Friday, November 28, 2014

Don't stop being thankful {List of helpful ways}

As I typed the title of this post, I sang it to the tune of "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.  Now I can't stop singing it!  Be thankful that you are on that side of the computer screen as God did not gift me with a pleasurable singing voice! :)

I'm always perplexed as I hear the stories from Black Friday.  The pushing, yelling, grabbing and anger that takes place baffles me.  Wasn't it just 24 hours earlier that Americans were talking about what they are thankful for.  Maybe those mean shoppers didn't have a list??

While most of us won't behave that way, we can get caught up in the commercialism and secular hype of Christmas.  We feel stressed about buying gifts, attending Christmas parties in the perfect outfit, and gaining pounds as we partake in the various festivities.  These things can leave us looking forward to flipping the page of the calendar and seeing the word January.

I don't know about you, but I want to relish in Christmas this year.  I want to enjoy buying gifts for those I love.  I want to attend parties and be relaxed.  I want to take in every single day of December and look to Christ as I do it.

I have come up with a list of things that can help us stay focused on Jesus and actually enjoy the month of December.  Whether you do one of these things or all of them, I hope you will experience full peace and joy this season.

*Start your day thanking Jesus for various things.  Keep a journal and challenge yourself to record a specific number of blessings each day. 

*Create a list of gifts you want to buy and for whom.  Set goals for dates you want these gifts purchased.  Check the gifts off of the list once you have bought them.  You will like seeing the progress.

*Pamper yourself as you shop with a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or whatever makes you feel festive.

*Gather with your family and make a list of people you can bless during the month of December.  This list may include neighbors that you bake cookies for, a homeless shelter you volunteer at, a family you adopt through a local school, a family member that is having a tough time, etc.  

*Make dates with your family to watch specific Christmas movies, drive around and look at Christmas lights, and make/buy 2014 ornaments.  Write these dates on your calendar in ink and stick to them.

*Have a Christmas music dance party.  Turn up the tunes, gather your loved ones, and bust some moves!

*Send a gift to someone in the mail anonymously.  It can be a $5 gift card.  Anything you send will be fun for you and will bless the recipient.

*Read a Christmas book.  Set aside time each day, even if it's just 10 minutes, and take in a good book.  This type of book is usually dessert for hearts!

*Snuggle on the couch with your family and read as many Christmas storybooks as you can.  As you do this, memories from previous years will invade your hearts and the time together will be priceless. Our family still does this and our kids are 18, 14, and 11.  

*Read the story of Jesus's birth in the gospels.  Soak in the birth of your Savior and remind yourself what this season is all about.  Reading through commentaries along with my Bible always ignites my passion.  You can find various commentaries online.

Happy Christmas season, my friends.  May you be a blessing and be blessed-

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My list of thanks

It's here - a day of feasts, family, friends, and thankfulness.  I don't want to take one moment for granted.  I want to freeze the moments with my sweets and take in as much of their faces as possible.

I look forward to watching them enjoy the Macy's Thanksgiving parade and pine for our favorite city, NYC.  We will laugh and talk about memories of being in NYC last Thanksgiving and attending the parade.  I'm sure we will remember the freezing cold, ice on our faces, numerous hot chocolates, and the wonderful meal we shared with new friends.

Memories are what make family moments so sweet.  We look at old memories as we are creating new ones.  We wrap ourselves in the love each memory creates and warm our hearts with it.

I am very thankful this year for many things.    Listed below are my top ten-
  1. The love our family has for each other.  No matter what happens in the day, we know we can count on each other.
  2. Our oldest starting college and doing so well.  He has turned into a man right before our very eyes.
  3. The love that continues to grow between my husband and me.  
  4. My children text messaging each other because they truly like each other.  
  5. The friends that listen to me and love me.  I am blessed to have such lovely people in my life.
  6. Our home that is full of memories and love.
  7. Our kitchen table.  I am thankful for this because this is where we gather each evening to share meals and connect.
  8. Being able to bless and love on others.
  9. Growing deeper in my relationship with Jesus.
  10. And of course, my blog.  I am so very thankful for all of the wonderful ladies I have met and get the privilege of calling friends.  You ladies have truly blessed my life.
For all of you that are struggling today, please know that I am saying special prayers for you.  May you feel God's love surround you and hold you in your pain.  You are not alone, ever.

