I’ve been reading through the book of Romans, again, with the First 5 app, and as I read through chapter 8, some verses really jumped out at me. I always say that the bible is like an onion; every time you read it, something new is revealed. And during this particular season, verses 5-6 made me think differently than they usually do. In chapter 8 Paul talks to the Romans about how Christ’s life, death, & resurrection set us free from the law of sin and death. We once were enemies of God, but upon our acceptance of Christ as Savior, we are now filled with the Spirit and walk in the Spirit.
Well, verses 5-6 state, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (ESV). Two weeks ago we discussed when Peter stepped out of the boat to follow Jesus across the water. Only when he took his focus off of Jesus, and began to fear the wind and waves, did he begin to sink. These verses in Romans again reminded me, not to focus on the flesh and the physical things going on around us, but to focus on the spiritual. For it’s the Spirit of God dwelling within us that brings life and peace.
No matter what’s happening around us, for those who believe, we know to whom we belong, and we know that there’s nothing to fear. There’s no change in what God has called us to do…to love Him and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). So, keep encouraging your neighbor, give to them, bless them when you can, and speak peace into the hearts and minds of those around you.
I found this unpublished post from October/November of 2018 and felt that it was appropriate to share now.
My husband was away on travel for 2 weeks during the month of October; and when he returned, our Cookie Girl contracted a stomach virus. She had it for about a week, and we’re still praying for her appetite to return. So, needless to say, it was a rough month. In fact, it was one of those months where I wanted to wallow in self-pity and discontentment. Where I felt lonely and tired, and isolated. But I had to fight to keep my mind off of such things because it would get me absolutely nowhere.
Throughout the book of Proverbs, a wise woman is described as intelligent, capable, comforting, encouraging, strong, hard working, generous, and so much more. But if you take notice of verse 31:27 (AMP) it says, “She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.” When I read this I realized it was a choice each woman has to make for herself. We can sit and worry and wallow; or we can keep busy, ask for help, and feast on the Word of God, the bread of LIFE.
Will there be hard days (weeks, months, or even, years)? Yes! But refusing to wallow in self-pity and choosing to feast on the Word of God instead, can change our perspective and attitude in a matter of minutes.
I’d already begun this post before all the craziness of the last couple weeks happened, so keep that in mind as you read. However, I thought it might be of help to those of you who don’t quite know what to do with your little kids at home.
Right now, my kiddos are really young (2 1/2 and 6 months), and it’s challenging to just get out of the house some days. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy family activities and outings. However, this one-income family is on a budget, so we’re not dropping a ton of money on entertainment.
The biggest challenges for us right now are finding activities that we will ALL enjoy, and working around nap schedules. Because, let’s face it, when the toddler is cranky, nobody is having fun, lol. Both girls are under the age of three, so bonus points for activities that are outside, where they can be as loud as they want, and be free to move and play.
Many people seem to be under the impression that we always have to do BIG things to make memories with our children. Sure they’ll enjoy that trip to Disney, but they also love playing games, coloring, and going to the park with us. And I believe it’s the little, every day ways we play with our children that make the most lasting impressions.
Some things I do with my toddler (and infant) during the week are…
Go to the library.
Color, paint, or craft.
Blow bubbles. We love the no-spill Fubbles container we picked up at Walmart last year.
Build/create, using blocks, blankets, playdough, etc.
Go for a walk.
Go to the park.
Play make-believe, using stuff you have around the house: plastic food, blocks, pots/pans, clothes, etc.
Play games/puzzles. We only have two games right now, Think Roll Fun and a Frozen II Matching game, but my toddler will pull them out pretty often; and thanks to my mom, we have a TON of puzzles.
Sing/dance. YouTube is my friend in this instance. My toddler loves to sing–like her momma, lol–so she loves singing along with songs we find online (usually Disney and nursery songs). And we play the Freeze Dance game, as well.
*Bonus* I plan to homeschool in the future, so we’ve been practicing line tracing, lately. You can find some activities on Pinterest, but I also picked up a Preschool workbook, from Aldi’s, a few weeks back. I make copies (since I have 2 littles) and place it in a dry erase pocket I purchased from Target while back-to-school shopping, last year.
It may look like I keep them busy, but I don’t really. They play by themselves (or with each other) and they watch some television, but they mostly watch educational shows (I’ll share a list of our favorites below). If they didn’t watch some TV I’d never get anything done around the house. Other times they follow me around the house as I cook, do laundry, or clean.
We’ve started implementing family movie nights on Friday or Saturday evenings, with pizza, popcorn or hot chocolate, and a Disney/family movie. Our toddler might get to stay up a little later to watch the movie with us; and we’ve only done this a few times, but she’s constantly asking for family movie nights, now.
