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What I’ve Learned About God from Outer Space

November 11, 2020
What I've Learned About God from Outer Space

Many of you know how much my son, Finn, loves outer space. Most days we spend A LOT of time learning about space, talking about space, pretending we’re in space or about to be in space. We read about space, watch videos about space, and when we sleep, we dream about space. Because of his obsession, I’ve inadvertently learned a ton about outer space. This has made me reflect on God, and myself, as I’ve considered His creation. I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned about God from studying outer space.

lessons from outer space
My space-loving son, Finn (4)

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky displays what his hands have made.”

Psalm 19:1

God is big, and I am small.

The Universe is gigantic in a way that is impossible to measure and grasp. Most scientists seem to agree that the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old, and that space is constantly expanding. The only thing we know for sure, according to NASA is that the universe is “much larger than the volume we can directly observe.”

Some believe that the universe is currently 93 billion light years wide. Here’s what this means: light travels approximately 5.88 trillion miles in one year. So 93 billion light years is 5.88 trillion miles 93 billion times. That’s, like, a lot.

Our galaxy is approximately 100,000 light years wide (although a recent number put it at 200,000 light years wide). This means that if we were in a spacecraft traveling at 186,282 miles per second, it would take us 100,000 years to get from one end to the other. Or, it could take us 200,000 years!

And, our galaxy isn’t even the biggest. Our closest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, is twice the size of our Milky Way home.

Our solar system is massive. Our sun alone can fit a million earths inside of it – and it is a relatively average-sized star!

Actual image of our sun, with Venus (which is roughly the same size as Earth) passing in front of the sun. Venus is the small black dot in the upper left corner of the sun. Photo courtesy of NASA/SDO

We used to think that Earth was unique in the universe – but it turns out there could be as many as tens of billions of other earth like planets in the universe.

Even if you’re like me and those numbers just get jumbled in your head and make no sense, this is the bottom line: our universe is massively gigantic. And the God who made each galaxy, each nebula, each supermassive black hole – He is capable. He is larger than anything we can fathom. And He is Our God.

God is powerful, and I am powerless. 

“If he commands it, the sun won’t rise and the stars won’t shine. He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.”

Job 9:7-10

There are so many ways that things can go wrong in our universe. A comet, large asteroid, or even a rogue planet could obliterate us. Our sun could supernova and envelope the entire earth. We could get pulled into a wandering black hole. Our galaxy could collide with another galaxy (helllloooo, Andromeda!) or our moon could drift away, slowing our rotation and creating chaos in our ecosystem resulting in a slow, painful starvation for our planet. There are a hundred million ways that our universe could devolve into chaos and death. 

It’s terrifying. 

“In this spectacular image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 2799 (on the left) is seemingly being pulled into the center of the galaxy NGC 2798 (on the right).” Read more about this photo here.

And yet, God controls all of this. 

If He wanted the sun to stop shining, it would happen. He put the planets and stars in their place – it’s not an accident the Earth is where it is. 

He could re-route a massive asteroid in the tiniest millisecond without lifting a finger. This is our God. 

As powerless as we are to change any of the things in our solar system, God is infinitely in control. 

This should increase our faith and our trust in Him.  This should inspire us to cast our anxiety on Him – and truly let it go.

“Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”

Isaiah 40:26-29

We actually know very little. 

So far in our quest for information about our universe, we’ve produced more questions than answers. With each mystery that we “solve,” we introduce a new array of mysteries. 

Not to mention that we’re constantly disproving ourselves. With each major scientific discovery, we’re proving wrong a former scientific belief. Think about the fact that we “discovered” that we aren’t the only solar system in our universe – by this discovery, we were undoing hundreds of years of scientific understanding. 

This is happening every day in the scientific community. 

Finn and I recently watched a special on comets (How the Universe Works. Season 2, ep. 6 “Frozen Wanderers,” filmed in 2012. All of the scientists who were interviewed on this episode were very excited about the spacecraft Rosetta and its comet lander, Philae. Rosetta would pull up next to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and drop off Philae, a comet lander who would explore the comet and answer some of our deepest questions. The scientists were convinced that Rosetta and Philae would “solve” the question of how liquid water got to earth – they believed that comets must have collided with earth in the early days of its formation. Since comets are made of ice, this would have delivered water to our surface.

An artist’s concept of the Rosetta spacecraft releasing the Philae lander to comet 67P. The Rosetta spacecraft was named after the Rosetta Stone – scientists hoped the mission would be able to unlock the mysteries of our planet’s formation. Photo from NASA. Read more here.

After Finn and I watched the show, I went online and looked up what happened with Rosetta and Philae. Here’s the short version: Philae got lost on the comet and never accomplished really its purpose. Rosetta was able to get some samples from the comet’s tail, but it was determined that the water that could come from this comet was too “heavy.” So, not the water that we have here on earth.

