Thursday, 27 December 2012

'Twas the Day After Christmas

This week I have enjoyed some well earned post-Christmas relaxation, lounging around the house and thinking over my goals for 2013. But maybe you have not been so lucky. There's always a little letdown after the holidays, isn't there? You might be back at work or laboring away on school. Perhaps Christmas wasn't all that you hoped it would be. The bright lights, cookies, tinsel, and family members are gone, replaced by a quiet house, eggnog withdrawal, and wintry lonesomeness.

bitter by kelsey_lovefusionphoto
bitter, a photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto on Flickr.
If you're feeling the blues this week (or at any time, really), here are 5 ways to get a spring back in your step before the new year:
  1. Are you Disappointed? It's easy to work up unrealistic expectations. For me, this Christmas was just a little less than I'd wished for because our family group was so small; many loved ones were missing. While it's tempting to relive uncomfortable times and dwell on them, the Bible shows us a better way. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). Those old expectations will never be met, so take a deep breath and cast it up to the Father. Then wait for His peace.
  2. Do you feel Lonely? Maybe you got together with loved ones over Christmas and now it's just you and your family—as usual. Try livening things up a little! It doesn't have to be a big deal, just pick your clothes up off the floor and invite a couple of girlfriends over for a mug of tea, go on a shopping trip (take advantage of the after-Christmas sales), or check out the nearest bowling alley or ice skating rink.  
  3. Did you Fail? I don't know how many times I told myself that I was not going to eat another slice of cheesecake, but it rarely worked. If you overindulged, stopped exercising, or forgot to send a card, then you could be feeling pretty upset at yourself. Here's my advice (and Paul's): don't beat yourself up. Philippians 3:13-14 says, " thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." You have an upward call, and there is a prize at the end. Forget what lies behind and look at today—and only today
  4. Are you Bored? Now that the holidays are over, it's back to the daily grind, right? Not necessarily! A little break from the ordinary can give us some perspective on our everyday lives. When I got back from a family vacation in September I was excited about exploring our local area like a tourist; the vacation stimulated my thoughts and helped me see things differently. Get creative: how can you put a little Christmas spirit into every week of the year? Playing music through the house, making goodies for friends, watching favorite films with the family...what else can you come up with?  
  5. Do you Dread the New Year? You might not realize how powerful your thoughts actually are. So many times we create bad situations because we expect them to be bad. If you're already anticipating breaking your 2013 resolutions, you've set yourself up for unhappiness. Think of all the ways you can celebrate this fresh start. The slate will be marked clean—you'll have another chance to make a difference and enjoy all the blessings God has for you! 
How are you going to enjoy this week?

Monday, 24 December 2012

25 Days of Prophecy

((Thank you to my dear friend Melody for providing this wonderful idea))
It’s Christmas again! Can you believe it? This is the time of year for love, for joy, and most importantly, for reminiscing over the birth of our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ. As fellow Christian church-going women, I’m sure we can all relate to hearing the story of our Savior’s birth at every church service, at every youth group Christmas party, and in plenty of Adventures in Odyssey re-runs. We’ve all heard it told so many times we could recite the entire story before you could say “have a holly, jolly Christmas.”
If we were honest with ourselves, would we agree that over the years, time after time of hearing it, maybe the Christmas story has lost it’s’s wonder. Is it possible that we get so wrapped up in ourselves, in finding the perfect Christmas presents, in decorating a tree, that we forget to fall to our faces before the awe-inspiring GLORY of our Savior? 
For me, I know this has become a reality.
Let’s take a look into the Word of God to re-discover how AMAZING this story really is...
Jesus’s birth was nothing ordinary. In fact, every detail about his birth was predicted thousands of years before it happened - it was prophesied. Isaiah 7:14 predicts that his mother will be a virgin (which is amazing enough by itself) and that Jesus will be called Immanuel. One of my favorites comes from Isaiah 11:1 where it claims that the Messiah will be a direct descendant of Jesse, King David’s father. Mary’s roots can be directly traced back to Jesse, (here comes the cool part) but so can Joseph’s. What are the chances that two descendants of King David live in the same area and are pledged to be married to each other? From where Jesus was born, all the way to details of his crucifixion, Jesus’s life was written beforehand by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Still not impressed? This next one will blow you away.
God the Father sent His Son - the thing He loved most - to earth KNOWING (Zechariah 12:10) that He would die for undeserving, dirty, rotten sinners. For us. For you. God KNEW the agony and torture he would be put through. He KNEW that they would spit and jeer while His flesh burned with pain. But He did it anyway, willingly. Because He loves us. 
Jesus’s birth is the only reason we are alive today. He is the only reason our Christmases can be filled with joy and peace and love. His birth is the reason for the season! The reason for every day! 
The next time we hear the Christmas story, just remember that the birth of that little baby is the reason you are alive. Remember that that little baby saved your soul. That little baby paved the way to your eternity with God. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

the feel of a season

I've never quite liked Christmas as a holiday. It always seemed such a bother: people never seem to have time to spend simply sitting and enjoying it. They're always consumed with other things, like buying presents and navigating tricky supermarket interchanges, and making sure that everything for Christmas dinner is just right because if it isn't Aunt Millicent will be dreadfully upset, and above all, never ever letting on that there is anything odd about the materialism that somehow seems to have sprung up around a celebration that has been about Jesus' birth ever since Christendom got a hold of it.

