Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ascending Home

Ascending Home

By the middle of May, it seems that Easter was a long time ago.  But what we may have forgotten, is that the “Easter” story is not over.

I am always touched on Good Friday as I remember the agonizing way Jesus gave up His life to take my place.  I celebrate on Easter Sunday that He conquered death, because without that, we would have no hope for life.

But there’s a part of the story that is not finished, the part that leaves me speechless with excitement. 

That’s the part of the story that I am celebrating today.  I’m closing down work and calling it a holiday today because that is what it truly is.

After Jesus’ resurrection, He spent a few weeks on earth spending time with those He loved and giving final encouragement and instructions to His disciples.  And then He ascended.  He left this pathetic earth to go back Home.

But the best part is- He didn’t forget about us.  The reason He went Home was to prepare welcome-home banners, blow up balloons, and get all ready for when He brings us Home too.
He didn’t ascend into Heaven to get away from us- quite the contrary.  He ascended to “prepare a place for us that where He is, there we may be also.”

Okay, if reading that didn’t want to make you jump up and down, try reading it again.  “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

My brother and I recently watched a movie called “The City of Ember”; although it was a strange movie, he pulled a beautiful analogy from it which I just had to share.  Without going into lengthy detail, I’ll try to explain the movie quickly.

People from earth had decided to make an underground world for people to live in so they would never have to know about our wars and unrest up here.  It would be a perfect place.

Well, the Law of Entropy still applied, even hundreds of feet under the ground, and the underground city started falling apart two-hundred years later.  Through a slightly heart-pounding race against time, two teenagers managed to find a way to escape back up to earth so they would not die with the collapse of their world.

When they reached earth, it was dark because it was nighttime.  The teenagers from the underground figured that earth was no different from the world in which they had lived.

But then morning burst forth.  Never before had they set eyes upon sky and sunrises and the beauty which surrounded them.  They could have not even begun to imagine what it would be like because their imagination was limited to the context of the world they had known.

We are the same way.  Our imaginations can only spin off of what we have seen or heard on this earth.  I’m pretty sure that it is safe to say that Heaven is gonna knock our socks off.  Jesus has been working on it for about two-thousand years (that’s some major renovating going on).  And He’s doing it because He just can’t wait until it’s time for Him to say to us, “Come Home!  I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since I ascended on the first Ascension Day.  This is the reason I allowed myself to be crucified.  This is the reason I conquered death.  And now, everything is finally made right.  Welcome Home, my Beautiful Bride!”

May you have a beautiful Ascension Day getting a little Homesick and celebrating the fact that one day, you will finally be able to ascend Home too.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Our Sons and Daughters

Our Sons and Daughters

Do you ever have those days when you start dissecting your life and your future?  You know, those kinds of days when you feel as if you have your own personal thundercloud hanging over your head?

Well, that was me.

I was contemplating my value to this world and started to become melancholy at the results.  And after the pinch of melancholyness (yup, that’s not actually a word), came a twinge of envy.  I was just a little bit jealous of friends my age who have cuddly babies and mischievous toddlers.  And yes, the mother dealing with postpartum depression, wailing infants, and crayon marks on walls is thinking, “You’re completely insane.  Come take my place for a day and you’ll learn what it’s really like!”  No, I was not envious of the messy diapers and late nights, but I was thinking about those tiny feet, little giggles, and sticky kisses.  I was feeling a bit worthless and like I hadn’t achieved to some greater maturity and specialness because I’m single and am not raising, teaching, and loving a child with the same last name as me.  I was comparing myself to that ever-perfect Proverbs woman whose children arise and call her blessed.  Here I am, just plain me, who at this point will have no one to call my own or pass my legacy on to when I am eighty years old.  I feel embarrassed saying this because we, singles, don’t like to admit our feelings on this subject.  I feel really embarrassed admitting this because I am not very old, a lot of things can change in my future, I truly love every minute of my singleness (I’ve been able to do amazing things that I couldn’t have done otherwise), and being vulnerable with my feelings is plain down embarrassing because not everyone will understand.  But I share this to encourage others who may be facing the same thoughts in this stage of their lives.  Motherhood is a usual desire amongst most single females (despite the pain, selflessness, commitment, and frustrations that we realize go along with having and raising children) because it’s a maternal longing that God gave us.

Then God stopped me right there in the middle of my negativity.  God had to do this for Elijah and he still has to do it for us humans today.  Anyways, He brought to my attention the verse, Isaiah 56:3-5 (KJV) “Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.   For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.”

The eunuchs could not have children and were one of the lowest on the social scale.  Because they had no offspring, they could not leave a name or heritage behind, but God hadn’t neglected them. 

First, notice the conditions in the verse- keep the Sabbath, choose the things that please God, and take hold of the Lord’s Covenant.  Then notice the promises- being given a place and name better than of sons and daughters within God’s house and walls and being given a name which will not be cut off.  Isn’t that beautiful!  Perhaps I shouldn’t pull out this solitary set of verses and try to apply it to singles, but I think it fits well and can hold a lot of meaning for us.
But that Still Small Voice wasn’t finished talking yet and began to awake me to the fact that I do have children and I will leave a heritage behind when earth’s departure flight comes for me.

Let me explain- My children are the hundreds of little lives which have entwined themselves around my heart through camps, choirs, classes, etc…  To them I have given tears, love, lessons, and prayers.   Every time we hold a Sunday-School Class, become a counselor at camps, teach a classroom of students, hang out with the nieces and nephews, help with VBS’s, support and sponsor orphans, and take the time to impact the life of a child, God has given us sons and daughters.

