Thursday, 28 June 2012

Travel Time!

Beach Baby by thephotographymuse
It just so happens that a few of us Altogether Separate bloggirls are going to be traveling over the next couple of weeks, so we'll be taking a little break and figuring out what comes next for this little community. When we get back we'll be sure to tell you all about what we've learned during our trips :) 

Do you have any topics that you'd like us to cover or questions you need answers for? Are you going on a trip or vacation too? We'd love to hear from you! Just comment on this post and  one of us will be sure to get back with you. In the meantime,

 "...the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." -Numbers 6:25-26

Beach Baby, a photo by thephotographymuse on Flickr. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012


More than 6 million children under the age of 5 die each year of preventable causes. Malaria, diarrhea, lack of sanitation, and poor nutrition—problems that most Americans don't even have to worry about are killing over 16,000 children every day.  An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year into exploitative work in agriculture, mining, factories, armed conflict, or the commercial sex trade. Poverty is a disease that has social, educational, spiritual, economic, physical, and environmental effects; it's more than a lack of moneyit's a lack of hope.

I've heard statistics like this for years. They’re crushing, they’re heartbreaking, they’re overwhelming. Perhaps you have seen pictures of small children picking through garbage dumps, or heard stories of villages ravaged by disease from a contaminated water source. Perhaps you feel just as overwhelmed as I once was, because you know that as Christians you and I have a mandate to help the poor. 

For years I have struggled with what I was supposed to do about poverty. 1 John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” But the statistics were just too massive; I didn't feel as if I could make a difference. Perhaps you've wondered what you could possibly do to eradicate world poverty; maybe you don’t think that you can make a dent, but the approach I am about to explain to you is simple, practical and effective, an approach that the average Christian can take that results in radically altered lives.

I can't remember when I first heard about Compassion International, but through a series of fortunate events I came to know about the program, which is this in a nutshell: Christians fulfilling the mandate of Christ by helping the poor and spreading the Gospel to all nations. Children are the number one target. I've never been a kid-person (the kind of girl who's just dying to babysit), but once I learned how much of an impact children have on their families and on the world at large I realized that they are the perfect soil in which to plant the seed of the Gospel and start rooting out poverty. Sponsorship is the method that Compassion has chosen to help over 2,000,000 children across the world. This means that one sponsor is linked with one child; they correspond via letters and email, send small gifts, pray for and encourage one another, and sometimes even visit! 

Since February of 2010 I have been sponsoring a girl in Accra, Ghana named Anita Ama Ezaah (that is her photo on the right). Anita is thirteen now, and turning into a beautiful young woman. Since the beginning of my sponsorship we have exchanged letters with each other, and I have learned more about her and her country. She lives amid desperate poverty, but through my sponsorship she is being given options and opportunities that many children in Ghana do not have. My $38 a month is giving her Bible teaching, choir practice, health screening, vaccinations, mosquito nets, hygiene education, indoor and outdoor games, tuition, educational classes and field trips. What an awesome feeling it is to know that I'm having that kind of an impact on a child's life! 

After sponsoring Anita for some time, I decided to do more. Today I am a volunteer advocate for Compassion International, sharing the message of what poverty actually looks like and how normal, everyday Christians can work to eradicate it. 

You can help too!

Visit Compassion's website and take a look at all of the little faces who need a sponsor. Each one of these children, if inducted into Compassion's program, will have the chance to hear about their Lord and Savior and be given the opportunity to rise above their desperate circumstances to live amazing, fulfilled lives. You can give them this chance. 

If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post and I'll do my best to answer them! If you sponsor a child, please share your story :) 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Freedom Is Never More Than One Generation Away!

"Freedom is never more than one generation away
from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children
in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and
handed on  for them to do the same." ~ Ronald Reagan
Our theme for the next two weeks will be focusing on things in our culture that we feel very strongly about.....My mind has been filled with several things; the abortion issue, apologetics, homeschooling, health, evangelism, the slave trade, orphans and freedoms in our beloved country, the U.S.A.

I decided to go with the Parental Rights Amendment.  An amendment that I have posted about on my private blog and feel is so very important for everyone in our country to know about. 

On Tuesday, June 5, 2012 Representative Trent Franks and Senator Jim DeMint introduced the Parental Rights Amendment in the U.S. House and Senate as HJRes 110 and SJRes 42!

The Amendment will be heading to the House Constitutional sub-committee on July 19, 2012.

Here is the post that I wrote on my blog, explaining what the amendment is about:

As a monumental presidential election looms in our future it has caused many different issues to come to the surface. All of the issues hit close to home as they relate to our jobs, families, homes, economy, education and many other areas of our lives.

However, there is one issue that does not seem to surface too often and yet it is so critical to our continuation of freedom in the United States.

