Monday, 29 October 2012

Hobbies = Idols?

Happy Monday!

When asked to write this article, part of me shriveled into a wrinkly little bundle, while the other half was excited to share. Why? I am known for having many hobbies. Art, music, sports, hairstyling, writing -- you can catch me doing pretty much anything but dancing (in which I trip over myself. A lot). It’s just that for me, hobbies tend to become a distraction.With committing to so many different hobbies, it’s easy not have any time for the important things. Like living. 

Art is one of my very favorite hobbies of all time. I guess you could say I was born into it considering my mom is an art major, fanatic, and teacher. I love everything about art -- the gorgeous colors, pretty patterns, and the endless possibilities. But once I get started drawing or painting, I never want to stop. Its like I get lost in my own magical world and I don’t want to leave. 

But I have to stop and remember, hobbies are all about moderation. 

In Hebrews 12:1, the Lord says, “...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” God is telling us here to rid ourselves of distractions. 

**Cue the inevitable gasps of horror**

BUT WAIT! This doesn’t mean we have to stop doing things that we love, but that we need to remember to not let them become idols. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having hobbies. God does not say “thou shalt sit around and be bums.” In fact, He encourages us to have hobbies (Ephesians 9:10). 

The bottom line is that God commands us to put Him first (Exodus 20:3). Remember, in Matthew 6:24 the Lord reminds us that “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and [__insert hobby or addiction here__].”

God has gifted us with many talents that can be used for His glory. If you can sing, sing for His glory! If you can dance, dance to praise His name! If you write, write of His mercies unending! He has given us our hobbies. Let’s not put them to waste!

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV)
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with [all of] your might...”

Thursday, 25 October 2012

i do this thing

Since I was old enough to learn how words fit together, I have been a writer. My first foray was a rather dour children's book called "Dogs Don't Look Both Ways", which featured a rebellious puppy who runs away because his mother won't let him play outside. He ends up getting run over.

By a cat.
In a truck.
I was a rather disturbing child.

I've written novels, short stories, novellas, even taken a shot at a few nonfiction pieces (and failed utterly, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms). And I love it.

I love making a world, a set of people, come alive. There is something indescribably amazing about being able to turn an empty page into something that lives and breathes through the people it talks about--and while those people aren't real, they're able to navigate life with just as much chaos and uncertainty as I am, while managing to make me believe that it will all come right in the end.

It's a great power, being able to wordcraft. Think about the great books that still survive today. There's a reason some books are revered, because they make us feel things, and give us characters we can all love and look up to and, occasionally, detest a little bit, too. They teach us about the nature of life, of what it means to be human, of what it is to never give up hope, to persevere in the face of tragedy. Sometimes, they show us the opposite; what happens when we give up, when we find it impossible to keep going, when the chaos that threatens really does end up overwhelming us.

But either way, the written word teaches us things. It helps us to understand life in a thing outside of what is properly "real life". And I think that that gift, the power that goes with it, is given by God. And (at the risk of sounding really, really egotistical for a moment), it's a gift I believe I have, and that I think I have a responsibility to use it for good.

But I love it. And that's what makes it worth it, I suppose. Because if you can't love what you do in your down-time, what's the point of down-time?

This is the point where I'd love to hear from all of you. What are some of the things you enjoy doing in your down-time? Do you write? And if so, what? (Tell me, I won't steal your ideas. Maybe. No promises.)

Monday, 22 October 2012

"These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things......"

Hobby: n.,
1. an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure
2. a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation

Hmmm...What do I do for a hobby? Well, I'm one of those that has several :] Kind of a "Jack of all trades but master of none." I love athletic hobbies that include: hiking/walking, canoeing/kayaking, skiing, skating, snowmobiling, horseback riding, traveling and shooting.  Yet I also enjoy hobbies that can be done inside the house as well, like: scrapbooking, card designing, knitting, weaving, making jewelry, sewing, pinning on pinterest :), reading, watching movies, listening to music, drawing and blogging. 