I was recently at the Meadows of Hope Banquet, and this thought kept coming to my mind as I watched the single young ladies with the girls they are mentoring and helping.  Those girls may not have the same last name or physical resemblances as the women who care for them, but that won’t make any difference when they are walking streets of gold.  Those women may not have physically birthed them, but they have birthed hope, courage, faith, and trust in the girls’ lives.  Because those young ladies are single and childless, they won’t be celebrated on Mother’s Day; but nevertheless, they do have “children” who arise and call them blessed.  Their heritage left behind will tell of countless lives who loved them and viewed them as a second mother.

We, singles, have many opportunities to help “raise” the children around us.  Don’t view your babysitting job or weekly kids’ clubs as unimportant, but use the “parenthood” God has given you to dry tears, apply band-aids, feed hungry tummies, break-up quarrels, teach valuable lessons, and impact little lives for eternity– which really is no different than any actual mother or father would do for their children.  And one day when we look across Heaven and see the faces of our “sons and daughters”- the children we taught and loved, we will realize that we truly do have an everlasting name and heritage!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Musings and Ponderings

Musings and Ponderings

I just had the opportunity to attend the C.L.P. Artists/Writers’ Conference once again.  The workshops were excellent and have given me much to ponder and consider.  Here are a few of the many lessons I learned or relearned.

1.  Too often, I’m afraid what comes from my keyboard or pen is more about me than about my Father.  “He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30 ESV

2.  I am humbled once again by how much I have to learn in the art of writing.  I blush as I reread what I have written two years ago and even a year ago.  And hopefully when I look back to today on April 13, 2016, I will shake my head in slight embarrassment at my poor sentence structure and boring words because I have learned and developed better writing skills and structure since then.  Even if I live to 108 years old, there will always be more to learn and perfect when it comes to writing!

3.  I want to honor and serve you, the reader, more.  I don’t want to waste your time or give you something worthless to read.  After God, you are the most important part of the written word because you are the one who reads it!

4.  Not being able to keep a journal doesn’t automatically disqualify me from being a writer.  May I insert a *sigh of relief* here.  I have lots of journals, but if you would look through them, you would find scattered entries which range from weeks to months apart.  You would find poems and scribbled drawings instead of organized daily events and emotions.  You would find prayers to God, which would probably make you doubt my sanity at some points.  But you would not find a neat journal which is so often associated with a writer, and that’s okay.

5.  Sometimes I take the reasons I write for granted, but I have been reminded of them once again.  I write because I would explode if I couldn’t.  I write because my heart yearns to share the love of God.  I write because of the thrill that comes from putting words down unto paper and bringing to life stories and characters with their own unique personalities, adventures, and lessons to learn.

6.  Yes, writing is easier than talking.  And I have found kindred spirits who can identify with that.  Wouldn’t life be smoother sometimes if we could write to one another instead of speaking?!  At least it would be for me when my tongue becomes tangled and my mind can’t seem to force the right words from my lips!

7.  I am on the search for a good writers’ group.  Any suggestions or volunteers?  I’m looking for a support group which can give each other honest criticism and help proofread each others’ works.

8.  It will be fun to play around with some antithesis, polyptoton, synesthesia, and hyperbaton techniques in my personal writings=)

9.  Editors are amazing people, and after sitting in the workshop, “Working with your Editor”, my admiration has only deepened.  Even though their notes and manuscript changes may seem intimidating at times, they are such an asset to the written word and are working diligently to better the writing and the writer to produce something valuable for the reader.

10.  I sometimes grow lazy and am not very diligent about watching for writing errors.  Time to refresh myself on the grammar rules and stop using the ellipsis improperly;)

11.  And last but not least, I enjoyed these quotes which were scattered throughout the handouts.
  • “The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.” – Henry Green
  • “My commodity as a writer, whatever I’m writing about, is me.  And your commodity is you.  Don’t alter your voice to fit your subject.  Develop one voice that readers will recognize when they hear it on the page.”  – William Zinsser
  • “Don’t say, ‘The old lady screamed.’  Bring her on, and let her scream.” – Mark Twain
  • “Description should begin in the writer’s imagination but finish in the reader’s.” – Stephen King
  • “What you want is practice, practice, practice.  It doesn’t matter what we write so long as we write continually as well as we can.  I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.” – C.S. Lewis
  • “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention…. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it.  Don’t cheat us of your contribution.  Give us what you’ve got.”  – Steven Pressfield
  • “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

Why I Don’t Do The Diet Thing

Why I Don’t Do The Diet Thing

There seems to always be a new diet out there.  I have seen good results from friends who follow the meal guidelines and recipes from some of the more popular ones, but for those who were wondering, these are the reasons I don’t diet.

1.  Although eating right makes a huge difference in one’s health, I fear that this often takes the place of exercise.  It should not be one or the other, it should be a combination.  Although following certain food rules is easier than doing single-arm burpees and squat jumps and seems to profit just as well because there is weight loss, our bodies are being neglected if we fail to incorporate exercise into our daily regime.  I am a personal testimony to this fact.  I exercised for about three years, almost every day, six days a week; but lately took a break because my allergies have been draining all my energy.  I finally started to gain some control over my allergies and started back on my workouts again.  Even though I was careful of what I ate over my non-exercise time, but body majorly declined.  By exercising again, the scales is dropping, I’m starting to see tone once more in my muscles, my mood has dramatically increased and depression decreased, energy has mounted, endurance lengthened, blood sugar leveled, and my heart and lungs are happier than ever.  For me, exercise has helped my health in ways that eating properly could never do on its own.