So perhaps to say that I don't like Christmas is an overstatement. I quite like Christmas as an idea, and as a season. Perhaps it's simply that society has ruined it for me.

You see, I love decorating for Christmas. I love nativity scenes; if they could stay whole in my house, I'd have dozens of them, all perfectly arranged (there is only one right way to arrange each individual nativity set, and once you find it, never move the figures, or else you'll ruin it forever). I love Christmas lights, especially driving down silent streets looking out at them, glittering in the darkness. I love sitting by firelight and candlelight, and reading some homey epic that makes you feel simultaneously quite daring and quite comfortably at home wherever you happen to be (I've only done this once or twice, but my future house will have a fireplace so I can do it lots). I adore curling up next to a window in a hoodie and thick socks, a cup of cocoa in hand, to read almost as much--and it has the added bonus of being quite splendid for acting out whatever I'm reading with my quite-slippery socks across hardwood floors...because who doesn't want to be a slippy-slidey version of Legolas defeating the Mumak?

I love dancing around to Christmas carols, or standing in an echoing chapel and singing a quiet version of Silent Night--I especially love dancing in the snow and belting out "Jingle Bells" or "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" at the top of my lungs. I love hearing about Mary, the simple Jewish girl who was chosen to give birth to the Messiah. I love learning new things about the beginning of Christ's earthly journey. I love thinking forward through that journey, seeing what this beginning would eventually achieve, how it would change the world.

Most especially, I love simply sitting, and thinking about this miracle.

Jesus, son of the Almighty God, become Emmanuel. 
The Highest, Jehovah, Lord of Glory, I Am, the upholder of all things, the Alpha and Omega, ending and beginning. 
The Wisdom, the Power, the Might, the Messenger, the Word, the Flesh, the Image.
Son of Man, Son of God, Prophet, Servant, Son.
Savior, the Same, the Lamb, the Shepherd, the Sacrifice.
The Bread, the Tree, the Living Water, the Rose, the Lily, the Branch.
The Light, Strength, Hope, a Refuge, Horn of Salvation.
The Rock, the Redeemer, the Foundation, the Cornerstone, the Temple, the Offerer, the Offering.
The Gift of God, God's Beloved.
The Way, the Truth, the Life, the Covenanter, the Witness.
The Head, the Ensign, the Captain, the Shield, the King, the Lord, the Crowned one.

All of that. All that he was. All that he will be forevermore. And he became a man. And not all at once, oh no. First he became a baby. A tiny, helpless, crying thing that can't even move on its own. That was what the Lord of the universe, a being beyond all human conception, became.

All for us.

And that, to me, is why I love the Christmas season most of all. Yes, it's not technically the time that Jesus was born. He wasn't born anywhere near what we call Christmas. And yes, "Christmas" is technically derived from some pagan festival until it was roughly made "acceptable" by the Catholic Church...but you know what? I don't really care. Because it is yet another chance to simply sit and marvel at how great my God is. And I'm not going to pass up a single reminder to do that.

My Peace, my Righteousness, my Lord, my Master, was made a helpless baby so that he might go to the cross.

Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Very First King Size Bed

This picture has been floating around the internet in the form of forwarding emails and I had to share it with you in case you haven't seen it :}

Every time I look at this picture I hear the words from "Away In A Manger."

Away in a manger, no crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.

The stars in the bright sky look down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the poor babe awakes
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes

I love thee Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my side 'til morning is nigh.

Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever and love me I pray.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The F Word

This is a polarizing word, one that I instinctively cringe at. It's not taboo in Christian circles, in fact it is trumpeted from the rooftops and plastered all over pretty blogs covered in roses with sweet hymns playing in the background.


It wasn't pushed on me as a child, but I have a cautionary tale about Christian homeschool girls who did have this word rammed down their throats from an early age. I’ll tell you the story of "Lucy," an amalgamation of 2 or 3 real girls.

Lucy was something of a tomboy. As soon as she could toddle around, she was playing in the dirt, fording streams, and mauling small animals. Her mother despaired. She longed for her girl to be a perfect little lady, a good example to other children. So she did what made sense to her: she shoved Lucy into pink dresses with puffed sleeves.

Original Photo: Pink Tutus, a photo by rustman on Flickr.
Lucy hates puffed sleeves. Ever tried to climb trees or chase cattle in a skirt? Not the easiest thing in the world. Besides that, puffy dresses and lace weren't to Lucy's personal taste (fashion ideas develop early, don't they?). But these things were "feminine," and God wants little girls to be feminine, right? So Lucy suffered in silence.