Could I choose a favorite? Probably not. Each one brings excitement to my heart at different times of the year and seasons of my life.  The exhilerating feeling that you get when you are swishing your way over a freshly groomed ski trail is like nothing I have ever done!  The feeling I get when I am ice skating is one that evades me most of the time; graceful.  Riding a horse in an arena and finally learning how to collect them (tuck there head and pay attention to me) and going from a walk to a canter in one step is something special every time. Hiking in the White Mountains during the autumn when the air is cool and crisp and seeing the glorious, brilliant fall colors of New England makes you feel glad to be alive.

What about feeling that soft fiber in your hand and watching a new pattern become visible as you knit a scarf.  Seeing a scrapbook page filled with pictures that all coordinate and bring back wonderful memories. Reading that thick book you have been saving for a day that implores you to sit by a woodstove with a cup of hot tea. Pinning those pictures on Pinterest that stimulate my creative juices or help me to dream or encourage my heart with special words. - It's amazing what a simple picture can do to stir the heart and its emotions. Picking up a set of knitting needles and remembering my Nana.  Sitting at a sewing table and thinking back to the first quilt I made with my Gramy. 

I think for me, a hobby is something that often times helps me to count my blessings and realize how much I have and how God has blessed me.  Hobbies are often times the way we express the extra special gifts God gives each of us.  Some people have been given opportunites to train under masters in music, art, a sport or something else and God is able to use the love for that interest in an incredible way. Some have just picked it up because they were interested.  Either way, God placed the interest and directed the love. 

What do you like to do?  What do your hobbies mean to you?  Did someone special teach you or is it something you just picked up?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Martha’s Table: The Danger of Service

There are so many different aspects of Christian service, but I'm going to focus on one of the most dangerous ones. If you've read my book review on Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl,  you know that many of us suffer from a try-hard way of living. I know from personal experience that this attitude can be explosive when combined with acts of service, and can potentially wreck your relationship with God.

We all start with the best of intentions.

After all, who doesn't want to help others? We’re good Christian girls, we’re supposed to be doing good works.  James did say that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).  But sometimes we take this concept one step further.
Feast by NorthwestNomad
Feast, a photo by NorthwestNomad on Flickr.

Let’s look at Martha. Poor girl, she’s always used as a bad example, isn't she? She had great intentions: she was welcoming the Lord into her home and was preparing to lay out the best spread possible. Imagine it—Martha has brought out the best dishes, decorated the table with matching candlesticks and napkin holders, a beautiful centerpiece…and there’s Mary sitting in the corner, listening to Jesus and twiddling her thumbs. I can easily imagine Martha’s annoyance. Don’t we all bristle a bit at those people who are “so Heavenly-minded they’re no earthly good”?  But Jesus said, “Martha. Martha.”

Martha was depending on herself to feed the people. She felt personally responsible, just like we often do. 

When there’s work that needs to be done—a ministry, fundraiser, service project, etc.—who is going to do it? The good Christian girls. It’s a demonstration of our love for God, right? Sometimes, but often it’s actually an outgrowth of Martha’s self-dependent attitude. When Emily Freeman writes on this subject she uses the example of a true servant, Mary the mother of Jesus, who listened to God and trusted in Him—she didn't run off to do a great work of service. “Worship, not work, flows out of the hearts of those who believe.” 

That’s what all of this comes down to. Trust. We have to choose whether we are going to spend our lives trying to please God, or trusting Him. And we have to choose one or the other. Choosing to please God sounds great, but it can lead to a life of performance and self-reliance. It’s difficult to trust if we’re constantly performing, but how can we help pleasing God if we put our trust in Him? Do we truly believe that God loves us the same no matter how many good works we do, or do we have to perform for His acceptance?

Even service can become an idol. Jesus didn't say, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you work.” Jesus doesn't want your service, He wants you. Of course we should still serve God and others, but not out of obligation, self-righteousness, or guilt. We are accepted, we are already amazing in Christ. As Emily says, we have “permission to sit down on the inside and live like (we) have a God who knows what he’s doing.” We are free to serve out of love, and love alone. 