When dad’s home from work, it’s easier to actually go places with both kiddos. So, we tend to save bigger/longer outings for the weekends. Our favorite place to go, so far, has been Maymont in Richmond, Va. We went a few weeks ago, toting along a picnic lunch. It’s free–supported by donations–and complete with animals, gardens, and lots of walking. Last time we went there were kids (and parents) rolling down a huge hill on the property, near the birds of prey exhibits. We have yet to make it inside the mansion for a tour (which is currently closed due to COVID-19), and the Nature Center–which we have visited previously–was under renovation.
If you’re in the area and looking for a free outdoor activity, we always recommend it. There’s a couple parks in the area, as well, but we haven’t been to them, yet. As my girls get older I can make further recommendations, but these are what currently work for us.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:22-33, ESV
As I finished reading my toddler her bible before bed on Friday night, I noticed as I was marking the page that the next story was about Jesus walking on the water. And I suddenly got the impulse to share it with you. Why? Maybe, because with all the panic going on around us–all the waves and wind–we need to remind ourselves that we serve the One who not only walks on the waves, but He who controls and calms the storms that rage around us (Matthew 4:35-41; Matthew 8:23-27).
Nothing takes God by surprise. He’s got everything under control and there’s no reason to live in fear and anxiety. We just have to trust that God will protect and provide during this time. In other words, our eyes need to stay focused on the Savior, rather than the waves. This may have just been something I needed to remember, but I thought I’d share anyways. Have a good week y’all, turn off the news, and get outside. Don’t stress. Pray.
I mentioned in my last post, that I’ve been using the First 5 app to study the book of Ezekiel. Well, as I was reading Ezekiel 34, last week, I had the strangest intermingling of deja vu and conviction, and I realized it was because the chapter mirrored a statement I’d studied in the book of John, when I was going through Lysa TerKeurst’s study, Finding I Am.
Basically, and I encourage you to read it for yourself, God is telling the teachers of the law–whom He calls shepherds–that they’ve been selfishly neglecting their flock. They were feeding themselves (and getting fat), but not feeding their sheep; and they let the sheep wander off and didn’t call them back or search them out (Ezekiel 34:1-10).
The Lord goes on to say that He, Himself will seek them out, feed them, and heal them (Ezekiel 34:11-24). This was all fulfilled when Christ was sent into the world to seek and save the lost; hence, the reason He calls Himself the “Good Shepherd” (Luke 19:10; John 10:11-18). However, another verse that came to mind as I read Ezekiel 34, was the conversation between Jesus and Peter after the resurrection.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” ~ John 21:15-17, ESV
And I thought, that for those of us who claim to love the Lord, are we feeding His lambs & sheep, and are we tending to His flock? Are we seeking out those who’ve wandered away? Or are we just getting fat as we consume His Word?
I’m going to be honest right now, this is a challenge for me, because 1) I’m often not consuming as much of the Word as I’d prefer, due to littles at home, and 2) reaching out to others can be challenging, for that same reason. But nothing is too difficult for God! Recently, a friend who’s pretty much walked away from the church, came to my mind, and I thought about calling her up, but never got around to it. And a few days later guess who I bumped into at Target?! Talk about God-ordained.
The Great Commission wasn’t a recommendation, it was a command (Matthew 28:19-20). If we claim that we love the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul but aren’t loving our neighbor as ourselves, we’re not really being obedient (Luke 10:27-37). And the Word says that if we love the Lord we willbe obedient(John 14:15, 14:21-24).
I know we’re all busy. I know we have children, families, jobs, and ministries to attend to, but let’s lot neglect the calling on our lives to live in obedience, share the gospel, and shower those around us in love and prayer. It may not look the same for all of us. It could just be inviting that friend over for dinner, bringing them a meal, or watching their child(ren) so they can have a date night, or some time alone. Or maybe, they just need someone to chat with who will speak truth, in love, into their lives; or to observe your family as you display Christ in your home. It doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. God will work in, and through anything and everything you offer Him.
At the end of the day, people can tell how sincere we are by our actions. Are we authentic? Are we growing in the Word? Are we sharing the Word? Are we seeking the lost? Are we praying over and maintaining relationships with those who’ve walked away? I pray that God open our eyes so that we may all see where we fall short, and ask that He reveal new opportunitie for us to share His love, goodness, and hope.
The first few months after having a baby are a whirlwind of activity. We’ve discussed this before, that as a new mom you just miss out on a lot, so I’m not going to go into it again. However, I do want to mention that when you’re running around with two little ones all day, it can be very difficult to focus on any one thing or task, so I’ve been struggling to come up with ideas and, probably more importantly, the TIME to write.