2.  I can’t justify buying expensive food products (which most diets call for) when I can make just as healthy of food by using ingredients that are able to be obtained within my budget.  All it takes is a little food knowledge and creativity, not expensive and hard to get items.

3.  Everything that I have tried from popular healthy-eating plans and diets have been (how can I say this nicely?- not very tasty or fulfilling).  I have come to the conclusion that I will do five-hundred jumping jacks before putting another piece of skinny chocolate in my mouth.  Those five-hundred jumping jacks will allow me at least one piece of delicious Dove dark chocolate.  By exercising, I can eat the yummy stuff (like actual chocolate, cheese, and milk) once in awhile that I couldn’t have otherwise.  No offense, but I think most people can make just as healthy of food on their own that is much yummier than the recipes in the diet books.  It is nice though to have a healthy recipe to go off of when cooking, but feel free to spice it up a little with some fresh herbs or veggies!

4.  Often diets call for a person to give up one part of the nutritional triangle.  Do not completely eliminate your dairy, proteins, veggies, and healthy fats.  For example- I have heard of diet plans that call for a total avoidance of dairy, but I have worked in a retirement home and seen the effects of osteoporosis.  Use control in your eating habits, but don’t keep your body from getting the vitamins and minerals it needs.

5.  Diets leave one depleted of energy because they usually don’t allow enough calories for physical labor.  There’s a difference between hunger and weakness.  It’s okay to be hungry, but not to be so weak that your daily functions suffer.  Make sure that you don’t overeat, but also make sure that you consume enough of the good calories to make it through the day and give your best to your work and family.

6.  It would be nearly impossible to do any diet plans in this family.  The men would refuse to follow, and since they work hard and burn most of the calories they eat, I think they deserve a plate of meat, vegetables, and potatoes.  And frankly, I don’t have the time to make a separate menu for myself, so I just control the portion I eat of the yummy hearty yet healthy food that the entire family is eating.  We also work most evenings and have to grab food on the go; so I simply pick the healthy items when we go to restaurants.

7.  Diets are technically not very healthy for the body, and you will usually gain back even more weight after coming off of a diet because your body goes into an emergency i’m-not-gonna-starve mode and starts to store your calories.  That’s why I prefer a continual lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise which actually burns your calories and turns them into muscle.

8.  Diets simply focus on what the scales and tape measures say.  Yes, I want to lose weight, but I also want to prevent things like high cholesterol and diabetes while building heart and lung strength, muscle, and endurance.  That can only be done through a lifestyle of healthy eating and exercise.
Living a physically healthy life is a journey.  Don’t spend a ton of money buying diet books and pills and then rely on them to decide your eating habits.  Learn what is healthy and what isn’t and then create your own menus.  Add a little herb and fresh fruits and veggies, and I guarantee your meals will be much tastier.  Make healthy eating and exercise fun and creative!  Don’t view exercise and healthy eating as something you have to do but as a gateway to a happier, healthier you!

A Cookie or A Cracker

A Cookie or A Cracker

Have you ever noticed the similarities between crackers and cookies?  To start with, they both start with “c”.  Then there is the fact that they are both finger foods and important additions to the table at most parties.  But anyone can easily tell you the differences between cookies and crackers.  The differences far outweigh the similarities.  Usually cookies are soft (unless you’re a baker like me and forget to set the timer while they’re baking), but crackers are usually crunchy.  Cookies can stand alone, although they also know how to work well with a glass of milk or dish of ice-cream.  Crackers almost always depend upon cheese to make their flavor complete.  Cookies are sweet and pleasing to the taste buds; while crackers are dry and salty (an excellent combination to make one thirsty).

So I started thinking about my life and relationships with those around me.  I started wondering if I am a cracker or a cookie to my family, friends, students, social media friends…  And then I started to become ashamed of myself because I often have exhibited all the traits of a cracker.

One of the most important parts of a relationship is being able to understand and forgive.  In other words, staying soft!  Staying soft means not immediately jumping to conclusions or becoming offended by the littlest of things.  I’m afraid that I often harden up the relationships around me because I misread my family and friends’ intentions.  I become bitter and crunchy when I am hurt in a friendship instead of forgiving and asking God to soften the misunderstanding.

Often I think that I need to have “cheese” around me because I’m not enough on my own.  I need just the right brand of clothing, just the perfect personality, just the…. (you fill it in).  We, humans, surround our lives with the things we think will make people accept us and find us special.  We then follow the crowd and popular thought so that we continue to fit in.  We are simply a cracker.  Whereas a cookie knows that its Baker made it special enough just as it is and doesn’t need to find acceptance through anything or anyone.  And it’s good to remember that true friends will love us just as we are, with our quirky chocolate chips, M&M’s, or peanut-butter flavor, and won’t care what brand of flour we wear or the size of the kitchen we live in.  A cookie will also work well with others, but it still will know how to think on its own and stand up for what it believes.

What about after I leave a reunion, party, or one-on-one chat?  Have I left a pleasing reputation?  Have I helped to share the workload?  Do I leave a sweet taste behind?  Or do I leave relationships feeling dry and thirsty because I was taking instead of giving?  I know what it feels like to get off of the phone feeling exhausted because I spent the entire time listening to the other person’s problems.  I know the eye-rolls I give when I read yet another facebook status from someone that uploads a complaint about five times every hour.  I know the frustration of having company and waiting like a servant on them while not even receiving a thank-you.  I know when other people are like crackers, but do I pay attention to myself and know when I am leaving relationships parched?

