Friday, 25 May 2012

what is my life?

There is a perennial question that circulates on some social media platforms (most notably, in my experience, Tumblr). It usually comes up when someone realizes how utterly mundane their existence is, or starts to think about the fact that it mostly centers around a small metal device that is magically linked to the rest of the world via an unknowable force that most of us don't even want to understand because that would take all the fun out of it.

What is my life?
What am I doing?
What I don't even i can't why what is this asdfjkl;

I'm quite sure that, many years from now, anthropologists will be studying the ancient data records that are left from that archaic, oh-so-quaint institution called the internet, they will discover this trove of introspective questioning and they will come to the conclusion that precisely 90% of the human population during the early 21rst century were not at all sure what their lives were actually about. (The other 10%, of course, are convinced that the answer to this question somehow, inexplicably, lies embedded in the number '42'.)

I think all of us do this at some time or another. We have to ask, maybe with our faces tipped toward heaven, what exactly our lives are for. Why am I here, God? Why am I here, in America, and not somewhere else? Why am I this and not that? Why was I lucky enough to be born into this family? Why was I unlucky enough to be born into this train wreck that outsiders call a family? What is my life about? What is my purpose? What am I supposed to do with this time? What, why, who, when, how?

This is a human trait. The future is one of those nebulous, annoying concepts that we can't ever quite wrap our heads around, kind of like the vastness of the world or the fact that the universe has no edge or that just the idea of God is too big for us to express in proper, easy human words. So we ask questions to compensate for the fact that we don't have any answers, and those questions can easily consume us.

I'm a senior this year. I've officially graduated from high school. My life as a child is, for all intents and purposes, over. In the eyes of the world, I am now an adult, or close enough to it that I've got to act like I am. And I'm surrounded by a world that, let's face it, doesn't make a whit of sense. So faced with all this, these decisions that are being thrown at me, the ideas and concepts I've got to grapple with, the question of my future and what I want to do with my life, I find myself asking, 'what is my life?'

God, what is my purpose?
What am I supposed to do?
Where am I supposed to go?

Perhaps, as I said, this is natural. I've never been good with the future, with deciding what I'm supposed to do. I worry too much for it to be easy. What if I don't get funds for this? What if this doesn't happen? What if I don't get to do this? What if, what if.

But the great thing about God is that he's not a what-if God. There are no 'ifs' with him. I highly doubt that he's ever looked down at one of us, his precious creations, and said, "well, I don't know what you're going to do. You're on your own. We'll see how this works. What if you fail? Oh well, stinks for you."
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:11-13 
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee shall not slumber. - Psalm 121:3 
A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. - Proverbs 16:9 
Thus sayeth the Lord, thy Reedeemer... I am the Lord thy God... which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. - Isaiah 48:19 
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way. - Psalm 37:23
Our lives may not make sense to us. In fact, looking ahead, it can be downright frightening. But we've got a God who's bigger than anything else, even than our future. We are the apple of his eye, the beautiful creatures he designed to complement and live within his wonderful creation. He has a plan, and he sits on the throne.

So to answer our original question: what is my life? What am I doing? What am I supposed to do?
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. - Romans 12:1
Simply put, God is the one who holds power. As his daughters, saved by his grace, we should present our lives to him. After all, he died for us. What a small thing, in comparison.

What is my life?
It his His.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

My Book of ...


Simply put, the portrait of my life.

Vintage Books!!! :  wedding Vintage Books Wedding Table Ideas 500x333

Two years ago I started on a wonderful journey, a beautiful one, and one that I cherish each day. Call it what you would like, I have been keeping the pages of my life in my daybook. {Well, I should say "daybooks"}
This is a beautiful art that has been put aside in this culture of rushing and business. Who has time to write these days?

But wouldn't be nice to be able to look back, when you are much older and revisit the days long ago? To remember the times of joy and gladness, and the times of pain and sorrow and how the Lord used them in your life... to see the picture that Christ has painted in your life.. to see that though maybe you didn't understand what He was doing at that time of your life, you can now see how beautiful that brokenness was, and how it brought you closer to the Lord.

Pinned ImageEven looking back through the pages of two years ago of my own life, I am amazed at how the Lord has worked in my life. To read the thoughts that filled the pages of that time, to see that those tears were not in vain, and the joys were so sweet to have, and that the Lord has held me and will ever hold me through all!