That issue is in regards to the Parental Rights Amendment. Our Founding Fathers fought for the freedom of this country. That we the people would have the right to decide how we want to live, how we raise our children, how we worship our God, how we spend our money and in so many other ways. Yet those freedoms are slowly being chipped away. Over the years the government has stepped farther and farther into our private lives and has made laws that take away parts of our freedom and has instead given more control to the government.

We must not allow that to happen in regards to our parental rights. Currently, the role of raising, guiding, training and deciding what their children do, hear and see is being quickly usurped by faceless bureaucrats.

Our freedoms are slowly being taken away. Freedoms that made this nation strong and great. United families that had the liberty to raise their children in a way that they felt was best for each individual child created a country that had strong morals, strong families, and love of country.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a treaty that, if signed, would dictate that the federal government must enter each and every persons home and decide for itself if what is going on is acceptable. The rights of the parent would be replaced by "the best interests of the child" and the people deciding what is best for those children are 18 people on an international committee in Switzerland. The vast majority of parents know and love their children better than anyone. Our government should be supporting the parents and their rights.

If signed, we would be bound to this treaty and under the direction of the whim of these 18 people who will interpret "the best interests of the child" in whatever way they see fit.

In the United States, any treaty signed and ratified by congress is considered the law of the land and trumps an other laws already in place.

The is an organization that is desperately concerned with the future of the families in the United States. They have drafted a bill that already has sponsors and co-sponsors in the house and senate.

The Amendment is as follows:
Draft Parental Rights Amendment
For The United States Constitution

Section 1
The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.

Section 2
Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without the demonstrating that its governmental
interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

Section 3
No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede,
modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

We the people of the United States have been given inalienable rights. It is our duty and responsibility as citizens to make a stand and support those who desire our country to be a nation of liberty and freedom.

You can go to and find out more information about the treaty, the amendment, as well as additional information. You can also sign the petition if you believe that protecting parental rights is important. Please, share this information with your family, friends, neighbours, co-workers.

There are so many things you can do to help support parental rights and become involved.  Here is just a small list that I have compiled for those of you might be interested.

1. Pray - God can do anything and He wants us to come to Him in prayer.  Nothing we do can compare to what God can do. 

2. Sign the Petition - The more people who sign the petition in support of the amendment, the more people will know about it and congressman, senators and our president will know that we the people do care.

3. Read the different articles on and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of the treaty and the amendment.  There are also lots videos that give you information as well.

4. Tell your family, friends, co-workers, neighbours and anyone else you come across about the treaty and how it would hurt this country.  Then tell them about the petition :]

5. Write to your Senators, Congressman, and let them know that you would like them to sponsor this amendment.

6. Write to your local papers or even your statewide papers and get the word out.

7. Post about it on your blog :]

Thank you for spending the time to read this whole post :]  I know it was long, but my prayer is that others will see the need and step forward and make a difference. 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Living Above Worry and Stress

Worry and stress both sink their roots into one thing. Fear. Will I get there in time? What will others think? How will this ever work? The questions that plague us day in and day out, worrying at our hearts until they're frayed and desperate, are not the kind of questions that Jesus asked. "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.... If then God so clothes the much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith" (Luke 12:27-28).

I have struggled with stress for a very long time. I'm a perfectionist at heart, so when anything goes wrong, or it just looks like it might go wrong, I become a basket case. Yet I know that a life of tension is not what God wants for us! So when I saw this Bible study guide by Women of Faith, Living Above Worry and Stress, I knew that it was the right thing to get.

I love the format of the WoF study guides. Engaging stories and personal narratives are sprinkled through clusters of thought-provoking questions, with plenty of blank space to scribble down your thoughts and ideas. At the end of every chapter there is a little "trinket to treasure," a picture of an item that is supposed to help you remember the lesson. The leader's guide at the back of the book contains extra information and clarity for nearly every question.