My love to all of you-

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lukewarm test #3...status

I am being so blessed by the lukewarm tests.  Jesus is opening my heart to discover places that need cleaning out.  I am so grateful that He loves us enough to clean us out rather than throw us away.  What about you?  Are you feeling cleansed and refreshed?  Theses tests are never meant to condemn us; they are meant to grow our hearts closer to Jesus.  Sometimes a good cleaning hurts, but is there anything better than knowing Jesus loves us enough to wipe away our dirt and wash us until we are as white as snow??

Lukewarm test #3 deals with status.  Where is our focus?  Do we want worldly status or Jesus status?  Which one drives our day?

It is so easy to say we want Jesus status and be done.  However, let's dig deeper and discover where our hearts truly are.  Have no fear, if worldly status takes precedent Jesus will lovingly guide you to gaze upon Him instead.  All we have to do is ask.

Hebrews 13:5 - Your life should be free from the love of money.  Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.
Are we satisfied with what we have or are we always on the hunt for the latest and greatest?  Do we need a bigger home, a newer car, this season's clothes, etc.?  Does our worth come from looking good materially?  Or, are we thankful and content with what we have?

Matthew 19:21 - "If you want to be perfect," Jesus said to him, "go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven.  Then come, follow Me."
If Jesus walked into our home and handed us a top ten list of our heart's treasures, would He be in all of them?  Or would material items and pleasing ourselves take precedent?  Jesus doesn't expect us to sell everything.  What He wants is for us to put Him above all material possessions.  Are we helping and loving on those less fortunate than we are?  Or are we storing up our riches to buy more stuff?

Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Are our hearts complacent towards the world and it's views or do we adhere to what Jesus's truths are?  Do we justify things we watch, read, and say in order to make it ok even when we know that if Jesus walked in and saw us we would be embarrassed?  Do we use discernment and make sure things line up with the Word of God?

Phew!  That is a lot to consider but so worth it.  I pray that this test will clear our hearts of mindsets that don't honor Jesus so that He can fill us to the brim and beyond with Himself.

Be blessed, sweet friend, and press on with determination and courage-

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The absence of a father's love

I have debated within myself for a very long time about writing this post.  I certainly would never want to shame anyone.  However, I am a firm believer that God gives us stories to use to help others.  Therefore, I am choosing to share my story in hopes that someone will gain peace by reading it.

My biological father died last March and he never once told me he loved me.  I never heard that he was proud of me.  I was never told that I was the most beautiful girl in the world either.  All of the things daddies are supposed to tell their daughters never landed on my ears or heart.

My parents divorced when I was very young and my father never seemed to take an interest in my upbringing.  

My father did not walk me down the aisle when I got married even though I asked him to.  My hope was to have my step dad on one side and my biological dad on my other side.  He said no.

About a year before he died, I received a certified letter in the mail.  It was from him.  It was five handwritten pages long and he reprimanded me for being a coward and weak.  He used Bible verses to back up his statements.  

Little did he know that Jesus and I have a love affair going.  

Sadly, my father had no idea that my heart is full of love and compassion.  Had he tried to love me, I surely would have let him.

When I found out he was dying, I wrote him a letter telling him that I loved him and forgave him.  I didn't want him to die with any guilt.  I never heard from him.

I struggled when I found out he died.  My dreams and hopes of him finally loving me died too.  I had to trudge through the muck of pain and realize I would never hear my father say he loved me.  I went through a period where I thought it must certainly have been my fault.  I wondered if I had been a bad daughter.

Jesus walked with me throughout the entire process.  He never left me and never let me get so low that satan got a hold of my heart.  Jesus stood in front of me and let me fall on my knees in deep pain behind Him.  He guarded my heart and continued to whisper His love in my ear.  He led me to various Scriptures and songs that reminded me that He is my Father.  He continued to comfort my heart and tell me that His love is not dependent upon human love, even if it is an earthly parent.

If you struggle with a heart void of parental love, please know that Jesus's love is never absent.  His love is constant and real.  He holds His children and showers them with love as only a real parent can.  Cry out to Him and let Him carry you.  Don't allow satan to use your pain for his good.  May your valley turn into a beautiful mountain of trust and deeper love with your Creator.

I am confident that my father was unable to show love.  It breaks my heart for him that he never knew the relationship between a father and a daughter.  I am not angry with him.  My prayer is that he is being held by his Father and finally at peace.  

You are loved and cherished by your Father.  His eyes light up when He looks upon the beauty He created and He gets a tickle in His belly.  How can He not?  You were specifically created so He could love you.  Allow Him to, sweet one.  He longs to hold you and show you how much you mean to Him.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Scripture study Printables - Week seven

Click here to print the memory card.

