False Sense of Security

I’ve been struggling for the right words to share, lately. I think it’s because the world has been so loud, angry, and distracting; and my hubby was traveling for work, so I’ve just been really busy with the kids. But a few thoughts have come to mind these last couple weeks, that I felt I should share.

First, in the United States we experience freedoms that are rather unique from many countries around the world. The First Amendment of our Constitution protects freedoms of religion, speech, and to peaceably petition the government against grievances. Right now, in places around the world, there are people literally disappearing because they disagree with their country’s leaders. Additionally, according to Open Doors, more than 260 million Christians live in places where they experience “high persecution.” Places where they are physically attacked and/or killed, detained or imprisoned without trial, and/or shunned from their communities/families for their faith in Christ.

Religious freedom is what brought pilgrims to the shores of the New World in 1620, and it’s one of the things Americans have taken pride in ever since. Recently, however, I’ve been reminded how much we’ve taken these freedoms and protections for granted. I mean, other nations have no protections in their government for freedom of expression of religion, and in many places it’s actually the government that prohibits it.

Second, I’ve noticed a lot of people proclaiming it’s the end times and a lot of studies on the book of Revelations going on. While I’ll agree that there are many signs of this, and it’s never a bad idea to know what’s to come, the bible tells us that the day and hour of Christ’s return is unknown (Matthew 24:36, 44); and also that it will be like the days of Noah, and people will just be going about life as usual (Matthew 24:37-39).

What does it mean that it will be like the days of Noah? Well, in Genesis 6 we’re told a few things about those days. 1) That the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and 2) that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 3) The earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and 4) it was filled with violence. I mean, the whole earth was so bad, that God wanted to start fresh. That should tell us something!

Noah and his family were only saved, because Noah found favor with God, walked with God, and ultimately, was obedient to God. This is where we should be concerned. We should be in a place of continual communion with God, surrender to God, and obedience to God. No matter what is going on around us, we shouldn’t lose focus on the promises of God.

The promise of His return, the promise of His coming judgment, and the promise of eternal life for all who believe and accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their life, are where believers should place our hope.

Third, when Jesus was asked about the end times He had this to say: “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:4-14, ESV, emphasis added).

Did you catch that? The beginning of birth pains. Anybody who has ever given birth will tell you, it’s not the contractions at the beginning that are tough, it’s those that come just before it’s time to push that are unbearable; and sometimes it takes a long time to get to that point. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the amount of persecution the Church will eventually face; and we’re not talking about just in the States, we’re talking globally. So, we should definitely be aware of what’s happening around us.

(The books of Daniel and Revelation have more to say on this time of tribulation, as well.)

And finally, I want to remind you of this…the “freedoms” we hold in the U.S. really offer a false sense of security, because one day it won’t matter how much we hem and haw about our loss of rights and freedoms, they will ultimately be taken away, according to biblical prophecy. God’s plan will unfold exactly as He says it will, and there will be nothing anybody can do about it. We are part of God’s story; not the other way around. That’s why we’re told not to fear men, who are able to kill our flesh and not our soul, but God, who has the ability to destroy both in hell (Matthew 10:28).

Truth be told, we should be less concerned with the when and how the end will come, and more concerned about being found taking care of the Father’s business, when that time does come (Matthew 24:42-46). So seek Christ. Seek His will. Proclaim His truth. Walk with the Father in humility, and live your faith, just as much as–if not, more than–you talk about it. Because there’s no country, no leader, no cure, and no law that could save our soul from hell…except the blood of Jesus Christ. And as long as we still have the freedom to openly proclaim this truth, we should be bold in our proclamation of it!

Book Review – Letters to the Church

I read Francis Chan’s “Letters to the Church” about a month ago, and wasn’t sure if I was going to share a review on it; however, I think with all that’s been happening within the last few months, I’ve decided it’d be a good idea.

If you’ve ever heard Francis Chan speak or read any if his books, you’d recognize that he’s a praying man; humble, and full of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if you just jump into this book without knowing his character, you may be quick to judge him as overly critical of the American Church. So much so, that his main point may be completely missed: the American Church looks VERY different from the biblical Church.

So, what should the Church look like, according to Chan?

We should be devoted to passionate prayer; live lives that are holy and pleasing to God; live in unity and with love for one another; be committed to God & devoted to the Word of God; and be humble servants who are committed to training up new leaders & making disciples.

Basically, he’s of the opinion that less is more; and that much of what the modern American Church has done in the name of the Father, has become more of a distraction and a hindrance to the health of the Church.

Now, why did I feel it necessary to share a quick review of this book? Because with the current state of things–churches unable to meet, due to COVID-19, and political unrest in some cities–Chan does a great job of describing a model for what the home church might look like. And let’s be honest, we don’t know what the future might hold; we see a lot of censorship and accusations flying around these days. One thing’s for certain, we mustn’t neglect the meeting of the Church, even if it’s different from what we’re accustomed to.