Now Lucy is in her twenties, and what is the last thing in the world she wants to be? You guessed it. FeminineShe's cut her hair short, bought some black shirts, and has nothing but jeans in her closet. Nothing, that is, except for one pink skirt. That's what she wears to church on Sundays. 

Why does she wear that skirt to church? It's a holdover from youth. She has the idea that this is what you're supposed to do. It’s somehow "holier," and should be worn at least once a week. She wears that skirt because her mother wants her to. The church wants her to. Maybe God wants her to.

What is true femininity? It has a lot to do with cultural norms,  with what is traditionally considered appropriate to women. The Biblical definition is 99% about character (as Devin pointed out, you can be feminine as a duchess or a cowgirl), and almost nothing to do with clothing. The Bible has very little to say about how women should dress (1 Timothy 2:9-10 is a rare and somewhat vague exception). 

Some girls like Lucy are shamed into flouncy clothes they dislike, others abandon femininity altogether as soon as they grow up. Plenty of girls—many of you, I'm sure—have no problem with pink and dresses (I certainly don't). There is nothing wrong about being feminine. God calls women to look, speak, and act like women, but I cringe at the word “femininity” because of so many bad examples.

We wade in dangerous waters when we put strict limits on what is and what is not feminine.

Here is the warning I feel led to give: be careful when you define what is "feminine" for another girl, especially when it comes to clothing. It is so easy to injure someone else’s spirit with judgmental words. More than likely, someone who is already set against femininity will run in the opposite direction and you’ll end up doing more harm than good.

Are we called to a high standard of holiness? Yes
Is it sometimes hard to be feminine in a culture of gender equality? Yes
Should we encourage other girls to act in a godly way? Yes
Must we be careful about the extra-biblical rules and regulations that we put down concerning dress and attitude? I believe so.

Have you or someone you know had an experience similar to Lucy’s? What is your working definition of femininity?

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Giveaway Winner!

Here's a big thank you to everyone who participated in this month's giveaway! The lucky winner is Lydia Peña.

Lydia is a young woman who considers herself blessed to live in beautiful New Hampshire with her parents and four sisters. She is a homeschool graduate and stay-at-home daughter who continues to pursue her education in various ways.
While I don’t intend to become a world famous classical pianist, and I don’t expect any accolades on my latest best seller, I AM striving for a goal. My utmost ambition is to brighten the corner where the Lord has placed me. One day I want to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” So whether I fly far, and accomplish great things in this world, or stay close and shine on those I come in contact with, I pray that my life reflects “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 
Some of her interests include playing piano, quilts, making messes in the kitchen, nieces and nephews, sewing, biking, books, horticulture, splashing in puddles, family, study of worldviews, laughing, and doing out-of-the-ordinary things. You can connect with her on her blog, Grace and Glory.

- PSALM 84.11

Friday, 7 December 2012

a biblical lady

lady - (n)
1. A well-mannered and considerate woman with high standards of proper behavior.
2. A woman regarded as proper and virtuous

There are all sorts of people in the world. There are loud people and quiet people, outgoing people and shy people, crafty people and wordy people, hands-on people and theoretical people. There are just as many divisions within the different genders as there are in the collective group. And that's where it gets a little hazy. The Bible is pretty clear on this point, in some cases--it's very plain that the "loose" woman and the "contentious, brawling" woman of Proverbs aren't women to be emulated. It's equally clear that women like Mary, the mother of Jesus, or Mary Magdalene, or Rachel, are most definitely pretty good role-models.

But what form does this take now, in the twenty-first century? After all, life is so much different now...right? 

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

It is very true that modern young women are in lack of a good assortment of role-models in the here and now. We can read about past women who reached the goal of being a 'virtuous woman'--what I think is probably the best Biblical term for the modern conception of 'lady'--but it's more difficult to find women that live up to that in the here and now. Yet they do exist. You can find them in the kind words they give, in the gentle spirit they possess, in the fact that they're the sort of people who you would give up, whose worth in wisdom and love and pure beauty of the soul is far above rubies.

She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 

These virtuous women--these ladies--are strong. Not just in the physical sense (because some of them aren't at all; one of the most beautiful ladies I ever met was old and frail), but in the sense that they have a strength that manifests itself as an ability to listen and never get tired, to be the gentle corrector, to offer advice when it seems something is hopeless, to be the one people go to when they don't know where to turn. That sort of strength, it seems to me, is so much more important than being physically strong, or even mentally strong. To be strong in the heart is a great talent indeed.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 

These ladies are generous. They are generous with their strength--with the time they spend listening and helping and crying with and praying for--they are generous with their resources and their hearts and their homes and their minds. Not only that, but they are selfless. They think of others before themselves, of what they can do to help another. This part of being a virtuous woman is, to me, more about the spiritual than the physical. It definitely has a physical side--for instance, very often spiritual ministering includes physical ministering. But there is a need in the spirit, a poorness about some people's hearts that must be tended. A true virtuous woman, one of God's 'ladies', can sense that, and tries her hardest to do something about it.