Jesus calls us to be kind and compassionate. Period.  That can be a tall order when we have been hurt.  Take heart because there is good news.  He will equip us with all that we need to show His compassion and forgiveness to those we would rather kick dirt on. 

This week's memory verse will help us set our eyes on Jesus and what He desires.  This week's worksheet will help us sort out and pray for what Jesus is instructing us to do.  May we be able to love others as He loves us.

Click here to print the worksheet. 

Have a wonderful week and trust Jesus to guard your heart and guide you.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

You're invited to a party and it won't cost a thing!!

I am excited to announce that I have created a Facebook page specifically for Life with JoysI love spreading encouragement, offering practical tips for living well, and cheering people on.  It is definitely my passion.

Each day, I will post quick points of encouragement for daily living.  See???  It's a party for your soul! :)

All you have to do is head over to my page and click the like button.  My posts will show up on your Facebook feed.

I invite you to click here to head to my page.

I am looking forward to connecting with all of you on the new Life with Joys Facebook page.

Love and blessings to all-

Friday, November 21, 2014

Love letters to hurting hearts

It's official....the holiday season is upon us.  I went to the mall today to pick up an item and everywhere I looked, I saw Christmas.  My ears perked up as I heard Jolly 'Ol Saint Nicholas.  I am a Christmas season kind of gal. 

I relish in the weather, the sights and sounds, and the goodness that flows from people's hearts.  I love reading and studying Jesus's birth and what it means for me. 

As I was thinking about all things Christmas, it hit me that so many people feel stressed and lonely this time of year.  Some people worry about where they will find the funds to buy presents.  While others dread spending time with family.  Some feel lonely over the death of a loved one.  While some are reminded of strained relationships and ache for things to be well.  Some are struggling with a diagnoses.  While others are heart broken as they watch a loved one deteriorate.

The reality of all the pain hit me like a ton of bricks.  I wish I could talk with every single hurting person and share love.  While it wouldn't take away the pain, I could let them know someone cares.  Since it's impossible to talk with every person who is struggling with the holiday season, I decided to write love notes to all them.

To those of you worried about buying gifts-
It can be overwhelming to worry about money.  You look around this time of year and commercialism is right in your face.  You long to show people you care with gifts.  You don't want anyone to know you are struggling because you are ashamed and embarrassed.  It's difficult to ask for help.  Please know that there is no shame in asking for help.  There are many people who truly want to help people who need it.  Often, the people who help understand the most because they have been in your shoes.  Churches are a great resource for help.  They offer food and gifts for children.  Also, homemade gifts are some of the best gifts out there because they are made with love in mind.  You will get through this, even when it doesn't feel like it.  God does not see your bank account and assign you a worth card.  You are worthy and loved no matter what.  Lean on Him, dear friend. 

To those who dread spending time with family-
Spending time with people who have hurt you or betrayed you can be difficult.  It is never fun to be around toxic people or placed in tense situations.  We want to run and hide from it all.  I write this as a person who has been there.  Here's my loving advice - don't let anyone steal the joy that Jesus so freely gives you.  When you are around people who drag you down, hold your head high.  Spend your time pleasing Jesus.  Focus on what He wants, rather than the hurt and tension.  Let Him own your heart, not those around you.  Also, it is completely ok to limit your time at family functions.  If the environment is too toxic, a short visit will suffice.  Do what's right by Jesus and you will leave the function with a clear conscious and a clean heart.

To those who feel lonely over the death of a loved one-
You have to grieve. Period.  No matter what time of year it is, a heart that loved deeply will ache deeply.  You are grateful for the love Jesus gave you to share, but the pain seems unbearable.  Don't deny yourself your pain.  Keep a journal and write prayers, pains, and times you feel lifted up.  Cry out to God and tell Him exactly how you feel.  Lean on Him to get you through this season with a heart that can still love and rely on Him.

