirs my affections for Jesus, which shows me the depths of my need for Him, which makes me press in cycles upwards. It is progressive sanctification. Praise Jesus that He loves me in spite of all the garbage. Praise Jesus that salvation cannot be earned and praise Jesus that He sanctifies.

"For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." Hebrews 10:14 (ESV)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's a Girl!

Well, it has been a long time since I have blogged. I actually typed out a very lengthy one 3 weeks ago and somehow it got lost on the computer when I clicked the "Publish Post" button. Oh well, here I am now!

On April 16th we found out we are having a baby girl. I couldn't be more excited and terrified all at once. I was expecting a boy, and I feel like I would know better how to handle a boy, which is probably why my mind thought boy. I am thrilled that it is a girl, I just think I will knowingly be taken advantage of for the duration of my life. I'm coming to grips with this now. I guess my job is to show my girl how she deserves to be treated by the way I treat her mama, and to do my very best to give God all the glory He deserves in our household. I pray now that I will faithfully be able to do those two things.

Emily and I took a trip to Puerto Vallarta a week and a half ago and it was wonderful. We sat on the beach almost every day and read our books, ate good food, and laughed a ton. We tested out our new camera, took walks on the beach, slept late, and just had a fantastic time. Emily and I are good travel partners, and we have yet to have an argument on a trip. I read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis for the first time. This book was amazing. I'm amazed by how many of the pastors I love got their ideas from Lewis. I could probably write a short book about how much I loved this book. I need to read it again so as to absorb more permanently. I'm going to try to attack Weight of Glory on the trip to the Dominican Republic in a couple of weeks.

The last month or 2 have been mentally exhausting for me. Everything from the emotions associated with having a pregnant wife, finding out the baby's gender, working really hard to stay on top of work stuff before and after a trip...all of this stuff has just taken a toll on me. None of it is bad stuff really, it has just exhausted me a bit. It weighed on me to the point of a bad mood and random tears early this week. Tuesday nights are a very special time though with some of my close friends, a matt chandler sermon, and good dialog. This tuesday brought me out of my funk. I had missed 2 in a row and I think I could feel the weight of that, its really odd. We listened to the 2nd sermon in Chandler's Colossians series.

Colossians 1:9-12 says
"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light."

This text is great to me. I love to consider what walking in a manner worthy of the Lord looks like. I also love that in a time where I felt beat down this text gave me strength and joy just as it described and it gave me a reason to look at tough times joyously. Right now, my joy comes from coming home, putting my hand on emily's belly, and feeling our baby girl move. This stirs my affections for the Lord, and for my wife. This joy, that God has gifted me with, allows me to try to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord even if we come to a time in life where things are rocky.

- Austin

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


This coming Sunday at church I'm playing a song that is an old favorite of mine. It is called Thankful by Caedmon's Call. When I look at artists that have inspired me to learn how to play guitar, Caedmon's is one of the top ones. In my desire to worship in spirit and truth as John 4:23 talks about, I have been thinking hard about this song and how thankful I really am.

Yesterday we had our 12 week check-up. It was very quick and pretty uneventful. For this, I am very thankful! The doc came in and listened to our baby's heartbeat through a little microphone and speaker that we could all hear. He said it was at about 174 beats per minute and that as the baby continued to grow this number would decrease. He said that all of Em's labs came back great, and he asked if we had any questions. We really didn' we were on our way.

It is crazy that it has been 1 month since our first appointment with the doc. It actually makes me nervous because if the next 6 go by as quickly as this month, this baby will be here before I've even processed what that really means. I've been asking a lot of my friends when it hit them that they were about to be a dad, and it has been different for everyone. Some when they first heard the heartbeat, some when the baby was delivered, some after a few weeks of no sleep. I think I'm a hybrid and each step gets me a little closer. I'm certain though, that I have no expectations as this is just a large unknown for me. I have never been so excited about something unknown in my life. I typically like to know what i'm going into before I get there...if I don't, excitement is not what I feel.