From this experience, scientists now think that water on earth didn’t come from comets – but maybe they came from asteroids! NASA recently collected samples from a large asteroid called Bennu – and I’m sure the mystery will be solved.

Or, will it?

All of this reminds me of our humble place – that we actually know so little about our earth, about the solar system we live in, and the universe at large.

But, there is a Being who does know everything. He stitched together every fragment of this universe and He controls its every movement. 

“You are worn out by your many plans. Let your astrologers and your stargazers, who foretell the future month by month, come to you, rise up, and save you. They are like straw. Fire burns them. They can’t rescue themselves from the flames. There are no glowing coals to keep them warm and no fire for them to sit by.”

Isaiah 47:13-14

God is creative. 

Why is Uranus tipped on its side? Why do the stars align to make patterns and shapes? Why is every planet, every star, every comet and asteroid so amazingly unique, so insanely fascinating? 

It’s because our God is a creative Creator. It seems like He simply enjoys creating things for the sake of art and beauty. 

That is amazing to me. 

NGC 6302 AKA The Butterfly Nebula. This spectacular cloud of gas is caused by a star in its death throes spewing gases. Photo captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Read more about this photo here

And God is so holistic in His creation. 

There are things about our universe that are terrifying, there are things that are hilarious and weird, there are things that are tear-jerkingly beautiful, and things that make us hold our breath in wonder. All created by the same God. 

This should make us in awe of Him. 

Life does not revolve around us. 

In 1543, Nicholaus Copernicus detailed his “radical” theory that everything in the Universe does NOT revolve around the Earth. His theory wasn’t even immediately accepted! That was less than 500 years ago – which, in the span of history, is a short time. 

Since then, we’ve learned that our solar system is NOT the center of our galaxy, and that we are in an orbital rotation with AT LEAST 500 other solar systems in our Milky Way galaxy. 

It’s only been 100 years since we accepted that our galaxy is not the only galaxy in the Universe. And, not only does the Universe NOT revolve around us, there are far more galaxies than we ever could have imagined. One prediction is that there are 100 billion galaxies in our universe, but this number will likely double as our technology increases. 

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals thousands of galaxies in a single image here. Read more here.

So, the universe and life as we know it do not revolve around us. 

But all of this knowledge doesn’t fix the fact that as humans we’re prone to self-absorption. We may KNOW that life doesn’t revolve around us, but we sure act like it does. 

How do we do this?

By often thinking only of ourselves. 

By taking the little things personally. 

By frequently failing to consider what others may be experiencing. 

By consistently obsessing over our image. 

How do we remedy this?

By keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2, Colossians 3:1-3).

Despite the fact that the Universe was created by Him and it really does revolve around Him, He never acted that way. Which leads to my next point…

We are special to God. 

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.”

Psalm 8:3-5

Somehow, for some reason, though we are an insignificant speck in the vastness that is the universe, God does not treat us that way. 

Jesus gave up all the riches and glory of Heaven in order to reach down and rescue us – even though we would not recognize Him as our Creator and would reject and murder Him. 

Yet He still pursues us. 

Think of the parable of the lost sheep. It doesn’t matter if He had a trillion other sheep in the pen, if you were lost, He’d be searching for you in the darkness. 

When I consider how spectacularly huge our universe is – with at least 100 billion trillion stars in it, each one as bright and powerful as our own sun (if not more!), many with their own solar systems revolving around them – and God is the one sustaining all of them. How does He even have time to hear us? 

And yet, He does. 

Not only does He hear us, He cares for us deeply. In a way we cannot fathom. 

Remember, even the hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). By Him. 

Consider who knows you that well and who loves you that deeply to possess such random, inconsequential and frivolous information about you. I love my husband and children as much as anybody has ever loved anyone, and I would not ever consider spending the time to count the individual hairs on their heads. 

And yet God, who sustains our vast universe, knows us and loves us in that way. 

Read more about God’s incredible love here.

Here’s the bottom line:

I have this notion that God is just so impossible to fathom that I don’t even try. But this is robbing me of the opportunity to be in awe of God. And it’s keeping me from realizing my humble position – and God’s amazing love.

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the depths in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!”

Psalm 33:5-8 

So take some time to think about the vastness of our universe, the power of our God, and how insignificant we really are. Then, turn your thoughts to the fact that despite our smallness, God cares deeply for us and sacrificed Himself in order to be close to us.

Praise Him!

Chronic Pain Meditations

7 Scriptures for Finding Joy in Trials

October 5, 2020
Finding joy in difficulties

Our church is going through a Bible reading plan together this year and right now we are reading the book of James. A passage in James 1 resonated with me and challenged me to my core about finding joy in trials. It led me to this Bible study on more verses about trials and hardships.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:2-6

When I read this verse, one question kept coming to my mind:

Why on earth would I consider it joy to go through hardships?!