Those who suffer due to strained relationships-
Strained relationships stink.  They are painful and hurt like the dickens.  You may not be in control of the strain at all.  I get that.  My biological father wanted nothing to do with me.  Right up to his death, he didn't seem to want anything to do with me.  Here's what I learned - it was not my fault.  We cannot control other people's hearts, emotions, actions, or reactions.  When someone you love has cut you out of their life, you have to rely on God.  You have to know without a shred of doubt that God's love for you is not dependent on people's ability to give love.  As a matter of fact, He has quite a tender heart for those who feel unloved.  Ask Him to surround you and carry you.  I promise with every breathe I breath, He will.
If you have created the strain, think about mending it this season.  I know it is scary.  I know you might not want to.  Oh my goodness-I fit into this one to.  It is hard putting a broken relationship back together.  It has to be done piece by piece.  Once you begin, the weight that is lifted off of your shoulders is amazing.  You will not realize the pain weighing you down until you release it.  Ask God to hold your hand and guide you in this.  He will lead you where He wants you to go.  You only have to listen and obey.

To those who struggle with a diagnoses-
I do not want to write anything that will minimize your pain and fear.  I will not tell you not to worry.  These are all emotions that accompany medical diagnoses.  I will tell you that it is ok to cry.  It is ok to lean on those around you and let them carry you.  Let them shower you in love and care for you the only way love knows how.  God knows your full story.  Trust Him that He is in charge.  Even when things seem hopeless, He is there.  When worries invade you and you can think of nothing else, remember...but God.

To those who are watching a loved one struggle with an illness-
God knows your heart.  He knows your pain and cries when you cry.  Don't ever doubt that Jesus cries.  The shortest verse in the Bible reads, "Jesus wept" (John 11:35).  You are not alone, even when you feel like it.  Your strength and courage may feel depleted.  You wonder how you will continue to show care when you feel so empty.  You wonder how you will survive if something happens to your loved one.  Take heart, sweet one, God knows.  He does not want you to feel guilt over your feelings.  He wants you to know He hears you and understands.  He does not expect you to do this alone.  Lean in and put your head on His shoulder.  Let Him comfort you and fill you back up with His love and strength.  He knows-

God created me to feel deeply.  My heart hurts at the thought of anyone struggling.  Please know that I will pray over these letters and those who read them.  I love each and every one of you regardless if we have never laid eyes on each other.  You are a child of God and we are related, sweet friend.  You are loved by your King.  Lean on Him and let Him carry you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I have a secret to share-

I have a secret to share and if I were a gambler {which I'm not.  If I'm throwing money away, it has to be on really cute shoes!} I would bet that it's your secret too.

I just want to be real and I want those around me to be real too.  Life can be hard enough without trying to be an actress all day long.  Let's take off our stage clothes and put on our yoga pants.  Let's get comfy in our skin and really live.

There, I said it!! 

Let's have a wall tearing down party.  What if we all decided to be who we really are rather than who we are trying so hard to portray?  What if we are honest about our insecurities and fears?  What if we own our failures and admit that we are hurting?

I feel badly for people who always have to appear to be perfect.  I know people who would rather eat dirt than admit they hurt.  My heart breaks for them.  Trust me, I know walls.  I have built plenty in my time.  I want those around me to know that it's ok.  Let's just be real and be honest.  When we hurt, let's not sugarcoat it.  Let's just own it, love on each other, and stand back up. 

Can you imagine how we could help each other??  I don't know about you, but I am always refreshed when I know someone is really human.  I'm not saying I want people to hurt or have bad days, but it sure is refreshing to know I'm not alone.

So in honor of the wall tearing down party, I am going to open up and share some of my fears and insecurities.  I hope they will encourage you to open up too. 

  • I worry about gaining weight.
  • I have been dropped by friends and it still hurts to think about.
  • I feel lonely sometimes.
  • There are days I wonder if I am doing anything God called me to do.
  • Some days I worry that I have passed my insecurities on to my kids.
  • At times, I worry my husband will be attracted to someone else and not be tickled pink when he looks at me.
Let's get this party started and really live.  Turn up the music, dance, and live for real!!  Let's be real purposeful in our real living-

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lukewarm Test #2 - Relationship or Rules?

Jesus desires for us to have a real relationship with Him.  He doesn't want a superficial relationship that consists of lip service and checking man made rules off of a list.  He doesn't care how many times our bodies sit in a church service.  Sitting in a church service does not make a relationship.  He cares if our hearts are fully devoted to Him in all that we do.

A real relationship is fostered by time together.  For example, in order for my husband and I to really know each other, appreciate each other, and deeply love each other we have to spend real quality time together.  Just knowing the other person exists will not make our relationship. 

It is the same with Jesus.  Just professing that He is real does not create a relationship with Him. 

Romans 10:9 - If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Many times this verse is read and people check it off of a list.  Yep, I believe in Jesus so I'm good, people think.  However, in the original language the word "believe" is a verb.  A verb is an action.  When we truly believe in Jesus, we can't help but live for Him and about Him.  Our hearts turn towards pleasing Him rather than ourselves and others.  Our thoughts and hearts revolve around Him.

Ways to create and grow a relationship with Jesus:
  • Upon waking, give thanks to God and ask Him to guide you throughout the day.
  • Keep a prayer journal.  In the journal, write prayer requests.  When the prayers are answered, write the date and the answer next to the request.
  • Memorize Scripture.  Keep a small notebook to write a Scripture each week to memorize.  Throughout the week, you may notice God speaking to you through the Scripture.  Write these occurrences in the notebook on the page with the Scripture.
  • Read your Bible DAILY.  Take notes in your Bible.  The more you mark it up, the more it becomes yours.
  • Be involved in a Bible study.  Whether it is on your own or in a group, studying portions of the Bible will strengthen your love for Jesus.
  • Love on those the world views unlovable.  Make eye contact, smile, engage in conversations, etc, with people that you come in contact with.
  • Surround yourself with others who truly have a relationship with Jesus.  You will encourage each other.

So are you wondering if your heart is in a relationship or just checking rules off of a list?  Here is your test...

Matthew 7:20 - So you'll recognize them by their fruit.

When one is truly in a relationship with Jesus, the fruits of the Spirit pour out onto others.  The heart is focused on Jesus rather than on self. 

Galatians 5:22-23a...The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.

Do you see these fruits pouring out of you??  If so, keep growing in your relationship with Jesus.  If not, it is not too late to create a relationship.  As long as you are breathing, there is time.

Commit today to grow in your relationship with Jesus.  May He be your #1 priority always. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Melt in your mouth delicious!

{Photo taken from}

Yesterday my husband suggested I make some sugar cookies for the kids.  Kids??  Don't you mean you honey?? 

So I searched Pinterest and found a recipe that made my mouth water just by looking at the ingredients.  I didn't want a recipe that called for shortening.  Is it just me, or does everybody think it's gross to eat shortening??

Oh my goodness - knock my socks off!!  The cookies turned out sooooooo delicious!!  And they were super easy to make. 

With the holiday season upon us, these cookies will come in quite handy.  They would make a great gift or you could take them to a cookie exchange.  Or you could just share them with your family as you cuddle on the couch and watch Christmas movies. :)

{If you want to see beautiful pictures of the cookies, you can click here.}  

Here is the recipe {compliments of}...

Dropped Cracked Sugar Cookies
Makes 32 medium sized cookies – Adapted from
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup salted butter
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup coarse sugar crystals or regular granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream together butter and sugar until it is nice and creamy.  Mix in 1 egg yolk at a time and vanilla extract.   Add flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, and salt until cookie dough is completely mixed.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl to be sure everything is mixed.  Using a medium scoop, form dough balls and roll them in sugar crystals.  Place cookie balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper 2 inches apart from one another.  Be sure not to flatten the dough.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until the surface of each cookies have a cracked like texture.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to remain on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Scripture Study Printables - Week Six

To print the memory card, please click here.

This week, our memory verse will train our minds to think upon Jesus in all we do.  As we go about our days, our hearts and minds will learn to focus on the numerous gifts and blessings Jesus lavishes us with.  I am excited to watch our hearts fill with His love, joy, and peace as we give Jesus thanks in all things.

This week, I propose a challenge to you on the Scripture worksheet.  :)  I hope you will feel blessed by it.

To print the Scripture worksheet, please click here.

Have a wonderful week!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Is it time to move on?

I am at a point in my life where I feel like things are sailing along smoothly. 

All of my children have started school successfully and have hit the ground running.  Our routines are set and we are immersed in them. 

Our marriage is on a mountain and there are no issues we are having to deal with. We are fully enjoying each other and look for those little moments where we can laugh and love.

My relationship with Jesus is great.  I feel connected to Him and strive to live daily to please Him.  I beg Him each morning to remove the mirror in my hand so that I can love on His world and His children.  Some days are harder than others, but I feel His loving hands guiding me.

I am stuck in my little cocoon of safe.  I have a set routine, a calendar, and to do lists.  Check, check, check!

Over the past week, I have quietly heard Jesus nudging me towards something new.  I can feel Him leading me to a new door that He wants me to open.  I can see the door and I have opened it just enough to get a glimpse of some things.  Truthfully though, I closed the door and stared at it from across the room.  I keep telling Jesus, "I'll get to it, really I will."