I have also pondered the thought that maybe my writings of my girlhood will be a blessing to my daughters {if the Lord wills one day}. For them to read through my life would be an immense joy to me, and maybe a tool in their life.

I can look back at the time when Mom and I went to Cracker Barrel... just the two of us... to sit and talk over many things, and finding myself encouraged by her words and renewed. Or to reminisce the long bike rides with my Dad, among the wooded trails, talking and bonding together. To ponder the times with my little brother, whether it is playing submarine in a tree fort, or simply reading together... these sweet gifts are not to be forgotten! They are all tools in our lives that the Lord uses, and to cherish them and mediate on lessons learned is invaluable!

So, though I can and do get busy at times... I desire to continue my journey of the writing of my heart...To write out my struggles and prayers, my dreams and aspirations, my tears and hopes...

Will you join me?



Monday, 21 May 2012


Hello friends,

The next two weeks we will be having random posts about different things that are important to us.  Whether they be personal lessons we are learning, things we are passionate about, things that excite us or whatever else that the Lord lays on our hearts.

I've been reading lots of posts lately that talk about being honest and personal with you, our readers.  I can understand where these bloggers are coming from, as I can relate to so many of them that open their hearts and let the world see that they are not perfect and I'm thankful that they shared with their readers.  However, I've always struggled with sharing personal things on posts and today was no different as I struggled to figure out what to share with all of you.   I try so hard to look the part of a perfectly content, patient, kind, loving, purposeful, thankful and you can add whatever else you want that fits what you think is the steryotype of a Stay-At-Home-Daughter.  I may be the only homeschooled person most of the people I see, may come into contact with and I want them to have a positive picture in their mind.  I want people to see Christ's reflection in me and desire it for themselves.  I want to live a life that is filled with purpose and have a relationship with my heavenly Father that is never shaken.  I want to wake up every morning with a smile in my heart that comes from thoughts that are focused on Him.  My problem is that only God is perfect and I fail every single day at being that "perfect person."

Today was one of those days that I woke up very depressed.  There was not a smile in my heart and it wasn't a morning that I was looking forward to having devotions with my heavenly Father.  The sun may have been shining outside, but there was a thunderstorm brewing in my soul.  I think we all have days like that, but it's not something that we want to share, because it is not supposed to happen!  Even though we all know in our hearts that no one is perfect, our flesh and Satan make us feel like we are the only ones this happens to and that if anyone knew what we were thinking or how we were feeling they would think we were failures and horrible people.

Even though I knew in my heart and I knew what the Bible said, I was struggling with thoughts about God's love for me.  I felt like He knew everything that was going to happen in my life and that my prayers didn't even matter.  That although He made me, He was not fulfilling His promise of being a personal God......I know, NOT TRUE!, but it was how I was feeling!!

To top if off, I had a post to write for all of you about something that was personal.....Have you tried to write something that is supposed to be heartfelt and "spiritual" and you know that your heart isn't right?  It just isn't possible.  So I put off writing all day and God quietly worked in my life throughout the day.

First off, I was able to have the rain shower those thunder clouds were holding in my soul, with my Mom and shed the tears and release the tension that was building up inside of me.  She pointed me to Him, but the thunderclouds still stayed despite their being fully emptied. However, the release of tension was the start of His plan in calming me down. 

As we worked on different projects throughout the day, my mind calmed down and I saw the different lies I was believing about myself and then the Lord led me to watch the video posted below.  It was posted by a fellow Pinterest/Blogger friend and was such an incredible blessing to me.  The title of the video is "Father's Love Letter" and is truly beautiful.   I'm sure it has different versions of the Bible used in it, but the message is still the same.

It used all those verses that reminded me of His love, care, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness.  His forgiveness, His example, His guidance, His personal plan for each of us, His working in our lives and His promises to us.  It was exactly what this imperfect, fearful sinner needed to hear.