One of the first things I did was look up exactly what this word ‘joy‘ means. In this verse, joy is the Greek word charan which can be translated joy, gladness, a source of joy. My favorite definition was “a calm delight.”

Again, I wondered, why would I be delightfully calm during hardships?! And…how?

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Meditations

Jesus: Interrupted

August 31, 2020
interruptions

One of the hardest things for me to deal with on a regular basis is interruption. As in: I have a plan for the day, and it’s going to look a certain way, but then something (or someone) comes along and interrupts that plan. And I have to either let go of my plans and pivot or I have to fight hard against the interruption in order to return to my original plans (and usually fail). I typically end up frustrated and flustered. 

What would Jesus do?

This made me think about how Jesus would handle interruptions. I love how God works because literally the day after I was wondering about this, I happened to read this story in Matthew 14. It’s right after John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin) gets beheaded, and Jesus is attempting to go away to a solitary place (presumably) to mourn. And, He gets interrupted…

Read along with me to see how Jesus handled his plans of solitude going up in smoke. 

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Meditations

2 Compelling Reasons to Read Your Bible Daily

August 17, 2020
Reasons to Read the Bible

Today’s devotional is about why you should read your Bible – and, more specifically, why you should read the Bible more often than not. I know that we are all busy mamas, but I hope you’ll grant me a few minutes to convince you why reading our Bibles is so critical. If you’re already reading your Bible daily, I pray that this will encourage you to keep going and to help others to do the same!

#1: Reading the Bible changes our lives.

Listen to this incredible 2-minute video from Messenger International about what happens to us when we read our Bibles four or more times per week:

Reading the Bible 4X per week from Messenger International on Vimeo.

When we are reading our Bibles more often than not, it changes us. When we open our hearts and minds to God’s powerful words, we are allowing God to transform us.

This is called repentance. And, no, I’m not talking about beating yourself up after you sin. Repentance comes from the Greek term “metanoia.” Meta = change. Noia = mind. Metanoia means a changed mind. A new mind. When we are engaging our minds in God’s Word, it transforms our mindset, our way of thinking. And when our minds are changed, our lives change, too.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

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Meditations

Lay Down Our Lives: A Devotional for When You Give More Than You Receive

August 3, 2020
lay down our lives devotional

For today’s meditation, we’ll be discussing the call to lay down our lives. This is for mamas who feel like they give more than they receive. Have you felt that way lately? If so, read on.

Do you ever find yourself “keeping score” with how much parenting you’ve done versus how much your spouse has done?

I put them to bed three nights in a row… When is he going to do it?

When was the last time HE gave the “discipline talk”?

I cooked dinner AND did the dishes, so he needs to put them both to bed. 

We spent all day doing what he wanted to do, so it’s my turn tomorrow.

Can any of you relate to this?

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Chronic Pain Meditations

When You Need God’s Strength

July 27, 2020
when you need God's strength

We’ve all had those days: the ones that seem to drag on endlessly, where we wonder what else could go wrong. You’re exhausted, the house is a mess, your children are whining, your husband still isn’t home from work and dinner burned. Or maybe you’re dealing with a deeper trial where you really need God to carry you through. It’s on these days when we need God’s strength the most. 

God put these verses on my heart to share with you, and it seems like the more I searched for scriptures on God’s strength, the more there were! There are so many precious Bible verses about God’s strength at work within us. Download these printable memory verse cards that you can post around the house for those weary days.

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    Paul gives us a great example of someone who went through hardships and trials (2 Corinthians 11:24-29) yet was strengthened again and again. Here’s a powerful verse displaying God’s strength:

    At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    2 Timothy 4:16-18

    In this passage, Paul was going through one of the most challenging times: he was imprisoned, on trial, facing the end of his life, and he was alone. It seems that when he went to court to defend himself, none of his friends showed up. Despite all of this, he kept his faith. He believed that God would carry him through – and He did. None of his earthly friends may have stood beside Paul, but the Lord did. He was not truly alone, because he had Jesus beside him. The same is true for us. 

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    Meditations

    5 Questions to Ask About Your Postpartum Body Image

    July 20, 2020
    postpartum body image

    Have you ever felt disappointed with your postpartum body? Today we’ll be discussing how God wants us to view our postpartum bodies.

    Recently, my mom and Finn were reading a book called “My Amazing Body,” and they were  on the page where it shows how mothers carry their children before they’re born. It had an image of a pregnant woman with a flap to lift so that you could see the growing child inside.

    My mom told Finn, “God made our bellies to stretch and grow so that we could fit a baby inside! Isn’t that amazing?!” 