You see, when I open this door my life will change some.  My days will no longer be so routine.  My time will be used in a different way.  I will be opening myself up and that is scary.  I fear I am not capable to do what Jesus is nudging me to.  What if I fail or let Him down?

My heart knows that if Jesus is leading me to something, I must trust Him and be obedient.  He will not set me up for failure.  I keep hearing that stupid lie that I won't do it well and I may even fail.  Ugh!!  I have been volleying this back and forth in my mind.  "Step out!" I yell to myself.  "Wait, I'm not sure you're worthy to do this" the dumb thief tells me.

A few mornings ago during my quiet time, the Lord led me to a portion of Scripture that spoke so dearly to my heart. 

Deuteronomy 1:6,8 - You have stayed at this mountain long enough...See I have set the land before you.  Enter and take possession of the land the Lord swore to give your fathers-

Thank you Jesus.  I hear you and I am taking hold of that doorknob, opening it with a bang, and running in.  I know that You have set this before me because You trust me.  I know that You will guide me every step of the way.  I'm ready to stop listening to the lies and be 100% obedient.  You are my Rock and in You I trust.

Have you stayed at a mountain long enough?  Are you a little too comfortable in your life?  Do you feel the Lord nudging you towards something new for His glory? 

Step out in faith my friend.  Jesus has great things planned for His servants.  Oh the places we will go when we are obedient and full of trust.

My heart swells with love for all of you.  May we be obedient and faithful servants to our King!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Do you conform? Lukewarm test #1

The more I read about being lukewarm and Jesus' disgust for it, the more convicted my heart becomes.  I am writing this series not only to share His word and teach, but also to kindle my heart to be more on fire and in love with my Savior.  These tests are not meant to point fingers or make someone feel badly.  They are to grow our hearts and minds closer to Jesus so that we can live for Him more freely and be radical in our love.  May we open our hearts to His word and release our desires to sit on the sidelines and let others be the fire makers.

Do you {I} conform to the world to fit in?

Do you hold your tongue or go along with various ideas and thought patterns so that you fit in? 

Do you sometimes know that something is wrong yet you don't say anything because you don't want to be labeled a crazy Christian? 

Would those around you be surprised that you are a Christian?


Do you stand up for Christ?

Do you allow His values to guide you rather than social norms?

Do those around you know that you are a Christian because you walk the walk?

**Truly living for Jesus and not conforming to this world does not look obnoxious or holier than thou.  It is not self righteous living.  Living in those ways is not the way Jesus commands us to live.  Rather, He instructs us to live in love. 

When we are not conforming to the world and living for Him in love, we are full of His peace and joy.  We are not abusive in our speech nor condescending.  We never make those around us feel less than or, worse, turn them off from knowing Jesus. 

Not conforming to the world does not mean we have to hide away in our homes.  We are called to go out and make disciples.  There is no way we will ever do that hidden away from the world. 

 Let me offer a few examples of living in the world but not conforming to it:
  • When people around us gossip, we do not take part in it.
  • When people around us use foul language, we do not use it too.
  • We speak about others in kind ways even if those around us are not.  If we don't have something nice to say about someone, we hold our tongues.
  • We show love for people who are deemed by society as unlovable.
The list could really go on for much longer, but we get the idea.

I will leave us with two verses to ponder this week as we choose to conform less and love Jesus more.

Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is good, pleasing, and the perfect will of God.
{The way to renew our minds is to be immersed in His Word.  The more we read His Words, the more we will be transformed to His ways and His love.}

Ephesians 4:15 - But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head - Christ.
{We can stand out for Christ and not conform to this world by speaking and behaving in love.  That is the only way we will ever show Jesus to those who don't know Him.  We will never win people over by being critical, mean, or holier than thou.}

May we all choose NOT to conform.  May we choose to love like Jesus and make Him proud to call us His children. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I'm in love, I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it! :)

I am crazy in love with my kiddos!!  They melt my heart and rock my world.  Sometimes my husband and I have to pinch ourselves because our hearts are so swollen with love that it seems like a dream. 

This weekend my daughter and I will be attending the Nutcracker Market.  For those of you who don't know what that is, I will explain.  It is a HUGE Christmas market with tons and tons of vendors.  There is Christmas music playing and the smells of Christmas surround you.  It is fabulous and gets us in the Christmas spirit every single year.

Last night our daughter said, "Oh I can't wait for this weekend!!  It is the BEST day of the whole year!"