That being said, I have been using the Proverbs 31 app, First 5, to study the Word during the week, most days. (We’re currently studying the book of Ezekiel.) Although, to be completely honest, some days it’s a real struggle to get up before anybody else to read/study. Half the time I don’t succeed, and/or my 2 1/2 year old interrupts my quiet time, or the baby wakes for a feeding. But that’s life. And I just keep trying to remain in the Word during this season of life.
Anyways, the other night, as I was showering, I was brainstorming things I’ve been meaning to write about. (I always have ideas, but never have a pen & paper available to help me develop them.) But that night, I realized that, while I could write about about managing our home and/or finances, cooking healthy meals on a budget, music, or culture…my most important goal regarding anything I share here, is for me to reflect the heart of the Father.
There are a lot of other articles, books, blogs, or vlogs on YouTube you could follow–and I follow a few–that focus on everything you could imagine. From beauty and makeup, to food and health, family, homeschooling, homesteading and homemaking, etc. But if we’re honest, they focus on what’s temporary. What I want, is for you, my readers, to experience the love and grace of God! I want you to know that our purpose is to glorify Him in all that we do. I want us to recognize that there is eternal value in the seemingly ordinary things of life.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a part of our church’s worship team, and we had a worship night and training a week ago. A question was asked about our definition of worship and this is mine: Praising God for Who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s promised, through all aspects of life. Including, but not limited to, music, songs, poetry, the raising of our children, in our marriages, work, etc. Basically, worship is a lifestyle.
Therefore, whether we’re discussing Scripture, finances, managing our household, or homeschooling, the underscoring theme is that everything we do, we do for the glory of God, as an act of worship, and to establish His Kingdom (Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Samuel 15:22; John 4:23; Matthew 6:33).
So walk with me on this journey, and feel free to ask questions, because I want you to understand that we’re not here to “live our best life,” as the world likes to say; but to glorify God with the life we’ve been given; and to honor Him in everything we say and do. And, as Paul said to the Philippians, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).
I thought I’d written about this topic in the past, but I couldn’t seem to find the post. Maybe I meant to, but never shared, or maybe I’d written about this passage of scripture but something else had been revealed at that time. I always say the Word is like an onion: it has layers and layers, and you could never uncover all that can be discovered, no matter how many times you read it; just like 1 Corinthians 13:12 says…Now we only see in part, but one day we’ll see it (and understand) it all.
1 Corinthians 13 is the Scripture most often read at weddings, so people tend to associate it with romantic love, but every time I read it, I’m reminded that that’s not what it was originally intended for.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,but have not love, I gain nothing. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ESV
These are important words to remember, and shouldn’t be overlooked as simple wedding vows. As believers we have a responsibility to share the gospel with those around us, but if we can’t do so in love, it’s meaningless. If we can’t speak in gentleness, empathy, and compassion, nobody is going to want to listen to anything we have to say. We don’t have to agree with others to be pleasant and respectful; we don’t have to snap back at people when they say something rude or disrespectful towards us; and our giving shouldn’t be conditional.
Lastly, we could give all our time, energy, and finances to any cause(s) we deem worthy, but if we don’t love the people we’re serving, it’s meaningless.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4, ESV
I guess, especially in this season of giving, I just felt inclined to share that.
But I, brothers,could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? ~ 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, ESV
The Church is no stranger to jealousy and dissension, but as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 3, it’s actually a sign of spiritual immaturity. He repeats his comment about following certain teachers, from chapter 1, but this time makes it a point to say that no matter who we follow, the foundation of what we believe must be Christ; and each teacher and pastor simply builds upon that foundation. It’s God who provides the growth. In other words, we each have a part to play within the body of Christ, but it’s God who really does the work. We are all equally important and equipped by Him to complete the tasks He’s assigned to us; no one’s role is bigger or better than another, just different, and all have the same goal: to preach Christ crucified.
Paul goes on to say, in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, that our works (faith in action) will one day be tested by fire. These verses make me think of the story of the three little pigs. You know how you have one pig that builds a house of straw; one, a house of sticks; and another, a house of bricks; and only the house of bricks is left standing? Why is that? I believe it was because two of the pigs refused to put in any real effort, or thought, into what they were building: a home that would stand the test of time. I think as believers we can fall into this same line of thinking. We may serve, but with the wrong mindset. Our purpose should be to build the Church–to add to the kingdom–but sometimes we feel the task we’ve been issued is too small or insignificant, or we just do it to check it off a list, instead of focusing on the big picture. According to this passage our salvation isn’t necessarily at stake, but apparently another heavenly reward will be denied. I can’t help but wonder what that might be. What might we miss out on, because our hearts and minds weren’t fully in line with God’s heart?