It’s easy to be a cracker- doesn’t take practice, doesn’t take extra thought, doesn’t call for a change.
But working to be a cookie will be a challenge.  It doesn’t come naturally for most people, including myself.  But with the help of my Baker, I’m gonna work at being the best cookie I can be so I can sweeten up all the relationships around me!

Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Who Is Jesus

I was searching in the archives for something to share and remembered the article “Who Is Jesus?” which was written for The Daughters of Promise magazine last summer. 

Please check out this refreshing magazine for Christian girls and women- every issue is full of inspiring and encouraging articles, interesting writings, and beautiful pictures.  Visit for more info!

Image result for holding little girls hand
                                                                   Who Is Jesus?
“Who is Jesus?” we ask the little girl as she clutches her teddy bear and slides into the social worker’s car.
She looks at us with big eyes as she replies, “He is a Daddy who never leaves me or hurts me.”
“Who is Jesus?” we ask the woman as she sits in the rocking chair.
Her shaky hands put down her knitting, and her laugh rings as silver as the color of her hair. “Why, He is my Beloved. He loves me when I am lonely.”
“Who is Jesus?” we ask the beaten young woman as we gaze at her through the bars.
She closes her eyes and whispers, “He is a Deliverer from evil and Strength in my weakness.”

“Who is Jesus?” we ask you. There is no way to avoid the question. Jesus has been a topic of conversation, ground for debate, and spark of discussion for over two-thousand years. Jesus is one of the key points that separate Christianity from other religions. What is it about Jesus that makes Him so unlike anyone this world has ever known? Why is He mentioned over nine-hundred times in the Bible? What is it about this name that people are and were willing to suffer rejection from family and friends, journey into dangerous parts of the world, give their lives at the stake, and endure torture, starvation, and imprisonment?
 We have heard Him preached in sermons, taught in sunday-school lessons, and sung in hymns. We can recite the story- Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth as a baby, was crucified, rose from the grave after three days, ascended into Heaven, and is coming back at the end of the world to judge the saved and unsaved. We may even be apologetic professionals and know all the proofs that support Jesus- things like early and accurate manuscripts, fluent and extensive Gospels, fulfilled prophecies, eyewitnesses, an empty tomb, followers willing to suffer martyrdom….

Simple, right? Isn’t that all we need to know? No! We need to REALLY understand Who Jesus Is because that is what makes the dramatic difference in how and why we live our lives. Jesus is a fascinating combination of Deity and Humanity who longs to be in a personal relationship with us.
 From the beginning of time, we have record of Jesus (Genesis 1:26). Jesus was there the entire time, because He was the Son of God. He was living in full majestic power and glory, and things were going well at the beginning of the earth’s birth. The Deity had created the perfect masterpiece. There was not a flaw of pain, hurt, abuse, hate, or sin to be found—- but then, the human race changed all of that.

Imagine spending long hours sewing a new shirt for Johnny to wear for his birthday party at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Saturday morning, as you help him button up the shirt, you warn him not to get dirty because there will be consequences. Later, you find Johnny hiding in the corner of the barn. His new shirt is torn and smeared where he had attempted to clean off mud with a rag. He hangs his head and cries, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I didn’t know I would get dirty while I was playing.” You shake your head; he would have to suffer the consequences. But yet, amidst your anger, you feel such love for your little boy, love that prompts you to give him another chance. You put Johnny to work at some extra chores and sit down at the sewing machine once again. Your eyes are tired, and your fingers hurt; but you get another new shirt made. Johnny gets the chores done in enough time to go to the party, but you are left at home. You missed the party in his place, because the extra time spent sewing meant the bread for Sunday’s potluck was still not baked.

That is what Jesus did, but to a much greater degree! He saw the hopeless state of eternal death and misery that sin had put us in and chose to take our punishment. Mankind waited for this prophesied Messiah to set them free, but they could not fathom the degree of His love. They expected to see Him in His full Divinity because He was a King (Is. 33:22), Redeemer (Job 19:25), Emmanuel (Is. 7:14), and Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).
They waited; but they missed Jesus’ arrival, because the Galaxy-Spinner and Star-Twirler had traded Heaven for earth. He had left power, glory, and beautiful harmony for a decaying planet, reeking of hate and sin. The angels must have gasped in disbelief. Kings do not walk with publicans and sinners. Kings are addressed by “Your Majesty “, not simply as a Child (Luke 2:43), Carpenter (Mark 6:3), Prophet (Mark 8:28), and Teacher (Math. 19:16).

Jesus was human, but He was still divine. However, that does not mean that He was lifted above the struggles and pains of humanity. He was flesh; He felt the same joys, pains, fears, and even temptations that we feel (Hebrews 2:18). He came as a baby, grew up as a child, and experienced the adolescent years. He was subject to His parents and honored His elders. Jesus had to wait thirty years until it was His time to fulfill his mission. However, He did not simply wait; He worked, served, and learned during that time.

