Thoughts From The Back Row

Yesterday morning we made it to church – Wes’ first time since he was born. It was sweet to be back! At one point I had to sit in the lobby to nurse him. I couldnt hear the sermon very well. The thought came to mind, “is it worth it to come if I wont be able to participate fully in the service, nor sit through a whole sermon?” And the Spirit in me answered with a resounding YES. 

Here’s why: 

1) I heard my brothers and sisters lifting their voices with joy, and saw them gratefully raising their hands. What a testimony to God’s power who has made His light shine in our hearts (2 Co. 4: 6), and given us eyes to see the beauty of His Son. How else can I explain the delight and affection I saw on their faces as they proclaimed Jesus is King?

2) When I looked at the gathered body of Christ from Ghana, Nigeria, Philippines, India, Brazil, Cuba, Panama, United States, South Africa (I may be missing other countries), Jesus reassured me that He is indeed saving people from every tongue and tribe & nation.

3) Christ served me humbly through my pastor and friend @andrewremke, who took my baby and said, “Go, enjoy the service; I will hold him for you.”

4) The Spirit strengthened my faith when I saw the faith of my sister who in the midst of difficulty and sorrow still went to church: worshipping Jesus and adoring His goodness toward her. Through her he deepened the conviction: Jesus is worthy of all of my praise at all times (Psalm 145: 3; 34:1).

5) Through the breaking of the bread and wine, my Savior gently and powerfully spoke of His faithfulness to me – his body given for me, his blood poured out for me (Matthew 26: 26-27). He knows my faith is weak. He tangibly and tastefully reminds me: “I am for you.”

6) He is not just for me. He is for all of us gathered at the table. He gave His blood to bind me not only to Himself but to all those brothers and sisters who are also feasting on Christ.

7) I saw the heart of Christ when my sisters lovingly embraced my children, sat down with them, asked them questions and cared for their needs.

8) Our joy over our newborn son is our church’s joy. Only through Jesus can others truly rejoice with those who rejoice.

9) I attended a meeting for children’s ministry and was so encouraged: he answers prayer and has provided volunteers for children’s ministry. 

10) Christ has given my friend and sister love for His church and faith to rely on His strength to lead Children’s ministry while I am on maternity leave. Through her, Christ is providing unexpected rest.

11) Jesus is great and greatly to be praised (Psalm 48:1). We are a young church; we all come from many different backgrounds, countries, denominations. We may not all believe exactly the same doctrinally – but Christ is our treasure. He is far above every ruler and authority. His name is precious. Truly, who is like our God?

12) Jesus dwells in the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). He Himself was there yesterday- holy and enthroned in our worship. What an awe-inspiring truth. I got to be with Christ in a way that only happens when we are gathered as his people.

My husband once challenged my reluctance to attend church, “If you knew there would be a gathering of people from the age to come, what would you give to be there?” Yesterday I tasted once again the unspeakable privilege we have to be there. The Risen Christ has created a new people whose hope is in the age that is to come. Through them He is doing the work of uniting all things to Himself (Eph. 1: 21). All my brothers and sisters live and love in ways that only make sense because of Christ’s death & resurrection. 

At church, seen realities like bread, wine, raised hands and community link hands with unseen realities of covenant, love, eternity and Resurrection life to feed our faith. What a merciful Savior we have! He knows that we forget and that we wander. So He invites us week after week to feast: to come and taste and see and hear through His Word and through His people that He is indeed good.

So friend – when people from the age to come gather to worship, Jesus their Maker & Redeemer is there. What will you give to be there?


10 Things I Learned This Summer


Recently I went to Emily Freeman’s blog – it had been a while since I last visited it. I found her reflection of the things she learned this summer and her invitation to her readers to also share what they had learned. At first I didn’t think I could come up with an actual list, since I hadn’t really been thinking about it intentionally this summer. But when I sat down to jot down a few, I quickly came up with the list below. I wrote them down as they came to mind – nothing significant about the order.

jan-kahanek-184675 (1)1. In the Myers Brigg Personality test, I am very close to the middle in the P and J but when I go through transition and change, I default to J. Structure helps me to have a sense of where I am headed. So even if it is a very simple plan, it really helps me to think through it, talk about it with my husband and stick to it.

2. Being off Instagram on the weekends made me realize how mindlessly I turn to it and how much time I waste on it! I have been fasting off IG during the weekends. I uninstall it late Thursday or early Friday (since Fridays are the day of worship in the country we live in, and thus the first day of the weekend) and install it back up again on Monday. I use that time to focus on other things: reading, praying, memorizing the Scriptures or simply just enjoying those right in front of me. It is a weekly rhythm that is helping me realign my life and heart. 

3. Sons are the sweetest gift. We just had a son 12 days ago. Before he was born I was so scared of not loving him as much as I have loved my daughters. I had no vision for being a mom of a boy. But oh, my son melts my heart. In some ways I find myself bonding more quickly than I did with the girls (even though I adored my girls when they were tiny).

4. I enjoy learning language with my husband. We spent 100 hours studying the local language this Summer and I am thankful that we really liked being in class together.

5. I can DIY! I have always thought of myself more of a DIFM person – Do It For Me. I love the DIY style but I am not super gifted with my hands. But getting ready for baby I embarked on a few projects and I am super excited how they have been turning out!

6. My girls are awesome big sisters. They have been so helpful – bringing me water when I am nursing, throwing out diapers, holding their sweet baby brother.

7. I love memoirs. My go to reading books are usually on theology, but this summer I read memoirs by Madeleine L’Engle, Tsh Oxenreider and Jen Pollock Michel (her book is a part memoir, part theology)… and couldn’t really put them down. Memoirs might be very close to my favorite genre.

8. Sleeping with the phone outside my bedroom has helped me to unplug. It is so nice not to have the phone to reach for when I can’t sleep at night or to be the first thing I grab when I wake up. Having it physically out of reach exposed how addicted I can be to it.

9. I am often tempted to fear not being enough for people around me – instead of embracing it and resting that He is enough for them.

10. Nothing will take away the joy of holding an actual book – but during my sleepless nights of pregnancy and now while nursing, it is so nice to have a kindle that allows me to read while the lights are off in our room and my husband sleeps next to me.


Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash