Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Focus

The last week of the year always causes me to evaluate what I did that year. 

What did I do to grow my marriage?
What things did I accomplish that honor God?
Was I a good mama? 
What areas need growth and attention as a parent?
Did His light shine from me even when I was feeling dark and ugly?
Was I a supportive friend?

As I look to 2015, I am grabbing on to a word and calling it mine.  This word will guide me and lead me in all that I do.

My word of focus is....

I want to live a purposeful life full of courage to live for Jesus.  I desire for all of my interactions to be full of Him.  I don't want to hide behind my Southern charm ( If you are from the south, you know what I mean.).  I want to speak His truths in love and full of courage.
I also want to encourage others to live courageously for Christ.  I want to cheer on my loves, friends, and strangers to not be afraid to live out loud and on fire.
Won't you join me??  Let's do this Jesus thing for real and out loud.  May we love without abandon and may we be truly free to share Him with those He created.
The Bible verse that will encourage and lead us will be:
Joshua 1:9
Haven't I commanded you:  be strong and courageous?  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
I am excited to share this journey with all of you!  Together, we can light fires and ignite hearts.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Year of Goals FREE Printables

Can you believe that we will flip the calendars to 2015 this week?!  During the last week of the year, I like to get ready for the upcoming year by thinking about various goals I would like to achieve.  It helps me to write them down, as I think it keeps me accountable.  I don't see them as resolutions but, rather, goals to grow by.

I have created a goals worksheet that I am excited to fill out and put in a binder on my desk.  I want to share them so you guys can use them, too. :) 

The worksheets are available below:

Click here for the yearly goals worksheet.

Click here for January through March.

Click here for April through June.

Click here for July through September.

Click here for October through December.

I hope these worksheets prove to be helpful for all of you.  Enjoy and happy goal setting!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sending love to all of you-

All of my babes are sleeping under the same roof and it has been wonderful.  Watching and hearing them laugh thrills my heart more than my words can even describe.  Having our oldest home from college is amazing!!  He is like a real life man now.  :)  My husband and I listen with fully opened ears as he discusses upcoming plans with us.  I am beyond proud of him.  

We have been one busy family over the past week and I know it will continue this week.  We have shopped, wrapped, and baked {and baked and baked....} Christmas goodies,  We have laughed and gathered on the couch to watch movies.  If I could bottle these moments up and peek into them when life is busy and frazzled, it would be great!!

The other night my heart felt badly for not regularly posting on my blog and keeping up with other blog friends.  I was reminded of a blog I read a couple of weeks ago where the sweet lady was apologizing for not posting the prior week.  She stated that she had just been so busy getting ready for Christmas and enjoying herself as she did.  I remembered that as I read her blog, I wished I could pick up the phone and tell her she doesn't have to apologize to anyone for spending time with the precious gifts God has given her and readying herself for great celebrations.  

I had to tell myself that very thing!!  Isn't it funny when that happens?  

I may not post regularly until after this week, but that certainly doesn't mean I am not thinking of my sweet blogging friends and praying for each of you.  There are precious women whom I pray for each day.  Some know I do, others do not.  I want to wish each and every one of you a wonderful and Merry Christmas.  May your hearts be filled with His love.  May you know without a doubt that He created you special and for His pleasure.  Each and every one of you are gifts to His Kingdom -and you are gifts to me.  I love you all.

I am continuing to post on my Life with Joys facebook page each day.  If you would like to read quick notes of encouragement, please click here.  I am filled with joy to be able to share Jesus' love.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Loving God with all that you have {Lukewarm test #5}

Words are so easy to speak.  We open our mouths and out they pour.  Backing our words with actions is a completely different story.  We can say we love God and are Christians, but what do our actions say?

 If we suddenly went mute, would anyone know we loved Jesus??

Deuteronomy 6:5-7
{5} Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  {6} These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.  {7)  Repeat them to your children.  Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

These verses instruct us to love God with all that we are.  Our love for Him is to pour out of us and into everything that we do.  We are not to be obnoxious, we are to be real.  Every word that comes out of your mouth doesn't have to be "God".  But every action and reaction must emulate Him and His love.

God wants to be so embedded in our hearts that we can't help but love Him with all that we are.  I believe that these verses aren't telling us to walk around all day and only speak Scriptures.  They are telling us that when we talk to people and go about our day, we are to speak with God's love.  

Speaking with God's love means speaking with:
  • Patience
  • Selflessness
  • Moral dignity
  • Kindness
  • Compassion
  • Honor
  • Grace
If this is an area that you struggle with, pray that God will help you.  He is always available and more than willing to guide His children.  Set your hearts on fire, my friends!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Do you see gold?

Ever notice how quick we are to judge people and pick at their scabs?  We may smile on the outside, but often times we are searching for the dirt.

I think we are all guilty of this at times.  

Recently, someone told me a story about some people.  The person was telling me some facts, but there were definite judgments attached.  For the next couple of days, I couldn't stop thinking about the story.  The more I thought about it, the more my heart broke for the people involved.  

The more I pondered it, the more I wondered why it was so attached to my heart.  The Lord began to show me how often we {me included} see the dirt rather than finding the gold.  He began convicting my heart over situations and discussions I have been involved in.

We all have dirt because we are all human.  We are sinful creatures who can create quite the dirt piles.  We, more than anyone else, know how dirty we are and can become.  We are fully aware of the imperfections and sins that plaque us.  

Do we focus on other's dirt to avoid seeing our own sometimes?  Does focusing on other's dirt take the spotlight off of our own messiness?

Yep-I think that's it.  We focus on the dirt other's wear so our dirt doesn't appear to be so brown.

Aren't we suppose to be building each other up and encouraging one another to live life better?  We can't really do that if we are focusing on the messy, even if just in our minds.

Our family visited Colorado a few summers ago.  We decided we would go on an adventure and search for gold.  We grabbed our tin bowls and began sifting through the water in search of the sparkly stuff.  It didn't take long for our kids {and me} to get bored.  All we seemed to find were dirty rocks covered in mud.  After about 15 minutes we set our bowls aside and began running around in search of instant fun.  We never found any gold - we didn't look long enough.

We can be that way in our interactions with people.  Sometimes we don't look long and hard enough for the sparkle.  We notice the dirt and quickly walk away.  

Everyone has sparkle inside of them.  We can find some people's fairly quickly.  But some people have hidden it so well that it takes quite a while to find it.  When there is a glimmer of sparkle in those people, however, it is the most beautiful shine.  Not only are you recognizing it, but the person may be too.  They may not even be aware that any kind of glimmer exists in their broken, dirty hearts.  

What if we stopped looking at the dirt and searched for the gold?  What if when we saw even a hint of a glimmer, we focused on that rather than the mess?  Can you imagine the shine that would sparkle if we did this?  Imagine showing someone their gold when they had no idea any existed.

Be the one who finds the gold, my friend.  Oh what we can do for God's Kingdom if we only look hard enough-

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Christmas tour of our home

Oh how I love Christmas time.  I love the smells, the memories, the laughter, the excitement, and the love.  I am like a little child as I shop for gifts.  It warms my heart to bless others with a wrapped present. Jesus has blessed our family with so much-more than I could have ever imagined possible.  Celebrating Him fills my soul with peace wrapped up in a big package of excitement.  He is definitely the reason for the joy that floats around our home and hearts.

Christmas at our home is a big deal.  We gather before Thanksgiving and decorate our home.  We turn on Christmas music and decorate, decorate, decorate.  It is so wonderful watching our kids go through ornaments and hang them on the tree.  I love watching their laughter and hear them reminisce about past Christmas'.

Their togetherness is joy. Looking at their precious faces makes my heart leap around my chest.  There are times I want to freeze the moment and keep them just the way they are.  I know, however, that if I did that I would miss so many new great moments that Jesus already has planned for us.

Our boys usually help my husband decorate the yard.  It is their man thing to do and I have so enjoyed watching our boys grow into little men each year.  They tackle the strings and strings of lights like any tough man would....with determination {and frustration if they are tangled}. :)  As I am a spectator peeking out the window, I notice the careful way my husband shows them how to do things.  I notice the laughter and bonding that occurs between the men.  Sometimes it is so good for boys to just hang out with their man hero.  

This year our oldest was not here to decorate the yard.  He is tucked in nicely to college life and has begun to create a home for himself on a college campus.  I am excited for him to drive around the corner and see his forever home all lit up.  Being his mama, I will be able to look into his eyes with the sparkle of the lights reflecting off of them and see that little boy excitement as he gazes upon his yard.  Oh how I love that Jesus gives mama hearts insight into their man boys.

May this season bring you and your family joy and peace.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Scripture Study-Week Nine...FREE Printables

Click here to print the memory card.

I love the verse this week because God encourages us to live healthy lives.  We are not called to be fanatical health nuts, but we are called to take care of ourselves.  When we are healthy spiritually and physically, our minds are clear to focus on Jesus and fully live for Him.  

I am encouraged that God wants us to prosper in our entire being.  I don't know about you, but that inspires me to live a more meaningful life focused on Him in all that I do.

To print the accompanying worksheet to help you attach this verse to you heart, please click here.

Wishing you a wonderful and health filled week-

Friday, December 5, 2014

The art of marriage {A list of tips}

My husband and I have been married for over 19 years.  We were babies when we started dating and toddlers when we married.  We have grown up together.  With any growth, there have been pains and great celebrations.

While some of our memories are painful, I certainly wouldn't trade them because they are what grew our hearts more towards Jesus.  We have had to learn that marriage is not about pleasing ourselves or even the other person.  It is about pleasing and honoring Jesus.  When Jesus is the focus of a marriage, it can't help but blossom and grow in love.

I have compiled a list of helpful tips that will move marital hearts towards agape love.

*Do not act on feelings.  Feelings are fleeting and can misdirect our words and actions.  When you are feeling angry, jealous, grumpy, frustrated, etc. take a breather before you speak words.

*Grow your relationship with Jesus.  He will create a heart that desires to give more than it receives.

*Pray for each other every single day.  

*Pray for your marriage.  Pray for a hedge of protection to be placed around each other and pray that your love will deepen with each day.

*Strive to please each other daily.  If you know your spouse enjoys hot tea in the morning, make it for them without being asked.  Small gestures go a long way.

*Discover each other's love language.  Stay aware of it and speak the language daily.

*Flirt with your spouse.  Just because you are married, doesn't mean you can't flirt.  In fact, you should be flirting more now than when you were dating.

*Speaking of dating, plan dates often.  When our children were younger and it was hard to get away, our dates consisted of putting the kids to bed and watching a movie.

*Laugh together.  Remember not to take life too seriously.

*Do not give your spouse anything to be jealous of.  

*Honor your spouse with your words, actions, and reactions.

*Don't ever speak ugly about your spouse...ever.  Keep disagreements between the two of you.  

*Remember that love isn't always gushy. You won't have butterflies every single day.  But a Christ centered marriage will always have deep, unconditional love.

*Let go of hurts and move on.  Do not hold on to arguments and never use them against your spouse.

*Don't forget to kiss and hug each other every day.  

*Keep the romance alive.  You know what your spouse likes, don't fail to do it because of laziness or being tired.

*Brag about your spouse in front of your spouse.

*Share secrets together.

A marriage full of love and appreciation is truly an art.  It is beautiful and cannot be replicated with anyone else.  It is one of the greatest gifts that God gives us.  Cherish it and guard it with all that you have.  


Thursday, December 4, 2014

If but one

I want to save the world.  I wish I could gather every person who hurts into my arms and love on them.  I want to open up the chests of hurting people and pour Jesus's love directly into their hearts.  I know what it's like to hurt, feel rejection, suffer from insecurities, and feel worthless. Jesus saved me from those pains and now I want to put on a pink cape, fly around the world, and inflict every single person with His love.

There are times that I get so frustrated and feel like I am not really doing the work that God has called me to do.  He has loved me much and I want to share that.  I wonder, am I really sharing His love and making disciples??

When I step out of my flustered not good enough ugly suit, I am reminded that God has made all of us ministers.  We don't have to have a special degree, a pulpit to stand behind, or a humongous audience to be a minister.  God equips each and every one of us with exactly what we need to share His Word and love.