She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

A lady is industrious. None of the modern-day virtuous women I've met are idle. They have their moments, of course (I mean, how many of us honestly have not had those days where we just want to curl up with a good book and spend hours immersed in a fantastical world, a very safe cup of hot chocolate nestled against one hand to keep it warm?), but they have a plan, a set idea of what they want and how to get there, and what to do while they're getting there. They work for their families, with their families, for other people, with other people. And that's kind of an amazing thing, when you think about it. Other people are one of the wonders of the world, and this lady is able to not only be with them, but do things for and with them, to create and sell and earn and buy.

 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 

A lady is courageous, and respected because of it--mostly because she respects others. This will lead to great rejoicing, for she who lives in peace with all will be loved by all. Something like that. (Try to figure that out if you can; I'm not quite sure what part of my brain produced that, but it sounds cool.)

 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

A lady is wise, and kind, and kind in her wisdom. Someone once told me that the most important thing to think about when interacting with other people is "will this help me love this person more?" That is both part of wisdom, and much of kindness. The wisdom to know what to say (and, more importantly, when to say it), and the kindness to temper those words born of wisdom when needed.

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

As always, in everything we do, there must be God in it. Every Godly lady I have ever met did not get there by her own effort. She is strong, but not without the Christ, which strengthens us. She is industrious, but not without the creativity given her by the One who created her hands. She is courageous, and gives respect to all, but not without the Holy Spirit to whisper to her words of truth about the people she meets. She is wise, and kind in her wisdom, but the beginning of all wisdom is God, and His word, and she would not know kindness but for the God who gave His all.

She fears the Lord, not in the sense that she trembles because of the punishment he could send, but that she adores and worships and is amazed by the awesome power that is His. She revels in the love and the beauty that is her God, she delights to learn more of him, to hear His words and see His work in her life. Everything she does is an outpouring, not of herself, but of the reflected light of Christ. She is a woman, not because of herself, but because of the One who holds her up with His mighty hand.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Femininity - Duchess, Cowgirl, or something else?


This is a word that I find conjures up many images in a girl's head when she hears it.  For some girls, they picture something from the "romantic" 1800's, or perhaps even early 1900's, or maybe you go even further back to medieval times.  Usually the image is of a young woman who is dressed in a beautiful dress doing something that we feel is a "feminine" activity.  For example, some would picture a woman sitting on a quilt at the beach with her parasol to shade her from the sun and book to engage her mind.  Perhaps you imagine a young lady on swing, her long hair softly moving in the breeze as she reads to a younger sibling.  Maybe it is a woman decorating a Christmas tree with a warm fire glow illuminating the room. Most of the time it a picture of someone who is "put together" in our expectations of femininity, doing something we think is feminine.


Which picture of Princess Kate is more feminine to you?  Each of us has our own view of femininity.

Whatever it is, it is usually NOT a woman cleaning out a barn with muck boots on, or scrubbing the kitchen floor with her arms covered in suds, or shoveling out a path way to the barn after a snow storm etc. :)  I know for me, I tend to romanticize my picture of femininity.  There is nothing wrong with the images I portrayed first, as long as we realize that that is not the only side of godly femininity.

Melinda, over at Radiant Purity and True Beauty did a short and sweet post on Femininity and I want to share a quote from her:

"Femininity is something that we develop inside. It's the quiet beauty of a meek and gentle spirit mingled with the robust strength of a Proverbs 31 woman. It's not talking softly, dressing like a southern belle, wearing pink, putting on lots of makeup and spending hours fixing ones hair. It's being a dignified woman of character and strength while instilling meekness, compassion, quietness, humility and sweetness of spirit in our hearts."

Colossians 3:12 says, ""Put on the garments that suit God's chosen people, His own, His beloved--compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience."

We can dress in beautiful "feminine" outfits, doing "feminine" things, but if our hearts and character are not focused on becoming more Christ like, then we are not exhibiting true femininity.

Femininity is about serving God and surrendering to the Holy Spirit's control in our lives.

To God, a feminine lady is one who puts on the armor of God.  One who displays the fruit of the Spirit in her life, because her heart is surrendered to Him.  She is loving, generous, humble, kind, gentle, willing to serve, careful with her words, shares the gospel.....a reflection of Jesus. 

Dressing to go to a Christmas concert, curling our hair, adding that hint of eye liner, taking great care to look "feminine" is not wrong, but how we act and think when unpleasant circumstances occur will show how feminine we really are.  Because femininity, I feel,  is in many ways another word for godliness/ Christ-likeness.

P.S. Jasmine Bauchmann wrote a beautiful post about femininity here, that I think you all would enjoy :)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

December 2012 Featured Girl: Julia Erickson

It's that time of month again! Time for us girls to get to know each other a little better by highlighting a great member of our community. December's featured girl is Julia Erickson, a homeschool graduate, writer, and jewelry maker. 

