Holiday

He is Risen, A Special Easter Message

By Brittany Rust

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The two women didn't expect to find the stone pulled away, two angels before them, and certainly not the resurrected Jesus on this very early morning. No—they expected to find the body of a man they loved very deeply lying in a tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James, were amazed at what they saw when they arrived on the scene. The tomb stone had been rolled away by one heavenly angel while another was in the tomb.

The two women hurried into the tomb looking for Jesus, but all they found were the outer garments he had been buried in. This, a symbol that Jesus had left his earthly boundaries behind and was now risen [as he proclaimed he would]. The angel proceeded to speak some of the most powerful words ever uttered,

“He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.”

Jesus, the man they knew as the Son of God now gone from his grave. A declaration not only to them and the Roman guards that stood by speechless, but to all that he was indeed God, resurrected from death. This...this was the very moment that changed everything for humanity.

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This weekend we celebrate what has become Easter, but more than any Easter basket or Sunday lunch with the family, we highlight this event. Easter weekend is all about him and what he did. Jesus didn't have to wrap himself in flesh and come to Earth, but he did. He didn't have to live in obscurity for 30 years, but he did. He didn't have to carry each of our sins and take our punishment of death at calvary, but he did.

Jesus did--for you and for me! He temporarily gave up the beauty of heaven to carry the sins of men from Earth, into death, and free us all victoriously back into Heaven. Now we get this incredible gift of grace, salvation, and eternal security with the Father if we put our faith in him. There is no greater gift or love you could ever receive than this.

When you wake up Sunday morning, you don't have to worry about the fate of Christ and carry any mourning. You get to wake up with eager anticipation that Jesus is alive and reigns victoriously, on Earth, in Heaven, and in your life. That is the hope you have and I pray you'll carry it like a flag you wave proudly in the streets of victory.

I encourage you to take time this Holy week to reflect on his final days. To pour through Scripture with your husband and kids about his life, death, and resurrection. To pray and give thanks for salvation. Easter eggs and family dinners are fun but they aren’t what this holiday is about—it’s all about Jesus!


7 Ways to Show Your Husband Love

By Brittany Rust

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When you’re married and have kiddos, Valentine’s Day is often a bit harder to make happen. Ryan and I use to make these grand plans on V-Day, get all dressed up, and go out on the town. The two years we’ve had a kid we haven’t gone out once. True story. Both years at least one of us has been sick on the day we were going to celebrate and couldn’t get a sitter to reschedule. So, we’ve had to get creative!

Here are some fun ways to love on each other at home and special ways to show your man some attention.

How to love your husband this week (and every week).

1. Make a special V-Day breakfast.

Start the day off with a little love in the house! And this is something your kids can join in to feel special as well. Maybe make some heart shaped pancakes or your husband’s favorite breakfast. You can also leave a note and gift at each place setting that is unique to each person in your family. Your family will no doubt start the day off feeling loved.

2. Meet your husband for a romantic lunch.

If your kids are in school or with a sitter, make plans to celebrate a romantic Valentine’s Day over lunch. It worked for Pam and Jim, although you might want to hold back on that much booze! This can be a nice opportunity to have some one-on-one time without fighting the crowds, sitter schedules, and sky-high dinner prices.

3. Flirt throughout the day.

This is a must! Guys like to flirt and love it when a wife gets a bit flirty—it makes them feel like a man. Put a special note in your husband’s lunch. Send some sexy texts (pics included)! Call him and just say you’re thinking about him. This will get your husband incredibly excited to get home to you!

4. Plan a special dinner.

Somewhat like breakfast, this can be a special meal for the whole family. A favorite meal or special entree not usually on the menu. Both years we haven’t been able to go out we’ve stayed in and made fondue. It’s easy, yummy, Roman gets a kick out of it, and there is an element of romance in it. And don’t forget dessert!