Last night, our normal tuesday night group got together to hang out and listen to a Chandler sermon. It was really good. It was number 10 in the "Path series" which is really a progressive sanctification series. It has been one of my favorite series to date. This particular sermon was the first one back in the path series after he missed several weeks with his cancer treatments. So, he recapped the first 9 sermons from the series, and then preached some out of Romans 6. The text paints this picture of what it looks like to die to sin and live in Christ. I am very thankful that Jesus saved me and that I am dead to sin. Without that, the idea of being a father would terrify me. Being alive in Christ lets me look at this with excitement and anticipation. I'm nervous, but mostly just excited!

Our next appointment is in another month...I'm sure it will be here in no time.

- Austin

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sleep is overrated

I am new to the blogging world and I have pretty low expectations as to who would even be interested in reading this. For some reason I am having trouble falling asleep tonight, so here goes.

I have found myself praying more in the last 2 months than I ever have before. My growth in the Lord has been slow but steady since middle school. Sure I've had seasons of ups and downs, but all in all, I have been growing. It is really kind of a neat thing because in highschool I would think "Wow, the Lord has taught me so much since middle school!" I said the same in college, and now the Lord is still drawing me in and teaching me more each day. I am so grateful for how he has blessed me. I heard Derek Webb talk at a show one day about how he has been a christian for 10 or 15 years and he needs Jesus now more than he ever has because of his awareness of the depths of his needs. That the more you grow as a Christian, and the more you learn about Jesus, the greater that you understand the depths of your need for Him. The same has been very true for me.

Most people that have been in my life in the last 4 or 5 years are aware that I listen to a pastor in the Dallas area named Matt Chandler. I have listened to a lot of his sermons through these years, many of them I've heard 3 and 4 times. For some reason God has used Chandler to teach and challenge me more than ever before. I've never met him, but I feel like he is one of my close friends. My entire way of thinking has been transformed by God, through the scriptures, and often through Chandler. He preaches line by line straight through books of the Bible. I have found this to be my favorite form of teaching. I have seen Chandler at a conference in Dallas, but other than that it has all been through podcasts. Praise the Lord for this technology. I know his history, his kids names, where his wife is from....all about him. On thanksgiving, he had a seizure in his home. He was taken to the hospital where they found a brain tumor. They operated on him quickly, but they weren't able to get it all. The tumor was found to be malignant and he is now doing radiation and chemo. The whole thing has moved me to tears on multiple occasions. In the midst of it all, he has held fast to the idea that in good times and bad, God is enough. He made a video for his congregation right in the middle of this ordeal telling them that even from a guy who could lose everything in an instant....He is enough.

This has haunted me. When am I unable to say those words when things are moderately annoying? Not even bad? This statement of He is enough has challenged me since Thanksgiving. I am most definitely in what I would call a time of prosperity. I am healthy, my wife is healthy, my dogs are even healthy. We more or less have everything we want. It is so easy to proclaim right now that He is enough, but I hope and pray that if the Lord takes any or all of this away from me, my words will not waiver.

On March 4, 2006, I married Emily. She has everything good that I lack, and she has blessed me beyond belief. I most definitely married up. We work great together. It is truly an opposites attract senario. This brings us back to prayer. I have prayed for her often and regularly for years now. A few months ago, my prayers increased. I now find myself praying for her a lot during the day, often when we wake up, and always after she falls asleep and I am still awake. I now pray for her and the life growing inside of her. She is 9 weeks pregnant and our baby is due September 1, 2010. I didn't think it was possible to love her more than I already did, but going to the doctor and seeing the heartbeat of our unborn child stirred my affections for my wife like never before. It also stirred my affections for Christ like never before. 8 weeks into the pregnancy and I can see a sonogram of my child's heart beating?!? This is nuts. I have found my faith increasing through this observation and experiencing of His creation.

I am so very thankful to all of my friends and family for prayers and encouragement. My goal is to update this as baby news progresses and as I am sure to have more nights of no sleep...pondering fatherhood, friendships, and the beautiful mysteries of God. If you made it this far, I am impressed!