Thursday, 27 September 2012

the unintentional consequences of a word harshly spoken

I'm sure we've all experienced it. Someone says something, some little tiny thing. By itself, it's not anything big. In fact, it's hardly a thing at all. They don't think so, anyway. It was a flippant comment, one of those things that probably, in the long run, prove that they think of you as a real friend--not the sort of friend to cry on, of course, but the sort of friend that will understand a sarcastic remark about some aspect of your person. And though they didn't mean it that way, though any anger that might have been present in the comment is quickly gone, it festers.

Not with them, of course. But with you. You rehash that moment over and over in your mind, replaying the comment, remembering how foolish it made you feel, how inadequate, how ridiculous. That tiny comment, so insignificant, becomes the only thing we can think about. It comes to define how we see ourselves, and more than that, the way we think other people see us--even, sometimes, how we think God sees us. Because, after all, if I am such-and-such to so-and-so, how can I not be such-and-such to everyone else?

And, very often without realizing it, we are sometimes on the giving end of this scenario. A single flippant comment, said in jest. A sarcastic comeback. A word spoken amiss. A word spoken in anger. A rant given to a friend that is carried to another friend. And so it is that it is not for nothing that the tongue is called the most dangerous instrument known to men. It can ruin a life with a single word.

Granted, it's not often that a make-or-break comment is made. Sometimes, things are easily brushed off. Sometimes they're not. Nevertheless, given that the words that come out of our mouth can be so destructive, it's very important to watch over them.

The Bible is very clear on this matter. Psalm exhorts us to ask God to ensure that the "words of [our] mouth, and the meditations of [our] heart" be pleasing in God's sight. It later talks about God's praise being "continually" in our mouths. Obviously, our mouth--just like every other bit of us--was designed for the purpose of glorifying the One who made us. But how is that supposed to rule our interactions with our fellow creations?

Ephesians 2:9 warns us to "let no corrupt word proceed" out of our mouths, but instead that which is good for edification--a big Bible word that basically means the learning of other believers. But those little words, those things said in anger...can those things be edifying? I would say not.

Now, I will admit (and freely) that I am as guilty of this as anybody else. I have a temper. A big one. And I'm not always (okay, very often not) successful at keeping it in check. Add to that the fact that I've a way with words, at least sometimes. Sometimes it turns into a less-than-exemplary bit of word-craft, and I end up sitting there afterwards, wondering just why I said that, and why it is that I'm so horrid. So in the end, I suppose it all just comes down to the same basic thing that everything else in life does.

I can't do this without God's help. I can't avoid saying those things. I can't avoid being awful. Not without Him. But the awesome thing is that he does want to help. That he's ready to help. And isn't that amazing?
 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. - Psalm 141:3

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Joy of Music

There are so many different types of musicians. Some see music as a language to be interpreted to their audience, they are the translator you see. For others it's merely a cluster of sounds.
music of my heart by kedondeng
music of my heart, a photo by kedondeng on Flickr.

For me, music is a very spiritual thing. You put your heart and soul into trying to tell your listeners what the music means -says- to you. The slightest change  can turn a sound of joy, into a pit of despair.

Music is one thing people of any nationality can relate to. It needs not words to tell someone if your sad or happy, thoughtful or moody.

Music is such a blessing in that God can use it to soften even the hardest of hearts. Music has a way of softening the rough edges, and filling the holes left from past woes.

It has a way of finding you where you are and relating to you. It can express so many different feelings!
Music is one of God's greatst gifts to mankind. Why must we use it to destroy?!  Why must we take everything God has made, and try and make it evil?

Because the devil is lurking, just waiting for the one moment of weakness when he can grasp your fears, uncertainties, and doubt, and jerk your feet out from under you. He wishes to destroy all that's good and right.

So,  let us fight him with what God has given us! Let us use the music God has placed in our hearts to bring Joy,  Peace and Comfort! To let a lost and dying world know there is a better way!

Use the skills God gave you to let everyone you may meet know there is a God who loves and cares for them!