Then guess what happened....I got on my blogger dashboard to see what the people I follow have been writing and "Journey in the South" had a post titled "Why Live?"......The titled intrigued me as it was exactly what I had been asking myself.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

"There are things I have to do.
Questions I have to answer.
People I need to see.
People who NEED me: my little sister, my Mom, the kids at RU.
There's a life I need to live and a purpose that still needs to be fulfilled.
There's an adventure waiting just around the bend.
There's a Bible waiting for me to open it and gain wisdom and knowledge.
There are people who need my prayers - need me to get out of bed and get on my knees.
There's a reason for everything, so there must be a reason I'm here, and I don't want to miss it.
There is God, who wants me to follow Him. Because no one has the same journey as me that He has mapped out Himself and made me for."
God gave me what I needed to bring my focus back on Him and I'm thankful that He did.  He gave me the courage to share this with you and I'm thankful He did :]  I'm not perfect, but God still loves me.  I'm not perfect and never will be on this earth, but He still treasures me and I can cling to His promises that never fail.  Will I still fail? Yes, every day.  Will He still be there to help me stand?  Yes, every day.
Photo Credit:

I found a quote on Pinterest that I thought expressed my feelings exactly and it is what I want to close with.
"I can't brag about my love for God because I fail Him daily.  But I can brag about
 His love for me because it never fails." 
 Praise the Lord!

Friday, 18 May 2012

The NMS Covenant: How To Spice Up Your Meals

Food was meant to be enjoyed. It's a fact. When Nehemiah wanted the Israelites to show joy and strength in the Lord, he said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks." In Ecclesiastes, Solomon determed that "man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun."

So, do you think that God meant for us to eat utterly boring meals, or fulfill the working mother's dream of a little pill that takes away hunger? Of course not! Food is a blessing that should be experimented with, explored, and generally celebrated. Sometimes it's hard though, isn't it? Our schedules are rushed, there's no food in the house, or we're on our own and don't feel like going to the trouble to cook something new and interesting. So we fall into a rut.
The venerable Earl of Sandwich

For me, the rut is sandwiches. This is the go-to food that sucks the life out of eating. For you it might be an egg, a piece of fruit,  boring leftovers, breakfast cereal again, or something similarly uninspiring. Whatever it is, I'll bet it tends to get repetitive and mindless after a while. I know that whenever I'm on my own for lunch or supper (it's not often, but it does happen), I am tempted to go for quick and easy, predictable food. But last year I made a covenant with myself--the NMS (No More Sandwiches) Covenant. I resolved to use what food was at hand to create something wild and deliciously unexpected!

Here is some inspiration for you to spice up your meals and try something out of the ordinary. Some of these foods you can make from scratch, others are compiled from various leftovers, most are quick and easy and relatively nutritious, and all of them have at least one thing in common--they're not sandwiches. More complete instructions and ideas can be found with the full posts over at my personal blog.

 This is an absolutely delicious, crispy, healthy, pizza-like-thingy inspired by a Taste of Home recipe. Sauté a bunch of veggies and seasonings on high heat long enough to soften but not burn them or let them get squishy. In a separate skillet heat up a large flour tortilla in a bit of butter until it's crispy. Pile the veggie-goodness onto the tortilla, douse it with Parmesan cheese (or any other cheese you've got on hand) and garnish with fresh snipped basil leaves (be careful, it's messy). 

Now this one is crazy! It's what you get when a tornado is bearing down on you and you're really, really hungry. It's a conglomeration of  chicken salad  mixed with raisins, a handful of sunflower nuts, a good dose of curry powder, and a splash of honey dijon salad dressing piled onto a bowl of tortilla chips and topped with a boiled egg. Great use of leftovers!

This is what I like to call

It's French toast that has immigrated to another cultural cuisine, in this case Mexican. I whipped up an egg, liberally sprinkled the mixture with Mexican seasoning and cumin (I adore cumin), then heated a little butter in a skillet, coated bread with the egg stuff, and fried it up. I did this with two slices of bread, stacked them one on top of the other, and then slathered on the goods: melted colby-jack cheese, homemade salsa, and a dollop of sour cream. I sprinkled it with a bit more cumin, then splashed mild taco sauce over everything but the floor. Yummy? You bet!

This potato has been taken to the next level! With  part of an onion, some bell pepper slices, a couple mushrooms, a bit of leftover cheese, a dab of sour cream, a little olive oil, and/or just about anything else your little heart desires, you too can bury a perfectly decent baked potato under a mass of  sautéed  amazingness.