Stay tuned after the interview for an exciting giveaway from Julia!
This giveaway has now ended.

Altogether Separate: For starters, tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live? How big is your family?

Julia: Hi! I'm Julia... an artist, writer, dreamer, dancer, and a girl who enjoys finding sparkle in every day. :)
I live in rural Georgia in a log home on a hill in the woods, although I grew up in Naples, Florida fifteen minutes away from the beach. :D Our family is the five of us - my wonderful parents, my two brilliant younger brothers ages 18 and 17, and myself, age 21. :)

Tell us something really unique about you. hair is so long, it nearly reaches my knees. That's pretty unique. ;) I often get stopped in stores by people exclaiming "Your hair is sooooo long!" and my favorite reply is "Yes, and I grew it myself!" Haha!

Now that you have graduated from high school, what do you think about your homeschool education?

I am extremely grateful that my mother chose to homeschool me and my brothers even though she struggled with severe arthritis. She is an amazing woman of God and I have learned so much from her and my wise father. I wouldn't have chosen any other way to go, education-wise! I dearly hope to homeschool my own children someday and instill the same values and beliefs my parents trained up in me. :)

What was your funniest homeschooler moment?

Hmmm... Well, when I was a little girl of ten or so, I read tons of books. TONS. I always had a book in my hand. Thus, you could often find me rollerblading, unloading the dishwasher, or riding my bike WHILE reading a book. :D And... when exiting the library, I was always carrying a stack of books that stretched from my waist to my chin. :D I must have appeared rather comical doing that!

If you had the chance to tell your 14 year old self one thing, what would it be?

Wow. Great question. We moved to Georgia when I was 14, and soon after that began a very difficult period in my life where I didn't 'fit in' with the teens at my church. I would give my 14-year-old self a warm hug and say "Honey, you need to cling tight to God right now. Dig deep into that pink Bible of yours and read it every day, because a time is coming when you're going to need to stand on the solid rock, or your heart will crumble. Lean on the strong, experienced shoulders of your parents, because they know what's best for you, even if you can't understand their decisions right now. You will be so happy later that you listened to them. Cherish your time with your brothers and work hard on your friendship with them, because while friends may come and go,they will always be there for you. But above all, stand strong and hold fast to what you know is right, and don't let anybody else's opinion matter more that God's."

What projects are you working on right now?

I'm working on many projects! :D I have a jewelry business and sell jewelry in a local consignment shop, I sell ebooks that I wrote on how to make jewelry, I'm currently writing my fourth novel, crocheting now and then on an afghan in brown and ivory yarn, and practicing a myriad of homemaking skills! My cooking has really improved lately... sewing is next! :D

Thoughts about the future?

When I think about the future, I smile. I have no idea what lies ahead of me around the bend in the road, but my heavenly Father does, and whatever his plan is, it's going to be beautiful. My dream and desire is to be found by a godly young man and become his wife and helpmeet, raising 9 or 10 children, and furthering my husband's vision, whatever that may be. I don't want a 'career' besides being a keeper of the home, creating jewelry and crocheted crafts, and writing. :)

Now for a really serious question: what super power would you like to have?

:D Serious indeed! I know it's typical, but I would love to be able to fly. :D Think about how amazing it would be if one could actually just lift off the ground... and soar. So amazing. That, or I would love to be able to look at someone and know exactly what they were thinking - it would certainly be interesting!

Julia blogs at

OK, here's the exciting part. Julia's shop at is going to give away all three of her beautiful jewelry making ebooks:

Each of these books costs $7.95, but one lucky girl is going to get all of them for free!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Viruses and Gratitude

You take it for granted. I know you don’t mean to. It’s natural.

When was the last time you jumped into the air with joy for being able to read?
When did you cry for happiness at the thought of three square meals a day?
How many times do you fall on your knees and praise God for the Internet?

Two days ago I was vomiting up my guts. I won’t get too graphic, but I was up half the night and my stomach felt like someone had ripped it out, chewed it up, and then stuffed it back in with a plunger. Today I feel amazing, completely normal.

Wait a minute.

How often do we hear those two words used together? Amazing + Normal.  

Original Photo: Tears, a photo by Έλενα Λαγαρία on Flickr.
We all forget. The monotonous cycle of life numbs us into accepting the status quo. We’re always getting used the present and looking toward the future. 

The only reason I’m so thankful for a quiet stomach is because it has been unquiet. The only reason I praise God for flexible muscles is because my body has been aching. The only reason I’m grateful for my strength is because I’ve been lying around on horizontal surfaces like a limp dishrag

And that brings me to today’s shocking revelation—

We cannot appreciate our blessings until we have suffered.

I don’t know the answer to the immortal problem of pain, but let me ask you this: the things you are especially grateful for right now, would you value them so highly if you had never been in danger of losing them?

We can glibly write out a couple dozen reasons to give thanks, but the anthems of gratitude that come spontaneous to our lips in the silence of the night, when there is no one but God to hear, those are the sacrifices of praise that must make God’s heart thrill.