Jesus was a complete stranger without a home, support, church, or family to fall back upon for refreshment and support (Luke 9:58). Even the circle of friends He did have were not there when He truly needed them, and one “faithful follower” betrayed Him for a few pieces of silver.
Jesus fully knew what He would have to suffer. Do you wonder if He ever lay awake at night, tossing and turning as He realized that each day only brought Him closer to His execution? In His final hours, He pleaded with God to work out another plan, but there was no other way. He wanted someone to be there with Him; but everyone was too tired, too scared, or too ashamed. “…Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled” (Math. 26:56b KJV). He was arrested like a criminal and faced trial. He was scourged and marred beyond recognition. He had only done good and helped people, yet a murderer was chosen for release over Him. The very people He was dying for screamed, “Crucify him!” The soldiers drove spikes through His wrists and feet. He was mocked and spit upon, and the weight of the world’s sin came down upon Him. The Lamb, a perfect sacrifice, had taken on humanity’s soiled garments and was dying alone.

We think Jesus was a superhero whose powers kept Him aloof from the full pain of betrayal, mockery, torture, and loneliness; but although divine, He was also human. He felt every curse, every hammer’s blow, and every whip’s lash.
Then Jesus died, but it was not over. He had entered death for our sakes. The world had given up on Him because they thought He was merely a man. They forgot that Jesus was the Son of God. But three days later, Jesus proved that the power of His Deity and Humanity had conquered death and saved the world. Before returning to His Father’s side, He left His followers with the promise to return and show all mankind His true Deity. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.  For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:25-29 KJV).

         Knowing Who Jesus Is takes more than facts and knowledge, it takes a relationship. Most religious founders tried to turn themselves into gods so they would be not be a man and relate to us on our level; the Son of God became a man so that He could enter into a relationship with us. There is something beautiful about Jesus on this level.

What does He mean to us personally as women? Watch as He takes the children into His arms (Mark 10:16), see as He saves the adulterous woman about to be stoned (John 8:7), look at His love for Mary as she anoints His feet (Luke 7:44), listen as He takes time to speak with an outcast woman at the well (John 4), and glance at the scene of Him healing the woman who had suffered for so many years (Luke 13:11-13). Jesus does not view us as inferior or unworthy because we are women. “There is neither Jew nor Greek…bond nor free…male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 KJV). Jesus’ first recorded miracle was done for His mother’s sake, He chose women to be the announcers of the empty tomb, and it was a woman who first saw Him after the resurrection.

 Just pay attention to His love. Read through the Gospels and notice how many times it says that He was “moved with compassion”. One of the most powerful prayers recorded is the one Jesus prayed for us in His final hours. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one, as We are. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with Me where I am…” (John 17: 9, 11, 15, 20, 24a KJV).

Jesus is our Bridegroom because we long to be chosen, our Hope because we face doubt and depression, our Light because we stumble in the dark, our Father because we long for our hand to be held by a Protector, our Ransom because we were a slave in Satan’s district, and our High Priest because our sin needed forgiven.

Right now, Satan is hurling accusations against us as he tries to drag us back into his realm. But Jesus looks at us and says, “She is Mine. She is My Bride, My Daughter, My Beloved. I purchased her with My blood. She was ugly and unlovely, but I chose her anyways. See her now; she shines in radiance and beauty because she has loved Me in return. You may not have her because I am Jesus- her Advocate (1 John 2:1), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), and Faithful Witness (Rev. 1:5-6).
Knowing Who Jesus Is will be something we are constantly discovering, because He is an indescribable majestic combination of Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus is what gives us women purpose, meaning, strength, and courage for life as He walks beside us every day in a personal relationship. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39 KJV).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Color of Love

love color
There are many blog posts circulating about Valentine’s Day and the release of a new movie which has captivated millions.  I won’t even try to argue on here whether or not a Christian should support it- because many godly, eloquent-writing and speaking people have done that already.  I am simply going to write about what love is.  We need to know what God intended for love or else we will always be confused and searching.  Just as you can’t tell counterfeit bills until you have studied the original, so you can’t tell the differences in love until you have seen true love.

The issue isn’t just about a book series or a movie release, it’s about the pornography, homosexuality, domestic abuse, sex trafficking, pre-marital sex,  and other “love” issues that are bombarding our society.  I’m not even going to write my own personal thoughts because I’m not a wife, a therapist, or a counselor who is certified or experienced in these subjects.  This blog post is simply sharing parts of the Letter which God has written to us.  There are a lot more verses than what I shared that talk about God’s love, God’s design for love between man and woman, and the answers about love for which we have been searching, so I encourage you to do your own reading of God’s love letter.  You will be excited with what you find because God intended true love to be beautiful and lovely.  May we each discover and live in the brilliant hues of love that God designed, instead of searching for fulfillment and romance in the shadows.

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.   And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.  And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”- Genesis 2:18-24 (KJV).

“So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.”- Genesis 29:20 (NLT)

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?”- Job 31:1 (ESV)

“He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.”- Proverbs 6:32-33 (ESV)

“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”- Song of Solomon 8:7 (NIV)

“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”- Malachi 2:16 (ESV)

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”- Matthew 5:28 (ESV)

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” – Romans 1:26-27 (NIV)

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”- Romans 12:10

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”- Romans 13:13 (ESV)

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NIV).

“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”- 1 Corinthians 6:13 (ESV)

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.   Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.   Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.   The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.   Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.  But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.  For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.  I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.  But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.   And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:  But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.   But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.   And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.   For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.   But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.   For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?“- 1 Corinthians 7:1-16 (KJV)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”- 2 Corinthians 6:14 (KJV)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”- Ephesians 4:31-32

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.  Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.“- Ephesians 5:1-33 (KJV)

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”- Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) 

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”- Colossians 3:5 (ESV)

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.   Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”- Colossians 3:18-19 (NIV)

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.”- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (ESV)

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”- Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”- 1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”- 1 John 4:18a (NIV)

May you have a beautiful Valentine’s weekend living in the color of love as God intended!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why I Dress Like A Woman

I think we are facing a huge war which is aimed at females and everything they represent and embody.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it is exactly what Satan wants because women are the core of emotion, sensitivity, and compassion.  Perhaps you are familiar with the old saying, “Behind every great man is a woman”?  God even decided that a woman was needed to complete His perfect Creation.