God points us to the exact spot where we will make an impact on His Kingdom.  Our stage may not be one of big booming lights and a fantastic sound system.  It may not consist of a blog that has thousands of readers.  The stage God places us on may be our couch with the comfy pillows.  Our ministry may be set for the people who live under the very roof we do.  On that couch is where our love pours out onto our family as we cuddle and snuggle.  We pour out God's love as we listen, validate, and share laughter and tears. 

Here is something to ponder....
Jesus would have died on that cross for just ONE person.  He died for each and every one of us.  So why do we think our ministries have to consist of large masses of people?  Why do we think if we aren't flying around the world, we have failed?

You and I are elected ministers.  We have a ministry and a platform.  Be proud of your ministry and own it, dear friend.  You alone will make a forever difference.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lukewarm Test Series {#4} - What comes out of your mouth?

Jesus does not like a lukewarm Christian. {Read about it in Revelation 3:14-22}  We must be on guard and be consistent with our love for Him.  I write these tests so that we {you and ME} can check the temperature of our hearts.  I hope that you are feeling blessed by these tests and are growing in your relationship with Jesus.  I know I am...He is showing me areas where my heart needs some fire building!

Our mouths are the windows into our hearts.  You can tell a great deal about a person by the words they speak.  Listen to someone long enough, and you will understand what their hearts are really full of.

Are they full of...
love or trash?  
selfishness or selflessness? 
Jesus or the world?

What are our hearts full of?  What do people see when we open our mouths and speak?

Matthew 12:34 states "For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart".

As you go about your day, really listen to the words you speak.  Do your words show love and compassion?  Are you tender when you speak or do you sting people with your words?

Our words should be full of kindness regardless of whom we are speaking with.  We should be just as tender with our loved ones as we are with strangers.  As we walk away from people, are they left feeling Jesus or feeling tension?

Ephesians 4:29 - No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need.
Ellicott's Commentary states that the word foul can be interchanged with the word rotten.  This commentary warns that rotten talk {ungracious, tearing down, dishonesty, cursing, etc.} spreads rottenness to those around you.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to spread rottenness to people.  The word alone sounds gross!  It reminds me of something that stinks so badly that I have to cover my nose.  It is repulsive and disgusting.

Let's be purposeful with our words.  May they build up, encourage, and spread Jesus' love.  Jesus loves a heart on fire for Him! 


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A challenge for December

Can you believe December showed up on our calendars yesterday morning??  There are so many happenings that occur in this month and before we know it we will be staring at the word January on our calendars.

I don't know about you, but I don't want this month to fly by. I don't want to get too caught up in the busyness.  I want to enjoy every moment and soak in my Savior's birth story.  I want to share His love with others and live with purpose.  What is the season if we don't love on people?

This month I challenge you {and me} to send actual handwritten cards to people. 


The cards imprinted with family pictures and a written statement are so much fun to receive.  I love hanging them in our home and taking in all of the precious people I am so fortunate to know. 

But what if we handwrote some cards and surprised people with them?  Don't you just love opening the mailbox and finding an actual handwritten card??  I know I do!  I actually save them and if they aren't too personal, I hang them on the message board in my office.

We could write cards telling people how loved they are.  We could send a card of encouragement or one of laughter.

So...are you in??  Let's send snail mail blessings and make someone's day!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Scripture Study Printables-Week 8

To print the memory card, please click here.

Psalm 23 is one of my favorite Psalms.  Verse one sums up the life of a Jesus follower.  Jesus guides us and provides everything we need. This verse should lift a huge weight off of our shoulders as we soak it in.  We don't have to be control freaks or perfectionists; we can sit back and trust that Jesus will lead us where He wants us and equip us with all we need in the journey.

I am offering two options this week.  

Option 1 includes memorizing Psalm 23:1 and completing the worksheet.  

Option 2 involves memorizing all six verses and completing the accompanying worksheet. I have created a memory sheet with it as well.

*Either option will bless you and open your heart towards Jesus.  Choose the option that is the best fit for you. *

To print the worksheet for OPTION 1please click here.

Print the memory page for Psalm 23 by clicking here.

To print the worksheet for OPTION 2, please click here.

Praying for a week full of Jesus' presence in our lives!