I just finished the guide this morning, and it has given me so many insights that I would love to share with all of you! If you deal with worry or stress at all then I highly recommend getting this book for yourself, but here is a "tasting dish" of insights I gleaned from my studies.
  • So many times we lose our perspective and get caught up in 1,000,001 things, most of which are not vitally important. Make a catalog of your duties and responsibilities (regular events which must be planned, church involvement, work, homemaking, etc.). Put the world back in focus and get a grip on your schedule. 
  • Fear is universal. When you're distracted by "what-ifs" and find no rest in your pillow, remember that some of the greatest heroes of the Bible (Jacob, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Peter) were all afraid of something. The Lord is our strength in these times, and He longs to take away our fears! What is your greatest fear and how can God dispel it?
  • Do a character study on Mary and Martha in the Bible. They are mentioned in Luke 10:38-42, John 11 and John 12:1-8. Learn from these two women and record your insights.
  • Feel like you need more joy? Worry throttles joy. Humility and thankfulness banish worry.
  • This illustration put things in such clear and relatable terms for me, "Many of us scoop more onto our plates than we can handle in a day. It all looks good. A little more couldn't hurt. But pretty soon we realize our ambitions were bigger than our time. That's when stress begins to weigh us down. Do you have too much on your plate?"  
  • Living in the moment. That's where the secret lies. If I'm concentrating on right now, I can see God's grace covering it. Move away from that towards stressing about the past or worrying about the future, and I'm disobeying God; I'm moving out from His protection. 
  • When you feel the urge to frown, raise your eyebrows! It works wonders.
Flower for a Friend by Pink Sherbet Photography
Flower for a Friend, a photo by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr. 

I won't say that this study guide has solved all of my stress and worry problems, but the scriptures I have studied and the stories I've read have emphasized three important things:
  1. Stress and worry are not God's plan for me.
  2. God is bigger than my stress and worry and wants to overcome them.
  3. I must hand my fears over to the Prince of Peace every single day.
As homeschooled girls, we can take an awful lot on ourselves. The important thing is that we give it all to God. I hope that you will be able to conquer your worry and stress, through Christ who strengthens you!

Friday, 8 June 2012


Joy is a Godly adornment... a virtue to strive after... a fruit of the Spirit in our lives {Gal. 5:22}.
But so many things can distract us from recieving God's gift of joy, and often times we exchange His joy for the temporal "happiness" of this world.
Lydia Brownback has created a wonderful devotional series studying the topics of Contentment, Trust, Purity... and the book that I am going through now is on Joy.

I never realized how distracted I was from truly living in the joy of the Lord... the true joy that is unlike our temporal understanding of worldly joy, which never satisfies and leaves us empty.

These short though thought provoking devotions has encouraged me greatly and has challenged me in my walk with Christ, to live in His joy. There are so many passages of this book that I desire to share from, but I decided on one that I read recently that has truly blessed me....

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."
John 15:11

Jesus has just given the primary condition for joy, and that condition is abiding; abiding in His love and abiding in His obedience.....
To abide in Christ is to cling to Him, and only as we do so will good be produced in us and in our lives. We will find that what we become in the process makes us joyful. Jesus said, "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. {John 15:5} The results of failing to abide couldn't be more clear.
Abiding brings us in tune with God's will, which always brings joy. As we abide in Christ, even our desires are conformed to reflect His so that we find our selves wanting what he wants.....
Joy and abiding in Christ are inseperatable.

That is just a tidbit of the many encouraging words that fills this book.
The joy that the Lord offers is there for us, yet we must seek Him and His will in order to receive it. I highly recommend this devotional series, as it has been a tool in my life by which the Lord has taught me and sanctified me.

May the reading of this book bless you and it has me, and draw you closer to the Lord as you embrace His joy!


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Choosing Gratitude

Quiet time.  Devotions. Time with God.  A very important and special part of the day.

What do you use in your devotions?  Do you have a favorite book that you go back to all the time?  Is there a special book in the Bible that you love to study?

The girls of Altogether Seperate will be writing reviews on books that we are currently reading in our devotions.  Will it be a book of the Bible we are studying or a devotional that we use using or a book that we are reading through during our devotional time?  Well, that will depend on the authoress for that blog post =)

I chose to do a review on a book that I am reading through during my devotional time.  This book was truly a God-send as I had been looking for books on gratitude, but had yet to find one that I was sure would be doctrinally sound.  I've been casually looking for the past couple months at different ones and then I came across a giveaway of the book "Choosing Gratitude" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.   I've read a few of her books/devotionals and really enjoyed them so I thought I would enter just for fun as there were several entries.  Well, it was the one God wanted me to be reading, as I ended up winning the book!!  I've only gotten into it a few chapters, but it has been so convicting and yet encouraging as well - after all, it is a book on gratitude, which brings to mind things to be thankful for.

So, here is the review:

Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy
By Nancy Leigh DeMoss

    Gratitude is not a distinctive Christian character quality.  Although we live in a culture that is rampant with ingratitude, you will find that amongst most families, the words "thank you" are among the first words learned by a young child.  It is not uncommon to hear an unsaved person express the words "thank you" when they find a parking space in an overflowing parking lot, or when a family member comes out of surgery successfully.