Beware! The devil will try and discourage you, to make you proud and haughty, to seek mans approval rather than Gods approval. Take courage! And fight the fight! God will triumph in the end. And if you feel attacks by Satan, be glad, for if you were not being used in some way by God, he would let you alone! He would not need to cause you to fail!

God is with you and forever will be!

Sing, Compose and Play. Translate His love in the one language all can understand. The language of music.

- This guest post was written by Christina Crain. You can learn more about her and her family at

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Be The Sister

This is a personal story, something that I have learnedam learningand hope can be of some help to those of you with siblings. 

I hear about families of 6 or 8 or 20 and I marvel. I have a younger brother, Aaron, and I think that God knew what he was doing when he limited my sibling count to 1. I love Aaron to death, don't get me wrong, but there are times that I fail woefully at this older-sister business. There are times that I act, shall we say, superior?

Perhaps you share this problem of mine. If you've ever 
  • chastised your sibling for doing something you disapproved of
  • felt slighted when your sibling didn't follow your orders
  • nagged at your sibling when he/she was slow or inattentive
  • gotten jealous when someone else monopolized your sibling
then you could be in the same boat as me.  You're not being the sister. 

It's remarkably easy to forget that God did not appoint us as our siblings' parents, spouses, or bosses. Older or younger, we're their sisters, no more, no less. 

This is so hard for me. I feel a responsibility toward my brother, to "guide him in the ways of righteousness" so to speak. How many times have I given him that look of disapproval, the look that says, "Really, can't you do better than that?" More often than not I just use his name as a reprimand. "Aaron," spoken in a certain tone of voice, can mean everything from "You left your socks in the floor again" to "Why don't you respect me?"

Ouch. I'm ashamed to admit all that. But maybe some of you sistersolder sisters especiallycan identify with these feelings? 

Over the past year I have become aware if how very wrong I've been for so long. I'm surprised that my brother still talks to me, after the way I've treated him for so many years. I'm really blessed by his forgiving spirit.

How does God call us to act toward our brothers and sisters? This ties in with Kyla's last post. We are called to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven each of us. This is the calling that every Christian has to one another, but siblings have a very special relationship that should definitely be shaped by love. Sometimes it's appropriate to lead your siblings, instruct them, warn them, etc., but our roles as sisters are so unique and so precious that they should never sullied by prideful attitudes of dominance or superiority. God forbid we ever make our siblings into the enemy.

You have an opportunity to be a friend to your siblings, a friend like they'll never find anywhere else. It's a daily struggle for me to swallow my older-sister-attitude and try to enjoy my brother for the wonderful boy he iswithout trying to change him. That is the road I am called to walk. It's also the road that leads to late-night giggles over hot chocolate, lots of loud singing, and fantastic memories.

Trust me, it's better this way.   

Question: Do you ever find it hard to be the sister?

Monday, 17 September 2012

Meet Our New Bloggirl!

Heyyo! I'm Mary Kate, and I cannot begin express how excited I am to start blogging on Altogether Separate! God has truly blessed me with this awesome opportunity. 

To help you get to know me a little bit better, I'm 14 years old and I currently live in Ohio. I'm the oldest of five kids, so life can be crazy (who am I's ALWAYS crazy)! I am in love with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and my goal is to change the world for Him, spread his love, and help shape our generation to be one who lives for His glory! My favorite things to do are blog (duh!), siiinnnggg (I sang that...could you tell?), write, talk, draw, talk, snowboard, talk, and play pretty much any sport. I also love mud and having fun! 

Now that I've told you a little about myself, I'd love to hear something about you! What has God been doing for you? How was your week? I'm ALWAYS open for questions, or if you just need someone to talk to, I'm your gal! You can find me at 

Be sure to check out my other blog, Thanks so much, y'all! I can't wait to see what God will do! I'll post more soon!

     Hugs! :) 


Thursday, 13 September 2012

those people that share our houses

Emma and Sara, 15 and 3

It is, unfortunately, apparently a fact of life that familiarity breeds something very close to contempt. This is true even for those of our blood, it seems; sometimes, when we've all been cooped up together for awhile, my siblings and I begin to jump at each other's throats for what, on a normal day, might seem something completely ridiculous. It seems that as soon as one person goes off, it simply becomes worse, spiraling downwards into a cycle of shouting matches, lost toys, and increasingly bad attitudes.