My husband looked at her and said, "Really??  Better than the day of your Savior's birth??"

My daughter proceeded to tell him that it really is her favorite day of the whole year because she spends the entire day with her mama laughing, shopping, and bonding. {Be still my heart and give me a tissue!!}

I thought about her statement well into the evening.  My children and I share an amazing relationship.  They all tell me so much.  Seriously, there are times I want to tell them they didn't have to share that, but I would never do that.  I LOVE being their confidant.  My son in college still shares things with me and will text me just to say he loves me or see how I'm doing.  {Again, be still my heart and hand me a tissue!}

These relationships didn't just happen.  They formed over much laughter and many tears.  They were created over hours upon hours of time spent together.  Our family has always valued family.  We sit down every night and eat our meal together.  We really listen when someone is talking and will be the first to cheer each other on. 

The relationships my husband and I share with our children have trickled down to the relationships our children now share with each other.  They not only love each other, but they really like each other.  My oldest son and daughter are constantly texting each other.  When they read or hear something funny, they text each other.  {Again, be still my heart and pass me a tissue!}

I don't write all of this to toot our horns.  I write this to show how important it is to build relationships within families.  Time together is invaluable.  Laughing and sharing with one another carries on in hearts. 

Families need to slow down and truly enjoy each other.  We are gifts to each other. 

I read recently that Kelly Rippa said she didn't care if her kids liked her or not.  The article was flying around Facebook and people were loving all over it.  Honestly, it made me sad.  Of course I want my kids to like me.  I want a strong, loving relationship with them.  No, I'm not the cool mom who adheres to anything so they will like me.  {Just ask my kids - they will tell you!}  I'm the mom who has rules and high expectations.  I'm the mom who means business.  But I'm also the mom who will spend hours with my children laughing, listening, and wiping tears.  I'm the mom who will offer grace because God gives me grace every second of every day.

Recently my daughter was cuddled up next to me and told me I was her best friend.  {Yes, again-be still my heart and hand me a tissue!}  She told me she loved that I was her mama and that she didn't really know anyone who shared our type of relationship with their moms.  That made me sad...

It's not too late to create relationships in families.  As long as we are breathing, we are growing.  Choose laughter over ipads and electronics.  Choose family meal time over rush hour.  Choose cuddling over laundry.  There is no gift more precious than the love God grows in our families.  Water it, my friend, and watch it grow taller than anything you ever imagined.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Scripture Study Printables - Week 5

To print the memory card click here.

This week's memory verse speaks volumes to my heart.  My husband and I have been talking a great deal about greed lately.  We have been blessed financially, but it breaks our hearts to think that we have been greedy with it.  We look around and see so much need in our city and in our world.  We read stories of people living with no electricity, running water, or adequate food.  I believe God is stirring our hearts to make a difference in His Kingdom.  We have the ability to feed people and share the love of Jesus with those who worry about feeding their children and clothing them. 

The holiday season is upon us and hearts are silently breaking at the thought of not being able to provide gifts for their families, let alone food. 

Does this tug at your heart strings??  If so, please print the worksheet and open your heart to helping God's world.  Imagine what we can do if we take our eyes off of our stuff and place them on real people. 

May your heart be stirred-

Click here to print the Scripture study worksheet.

Be blessed and pass it on sweet friends-

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lukewarm....what exactly is it?

The word "lukewarm" has been swirling around my head lately.  My husband and I have had conversations about it and began to study what it truly means.  We read Revelation 3:16-22 and then I dove into commentaries and other tools to grow my knowledge. 

A lukewarm person is one who is a comfortable Christian.  One who goes to church, may be involved in groups within the church, but doesn't truly live for Christ.  They go through the motions and think that is good enough.  They are half hearted and not 100% committed to God and His Word.  A lukewarm person is not zealous for Christ.  In fact, they like to refer to themselves as Christians but would rather keep up with the world instead of Christ. 

My husband and I certainly don't want to be in the lukewarm category and we don't want our children there either.  My heart began to ache as I looked around and realized that we live in a world of lukewarms.  I have decided that every Wednesday I will post a lukewarm test.  We can check our hearts and make sure we are living on fire for Jesus.

Before we begin any tests, we need to read and understand Revelation 3:16-22. 