Another way to dress up a few leftover potatoes (did I tell you I like potatoes?) involves just ranch dressing, spicy Dijon Mustard, and parsley for garnish. That's all you need to whip up this delicious little side dish! Make it decadent with crumbled bacon as a topping.

This one was so much fun! I went Mexican again, this time topping some brown rice with cheese, black beans, onions, etc., but the kicker is that the topping is a mixture of salsa and strawberry jam. You've got to try it!

A spiedie is a dish that is basically marinated meat on a shish kabob, and I found a recipe online for "almost spiedies." What I made turned out to be absolutely nothing like spiedies, but it sure was delicious! Olive oil, about a capful of apple cider vinegar, sliced onions and bell peppers, fresh garlic, a precooked chicken breast, salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings, and you've cooked up something really delicious. Make it more authentic by piling it on top of a big hunk of soft Italian bread!

These are awesome as a meal for one (or more!), when you're in a hurry, or when you don't want to dirty up the kitchen. Simply blend 1 banana, 2 tbsp. nut butter (I used peanut), 1 egg, and a dash of vanilla (optional) together and pour into a hot buttered skillet. The result is remarkably like pancakes, and tastes delicious with maple syrup.

Happy experimenting!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

the most important meal of the day

I've always loved breakfast. Since it is the most important meal of the day (per the old-fashioned idiom, but also in scientific fact), I've always considered it as a teensy bit more deserving of my whole-hearted attention than the rest of the meals. That, and I just like sweet food that is still considered good for me by dint of being part of a proper meal. One dish that I especially love, and make at least once a week, are cinnamon rolls. I absolutely adore cinnamon rolls, whether from a tube or from another person's kitchen, or from my own. When I discovered this recipe, I found that it was absolutely wonderful, and I couldn't help but share.

I'd hoped to get some pictures of the steps, but I've been crazy busy and had no time to pull them together so, alas, step-by-step pictures shall have to wait until the next time we post about our favorite recipes. So, without further ado: Sweet cinnamon biscuits.

2 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
8 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup milk, optional

I usually eliminate the salt as a matter of course; it can give them a rather sour taste. Also, if you've not got buttermilk in the house, you can add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the cup of regular milk, and let it sit for about ten minutes. It serves the same purpose, and gets the right taste into it.
Also feel free to play with the cinnamon/sugar ratio; it took me quite awhile to get it how I like it.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a baking sheet or round tin lightly. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and soda in a medium bowl and mix well. Stir in vegetable oil; use a whisk to make sure most of the lumps are out. It will clump a little, but should crumble easily. Add buttermilk and stir just until blended
  2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth--if you knead it a bit longer than strictly necessary, it will make the rolls soft and moist.. Roll dough into a rough rectangle.
  3. Spread softened butter over the dough. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well. Sprinkle over butter. Roll up the rectangle, jelly roll fashion, starting from one long side. Pinch seam to seal.
  4. Cut the roll in 1-1/2 inch slices. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in prepared baking pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Removed from oven. You can pour milk over the top if desired. Serve hot.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Blueberry Goodness!

These small little bits of bliss are so delightful...
Pinned Image

Their sweetness fills your mouth...

Pinned Image

Their vibrant blue delights anyone who glances at them...

They are just pure one bite!

I have stumbled upon a delicious recipe from "Taste of Home" combining blueberries, nutmeg, and so many other delicious ingredients... so I had to share this with you all!

It is so scrumtious, and it has always disappeared quickly!

#blueberriesIt is called...

Blueberry Kuchen

You are probably wondering "what in the world is a kuchen???" Well, so was I! A kuchen is "a coffeecake raised with yeast, often containing fruit and nuts."
Imagine, warm blueberries in between a sweet pastry dough and a sugar crumb topping...mmmm!

And what is especially nice about this recipe, is that it is so easy to bake!

I will finish my rambling, and present you with this sweet delight!

~Blueberry Kuchen~

•1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

•3/4 cup sugar

•2 teaspoons baking powder

•1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

•1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

•1/4 teaspoon salt

•2/3 cup milk

•1/4 cup butter, melted

•1 egg, beaten

•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

•TOPPING:•3/4 cup sugar

•1/2 cup all-purpose flour

•1/4 cup butter, melted


•In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Add the milk, butter, egg and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes or until well blended.

•Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with blueberries. In a bowl, combine sugar and flour; add butter. Toss with a fork until crumbly; sprinkle over blueberries. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Yield: 12 servings Enjoy! 

May this tasty recipe be a blessing to your home and a delightful addition to your recipe collection...
{Thank you to the sweet friend who blessed me with this Taste of Home recipe through a wonderful cookbook... it has been a source of blessing in our home!} 


{All photos via Pinterest}

Monday, 7 May 2012

A Sweet Wrap!

The Bloggirls of Altogether Seperate have decided that for the next two weeks we will be sharing our favorite recipes!!  This should be fun! We would all love to know if you end up trying any of the recipes, so please leave a comment and let us know what you think =]

As soon as the topic was decided on I knew exactly what I wanted to share....however, why is it, that sometimes the best recipes are the ones that you've experimented with and you don't have exact measurements????  Guess what?  That's mine...  So you'll have to bear with me as the measurements will not be exact, but if you play with it and tweek it so you like it, you'll want to have it every week!

So....what is the recipe???  Sweet Potato Wraps (No I couldn't think of a more exciting name =])

I first had a sweet potato wrap at our local Co-op and the first bite I had made me thank God for another one of His vitamin rich, healthy vegetables!

As soon as we finished the wrap we new we would have to experiement and see if we could make something similar.  So, the next chance we had we ran to the Grocery store and picked up a bag of sweet potatoes.

What You Will Need:

2lb.  Sweet Potatoes
8oz.  Red Kidney Beans
1-2 tsp. Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 - 3/4 cup Veganaise - This is the vegan version of Mayonnaise.  I haven't tried it with mayo, but I'm sure it would be fine to use, however, the veganaise is fantastic with this.

Any type of wrap you want - Our family loves the spelt or spinach wraps!
Vegetables you would want in your wrap:  lettuce, spinach, salad mixture, shredded carrot,
celery, tomato, mushrooms, scallions, peppers, olives or whatever else you feel like :]

The Co-op used Vegan bacon bits that gave it some more added flavor.  We have yet to get some of that, but if you want you could add that as well!

1. We always put our vegetables in the sink filled with water and some hydrogen peroxide to clean them from any chemicals that have been sprayed on them, germs that have touched them or anything else that we would really rather not put into our body :] So the first thing I did was wash them and while they were soaking I turned the oven on.

2. We have a propane oven so the tempatures and time will vary as to how hot the oven should be and how long the sweet potatoes should be in there.  I set the oven at 400 degrees and cook them for an hour and they are usually perfect. (Keep checking them until they are done as 400 degrees for an hour may be too long for your oven) ~ For those of you who have never cooked sweet potato, we take a fork and poke holes in them just like regular potatoes so that they don't burst and then we place them in our bread pans.  We put them in the bread pans because they will leek out juices and make a mess in the stove otherwise. ~

You'll know they are done when you can sink a fork into it with no trouble at all. 

3. When they are done take them out and let them cool to room tempature. Once cool, I peel the skins off and break them up and put them in the cuisinart.(or whatever you want to use to puree it, you could even mash them with a fork if you wanted to.  However, you are trying to get almost a hummus consistency, so get it as smooth as possible.)

4.  As you blend the sweet potatoes, start adding the veganaise, cumin, salt and pepper.  When you start to add the veganaise or mayonnaise add it slowly.  Taste to see how much you want.  This helps make the mixture smoother and gives you some added taste, but you DON'T want to over do it. Tasting it as you go along will help :]  Same goes for the cumin and whatever other spice you may want to add =]

5. The very last ingredient to add to the mixture are the beans.  Drain the can and then add the beans.  You don't want to pulverize the beans and make them smooth like the rest of the mixture.  Just mashed slightly or cut in half.  You still want to know that they are beans and when you are eating the wrap it will give you another consistency. (If using bacon bits, this is when you would add them)

6.  And now you're ready to make your wrap.  Just spread the sweet potato mixture over your wrap as thick as you want and add the veggies! 