5. Tell him how much you respect and appreciate his hard work.

The words men often most cherish are respectful and express gratitude for hard work. Guys can put so much of their worth in work and feel the burden to take care of the family financially. Look your husband in the eye, tell him how much you respect him, and appreciate all the hard work he invests to take care of the family.

6. Put on something special and see where the night goes.

Am I going to talk about sex? Yes! And why? Because sexual intimacy is incredibly valuable in a marriage and we don’t talk about it enough in the Christian world. Sex is part of a healthy marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul wrote that a husband and wife should fulfill their partners sexual needs and not abstain unless for a short and agreed upon time to pray.

If the fire has been dwindling, now is a perfect time to reignite the passion. Put the kids to bed, put on something you feel sexy and confident in, and enjoy each other.

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
— Proverbs 5:18-19

Honestly—just read Song of Solomon (which is packed full of love between a man and woman) and you’ll see the importance (and excitement) of sexual intimacy with your husband.

7. Share in emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual intimacy.

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There’s more than just physical intimacy—and we all prefer certain intimacies over others. Connect with intertwined bodies but also connect by sharing your deeply felt emotions, over intellectual conversation, and in prayer together. There are many ways to find each other’s souls and connect—find what your husband prefers and seek to connect with him there.

It goes without saying but hard to do—show special attention to your husband on all the normal, average days as well. You’re tired and depleted—yes. But if you don’t invest into your marriage now when the littles are running around, there may not be much of a marriage to enjoy when they’re grown and gone. Your husband and marriage must be a priority if you’re going to grow old together in a world that seems to do nothing but tear you apart.

The same goes for your wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs.
— 1 Peter 3:1

What is the True Meaning of Christmas

By Brittany Rust

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Christmas truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year. For many, there are warm parties, cozy homes, fond traditions to celebrate, and gifts to be shared. It’s a joyous time of celebration. However, sometimes we get lost in the season and forget the reason we celebrate it, to begin with. Among the hustle and bustle, our focus is lost and priorities are misaligned.

Most people can tell you the origins of Christmas—that it’s a remembrance of the birth of Christ. But either that’s the extent of their knowledge or they lose sight of this in the busyness of the holiday. Why do we truly celebrate Christmas? Not Santa Claus, or the Christmas tree, or any other of the various traditions wrapped up into Christmas. Why do we celebrate this occasion—what is its true meaning?

Christmas is a time when we remember the birth of Jesus. When God became flesh and lived among us on Earth.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
— Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV)

For thousands of years mankind waited for the coming of Christ; they longed for their King to arrive and free them from oppression. The Old Testament is full of prophecies, including this one from Isaiah 9. The Bible is full of Scripture pointing directly to the One who would save mankind from their sins. When Isaiah described His coming, he described His coming as an infant. But this child would grow and establish a Kingdom of righteousness forevermore. When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the moment in history when prophecy was fulfilled. God came to be with us.

But it was so much more than a birth. It was hope. It was cause for celebration.

Because when Jesus came, he also left us with the gift of salvation. His birth is significant because of His death. For thirty-three years Jesus lived a life free from sin so that He could be the perfect sacrificial lamb for the atonement of our sins. On Calvary, Christ paid the price and overcame death so that we could have victory over sin and condemnation. So, when that precious baby was born and placed in the manger, it wasn’t just another birth. It was the beginning of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. An act He didn’t have to take part in but He chose to out of love.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
— Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)

We remember the birth of Christ on Christmas because it’s a celebration of when God entered this world.

This very act of humility and his choice to die on the cross is cause for bowed knees and lifted hands. I know the busyness of the season can cause time to fly and before we know it, the holiday has passed and we have forgotten to celebrate why we are celebrating it in the first place. But don’t get sidetracked—get perspective. Choose reverence and give honor where honor is due.

Take time this holiday season to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by glorifying the One who gave it all. A child was born in humble circumstances and his sacrificial death reflected the same, however, both were significant for humanity. Without the death of Christ, salvation isn’t possible. So without His birth, neither is it possible. Jesus coming to Earth that night changed everything and it’s a moment we should celebrate with all our hearts.