You have grace. Take a break from setting the table and take time to trust the Lord. Accept His invitation to rest and intimacy—to a life beyond trying hard to please Him

Jesus chided Martha for her “many things” (Luke 10:41). What are your many things?

- This post was inspired by chapter 5 of Grace for the Good Girl. Buy it now on

Monday, 15 October 2012

Jesus Did Not Play Eeny Meeny Miny Moe


There’s that word again. God seems to enjoy popping it around me lately :) 

So, what exactly does biblical serving look like in our daily lives? Who should we serve?  Does serving others mean I have to wait on everyone hand and foot!?

Before we get too carried away, let’s go right to the source - Jesus’ example of serving.

Alright, ladies! Crack open those Bibles, and turn to John 13:1 - 20. Pray that God will speak to you, then take about ten minutes or so to let the words really soak in. 

In my opinion, this is one of the best examples of biblical serving. Jesus - the Almighty Holy Ruler of EVERYTHING - humbled himself and became a servant to unworthy men.  SO many aspects of serving can be gleaned from His actions, but there is one I particularly want to touch on.

When reading this with a small group at church, we noticed something we’d never seen before that gives us a little more insight as to what our attitudes in serving should be. Look at verses ten through eleven once more. 

Do you see what Jesus did? He knew who would betray him, and yet He chose to wash Judas’s feet anyway. In fact, in the following passages, ALL of his disciples end up betraying him and letting him down. Why did he still serve them? Because he wanted to show us that our service to others should be not only humble and joyful, but unbiased


Sure, we can serve our loved ones with a happy heart, but what about that boy who always has a rude remark, or the girl who never stops complaining? Why should we serve them too?

Jesus’ dying on the cross was the greatest example of humility and service to us. He did it out of love. However, did we deserve it? Even though our enemies or those we dislike may not deserve it, Jesus shows us that we should serve others humbly and joyfully in all situations.

Does this mean we need to wait on our enemies’ every need? 

Thankfully, there is nothing in the Bible that says we must become modern-day Cinderellas. However, the Bible does say to “...Love your enemies, [and] do good to those who hate you... (Luke 6:27).” This might mean opening the door for them, or helping them with something they have to carry. Maybe it means surprising them with a hug or a kind remark when all they have to say is negative and demeaning to you. Sometimes, service is in the little things that take place behind the scenes. 

This week, I encourage you to begin serving not only your loved ones, but your...not-so-loved ones, too. Start with baby steps. Through prayer and feasting on the Word, it will become easier and easier to joyfully and humbly serve anyone. Even your enemies.

“Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service. Try to give unconditionally whatever a person needs in the moment. The point is to do something, however small, and show you care through your actions by giving your time … We are all God’s children so it is important to share His gifts. Do not worry about why problems exist in the world – just respond to people’s needs … We feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be less without that drop.” 
- Mother Teresa

SERVE, a photo by elycefeliz on Flickr.

Friday, 12 October 2012


Decisions, decisions, they seem to be persistent.
I go here, I go there, and still I face decisions.
Red or Green? Pink or Blue? Large or Small? False or True?
Yes or No? High or Low? Hot or Cold? Shy or Bold?
Forever? For Eternity? Or just a small, small while?
For Him? For Her? For two, or one? To Hold? To Drop?
To Walk or Trot?  I must make a decision.

Oh!  I know what I will choose!  Not red or green, not pink or blue,
 I will choose to call on God to make the right decision.
Now I know just what to do, I'll ask God first and then I'll choose.

Although my decision may seem to be not wrong or right, just a choice in my life.
My life is made of the big and yes, small, even seemingly insignificant decisions.

For if I learn how to wisely choose, yes even red or green,, or pink or blue,
I will learn to choose how to live and what to do.

Should I marry?  Should I not?  Should I buy a car or not?
Big decisions I now can make, for I've learned to look God and wait.