Therefore, I recommend this book, particularly to be used as a guidebook for the future of the Church. Even if you don’t read it now, you may want it on your shelf for future use, because there may come a time when the Church won’t be able to meet in a public setting, for reasons other than a virus. I’m not saying we should live in fear, but we should be prepared and ready to pivot, as things change in our political or religious climate.

Who is my neighbor?

As we walked beside–and chatted with–a national park attendant, last weekend, my toddler exclaimed, “He’s our neighbor, mommy!” And as I started to correct her, I paused and realized, she’s right! (From the mouth of babes, right?) Instead, I agreed with her, “You’re right, baby, he is our neighbor!”

I had to take a step away from social media for a few days. After the slaying of George Floyd, my heart ached. It ached for his family, and community. Then my heart ached because of the things people were saying about each other on Social Media. Judgmental things. Hurtful things. Divisive things.

Everyone reacts differently during the best of times, and it’s no different during the worst. What might make one person angry, might make another sad, simply because everyone sees the world differently, and expresses emotion differently. And it’s NOT okay to tell someone how they should feel or react, because everybody is different.

That Saturday night, my daughter’s words about our “neighbor” brought to mind the story of the Good Samaritan.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” ~ Luke 10:25-37, ESV

Did you catch that? “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'”

In response, I would question…does it matter? God calls us to love the people around us whether or not we look like them, think like them, believe the same things as them. We’re to love them whether or not they treat us kindly, whether they’re rich or poor, whether or not we agree with them. We’re to grieve with them, rejoice with them, acknowledge their feelings–whatever they may be–and treat them with respect.

The Samaritan in the parable above, was looked down upon by the Hebrews. Despised and avoided by them. But it was he, not the priest or the Levite, who was moved to compassion for this broken man. This human, created in the image of God. El imago Dei.

I’m going to leave you with some more Scripture regarding how we should love others, below, to meditate upon. If this seems impossible, it’s because in our own flesh, it is! But we’re people of the Spirit, and we have a love and power within us that surpasses anything this world could dish out.

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ~ Matthew 5:43-48, ESV
  • “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” ~ Luke 6:27-36, ESV
  • “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:12-13, ESV
  • “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” ~ Romans 12:9-21, ESV

Love, grace and peace to you. God bless!

Justice

The violence of the wicked shall sweep them away, because they refuse to do justice. ~ Proverbs 21:7

As I read the above verse, back in October of 2019, I paused and reflected on it’s meaning. “Who would be swept away?” I asked myself. At first glance, the violently wicked; but upon further inspection, I noticed that those who refuse to do justice, are included.

We hear a lot about “justice” in the news; it’s one of those words that gets thrown around a lot, actually, and I don’t think many actually understand its meaning. Often it’s mistaken for revenge, rather than the fair and impartial judgement that it actually means. However, if we’re all being honest, we’d recognize that our U.S. justice system has its flaws; and while we like to state that “justice is blind,” we know that it isn’t. Some are judged more harshly, or conversely, shown favor, because of their skin color, background, or socioeconomic status. The Bible states that we should show no partiality and bare no false testimonies, but because we live in a fallen world, these are two things that plague the current justice system and prevent it from working as it should. And sadly, it will never be perfect because we’re imperfect.

Nonetheless, as believers, we should speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves, we should proclaim truth wherever we go, and we should show no partiality. Listed below are some of the scripture regarding justice found throughout the Word.

  • He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. ~ Deuteronomy 10:18, ESV
  • You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. ~ Deuteronomy 16:19, ESV
  • “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He. ~ Deuteronomy 32:4, ESV
  • Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. ~ Psalm 82:3, ESV
  • I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy. ~ Psalm 140:12, ESV
  • Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; He upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin. ~ Psalm 146:5-9, ESV
  • To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. ~ Proverbs 21:3, ESV
  • Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. ~ Proverbs 29:26, ESV
  • Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. ~ Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV

Over and over again, God tells us He desires for us to seek and execute justice, because He is JUST. He is just and He shows no partiality and that’s what He desires from us! He doesn’t care what the color of our skin is, what language we speak, where we were raised, whether we’re rich or poor, what our political affiliation is…if we call ourselves followers of Christ, we should care about what HE CARES ABOUT, period.

I love ya’ll and I’m not trying to make anybody upset. I’m just sharing the Word, and I’m praying. I’m praying for peace in the hearts and minds of people across the nation and around the world, because God knows everything that’s going on right now. I’ve also been praying for discernment, because there’s a lot of junk being spread around and I want to recognize the truth from the lies. However, God repeatedly tells me not to worry about any of it and just focus on His Truth, so that’s what I’m trying to do. 😉

Peace, love, and grace!

Angelica

Feed My Sheep

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 will be 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.