I know there were a lot of directions, but this recipe is really very simple once you know how to make it.
If you bake the potatoes the day before, it shouldn't take you long to whip this up for lunch and bring for that picnic lunch you've been planning for this spring season!  It's really healthy and makes you feel good about eating it :]


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Bittersweet News

We've got some big news to share concerning the future of this blog! Here is an email that was recently shared by one of the Altogether Separate bloggirls

Dear Readers,

With a sad heart, I must say that I can no longer be a co-author on Altogether Separate.

Some of you may know that I deal with chronic Lyme disease.  The symptoms make it a challenge for me just to do my schoolwork.  As much as I enjoyed posting and sharing my thoughts on this blog, it was just a lot for me to post here and try to keep up with my own blog as well.  After talking with my parents, they decided that this is the best thing for me right now. Needless to say, I hope to write a few guest posts here and there as I am able. :)

It has been such a joy and an honor to be a part of AS!  I thank God for the wonderful opportunity it has given me to know each of you better and share on this blog. My prayer is that you and other homeschooled girls will continue to be blessed through this blog ministry!

Keep shining for Him~

                                                            Love in Christ,

We are so sorry to see Moriah go (you can read her great AS posts here, and continue to follow her at her personal blog, Uniquely Fashioned For His Glory), she has been a great inspiration and encouragement.

Don't worry, we'll continue bringing you great content to help you along your journey as a girl who is altogether separate. We are planning to bring on a new bloggirl soon, so stay tuned for the announcement!

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Battle for Humility

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves...."
-Philippians 2:3

Doesn't this sound so good? So Christian? So nice? Of course it does. It sounds like everyone should act like this, and our world would be a much, much better place if they did. But do you know what?

It's hard. This is one scripture that I almost always grit my teeth over, because I'm so bad at keeping it. There are three big concepts here:

Smiling Girl With Dreams In Her Eyes by Pink Sherbet Photography
"Whoever then humbles himself as this child, h
e is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Selfishness: I fall into the selfishness trap so often. Who doesn't? This is one of the deepest rooted human sins. Many people have tried to justify selfishness and pretend that it's not only normal, but good (there is actually a book called The Virtue of Selfishness). Sometimes it can look like a positive thing; for example we might say, "If everyone looks out for #1, we'll all be successful." We can easily see the terrible outcome of communism, which could be called unselfishness taken to an extreme. But the real reason we're selfish? We are sinful creatures and it's easier to pay more attention to ourselves than to others. 

Some translations of Philippians 2:3 say that we are to do nothing from "selfish ambition," and that gives us another perspective on this problem. Ambition is a good thing, right? I tend to think so. I'm a very driven, ambitious girl. I want to do great things! But the tendency to do great things at the expense of hurting others is a dangerous one. It might get things done, but it's still putting ourselves in front of others. Selfishness is like a rut that our wheels naturally fall into--but as Christians we can't stay in these ruts! James 3:16 says, "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." Strong words.

Empty Conceit: I looked this verse up in the original Greek and found that "empty conceit" is the word κενοδοξίαν, which can mean vain glory, self esteem, or empty pride. This sounds like it's describing a girl who is very pleased with herself--she's all that and a bag of chips. Unfortunately, empty conceit is another pitfall for me. The problem is that I'm not all that, I'm just a sinner in need of a savior. It's humbling to think that I have a lot in common with the most heinous murderer on the planet.

Humility of Mind: Do you find humility to be a somewhat ambiguous concept? It seems a bit vague to me; what are we supposed to do, walk around with downcast eyes longing to wash everybody's feet? The next few words of the verse put humility in shockingly practical terms, "regard one another as more important than yourselves." Ouch. When was the last time you failed at this? Last week? Yesterday? 5 minutes ago? 

Humility is completely counter-intuitive, counter-cultural, counter-self, but it's a vital part of the Christian walk (just check out a few of these verses on humility). God promises great things to the humble: whoever humbles herself will be exaltedthe rewards of humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honor and lifewhoever humbles herself as a little child, she is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven

If this verse challenges you, makes you question yourself, or worries you, take comfort! We're not expected to go it alone; we have a yokefellow who comes alongside us to help us through these challenges. Jesus didn't ask us to act  like we're worthless--he asked us to treat others as we would like to be treated. This isn't about self-abasement, this is about love

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