Remember this in the good times. 

When everything is going right, when life has settled into a gentle rhythm,  remember that suffering paves the way to gratitude. Take this moment to thank the Lord for all those things you might have lost, all those things you might still lose. If you don’t give thanks for this second, you’ll never get another chance.

This recent battle with a  stomach virus has forced me to mull these things over. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. What are you taking for granted? Do you have any suggestions for how we can be grateful for the things we think are “normal”? 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Praise Him In The Storms.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:18
Hello, Thanksgiving! I love this time of year...don’t you? Crisp and colorful leaves drifting down from the trees, blazing fires to accompany the cool breezes, but most of all, I love this time of year because It makes me realize how blessed I truly am. Living in the United States (which I assume most of you readers are), there is SO much to be thankful for. Many of us have homes (and probably warm, toasty ones at that), clothes on our backs, food to eat (including epic Pringles as Kyla said ;), and people who truly, truly love us. With so much of everything, it’s easy to be thankful. But in our heart, are we truly thankful? Or do we just hop on the thankfulness bandwagon because we feel as if we are almost entitled to a wonderful life?
I found this poem and I thought it illustrated very well why we should choose thankfulness at all times. Even though it doesn’t rhyme (which I’m convinced all poems should), I think you’ll enjoy it.
“Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.”
 -Author Unknown
Someone who has a truly thankful heart praises God at all times. Thankfulness should come as an overflow of praise to our glorious God, who owes NOTHING to us. This means even in the storms. So, when your life is less than okay, praise Him. When your loved one is hauled off to jail, give thanks. When your darkest hour closes in, glorify His name. As measly sinners, we don’t deserve anything. Let’s praise God in all situations. 
That’s what it means to be truly thankful.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

thirty reasons for me to be thankful

a God who is way more awesome than I fully realize
a family that loves me far more than I deserve
a warm home
good food
beautiful friends
wonderful talent—or, at least, talent that occasionally errs on the side of beauty
Pringles (no, seriously, they’re epic)
good music that makes me want to dance and cry and laugh and love
beautiful books
being able to get my favorite movie trilogy for forty dollars when it’s supposed to be one hundred (Lord of the Rings, if you’re interested)
good people who are willing to put up with me even when I annoy them
a love beyond all measure and reckoning, that sent the God of the universe to a cross for me
a country where I don’t have to worry about being thrown into jail—at least, not for what my religious beliefs are
pens that fit perfectly into my hand, because they’re hard to find
a workplace that doesn’t mind me taking off for months at a time to travel
the ability to learn
baby giggles
stories from old people
beautiful landscapes
the twenty-first century
being able to climb out of my bed in the morning
occasionally being able to stay in my bed in the morning
generous people
other fans of things I love, that make me feel just a bit more sane than I am
the blood that covers it all
friends on the other side of the world 
all the little things

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endures forever.
- Psalm 107:1

Monday, 19 November 2012

~ Smile ~ What has God blessed us with?

As we enter this week and look ahead to Thanksgiving, I smile at what the Lord has been doing in my life and my family's life.

This past weekend has been a busy one for our family.  My dad, sister and I traveled down to NYC for a few days to help with a church and the food pantry that they run.  Wow!  What an eye opener!  Yes, we have all heard that story of how someone went somewhere, where the people were in serious need and there eyes were opened to how blessed they were.  But somehow, when it happens to you, it still hits you hard, right between the eyes.

How many times have I had to worry about where my next meal was coming from? Never.  How many times have I wondered if I would be warm enough when the snow comes? Never.  How many times have I wondered if there would be enough food left after looking at the 100 people in front of me in line at the food pantry? Never.  How many times have I gone looking through bags of donated clothes set out on a table hoping for a jacket for someone special? Never. How many times have I wished I could bake Christmas cookies with family members, but known that it would all depend on if a certain store donated the ingredients needed to make cookies? Never. How many times have I waited in line for hours in the cold to receive that days groceries? Never.  How many times have I thought about God, but not known how to get to know Him? Never.  How many times have I searched for peace, love, and joy, but not found it because I had never been taught where to find the Source of love, joy and peace? NEVER.  When have I ever had a hurricane come through and ruin ALL my posessions? Never. When have I ever had to wonder if the water I was drinking was actually hurting my body, more then helping it? Never.

God has given us so much and yet so often I fall short in my gratefulness.  As I look back on the weekend and think of the people that I met and talked with, I can think of so many other things I am thankful for.

A family that loves me! A genuine relationship with my Heavenly Father! The Gift of Salvation!
A whole copy of the Bible that is accurate!  The Fellowship of other Christians!  A wonderful Pastor and his family!  Clean, healthy food!  The opportunity I had to be homeschooled!  The ability to see, hear, touch, smell and taste!  That I was taught to read, write and study!  Ok, lets get closer to home here at the blog.....Computers, websites, blogs, meeting kindred spirits online, email, the internet, photographs, etc.