I can trust Him.  This I know.  For you see, I've tried His way and He has a perfect way.

Decisions, decisions, I can now make.  Who knew?!

I can make decisions.

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

Monday, 8 October 2012

Following By Example....

How can we serve others?  How do you serve others?  How does Christ want us to serve?

“But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many”  (Matthew 20:26–28).

The life of Jesus Christ was one of complete service and surrender.  There was no task that he looked down upon, no person that he lifted his nose up at and no circumstance that He did not see as part of a bigger plan.

His example of how we as Christians are to live, was one of a true servant.  Almost everything that Jesus did was in regards to serving others.  He prayed for them, helped them, healed them, listened to them, spoke with them, encouraged them, fed them, trained them and set example that they might live by while he was on earth.

So, how are some ways we can serve others?  Here are two ideas that I think are sometimes the most important.

This photo was taken by  life is good (pete) and I found it on flikr
 1. Pray for others ~ Holding others up in prayer is one of the best ways to serve.  I think often times we use prayer as a last resort when we want to help someone, because our thoughts are always "How can I help them?".  There is nothing wrong with that thought, but there is Someone who can help far better then we can.  I know this is something that I need to really make a habit of doing and make the first question I think of "How can Christ help them?".  He can do what we can only dream of doing.

"Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:" ~ Isaiah 42:5

2. Pray with  them ~ I can't  tell you how many times someone has offered to sit down and pray with me and when we finished praying, whatever the situation was, I felt better about it. 
Praying with others helps:
a. The other person get their focus back on Christ
b. It helps you both to place the matter in God's hands and trust him
c. To bring a peace to both of your hearts

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them". ~ Matthew 18:20

I'm sure all of you have favorite ways you love to serve!  For some of you it may be making meals for those who are sick.  For some it might be babysitting for friends and family.  Others might enjoy cleaning or maybe even just spending an afternoon listening to someone share their heart. 

As I looked at some of the Commands of Christ , I realized that several of them have to do with service.

(Helping the Poor) "Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just”  (Luke 14:12–14).

(Helping Children)“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven”  (Matthew 18:10).

(Denying Ourselves) “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it”  (Luke 9:23–24).

(Do Unto Others) “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”  (Matthew 7:12).

(Feed His Sheep) “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep”   (John 21:15–17).

I would like to finish this post with a quote by J. Hudson Taylor.

"I used to ask God to help me.  Then I asked if I might help Him. 
I ended up by asking Him to do His work through me."

Thursday, 4 October 2012

To Tame a Tongue

Raise your hand if you've ever read James chapter three and winced. Uh-huh, I see those hands popping up all over the place.

I've Been Tagged! 10 Things About Me by ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser
As you've seen from Kyla and Mary Kate's posts, troubles with "controlling the tongue" are universal. 

"If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless."  -James 1:26


You probably don't need to be told that the tongue is a weak-spot (or, as James so eloquently puts it, "a fire, the very world of iniquity"). The fact is that we know our faults, we are desperate to get ride of them, but it slips our minds. You know the scenario—you say something you definitely didn't mean to say, and then of course that's when you think of James 3, after the damage is already done. Sometimes it feels like we just can't help ourselves. 

And you know what? That's the truth! We can't help ourselves. Only Christ can help us up when we fall down, and only He can help us from stumbling again. You can try reminding yourself, you can employ the suggestions that I include at the end of this post, but when it comes right down to it no amount of mind-games can be a substitute for complete surrender to God. We must recognize that the tongue is your enemy, get a glimpse of God's will for you—a mouth that speaks love to all—and surrender to the Lord and pray diligently for His Spirit to change you.
He is the potter, we are the clay. God is molding all of us into the image of his Son. Isn't that awesome? Yes, it's going to hurt; think about how the lump of clay feels when it's spinning around and around that wheel, getting poked and prodded into all kinds of unnatural shapes. It can't be pleasant, but the result is so worthwhile. You'll keep falling down, we all do, but the point is to repent and get back up and go on. That is how we change.