So what can we, as older and younger sisters, do to stop this cycle?

be kind to one another

I've noticed that in the times that my siblings and I are really at odds, and are reaching the screaming-and-yelling portion of our relationship, it's usually because somebody, somewhere along the way, wasn't kind. It can be something simply thoughtless, like a word spoken in jest, or the accidental locking of a door, or the thoughtless filching of someone's clothing or plaything. But inevitably, one unkind action leads to another, and before long, it seems everything's fallen apart.

Make an effort to be kind over the next few weeks. Think about what you say before you say it. Go out of your way to do something for a sibling. Sometimes, a simple smile or an offered hand to help is all it takes to bring a smile to somebody's face.

Emma, Cora, and Edward--at the time, 14, 12, and 1

in other words, be compassionate. I'm an older sister to seven little ones, ranging in age from fifteen (okay, maybe not quite that little), to barely two. We've got one more on the way too, and we all live in a very small house. It can be hard sometimes, for me especially, to take the concerns and needs of my siblings seriously. "I don't need that," I think, "why do they?" "I never had that, why should they?" It's a bad habit, but trust me...I know. And I'm working on it.

Be compassionate to the needs and requests of your siblings. Sometimes, we can forget that the younger ones especially need a lot more than we do. Our tendency can be to ignore that in search of our own good. Don't. Be tenderhearted. Think of your words, of how they might be seen on the other end, and take compassion upon your siblings by sometimes simply swallowing those words.

Sara and Edward, 4 and 2
forgiving one another

it can be easy to hold a grudge. It can be easy to go through life, not quite forgiving some past slight--maybe we say we've forgiven it, but we haven't. If unchecked, a lack of forgiveness will hurt relationships beyond repair. We can no longer look at a person without seeing all the little things that we've not quite let go of. Understandably, if you're living in a house with someone, rubbing elbows with them every day, all day, this can get to the point where life becomes a never-ending source of annoyance and anger.

So don't let it get that way. Forgive and forget, as the saying goes--and mean it. Let those things go. If it helps, write them down on slips of paper and throw them away, preferably somewhere where you can't just go get them out. If it helps, drive all the way across town to toss your grievances into a dumpster that will be emptied within five minutes to be taken to a landfill fifty miles away. Because in your house, under your nose day after day, it won't help you and your siblings.

myself (Kyla) and Emma, at ages 4 and 2, or thereabouts
even as God in Christ forgave you.

amidst all of this, let's not forget the most important element in any relationship, the one thing that will decide whether we fail or succeed. Without Christ, nothing can be accomplished. So remember Him. When it feels as if anger will overwhelm you, when you find yourself failing to be compassionate and tenderhearted, when it seems that you just can't let go of something, no matter how hard you try--pray to Him. Seek His face. Persistently run after Him and His will, putting behind you the things that you know to be wrong. And with His help, we will become more than conquerors.

-Ephesians 4:32

Monday, 10 September 2012

Battle Partners or the Enemy?

Siblings....they can be your best friends or your worst enemies.
What are your siblings to you? 

I personally, have a brother that is five years older than me and a sister that is two years younger.  The older we have gotten the better our relationships have become.  My brother is from my Dad's first marriage, so throughout my childhood my brother would live most of the time at his mom's house and occasionally at our house.  As the years went by we saw less and less of him as he became involved with sports, boy scouts and other things.  However, my sister and I adored our older brother and I can honestly say I only remember having one fight with him when I was really young.  My sister and I however, have grown up side by side.  We did everything together and knew the other one as well as we knew ourselves.  We were each others best friends....but there were times we wished the other one lived on another planet. 