Again, our goal as believers is to worship the one true God with our lives; and if we truly believe in the message of the gospel, we can’t help but share it with the people around us. And that is God’s heart! That all would come to Him and be saved! When jealousy and strife enter the church, they do more to tear down the Church, than to build it up. So, let us allow the Holy Spirit to continue His work in us and ask that He help us see the bigger picture, and the greater goal we’re working towards. Finally, let us stop worrying about who has a bigger or better role in the plan of God, because what matters most is the attitude of our heart, as we shower the love of God on our neighbors and point them towards Christ.
I read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 aloud, to my baby a few days ago. She refused to nap when I wanted to read the Word, but I’m kind of glad she did. Because once I read it aloud, I began to dissect it aloud, as well–lol, as though my 6-week-old would understand. Basically, Paul was saying that he didn’t come to the church at Corinth prepared with a fancy speech or message. He simply came with the Gospel Truth: Christ died for our sins.
And what was impressed upon me, was he was scared when he spoke; but he allowed God to speak through him, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul wasn’t worried about having all the right words, because he was trusting that the Holy Spirit, in His infinite wisdom, knew precisely what He was doing.
Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, to describe the wisdom of God, which we who believe in the Lord, have been given through the Holy Spirit. It’s only through the Spirit of God, that lives in us, that we can read the Word and understand the heart of the Father; because the Holy Spirit and the Father are One. An unbeliever cannot comprehend the things of God, because the Spirit of God doesn’t live within him and make things clear to him. In other words, things are hidden to the unbeliever, in the same the way the parables of Jesus–found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke–were hidden to the crowd. But remember, Jesus revealed the meanings of the parables to His closest disciples; as the Holy Spirit does with us. The Spirit gives us insight and discernment, not of this world; therefore, those of this natural world cannot judge us for acting in accordance with the Holy Spirit.
So, what have I gathered from these verses? That we should just open up our mouths and declare the gospel of Jesus Christ. We shouldn’t be worried about sounding foolish, or not having practiced our speech; because the Spirit is going to use us and reveal the Truth to those whose hearts are ready. And we shouldn’t be discouraged by those who would judge or ridicule us for our beliefs, because they lack understanding of spiritual things.
As I read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 last week, a number of things crossed my mind. First, “…the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” is a good reminder that the idea of God sending His Son to die for our sins seems foolish to those who have no relationship with Christ. But to those of us who believe, we recognize the importance of this decision and its life-giving impact on our souls.
To unbelievers it seems simply unbelievable that God would love the world so much that He would give up something as precious as His one and only Son for us. It’s unbelievable to them, because they cannot imagine doing it themselves, and struggle to understand when they see others actually love in a similar manner. In fact, sacrifice, forgiveness and reconciliation are often such foreign concepts to the unbeliever, that when it occurs they simply can’t accept it; they think there must be some ulterior motive behind the act.
Secondly, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human beingmight boast in the presence of God,” (vs 27-29). We see this as evidenced in Jesus; a Savior, born into the world as a lowly babe in a stable. He didn’t come from a wealthy or influential family, but He was the power and wisdom of God personified.
I also can’t help but think of others considered insignificant, meek, or simple…ordinary people like you and I, that God uses to exemplify His glory. For example, remember when God chose Gideon to save Israel, and the angel spoke to him, “the Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:11, ESV)? And after having been told that God would help him lead Israel from the hand of their enemy, how did Gideon reply? He said, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house,” (Judges 6:15, ESV, emphasis added). If you want to know how this story ends you should read Judges 6-8; but I can tell you, God uses Gideon.
Again, God uses the weak and foolish things of this world to shame the wise and strong. And He continues to do so today! So often we respond to the callings God places on our lives in a similar manner: who am I? I’m just a _____. BUT GOD is telling us it’s not on us, it’s through HIM.
I always say, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about obedience.” This stems from my personal experiences with perfectionism, which, in the past, have kept me from walking in obedience. I believed the lie, that if I couldn’t do something perfectly, I shouldn’t do it at all. However, God isn’t calling us to be perfect, He just wants us to act in obedience and allow Him to shape and perfect that which is beyond our ability.
Lastly, I note that God chooses to use the foolish, weak, low and despised for a reason. Because if He chose the wise, the strong, powerful, and well-loved they would be tempted to boast in, and of themselves; and God wants us to recognize His power and authority. Now, I do believe that people of power and influence can be used by God if they walk humbly before Him (Proverbs 18:12, 22:4, 27:2; James 4:6, 10; Luke 14:11; Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:3-4). Unfortunately, it’s more common for those of power and influence to downplay the role of God in their lives, because they’re afraid to lose the very power and influence God gave them. But they were given for a purpose, and when we don’t use the gifts God gives, we run the risk of losing them.