If you've handed your tongue over to God (figuratively, of course), here are a few practical tips that might help you to control it in the future:
    Мартеница by quinn.anya
  • Wear a reminder bracelet. I learned the power of this method when I took the Complaint Free World challenge. Switch the bracelet from one wrist to the other whenever you catch yourself saying something that dishonors God. Set a goal time period (a solid week, for example) and "reset" every time you switch. Keep going back to Day 1 until you fulfill the whole week. 
  • Write it down. Instead of forgetting those slips of the tongue, write them down. This isn't meant to be a guilt-trip (God chooses not to remember our sins, neither should we), it's just a tool to reveal patterns, weak points, and "triggers." After a week look over the record and make some changes.
  • Take baby steps. Don't try to tackle everything at once! Focus on one aspect of the tongue—criticism, for instance—then memorize a few scriptures on it, watch yourself, and pray continually that God will change you in this area.
  • Read a book. I'm sure that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of books on this subject. Here is one with many five-star reviews: 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue.

Question: What is your #1 slip-up? I would say that mine is either criticizing or being combative.

Мартеница, a photo by quinn.anya on Flickr.

Monday, 1 October 2012

I've Got The Power!

Speak no evil by Blackcat71

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear"  Ephesians 4:29.

Our words have great POWER. But how does that apply? How much power exactly? Let's find out how and if we can really inspire others through our words...

Recently, I watched the movie My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend with some friends. It started out looking like every other sappy chick flick in the world - boy meets girl, love at first sight, yada, yada, get the picture. However, as the movie progressed, I was pleasantly surprised with how encouraging the girlfriend was towards her boyfriend. By just a few short words, she drove him to rekindle his previously crushed dreams of becoming a writer. She inspired him to make his dreams come true. In the end of the movie, he ends up writing a love novel and becoming a published author. 

So, I know you’re probably thinking something along the lines of: Sure. She said some nice things in the movie, but like our words would actually make that big of a difference in real life! 

Before I even began to write this article, God had been showing my heart how powerful our words can impact others - for better or for worse. What had especially been impacting me was the ability women in particular possess to crush or propel the male spirit with just a simple word. So why are our words SO important to a man’s heart and mind? Let’s take a look...

In the EXCELLENT book, For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, Shaunti provides some insight as to what’s really going on behind the rough exteriors of teen guys. In fact, there was an entire chapter in the book dedicated to simply revealing how easily their spirits can be bruised. During her research, she discovered the great need men have for respect. In her interviews, 63% of guys said that they would rather feel alone and unloved rather than disrespected.

But when do guys feel disrespected? 

Some young men said that they feel disrespected in the middle of a conflict with a girl. Other answers consisted of: being judged negatively, being deceived, gossip, jealousy, and a girl just plain being mean. Ouch. Notice how everything that can hurt a man lead back to our words

As women longing to live for the Lord and love everyone around us, we have a responsibility - a CALL - to watch our words. This is DEFINITELY a struggle of mine. With a desire to constantly have the last word on nearly everything, I consistently show disrespect to my dad, my brother, and my guy friends. 

So what can we do? How can we live differently to show men (and everyone around us) the respect they deserve?

Here’s a few steps to get started:

1. Pray. Ask God for strength and power to use our words for His glory and His glory alone. Ask Him to give us wisdom to distinguish teasing from disrespect. “Ephesians 6:18 - Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

2. Get into the Word. It’s a constant battle, so we need constant preparation. Look up in a concordance what the Bible has to say about words or encouragement (see the verses below to get you started). “Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

3. Be purposeful. Whatever you say, mean to say it. If you are going to be encouraging then ENCOURAGE! Question every statement before it leaves your mouth (this one takes practice!). Guard everything you say and “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...” James 1:19.

Any doubts about our responsibilities? Check out just a few verses on the subject: Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 18:21, Matthew 15:18, Proverbs 12:18, Matthew 12:36, and counting!

Looks like our words were pretty important in Jesus’ eyes. Shouldn’t they be important to us too?

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