Certainly, enjoy the parties and food and gifts, but don’t forget to point your heart, family, and those around you to Christmas' true meaning: Christ came with a plan for our redemption.


This article was originally written for and posted on Crosswalk.

A Celebration of Advent With Your Family

By Brittany Rust

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Christmas is a wonderful time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It's more than twinkling lights, beautifully wrapped gifts, and cozy homes filled with parties. It's so much more than what we've made it over the years. At the heart of Christmas is the celebration of Christ's coming to Earth more than 2,000 years ago.

Advent is a time when this focus is placed back at the center of the season. The word, in fact, means "coming." It's the celebration of the coming of Christ centuries ago and the anticipation of the coming of Christ yet to be.

Advent takes place the 4 Sundays leading to Christmas with the first 2 Sundays focusing on his arrival already made and the last 2 Sundays focusing on his arrival to come. I can't think of a better way to embrace Christmas and prepare our hearts to glorify Jesus before anything else than taking this Advent journey together.

Advent begins in 2018 on Sunday, December 2nd which means it’s coming soon. For my family, this is a new tradition I am eager to adopt! To build into our holiday celebration. If it’s new to you and you’re unsure of how to incorporate it into your tradition, or even why you should, keep reading!

Advent can be celebrated in many different ways. There’s the four Sunday approach, or over the course of 25 days leading to Christmas. There’s the candles or the calendar. But let’s jump more into the why before the how.

Christmas can be such a busy time of the year and if we aren’t careful, we can easily lose perspective of what the season really is all about. Christmas becomes the parties, concerts, and presents instead of remembering the birth of our Savior. Advent helps bring the holidays back into perspective; its celebration narrows in on Christ. It’s a beautiful form of worship for the family.

Now that you know the why, you may wonder about the how. Although traditions vary, here are a few ideas to get you going. Of course, feel free to peruse the internet for more ideas!

  1. Devotionals: There are many devotionals out there that will lead your family in Scripture readings focused on the coming of Christ. Some may be shorter and shared across 4 Sunday’s and some may be everyday. Here’s a free one from Lifeway that includes activities to engage the children!

  2. Advent Wreath and/or Candles: This is a more traditional form of celebrating Advent and it revolves around lighting 4 candles—one each Sunday leading to Christmas. This can be an intimate way of remembering Christ. Wreaths and candles are easy to find and by singing a song or praying together while lighting the candle, it makes the moment honoring. Just be sure you do purple candles for week 1, 2, and 4. And a pink candle on the 3rd week.

  3. Advent Calendar: This is a personal favorite of mine because it’s both a fun way to celebrate with kids and a great way to get into Scripture. Calendars are easy to find and come in a variety of styles like a house or Christmas tree. The idea is that on each day (some are 24 days and some are 25), a door is opened and inside is a little gift for the children. I like to place a piece of chocolate and a Bible verse about Jesus in each. This builds an excitement in the children’s heart leading up to Christmas (as we should all eagerly anticipate the second coming!) and sets our focus with Scripture.

This doesn’t include all the options of celebrating Advent but I do hope it provides some encouragement and inspiration for your holiday season. Whether you embrace the holiday or not, remember to keep your focus on Christ and celebrate his coming this season!

If you do celebrate Advent, we’d love to know how! Leave a comment below.


Grateful Thoughts on Motherhood

by Molly Kennedy

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I’ve never had anything I cared about more passionately, wanted to be good at more desperately, felt less competent to handle, and was more eager to sacrifice my life for.

I love this quotation about motherhood.

On Pre-Motherhood:  Reflecting back to when it was just me and Kurt and our dream to be parents.  My introduction to motherhood was not what I had expected it to be. Our first few years of marriage were a whirlwind of four pregnancies, one preemie, two miscarriages, and two c-sections, one of which was an emergency.