This summer, for those of you who remember, Altogether Separate took a blogging break as we the writers were going on vacation.  Part of my vacation consisted of attending a "Whatever It Takes" conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.  We started the conference out by discussing the false beliefs that many of us.  Satan has uses these false beliefs to cloud our minds and keep us in bondage.  One of the false beliefs that was mentioned was: "My Parents/siblings Are My Enemy".  Ouch!  How many times had I viewed my sister as my enemy.  After all, she was the one saying or doing something to me that hurt...right?  As Paul and Jenny Speed (The speakers) discussed this false belief, I realized that I had spent my life believing this lie and it has brought such destruction to my relationships.  Even though I grew up knowing we live in a spiritual daily battle, I still saw my sister as my enemy, when in fact, the true enemy was Satan.  I know this sounds so simple, but it hit me hard.  Every time I say something mean, or treat someone with disrespect I am allowing Satan to use what I say or do in the lives of other people and vice versa.  Yes, my siblings (and myself included) made the decision to say or do whatever we did and are responsible to God for them, but Satan knows that the person who the words were said to, now has a choice to make and that is when he starts to work on the other person.  He plants assumptions, thoughts and ideas in our heads to encourage us to fail.  He uses the failings and struggles of someone else to make us sin and therefore two people (at the very least) are rendered ineffective to Christ in that short period of time.

As I sit here trying to type this out.  I'm trying to figure out how to make this as simple as possible.  When our siblings are battling the enemy and they fail (sin), we need to realize that at that moment it is not our siblings who are our enemy but Satan who is using them as a tool. I know how hard it is to view it this way.  When someone says something that hurts me deeply, all I see is that person who said it.  But what I need to see is the enemy behind the person.

In the workbook we were given at the conference, the false belief "My Parents/siblings Are My Enemies" had some bullet points that I would like to share with you.

* This belief will later become "My spouse is my enemy."  This lie does not just stay with our siblings, because it is a part of how we view people when they say or do something that hurts us.  Therefore, this lie will transfer to your future spouse if we do not make efforts to change our outlook now! 

* Our Parents/Siblings are our battle partners - not enemies.  For those of us who have christian siblings and parents we are fortunate to have God-given battle partners in our own homes.  However, Satan has blinded so many of us to that fact because we view our family as the enemy when we are struggling with something.   When either a parent, sibling or even friend strike out at us, it is a sign that they are battling and starting to fail. 
When you watch those action movies and a battle is being acted out before our eyes, usually there is a scene where one of the heroes is being beaten by the enemy, but the heroes friend steps in to help and together they defeat the enemy. 
As Christians in a spiritual battle, we need to see our family as our spiritual battle partners.  We need to see our sibling (battle partner) failing and jump to the rescue. - not just hear the hurtful words and see them as the enemy!

*See our Parents/Siblings as God's gifts - we will see our spouses the same way.  Cultivating this response to hurtful words and actions will help us in every relationship that God brings into our lives, including our future spouses.  I know I do not want to to view my spouse as my enemy and I do not want Satan to be able to work through him to get at me, therefore I need to be cultivating this response now, at the training ground God has placed me at.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."  Ephesians 6:12   

Thursday, 6 September 2012

everyday adventures

A pebble, tumbling across a concrete path, goes before them, like a tapping herald. But the ones it foretells don't keep to the path for long; the wide field that stretches on either side is far more interesting. And so they go to explore it instead, spreading across in twos or threes.

Some make for the playground that juts from the ground not too far ahead, colored red, white, and blue as if Captain America's outfit had been stretched across it. One or two head for a few trees that cling to life in the rocky soil of the Texas plains. A few more simply find a place of almost-shade and sit down, studying the ants that clamber through the dirt, or trying to scrabble together enough sticks, bits of bark, and plastic detitrus to cobble together a rough hut that, in an imaginary world, is a home to tiny beings that look quite a lot like humans.

In the midst of this rifling through the close mysteries of creation, one discovers a big blue beetle, all shiny shell and knobby legs, queerly crooked and gangly, a glimpse at an alien world in the midst of a human one. There is a momentary shock at the sight of it, as instinct takes over until the one considers for a moment and scoots back a bit, watching as the alien shuffles into its new home. It shuffles right back out again, working its way up the trunk of the tree that the house rests against, but the alien is a good addition to the pretend world built up around the house, and so he becomes the tenant.