God is so good! This past fall my sister and volunteered at a Christian Camp in our neck of the woods and we made some wonderful friends or built even better relationships then we had already had.  One of my favorite memories from this fall was on the last night we got together (there are several people who work the camp, but six of us specifically had gotten close.)  We were sitting around a campfire late at night talking, roasting marshmallows, heating up chocolate and making s'mores and just talking.  How many people are able to do something like that....sure I can think of a lot who can, but there are even more who can't.  I think of the people who live in cities. They don't have the opportunity to build a warm fire, see the beautiful sparks, smell that wood smoke, roast those marshmallows and make s'mores.  Many of them don't have likeminded, Christian friends who encourage and uplift them.

I could go on and I think most of us could.  What are you thankful for?  It would be so cool to have each person who reads this post to leave a comment and write down and LEAST ONE thing they are thankful for.  Your comments are always a blessing for us the authors but also to the rest of the reader as well :) - Another thing to be thankful for :} 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Of Pilgrims and Separatists

Since we’re nearing Thanksgiving, it seemed appropriate to talk about the Pilgrims' idea of holiness. Should we follow their example, or did they get it wrong?

Though we know the early settlers of Plymouth Colony as “Pilgrims,” they probably referred to themselves as Dissenters or Separatists. They saw the Church of England as corrupt and distanced themselves from it—quite literally—by holding their own services, and eventually emigrating to Holland. They feared corruption by the people they were living among, and at last settled in one of the emptiest places possible, the New World.

File:Flickr - USCapitol - Embarkation of the Pilgrims.jpgI’m sure you’re familiar with the idea that “here we are but straying pilgrims,” and this world is not our home. I think many Christians can identify with the Separatists’ frustration with the modern church, and we long to somehow set ourselves apart from the rest and declare that at least we have it right.

If holiness means to be “different” or “separate,” then how does that relate to being “in the world, but not of it”? Jesus told His disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19), but he also prayed to the Father, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Sounds a bit paradoxical, doesn't it?

What it comes down to is this: are we called to look differently, act differently, talk differently, sing differently, cook differently, read differently, and write differently than the world? I believe so. The Jesus-life in us should permeate every thread of our being and make us altogether separate. But does that mean that we should get together with our Christian homeschool friends, build a boat, and sail off to an uncharted wilderness?

I don’t think so.

164/365  After the Storm  (+1) by martinak15
164/365 After the Storm (+1), a photo by martinak15 on Flickr.
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of lifeis not of the Father but is of the world.” There is no place on earth so empty that can be perfectly holy as God is holy (remember what happened with the Pilgrims and Native Americans in the years after that friendly Thanksgiving dinner?). We'll always have ourselves to contend with, and much of the time we actually don't "have it right." 

However, there’s another part to that verse, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15). We may not be perfectly holy here on earth, we are still in the world, but we have the promise that all the filth around us will be purged away, and God’s holy ones left standing in the brilliance of His grace.

Remember: God didn't put us here to be hermits! He called us to go “into all the world” (Mark 16:15). 

Do you think that the Pilgrims were "in this world but not of it"? How are you going to heed that call today?

Monday, 12 November 2012

That's MY King.

I'd like to begin by showing y'all this video to get you thinking about how Holy God really is: 


It’s absolute perfection. The clearest of purities. An unattainable quality attributed only to our one, true God, Jesus Christ. It’s a quality that causes the angels and heavenly being to fall prostrate before Him, and it’s one that will someday cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess.

And it’s there to show us the flaws of the human condition. But it’s also there to give us hope.
We see how much everyone is desperately in need of a Savior. Someone who can rescue them from the muck and mire of sin that we so desperately cling to. As broken, sinful human beings, we look at ourselves in the mirror and think, “Oh. Look at me, I’m so filthy. Why would God care about me? He could never love me. I’m not good enough.” 

Let me tell you, ladies. We aren’t good enough (Romans 3:23). No one is. That’s how incredible Holiness is. God is SO GLORIOUS we are not even worthy to stand in His presence.

But. Our God is not only a Hágios God. He is also a God of HOPE. Did you hear that!? He gives us broken, dirty sinners HOPE! Praise God! He says, “I love you anyway, my daughter.” He says “Run to me!” He says “Do not lose heart! Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

That’s His Holiness.

Our God gives us hope when we thought that was no more. He fills us when we are empty. He knows how sinful we are, but offers NEVER-ENDING forgiveness. For “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, and all sinners (I Tim 1:19).”

One day, we will “be holy, for [He is] holy (I Peter 1:16).” In heaven, we will be made perfect, only because of His selfless Sacrifice, Jesus.The forgiveness that God gives only intensifies His Greatness. 

We have been REDEEMED, RESCUED, SET FREE! We should not live in darkness anymore, but start striving for Holiness. Striving to become more like God in purity. 

I Peter 1:14 - 15 says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct...”

Our God is Hágios.