For years, women were mistreated.  They were viewed as mere slaves and unintelligent lower life.  God did not agree with that, because He views man and woman as equal in His sight.  However, He assigned different traits and responsibilities to man and woman, not because He liked one more than the other, but because He knew how they would best complement each other and the world.  Man is supposed to be the leader- strong, courageous, and able to make decisions; woman is supposed to be the nurturer- loving, caring, and feminine.

But we, women, overreacted to the bad way we had been treated by men.  We decided that we wanted to be men.  We decided we wanted freedom to break the bounds of gender.  And with that freedom, we left our children and husbands and joined professions that men had only held.  We traded skirts for jeans and heels for boots.

And as we enjoyed a new way of life, the man took the place of the woman.  Divorce numbers soared, abortion rates climbed, and homosexuality advanced.  Children were lost, man had become woman, and woman had become man.  This was not God’s original plan, and woman was not truly happy- whether she would admit it or not.  Whenever one steps out of God’s design, he or she will not have that inner peace, satisfaction, and joy that comes from following God’s will.

Today, woman no longer represents that trust which children understood, that tenderness that the world had seen, and that beauty which husbands knew.  Oh yes, the modern version of woman which has emerged is beautiful.  When females stepped forward for freedom they also unknowingly created a spin-off version of woman which was to satisfy man’s desires while they went for their freedom.  They created a woman who would be the toy for the slobs that man had become through all of this unnatural change.  One can see that this created woman is beautiful; she has to be so that she can catch men’s eyes.  But she is not beauty.  Beautiful is an adjective, but Beauty is a noun- which is what a true woman should be.  Beauty is deeper than the hair style, the layer of makeup, the hour-glass figure, or the facial features…beauty is what the woman’s heart, soul, and mind was meant to be.

I’m sure you know what I am talking about, you have seen it happen yourself.  But what we, as Christians, don’t realize is that the exact same pattern is starting within our own churches.  Start watching young ladies’ hobbies and interests.  Check out the clothing they are wearing.  I know I’m going to have a lot of disagreement on this, but please hear me out.  Girls nowadays don’t know how to cook a meal, but they do know how to spike a volleyball.  They don’t know how to clean a house, but they do know how to drag race.  Girls used to heal, bandage, and nurture a wounded animal and leave the killing to the men, but now they are avid hunters who don’t blink twice at ending an animal’s life.  Once again- please hear me out!  I know sports, hunting, etc.. are a great way for dads and daughters to connect, and I also know that many girls thoroughly enjoy less feminine activities.  I enjoy a game of soccer, the sound of a diesel truck, snowmobiling, and wearing cowboy boots; but
I’m trying not to let the tomboyish things of life completely eliminate the feminine side of life.  I still enjoy tea parties, wearing ruffles, playing sonatas, and caring for a sick puppy.  I’m afraid that young ladies almost despise things that are associated with being girly because they want to be tough, brave, and able to compete with the males (or else gain their attention).  They have banned “domestic” things as old-fashioned and feminine character traits as wimpy.  And yes, there are some things that will and should change over time; but perhaps we should be careful in choosing what to get rid of or accept.

The clothing has also been evolving over the past few years.  My mom had kept quite a few of my brother’s and my baby clothes.  I always enjoyed looking at mine because it was ruffly, lacy, and had lots of bows and ribbons.  How boring to have opened the baby chest of my clothing and see apparel that looked like my brother’s.  Very seldom do you see little girls dressed like little girls anymore though, and I think that is quite sad.  Oh yes, my parents had their hands full as I was growing up.  I thought dresses were the most revolting things.  They were always in one’s way, and up until about six years of age I still struggled with keeping my dress in it’s proper place when I plopped down on a chair to proudly survey my  grass-stained knees, rolled through the leaves with the dogs, or attempted to climb a tree.  But I’m glad my parents were willing to teach me the importance of acting like a lady.  The easy thing would have been to dress me in pants, but then I would have never adjusted to handling my body as a woman of beauty should.  Once I reached the grown-up age where I could choose my own wardrobe, I decided to keep dressing as a woman.  Yes, I know that one of the reasons Anabaptist women wear skirts or dresses is because of modesty.  And for the most part- that is true.  However, I have seen trousers and culottes that are much more modest than some of the dresses our Christian women wear; but that doesn’t do away from the fact that dresses/skirts made or bought properly are usually much more modest than pants.

But, the main reason I choose to dress like a woman is exactly because of that- I want to be a woman.  God specifically talks about woman not wearing men’s apparel and men not wearing women’s.  “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”- Deut. 22:5

Some people refer to this as applying to cross-dressing, meaning that a man wears articles of clothing specifically designed for a woman, and vice versa.  I have heard arguments that state it wouldn’t apply to women’s pants because they were styled for a woman’s body and are sold for the female gender.  Perhaps, but still, what has been the clothing associated with men for hundreds of years?  What about the old saying, “Who wears the pants in the family” (referring to the leader of the home- which should be the male)?  How does one tell the difference between men’s and women’s restroom signs?  One might also say that it does not apply to our time since it was written in the Old Testament, but an abomination to God means that it is something He hates.  The character of God did not change between the Old and New Testament.