Another, one of those who found their way to the playground, has discovered a friend. Together, the two are chasing one another across a metal bridge become a castle's drawbridge, waving sticks that are transformed into swords possessed of magical abilities. But in the next breath, they are hunters in a jungle, chasing after a dread creature that casts terror into every villager within a hundred miles. Another blink, and they are aliens, swaying their way across earth to tear apart a city hastily constructed with a few scuffs of a sneaker in the gravel on the ground.

And in their imagination, all of them are great adventurers.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. - C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Goodbye, Shannon!

Here is a letter from bloggirl Shannon: 

Hello sweet friends!

I want to inform you all of something rather sad.... As this school year has started up, my schedule has been immensly filled with school, family life, and other devotions. I have loved blogging with ya'll and growing in Christ together as sisters in Christ and friends {and I pray that we may be able to continue to do so} but after praying about it, as well as discussing it with my parents, I need to step down from blogging.

I love writing with you all, but I have so many things going on that I feel like I am quickly rushing to get it done, and in that process it is taking away time with school and family.... Maybe when the Lord slows things down abit I may be able to join ya'll again, but as of right now, things are going to just pick up! I cherish each one of you and pray that we may still be able to encourage each other through different ways.... :)

May the Lord bless ya'll and use you to bring Him glory.


Even though Shannon won't be posting regularly on the blog, she can still be found on her personal blog: A Bright Light In a Dark World

Saturday, 1 September 2012

5 Steps to a Zestful Day

Do you know anyone who aspires to live a dull, mediocre life? I certainly don't. Some people may end up living such a life, but they certainly don't purpose to go there. 

The new subtitle of my personal blog is "pursuing a life of zest, love, and purpose". As I travel onward in this pursuit, I'm finding that an extraordinary life doesn't happen by accident. It requires intentionality

Do you know the one difference between a dull, mediocre life and an amazing life full of zest and adventure? You. Not your circumstances, not your parents, not your finances or education--who you are and what you choose to do with what God has given you are what determines how your future will look. 

You're writing the story of your life. And do you know what? It takes shape chapter by chapter. You can't have a fascinating novel made up of boring chapters, and you can't have a zestful life made up of days taken for granted. 

But how do we discover the magic in everyday things? Is it possible to make even uneventful days into small adventures? 

Here are 5 practical ways that you can make just about any day more zestful:
  1. Take every opportunity. Big or small, don't pass up the chance to do something out if the ordinary. It might just be going to a movie with friends on the spur of the moment, or adding an extra dollop of hot fudge to your ice cream, but who knows what might come of it?
  2. Stop, Look, Listen. Make the most of this moment by shutting up, unplugging, and absorbing with wonder the world that surrounds you. Don't be a passive observer, relish every second with all your senses. 
  3. Rejoice Always. If you want your life to get better immediately, start giving thanks. It is impossible to simultaneously complain and give thanks. Even something as basic as a bowl of oatmeal or a busy highway can offer the observant beholder a vital opportunity for gratitude. Try giving thanks for one thousand gifts
  4. Make the most of food. I've been participating in a 40 day fast to raise awareness for people living in poverty, and I don't think I've ever appreciated food this much before! Get this: You're probably going to eat at least 2 or 3 meals a day for the rest of your life. Setting your average preparation and consumption time at 30 minutes per meal (obviously a low estimate), you'll spend roughly 8% of your waking life preparing food and eating it. You'd better enjoy it, sister. Take pleasure in cooking your food, and savor every smell and flavor. 
  5. Go deeper. Relationships will be your greatest legacy on leaving this earth. Obviously, building friendships is a lifetime process, but something you can do today is to go deeper with one person. Broach a thoughtful subject, share and get personal, or do an activity that brings you together. Also, don't forget to spread rainbow sprinkles

These are just a few ideas. I'd love to hear what you girls do to add zest to ordinary days!
Zingy Home-Made Lemon Curd, a photo by French Tart on Flickr.
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