    From across the room, I commented, “Yeah, and those bellies never go back to normal.” 

    We laughed, but the interaction made me pause: I realized that my comment was actually detracting from God’s glory in the childbearing process. It is amazing that our bodies can expand to hold another living being! And by grumbling about the flaws in my own body, I was diminishing God’s incredible design. 

    This realization, as well as the chapter on postpartum body image in Risen Motherhood, encouraged me to dig deeper in the scriptures and in prayer to figure out how God wants me to view my postpartum body. 

    This is the fruit of that investigation. Here are 5 questions for us to ask ourselves about our postpartum body image: 

    #1: Why do I want a better-than-before-baby body?

    Before we have kids, we think, “I’ll be the bounce-back mom! No one will ever know I had a kid!” But once we actually have a child, life doesn’t look the way we thought it would. Our bodies don’t cooperate the way they used to. Our schedules aren’t as neat as we thought they’d be. We find ourselves disappointed in ourselves and the bodies that just carried us through the miracle of life-giving.

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    Chronic Pain Meditations

    When You Need Comfort…

    July 13, 2020
    when you need comfort

    Are you in need of some comfort today, mama? I don’t know about you, but I woke up this morning in need of encouragement. And God sent it to me, by way of a beautiful sunrise, a pack of wild pigs, and this Bible verse…

    Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

    2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

    In case you needed the reminder: God loves you 

    How has God shown you His love? For me, I see His love in my family and in nature. I get little “I love you’s” from God through Tyler every day. And I constantly am in awe of God’s love for me when I think about how much I love my kids. If I love my kids this much, and I’m a sinful human being, how much more does God love me?! (Matthew 7:11)

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    Meditations

    God Sees You

    July 8, 2020
    God sees you, mama

    We recently got back from a staycation with my family. When we got home, Tyler and I took the kids to his parent’s house (AKA our next door neighbors) and I came back home to set up the kids’ rooms for bedtime. I ended up unloading the whole car and putting everything away from our week-long trip.

    When Tyler came back with the kids, I told him: “I unloaded the whole car and put everything away.” 

    “Cool,” he said, scrolling through his phone. 

    I paused. His response wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, so I said, “I’m going to repeat myself in case you missed it. I unloaded the ENTIRE CAR and put EVERYTHING away.” 

    He put down his phone and smiled at me, “Wow, babe, that’s awesome. Thank you so much for doing that.” Then he kissed me and offered me a massage.

    See, sometimes it does help to repeat yourself! Ha!

    But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Matthew 6:6

    This morning, I noticed this verse of the day on the YouVersion Bible app. It made me think about whose praise I’m prioritizing. 

    I don’t think it’s unscriptural or unholy for me to seek my husband’s recognition or praise – however, I do think that I can oftentimes feel under-appreciated or like all that I do somehow doesn’t matter if no one sees it or recognizes it. 

    Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.

    Hebrews 4:13

    However, there is one being who sees every single thing: God. 

    He sees the middle of the night feedings and the early morning risings when no one else is awake. 

    God sees us serving our families in all of the daily, humdrum ways that no one else ever notices. 

    He sees us cleaning up poop and vomit and who knows what else! 

    And it’s HIS praise that we should be seeking above all. 

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    Meditations

    Letting Go of the ‘Perfect Day’

    June 29, 2020
    Letting go of the perfect day

    If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

    Colossians 3:1-4

    Envision your perfect day.

    For me, I wake up before the kids, have my prayer time and Bible study while watching the sunrise. I exercise and make a healthy breakfast for everyone. The kids happily eat what’s prepared for them. We go for a walk and Justus goes down for his nap without a peep. Finn and I do a science experiment and read books together. He doesn’t whine or complain. The kids play independently while I make lunch and they both eat all their food without grumbling. We read a book together and get ready for nap. Finn doesn’t drag his feet, whine or procrastinate. He obeys the first time. Justus is happy and the two of them play well together. During nap time, I accomplish every single task I set out to do plus have time to relax and read a book before the kids wake up. I cook a delicious and healthy dinner that’s ready right when Tyler gets home from work. The house is spotless when he walks in and the kids greet him with smiles and big hugs. We have a joyous dinner together discussing our days. The kids go down for bed without protest and lots of hugs and kisses are exchanged. Tyler and I talk and laugh on the porch while I drink tea and he rubs my feet. We go to sleep early so we’re well-rested for the next day – the house is clean, dishes done and put away, laundry completed, and all of our clothes are laid out and prepared for the next day. It goes without saying that the kids sleep through the night and wake up the next day with big smiles on their faces. 

    Ah. What a dream, right?

    I’m going to be really honest with you guys:  I expect every day to look like this. I’m constantly striving for this sort of fantastical perfection and am disappointed when it’s not achieved. 

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