Do you know Him? That’s MY King.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

an anthem of difference

What, exactly, is it that happens when one gets saved? Oh yes, we're saved from all sins past, present, and future, Christ becomes the propitiation for us, and through his resurrection we gain new, beautiful, radical life in Him. But more than that...what happens? In that moment, we become different. All at once, old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.

And shouldn't our lives reflect this difference? This difference, in fact, should be (in my opinion, at least), defined by its most simple root form: holiness. (As Devin pointed out, the Greek word this word derives from is most accurately defined as 'different' or 'separate'.) We most often see this word, of course, applied toward God, someone so beyond our conception of banal existence that we can't even fathom it.

But through Christ, we have become saints, and have become credited with all the righteousness of Christ. In God's eyes, if you are redeemed, there is no difference between you and Christ. You have, to all intents and purposes, been credited with the holiness of Christ.

So how are we supposed to respond to this? How is this supposed to manifest itself?


I don't really know. But I do know that Peter talked about it quite a bit, in both of his epistles.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation...
what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness...?

Biblically, our 'conversation' is, very simply, our testimony. It is the way other people see us. For we, as Christians, this is vitally important. 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us we are ambassadors, and 6:3 states that we must give no offence, "that the ministry be not blamed". God may look at the heart, but people most definitely look at the outside, and what they see and hear is integral to how they perceive not just us, but our God.

Take care that your words are gentle, peaceable, kind. I know this can be the hardest thing to master, as we talked about some time ago. More than that, be sure that your actions will give no cause for question fall upon God. All manner of conversation, after all.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober

Be ready. Be serious when it is time to be serious. Conduct yourself as a person of God.

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God
hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ

And at the end of it, what is it that we're looking forward to? What is it that will help us achieve this holiness? Christ's coming, and Christ, quite simply. Jesus has promised to return for us, his bride. And that gives me quite a bit of hope. How can I help serving him while I am here, and singing to him an anthem of difference with my life?

*references in italics taken from 1 Peter 1:13-16 and 2 Peter 3:11-12

Monday, 5 November 2012

A Specific Reflection Needed


What does holiness mean to you?

Picture found on flikr and taken by   ~~~johnny~~~
 I know every time I hear the word "Holy" I think of the well know hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy" or I think of God's holiness and the passages in Isaiah or Revelation that speak of His holiness.  I have to say that rarely do I think of myself as holy, because I view holiness as "perfectness."....I am FAR from perfect so therefore REALLY far from holy.

However when Abby sent out the email reminding us about what our next topic is to be about for the next two weeks, she mentioned that "the fundamental meaning of the Greek word hágios (the root word for holy) is "different." It implies something "set apart" and therefore "different" because it is special to the Lord."

For example, a temple in the 1st century was hagios ("holy") because it was different from other buildings.

God is the only one who is truly holy, but as Christians he has called us to be holy as well.

"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16

"The idea of exactly how to be holy has suffered from many false concepts. In some circles, holiness is equated with a series of specific prohibitions - usually in such areas of smoking, drinking and dancing. The list of prohibitions varies depending on the group.  When we follow this approach to holiness, we are in danger of becoming like the Pharisees with their endless list's of trivial do's and don'ts and their self righteous attitude.  For others, holiness means a particular style of dress and mannerisms.  And for still others it means unattaniable perfection,......All of these ideas, while accurate to some degree, miss the true concept. To be holy is to be morally blameless.  It is to be separated from sin and, therefore, consecrated to God.  The word signifies "seperation to God, and the conduct befitting those so separated."[1]

As Ephesians 4:22-24 says "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

When we are born again and accept the gift of Salvation, we put off the old man, our old life style and put on the new man.  A new life style that has new purpose in Christ.  A life that becomes a living sacrifice for the One who gave His life that we might live.

Holiness....morally blameless, separated from sin, consecrated to God.

Oh dear,...again, I fall short with these definitions as well.  Unfortunately none of us will ever be perfectly holy, all the time, except for Christ.  However, he has called us to be set apart, consecrated to Him, a living sacrifice, and holy..........

How do we get there?

Picture credit given to  ~~~johnny~~~  of flikr

By living each moment in obedience and surrender to Him.  We can not be holy, but through yielding to the Holy Spirit's working in our lives, we can at least be a small reflection of Him.  

I so often think of myself as a clear pond.  When I am yielded to Him and allowing Him to work through me, the pond is still and people can see His reflection in the water.  However, when I am struggling and fighting the battle on my own, not yielding to the Holy Spirit, not surrendering in obedience, the water is in turmoil - waves crashing on the beach, ripples and waves causing not a spot on the water to be still....therefore no reflection can be seen.  

We are holy when His reflection can be seen in us.  Living lives set apart for Christ is what this blog is about.  Our lives are lived differently because Christ lives within us.  His Holy Spirit prompts us to make choices that honor Him.  Choices that often times set us apart from the world.  Choices in how we speak, dress and act.  In what we watch and listen to.  Where we spend our time and how we spend it.

Footnotes: 1. Jerry Bridges in his book "Pursuing Holiness"
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