Revelation 3:16-22
v.16 - So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.

v.17 - Because you say, 'I am rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,' you don't know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked,

v.18 - I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see.

v.19 - As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline.  So be committed and repent.

v.20  Listen! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. 

v.21 - The victor:  I will give him the right to sit with  Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.

v.22-  Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

Here is a BRIEF explanation of each verse:
v. 16 - Lukewarm people are not useful and are seen as spiritually worthless.  This nauseates Jesus.

v. 17 - Lukewarm people think they are rich and have all that they need.  They only turn to Jesus when they need something, otherwise they believe that they have a good handle on life.  They have no clue how in need and desperate they really are for Jesus.

v. 18 - Jesus advises people to come to Him.

v. 19 - Jesus truly loves us with all of His heart and He instructs us to repent and be zealous.

v. 20 - Jesus is standing at people's hearts and knocking.  He reveals Himself daily to us and He wants us to open our hearts and invite Him in.  He desires for us to be with Him eternally.

v. 21 - This is a promise from Jesus.  Those who truly live for Him and love Him will be victorious and be in His presence for all of eternity.

v. 22 - Jesus tells us to listen to the Holy Spirit and open our hearts to Him. 

I searched various places to find concrete categories of a lukewarm person.  I found a list here that I found extremely helpful.  I will summarize the list for everyone to read through, but if you have time you may want to visit the site.  Scripture addresses back up each category and it is helpful to see it written in God's Word.

1.  A lukewarm person attends church regularly because that is what "good Christians" do.

2.  A lukewarm person gives to charities and the church as long as the giving doesn't interfere with the standard of living the person is accustomed to.

3.  A lukewarm person tends to choose what is popular over what is right in God's sight in a conflict.  They have a strong desire to fit in and care more about what people think than standing up for God.

4.  A lukewarm person doesn't really want to be saved from sin, only the penalty of sin.  They don't truly believe that the life Jesus offers is better than the life the world offers.

5.  A lukewarm person is moved by people who act radically for Christ, but aren't moved enough to act themselves.

6.  A lukewarm person rarely shares their faith with other people.  They don't want to be rejected or made to feel uncomfortable.

7.  A lukewarm person gauges their morality and goodness by comparing their actions to the secular world.  They feel satisfied because at least they aren't that bad.

8.  A lukewarm person says they love Jesus, but the don't really want Him in control of their entire lives.

9.  A lukewarm person doesn't love Jesus with all of their heart, soul, and mind.  They believe that kind of devotion is reserved for pastors, missionaries, etc.

10.  A lukewarm person loves others, but they don't seek to love others as much as they love themselves.  Their hearts are focused on what they can get in return and their love is highly conditional.

11.  A lukewarm person will serve God and others, but there are limits to how much energy they are willing to give.

12.  A lukewarm person thinks more about life on earth rather than eternal life.  Their daily life is focused on to do lists, schedules, etc. rather than serving God by doing these things.

13.  A lukewarm person likes their luxuries and comforts.  They don't consider giving as much as they can because they don't want their comforts messed with.

14.  A lukewarm person does whatever it takes to keep from feeling guilty.  They do as little as possible to be "good enough".

15.  A lukewarm person likes to play it safe.  They don't like to step out of their comfort level.

16.  A lukewarm person feels secure because they attend church.  They can check off a list and feel like they are good with God.  For example, church attendance, Bible studies, baptism, sacraments, etc.

17.  A lukewarm person doesn't live by faith.  They have their lives figured out and are very structured.  They don't really rely on Jesus unless He is needed in a crisis.  "In truth, their lives wouldn't look much differently if they suddenly stopped believing in God."

18.  A lukewarm person isn't much different than a nonbeliever.

Wow!!  That's a lot to consider.  I don't know about you, but I certainly saw myself in some of those.  I want to be on fire for Jesus in all I do.  I don't want to be lackadaisical in any part of my worship and devotion to Him. 

I will leave us to consider Revelation 3:16-22 and the 18 categories listed.  I pray that we will take to heart what Jesus is trying to tell us.  Next Wednesday I will post a specific area that we can work on to become more alive and active in Jesus.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Scripture Study Printables - Week Four

To print the memory card, please click here.

This week's Scripture really touches my heart and I hope it will touch yours too.  How many times have you felt like throwing in the towel and walking away from something?  You were certain that God led you to it, but now you are questioning if you heard Him correctly.  This week we will work through our hearts in hopes of rekindling our flames. 

Every single time we are in God's word and working to place it in our hearts, He sees.  He will always hold our hands through the process and strengthen us.  May you feel His blessings surround you this week!

To print the Scripture study worksheet for the week, please click here.

Happy studying my friends!