After we had Grace, I had two miscarriages. I was getting closer to 40, and I was just done. The pain of miscarrying--not just physically but emotionally--ripped apart my soul. I couldn’t do it again. Grace was just going to have to be an only child. But then...one day, I was praying, and I heard God. Not an audible voice. But a press upon my spirit. God said, Get up and throw away your birth control. Without even a thought or an argument or a question, I did as He asked--probably the quickest response of obedience I’ve ever had. Two weeks later, I was pregnant, and I braced myself for another miscarriage. I was expecting it. I was honestly expecting it until the day I delivered our second girl, Aimee.

On Motherhood: I knew I would love my kids.  I have been blown away by the intensity of it, even after all these years--the love, the protectiveness--how my heart can shatter into a million fragments if one of them is hurting or how it can leap for joy to watch them delight in each other.  I tell my husband all the time I don’t want them to get any older, that THIS is my favorite age, and then they get older, and I have a new favorite age.

I loved them when they were littles, I loved them when they were mediums, and I am crazy about them now that they are teenagers.

Today: Heading into Thanksgiving week, I am thankful for so many things. But in thinking about my girls, I am thankful...

  • That they still want to cuddle with me and hold my hand in public

  • That they look better in my long boots than I do

  • That they have embraced God’s gifts of music and learning and humor--things that have brought so much joy to my life

  • That even when things are tense around the house, they still want to hang out here

  • That they want to have friends over and they are amazing hostesses who plan fun activities--Christmas parties and story writing parties and game parties on a Sunday afternoon

  • That they love their daddy

  • That they serve in the kids’ ministry at church and are highly sought after babysitters

  • That they make handmade birthday presents for their friends; usually baked goods

  • That they are unique people with strong opinions (some that are very different than mine)

  • That they love Jesus

James 1:17a says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”

I love every piece of this verse. My girls are good and perfect gifts. Lights given to me and to Kurt from the Father of heavenly lights.

Between now and Christmas, I pray that you would have moments to revel in the wonder and glory and light of your kids. In fact, I would encourage you to take time this week to list what you love about each and every one of your kids and express your gratitude that you get to be their mama. And happy Thanksgiving.

The Day After Mother's Day

By Brittany Rust

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Yesterday I had the honor of celebrating my first Mother’s Day and what a beautiful honor it was. I spent some time while Ryan grabbed my favorite takeout—Indian—to scroll through photos of Roman. Seeing his little face mature through the timeline of photos had my mama heart overflowing.

Yesterday thousands of moms were celebrated. Brunches were had. Gifts were given. Family time was in abundance.

But what about today? And the next? And all the days after?  

I want to speak to your mama heart today and remind you that you have the most important role on the planet. Each day you are making a deposit into another human being in a way that no other person can. Raising up a child to be a God-honoring, hard-working, kind and compassionate person is no small task. 

I know motherhood may seem unappreciated and hidden many days but your investment is worth far more than anything else your child(ren) could receive. Honestly, each day should be a celebration of you!

But now that it's back to the everyday diaper changes, school drop-offs, dinner preparations, and homework aid, perhaps you feel lost in it all. 

I want you to know today and every day that you are the most important person in the world to your kid(s). You have value, worth, and purpose in a way no one can unless they're a mother. Your role is special. You are needed. 

Today, if you're looking for the next big thing, take this to heart:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
— Galatians 6:4-5

You are more than what you do as a mom but their is nothing that has a greater reward. I want to explore identity beyond motherhood in a later post but the honest truth is, what you do in this area of your life is incredibly significant. Sink yourself into the mundane. Embrace the hiddenness. Don't look at everyone else and their life; appreciate what you have in your home. And do your absolute, creative best with your role as a mom!

Embrace the snuggles. Cherish the smiles, Capture the memories you are making each day with the one(s) entrusted into your care. Your mama heart is needed and your absolute best is always honored as they flourish in this world.