I am not ashamed of being a woman; so I will portray my femininity in the way I dress.  But it doesn’t stop with the way I dress, it also applies to my complete attitude, reputation, and outlook.  I want God to create in me the woman that He intended.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t get my hands dirty or I have to swoon if I ever fall in love, but it does mean that I can be content with the gender I am and embrace that through the way I live, dress, and act.

May you have a beautiful day living as the man or woman God created you to be!

A Four-Letter Word

Three years ago, I decided to start claiming a word for each new year, a word which I wanted God to instill within me.  The first word I had claimed when I started doing this was JOY.  Last year, I picked TRUST.  This year, I picked HOPE.

I wasn’t sure what to pick this year; but when the word “hope” came up in a game we were playing, I knew it was meant to be.

Each year, I am thoroughly tested in my word.  In 2014, I had to keep trusting that God had it all under control when my father had a stroke, the business was spinning out of control, and there were a lot of unanswered dreams, prayers, and questions.

It looks like it will be no different this year.  I have already lost my dog, my brother is scheduled to see a surgeon about an enlarged lymph node which may be cancerous, and everything is pretty much going crazy— and we’re only twenty-seven days into the New Year!  So the only thing to do is sit back and let God have control.  Perhaps He wants to see if I love Him more than the most precious things around me.  Perhaps He wants to see how I respond during it all.  But perhaps He wants me to see that often my hope has come because of my ambitions, my family, or my cozy life.  So with the power of God, I will hold Christ as my HOPE.  He is the reason I live.  He is what can keep me looking forward to the future because I know He has it all under control and has the best plan, whether or not it aligns with what I think is best.  I serve a mighty, yet loving God; and that is what gives me HOPE!

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hugging Those With Empty Arms

There are quite a few books, articles, and blogs which deal with what singles face and how ones around them can help, understand, and care for them; but there is a group of people often overlooked who are also needing to be understood and cared for.  I am finding this more and more as I talk with and hear from family and friends who would fall into this category.  I feel I have the freedom to write about this group- the childless women- because I am not married and facing their exact situation.  Sadly, lot of childless woman are judged wrongly if they try to share their feelings.  So as a bystander, I would like to speak on the behalf of these women.

God designed a woman with the natural instinct to want to cuddle a baby in her arms, to watch his eyelids flutter as he sleeps, to feel his tiny finger wrap around her own, to hear the first, “Mum, I wuv you”, to see the first step taken, to love and nurture the little life she calls her child, and to forget all the frustrating times when she hears that adorable giggle.  It is only right, and there is nothing wrong with that maternal desire.

The emotions a woman goes through when she realizes that she will never have that privilege are deep, because the desire for children is deep.  God placed that desire in the very fibers of a woman’s heart and soul, and so every fiber feels torn when her heart can not beat in rhythm with a little life.

I think the first thing we who have never worn her shoes need to realize is the pain she is going through.  Every Mother’s Day, every time she holds her sister’s newborn infant, every empty nursery, and every fuzzy blue or pink blanket brings back the stabbing realization that she is missing something.

Sadly, many childless woman have hurtful comments and questions thrown their way, which only adds to the pain.  Those who are not in her situation seem to have all the answers.  We tell her to get control of her emotions, we tell her to stop being selfish and adopt a child, we tell her that maybe she should try an all-natural pill that has healed every problem from cancer to infertility, we ask what her problem is…

If we aren’t part of the commenters, then we are the distancers.  The distancers stay far away because they surely don’t want to associate with someone who can’t have children.  Or perhaps we are a distancer who hides our child every time the childless woman comes near because we are not sure what to say and don’t want to offend or hurt her with reminders that we have children and she doesn’t.

Either way, we are pushing this woman into a lonely little world apart from anyone else.

What are some ways to hug those with empty arms?

1.  We need to try to “walk in her shoes”.  Try to comprehend the emotional pain and turmoil she is facing.

2.  We do not have the answers.  Stop telling her what she should or should not be doing.  That is one of the quickest ways to make her feel like a failure and as if it is her fault for her infertility.

3.  Don’t judge the decisions she makes; everyone’s path is different.  Maybe it would be good for her and her husband to adopt or foster a child.  There are lots of hurting kids out there who are hungry, abused, and crying themselves to sleep every night because they have no one to love them.  Many childless woman have taken lost children as their own and have been completely blessed and satisfied because children’s voices fill the empty house and sticky kisses adorn their faces.  BUT that is not our decision to make.  We can stop slipping Bethany Christian Services pamphlets in her church mailbox.  If that is what God calls her to, He will bring her to that point in His and her own perfect time.  Don’t lecture her about the money she and her husband may be spending on surgeries, operations, and doctors’ appointments.  Once again, that is their decision.  Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t; sometimes couples take that money and invest it into adoption….but any of those choices are theirs.  If they are not committing a sin, how do we have the right to judge?

4.  Pull her in instead of pushing her away.  Take her out for coffee sometime and just have a friend-to-friend chat.  Tell her that you love her and you don’t think she is of less value or importance because she does not have children.  Let her know that you will always be there to simply listen to her heart.  Show her that you truly care about what she is facing.

5.  Her situation and personal information does not need to be the subject of gossip.

6.  Someone had shared this point that I had never thought about before— Do not think that she has nothing to do because she does not have children.  She still has a house and husband to take care of; and a lot of childless woman work jobs or do babysitting, mission outreach, and elderly care for others.  Do not expect her to help you with all of your children just because she doesn’t have any.  Believe it or not, even though she doesn’t have children, her schedule is full from morning till evening.