For His Glory

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).

Just Speak

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.

Tearing Down the Walls

One Sunday night, a week or so ago, during our monthly prayer service, God gave me this vision of the walls of the church crumbling. There were a couple different walls that I felt God was speaking to during this time. I’m going to attempt to unpack them below, since I feel these are for every believer.

Wall Number 1 — The Spiritual – Secular Divide

Years ago, I heard a message regarding bridging the spiritual – secular divide, and God brought it back to memory. So, what exactly does bridging the spiritual – secular divide mean?

Sometimes, as believers, we try to place God (and our faith) in this little box and take Him out a few times a week. We, in turn, keep this spiritual portion of our lives separate from the everyday, mundane, secular portion of our lives. We keep God within the confines of our churches, Bible studies, or personal prayer times; or within the boundaries of our relationships with other like-minded individuals. However, God desires to tear down these walls, and desires to permeate every aspect of our lives. And not in some weird “mystical” way that I sometimes hear used to describe the Holy Spirit, but in a meaningful, powerful, authentic manner. God desires to tear down the walls that we’ve placed in our lives; walls that we’ve built to protect ourselves, but which actually do more harm than good.

Truth be told, there should be no spiritual – secular divide! We live this one life, and have but one purpose: to glorify and make God known. If we truly believe that Christ is our Savior, this goal should excite us. His Spirit should stir us to action and prompt us to share His love wherever we go.

Wall Number 2 — That Which Separates us from the World

The Word of God says that we may live in this world–physically–yet, we are to be separated from it–spiritually (John 17:14-16). However, too often we think that this means that we must completely cut ourselves off from non-believers! Instead, we stay in our bubble of like-minded individuals, never reaching out, shining our light, or speaking truth into the lives of the people God has placed in our lives.

Yes, we are to be holy and set apart for God’s purpose, and there will be things we will abstain from and places we may avoid (John 17:17, 19; 1 Peter 1:16). However, just like Paul, when he said, he became all things to all men that he might win others to faith in Christ; we should pray about what and where God is leading us to, before immediately running in the opposite direction, and trust that He knows exactly what He’s doing (1 Corinthians 9:20-22). Jesus, himself, spoke to some of the most unsavory characters, in the oddest of places! Which leads me to the last wall…

Wall Number 3 — Prejudice

Now, with racism being a hot topic in our current culture, this should come as no surprise to you; but prejudice isn’t only regarding race. Prejudice is a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience” (according to Google); it can be positive or negative, and can be based on race, social status, sex, political affiliations, or religion, just to name a few.

Prejudice can prevent us from having relationship with another individual because they’re different (or we think they’re different) from us. Prejudice can prevent us from reaching out to another because of our own fears, preconceived notions, or opinions.

James discouraged the early believers from showing partiality towards those who were wealthy, and snubbing those who were poor, and reminded us to love our neighbors as our self (James 2:1-9). This could go either way though, we could just as easily snub those who are wealthy, and favor those who are poor. The point remains the same; regardless of the other person’s background, we are to share God’s love and truth with them.

I think the most difficult part about this is, even when we allow God to fill our heart with grace, mercy, and compassion for people who are different from us, the same might not be said for them. Usually, they too have preconceived notions about us, and are fearful, angry, or suspicious of our motives. Yet, even so, we must remain calm and genuine, and allow God to work through us. Is it hard? Absolutely! But remember…the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead is alive within us (Romans 8:11)!

Motherhood: The First 6 Months

Our little girl (our first child) turned 6 months a week or two ago. And although, I don’t want this blog to be solely about motherhood or parenthood, it is the season of life that I’m currently in. So, I just wanted to share some things I learned as a new momma.

  1. Being a parent is HARD.
  2. Being a mom is HARD.
  3. Being a stay-at-home-mom is HARD.

LOL. Talk about stating the obvious.

When I first began this post, I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with it, but then a friend of mine posted something on her FB wall that really resonated with me. She talked about feeling isolated as a stay-at-home-mom. I understood those feelings all too well. Then, after talking with a few working moms over the weekend, I realized it was most moms–regardless of working status–that felt this way.

While I love being home with our baby girl, some days are good and others are very challenging. Some days baby girl goes down for a 2 1/2 hour nap in her crib, while other days she won’t let me put her down. Some days she wakes up at 4 o’clock in the morning crying, for no apparent reason, and I’m wracking my brain to get her back to sleep; but other days she sleeps for 7 hours straight. We love our children, and love being able to stay home with them, but it can be lonely and exhausting.

I think it’s because, being a mom often means that our own needs are set aside for those of another. However, it’s far too easy to get caught up in this idea, and never put ourselves first. Which, I feel is a mistake. I love my baby girl, but sometimes I need time to myself. Whether that means asking the hubbs to watch baby while I go to the gym; do some grocery shopping; cook or clean; or take a nice, long, hot shower; I need some time unattached, if only for 30 minutes. (I’m going to be honest though, I know my husband doesn’t always understand this, and it’s frustrating; but I guess I need to just do a better job at explaining it to him.)