However, when these people say "thank you" the "you" means nothing to them.  To us Christians, that little word "You" should mean everything.  When each of us realized our need of a Savior and asked the Lord into our hearts, our lives radically changed.  No longer are we bound by the chains of our sins, living for ourselves (or in reality, serving Satan), living without a purpose and headed for an eternity in hell without our Lord.  That gift of Salvation we accepted did not bring a life of ease without pain, suffering and trials, but rather, it brought the God of the universe, who loves us more than we can imagine, right to our side to guide and help us through each step along the way.  It brought purpose to our life and assurance that our future would not be spent in hell, but rather in heaven with our Lord for eternity!!

The gift of Salvation is free for all who would receive it.  However, someone had to pay for it and that is where our gratitude starts.  Remembering who sacrificed EVERYTHING for you and me.

Here are some excerpts from the book:

"Undeniable guilt, plus undeserved grace, should equal unbridled gratitude."

"Being humbly thankful to God for our salvation - the most undeserved transaction in our personal history - is the starting point for the purest form of gratitude: God-ward, Christ-centered gratitude.  True gratitude, Christian gratitude, doesn't exist in a vacum; it has an object."

And that is what this book is about.  Choosing Christian gratitude.

"Where does gratitude rank on your list of Christian virtues?
In an arsenal that's supposed to include things like mountain-moving faith, radical obedience, patient long-suffering, and second-mile self denial, for many, gratitude feels like an optional add-on."

"The issue of gratitude is far more significant than its lightweight reputation would suggest......Try, for example, to sustain persevering faith - without gratitude - and your faith will eventually forget the whole point of its faithfulness, hardening into a practice of religion that's hollow and ineffective.
Try being a person who exudes and exhibits Christian love - without gratitude - and over time your love will crash hard on the sharp rocks of disappointment and disillusionment.
Try being a person who sacrificially gives of yourself - without the offering being accompanied by gratitude - and you'll find every ounce of joy drained by a martyr complex......gratitude has a big job to do in us and in our hearts.  And it is one of the chief ways that God infuses joy and resilience into the daily struggle of life."

There is no limit to the amount of grace, love, forgiveness etc. that God gives us. 

"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.  Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgements are like the great deep" Psalm 36:5-6
"His grace super-abounding from the far reaches of His dominion, filling the depths of our needy lives."

"The beauty of Christian gratitude is that one little act of thanks  - giving on our part - when directed toward or inspired by its rightful Recipient - can abound and rebound from one end of the kingdom to the other, not only blessing God, not only benefiting us, but even lodging itself in places and in people where God's love might never have been received any other way."

"Gratitude is a lifestyle.  A hard-fought, grace infused, biblical lifestyle."

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I've only gotten into the first few chapters, but there is so much to chew on in those first few!

I enthusiastically recommend this book!  It's pages are filled with life-changing material on how to draw from the limitless amount of grace God has given us and use it to share with others in our gratitude.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Masks and Vulnerability

mask by kynan tait
You know you're probably wearing a mask if someone asks you to strip it away.

I'm sitting around a campfire with some of my best girlfriends. We're lighting up the night with crackling flames; laughing, swapping stories, roasting marshmallows so big they nearly fall off the stick, trying to keep our voices down low enough to not disturb the neighboring tents.... We're using Ungame cards as conversation starters and going around the circle, sharing things we'd never dare speak if the darkness wasn't cozy all around us, hedging us into a circle of comrades.

Then my friend gets a card that gives her a free question; she can ask anyone anything she wants. "Abby, what is something that you've never told anyone?"

I'm shocked, flabbergasted, and dozens of things rush into my mind, all the things I can't say. I'm not a naturally open girl. Call me introverted, call me shy, the truth is that I'm not too keen on sharing my personal feelings. Oh I break down plenty of times, or get riled, and I'm quick to share my opinions, but when it comes to sharing the deep, dark corners of my soul I get hopelessly embarrassed and tongue-tied. In a way, I'm hiding behind a mask. I'll talk about my work, my school, my future, but talking about my feelings, my secret thoughts, my insecuritiesthat hurts. No one sees exactly what goes on underneath that surface.

“Underneath my outside face
There's a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me.”
―Shel Silverstein, Every Thing on It

I end up telling her about one of my less-sensitive embarrassments, my legs (pale, you know, with funny knees). But what about the other things? The things I don't blog about, the things I cry on my pillow over and speak out to God on windy days? What lies behind your mask?

This night teaches me something, let's me know about the things I've been hiding, and how many of them there really are. I'm more than willing to have a friend dish about her problems to me and cry on my shoulder, but I would never consider doing the same. "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." There's a distinct possibility that I have been limiting my friendships by holding back the realest parts of myself, and I suspect that I'm not the only one. When was the last time you were absolutely honest with someone, the last time you tore off that self-sufficient mask and let it all hang out?

Being vulnerable is going to hurt, but we have to do it. Who wants to liveor diebehind a mask?
mask, a photo by kynan tait on Flickr.

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