7.  That doesn’t mean though that she might not enjoy spending some time with your children.  It may be just what she needs; so feel free to invite her over for a day once in awhile to change diapers, help with homework, sing lullabies, and scrub grass stains.  Don’t keep your children away because you fear you will offend her.

8.  Watch your attitude.  She is not of less value than you because she does not have children.  She may not be a mother to her own child, but she has been a mother to Sunday School children, neighbor kids, nieces and nephews, and many dreams and wishes.

9.  God’s heart goes out to the childless woman, and He strongly dislikes when people devalue or judge her.  We have many examples in the Bible.  Do some research on the barren woman in the Bible, and watch how tender God is toward them.  I think He asks the same of us.

10.  Remember that God calls each person to a different journey.  No family is exactly alike; and emotional, physical, and financial capabilities form a big part on how many children God chooses to fill a home.  Some are full with ten children; some with three; some with none of their own but dozens of neighbor kids who know they have a safe place to come to when they need help.   -I’ll share a little of my parents’ story.  Both my mother and brother almost died when he was born.  My parents were advised by quite a few doctors to be content with the two children God had given them because another pregnancy would take my mother’s life and then leave three children motherless.  Family and friends often made remarks that made my mother feel like she had failed motherhood in some way and was not a true woman because she was not like the Duggars.  But God had our family planned this way, because during the traveling years it would have been impossible to live the way we did with more children in the family.  It is not our decision to plan other peoples lives.  We need to love them and realize that a woman’s value is not based on if she has children or how many she has; but on the joy in her eyes, the service in her hands, the kindness in her mouth, the witness in her steps, and the love in her heart.

Go ahead and give a big hug today to someone with empty arms!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Remodeling and Renovating 2015

We are human; we are people of habit- usually bad habit.  We choose the easiest and most comfortable path without even thinking about it.  Our self-control and self-restraint is almost non-existent in today’s culture.  So we make ourselves feel good by making resolutions.

I do not like resolutions.  Usually resolutions are said in passing by those who wish for change but never take the action needed.

That’s why I prefer lifestyle remodeling and heart renovating.

With God’s help, that is what I will be working on in 2015.  I’m remodeling my lifestyle and renovating my heart because I want it to actually HAPPEN!  Supposedly it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit; average length of time for a habit to become a habit is about 66 days.  So if I start something now and can last till the first week of March, it will most likely become natural to me (pretty exciting, isn’t it!).

I’ll be vulnerable and share some of my goals for 2015-
  • -healthier eating
  • -continuing a daily exercise regime
  • -keeping up with birthday, encouragement, thank-you, and sympathy cards and gifts
  • -taking those daily vitamins, shots of apple cider vinegar, and probiotics
  • -formulating and sticking at a better devotional schedule
  • -making more godly music choices
  • -investing in the friendships around me
  • -bringing joy to my family
  • -focusing on the rainbows instead of the rain
  • -flossing and wearing my retainers every night=p
  • finding ways to do something for someone else each and every day.
Some of these you might laugh at, but I think it’s good to break bad habits and form good ones, no matter how big or small they may be.  Whether it’s flossing or deciding which radio station to listen to, each decision plays part in building up that self-control which is essential to godly character!

How to last in a routine till March?  I’ll share some of the ways that have worked for me.
  1. First and foremost, ask for God’s strength.  Nothing is to small for Him, and He loves us asking for His help!
  2. Find an accountability partner who will check in on a daily or weekly basis to see how you are doing.
  3. Make rewards for yourself (could be a new pair of shoes, piece of chocolate, drink at Starbucks…).
  4. Find ways to keep whatever you are doing exciting.  Switch up exercises (go ice-skating, play soccer, do a workout dvd…), go online and search for good books/movies/music you didn’t know about that can replace the questionable ones you have been reading/watching/listening to, find a new herb to incorporate into your healthy meals to kick up the flavor, buy fun-colored floss, get a special pen for devotional times, do insanely awesome things for other people (like send them anonymous gift cards, kidnap them for a night out, go help them at work for half a day- if permitted, deliver a huge handful of balloons to their front door), and just be CREATIVE!!!
  5. Keep a written checklist/diary/journal.  There are free apps out there as well that will help you track your journey in prayer, exercise, letter-writing, or whatever you are interested in.
  6. Take one day at a time; looking far ahead or making impossible goals will only overwhelm you.
  7. Don’t beat yourself up and give up if you miss a day or mess up; just get right back on track.
  8. Take courage in the change you see.
  9. Talk to people who struggled with your same problem, yet eventually conquered it.
  10. Write yourself notes or find things that will motivate you.  I keep a before/after picture of my weight-loss journey on my mirror to remind myself how much healthier and happier I feel when I exercise.  I also write crazy notes to myself on my alarm so that I am sure to motivate myself when I am completely unmotivated to do anything but sleep.
  11. Remind yourself of how much better of a friend, sibling, child, spouse, teacher, employee, witness, example, child of God… you will be if you gain control of whatever habit you are trying to break or form.
  12. Thank God profusely, and celebrate when you achieve a goal.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever forget to floss those teeth or have nightmares when it comes to doing dreaded jumping lunges, but it will become much easier when it becomes a daily habit.
I’d love to hear about your 2015 renovation/remodeling plans and what you have found motivational in reaching your past goals!  Please feel free to share=)

Blessing on your New Year,