Perhaps that’s where our loneliness and exhaustion comes from…thinking we need to be able to do it all on our own. Maybe we think we’re a “bad mom” because we can’t do it all; or because we need some “me time.” We shouldn’t think this way. As I often tell baby girl, “Mommy can’t feed you, unless she feeds herself;” in other words, we can’t take care of another of we aren’t taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually speaking.

Instead, we need to ask for help when we need it; and as believers, it’s incredibly important for us to remain in the Word and prayer, and in community with other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25).

I understand that when you have a little one–or more than one–it’s sometimes difficult to just get out of the house, forget trying to get together with others. It takes a ton of planning to get everybody up and out of the house, but it can be, and should be done.

I realized this after the first few weeks of being a STAHM. So, here are some things I’ve recently begun implementing in our home…

  • Attending a Wednesday morning women’s Bible study, so I can connect with other women. (My husband attends Saturday morning with the men.)
  • Weekly library visits.
  • Monthly visits to the children’s museum.
  • We (my husband and I) have begun getting together with different couples from church each month.
  • Planning a family outing once a month.

Lastly, I mentioned this previously, in my Learning to Appreciate the Silence post, we need to be wary of our social media usage. First off, it’s a huge time sucker; you go to check one thing and by the time you know it, 30 minutes have gone by. Furthermore, it’s so easy to get caught up with things others are doing, to feel hurt or offended when we feel we’ve been forgotten or excluded. If we weren’t watching the every move of others via social media we wouldn’t even be worried about such things. Finally, it’s way too easy to go into comparison mode, thinking that others have it better than us; or that they have everything all together; or sometimes, even worse, thinking we’re better than another mom! We forget that FB, Instagram, etc. are just the “greatest hits” reel, where we usually get to see people at their best. We don’t often get to see their struggles or insecurities–and believe me, EVERY mom has them. We’re all different and just trying to do the best we can with what God has given us.

Although, it appears that I’m trying to figure this mom thing out on my own by creating schedules and getting together with others, I must reiterate the need for spending time in prayer and the Word. Ultimately, our peace and strength comes from the Lord; and try as we might, to do it all on our own, we’ll only end up exhausted, bitter, and feeling like utter failures if we don’t rest in His presence daily. So, let’s take a lesson from David, when we’re feeling overwhelmed, and seek refuge in the shadow of the most high.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is overwhelmed and weak. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help]. For you have been a shelter and a refuge for me, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever! Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings! Selah ~ Psalm 61:1-4, AMP

Learning to Appreciate the Silence

Silence is uncomfortable. Well, sometimes it can be. I believe it’s so, because silence gives us opportunity to think, to ask questions, to contemplate the world around us; and that makes us uncomfortable. Therefore, we tend to avoid it. Instead, we fill the air with the sounds of music, television sets, YouTube videos, or our own voices, and our mindseye with images from Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram (just to name a few). We’d rather listen to (or read, or view) insignificance than be forced to ponder anything of real importance. However, as believers, it’s often in these moments of silent contemplation that God reveals to us His greatest lessons.IMG_3503

Lately, I’ve been reading “Missional Motherhood,” by Gloria Furman. In one section of the book she talks about how God created us to be consumers of His Word. However, the devil, knowing that God designed us to be consumers, works at getting us to feast on things other than the Word: on stuff. Let’s face it, between social media and television, there’s no lack of exposure to “stuff.” Whether it’s material things, relationships, vacations, children, new recipes, organizational hacks, or makeup how-tos, there’s no shortage of “stuff” to preoccupy our time, energy, or thoughts. In fact, in our attempt to avoid silence and our own thoughts, we’ve become very good at silencing and drowning out the voice of God.

I know I’ve been guilty of this. Particularly as a new mom, it’s easier to sit in front of the television with a sleeping baby, or mindlessly scroll Facebook or Pinterest while nursing, than it has been to turn the pages of my Bible or talk with the Lord. But this needs to change. If we want our children to seek the Lord, then they need to see and hear their parents seeking the Lord. If we want them to have a heart for the lost, then they need to see our heart for the lost, His heart for the lost. If we want our children to live the Word, love the Word, and be consumers of the Word, then that’s what they need to see in us!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. ~ James 1:22-25 (ESV)

Yet, let’s not stop there, the gospel message is something our children should both see evidence of and hear.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV)

In conclusion, let’s not be afraid of the moments of silence in our lives. Let us instead, appreciate them, make more opportunities for them and use them appropriately. This year–and every year, for that matter–let’s strengthen our relationship with the Lord, let’s listen intently for His voice, and let’s teach our children to do the same.