When It’s Truly The Thought That Counts

My husband and I are currently in the process of trying to sell our home. During said process we decided it would be best (read, easier on mama) if we moved in with my mom for the time being. She has so graciously and lovingly accepted me and my family back into her home, and I don’t know where I would be, or how much sanity would be intact right now, without her (but truth be told, I think she kind of loves having her grandbabies here too ūüôā ). Still, money is tight. We still have to pay the mortgage on our house, the utilities, help with utilities here, and so on. Sometimes there isn’t much left over to spend on frivolities.

Such is the case this week. After the bills were paid and tithes were given, we had a few dollars left in the bank account. I’ve been longing for some time alone with my husband,who’s been working so very hard lately, but a date night out just wasn’t in the budget.

So I improvised!

A quick stop to the grocery store to pick up the one or two items I was missing for dinner, and a visit to the Target seasonal clearance section gave me everything I needed for an impromptu date night to surprise my husband with!

Can I talk to you a minute about why this was so important to me? I wasn’t trying to win brownie points (although they certainly don’t hurt ūüėČ ), I wasn’t trying to be impressive or clever – I was simply longing to show my husband what he means to me.

I have a friend who is struggling in her marriage – although she claims that they’re just like the average joe. They have two kids, the eldest of which is 5 – and that is exactly how long it’s been since she and her husband have been out together alone. She doesn’t trust anyone around her kids, and so they simply do not spend alone time together. In the past both she and her husband have struggled with seeking affection outside of each other – and I believe that this plays a big part in that.

Marriage is like a garden – you will only get out of it what you put into it. If you throw a few seeds on the ground and leave it to do its thing, you probably will yield little, if any, fruit. If you want a fruitful garden, you must put your back into it. It requires attention to the soil you use to plant your seeds, the amount of sun you allow it to get, how often you water it, how well you prune. Marriages, like gardens, do not flourish by happenstance.

This is so important, friends. Show him you think he’s special, show her you appreciate her – tell your spouse you love them through your actions and words. You don’t need to have a lot of money or go out to fancy restaurants to keep romance alive in your marriage – all you really need is a little thoughtfulness (and some pasta never hurts ūüôā )

(A little glimpse at our date night – I strung up the clearance white lights I purchased from target, dropped a few tea lights into our wine glasses, and served an Italian dinner on the deck. It was romantic and quiet and cheap!)

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Under Watchful Eye

I recently purchased a video monitor for the Twincess’s room, so that I could keep an eye on them at night and in the mornings before I get them up.

It’s served us very well in the short time we’ve had it. One night not long after it was installed we watched as Looberry climbed up on the rails to reach the light switch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my husband scale a flight of stairs as fast as he did that night, scooping her up into his protective arms and returning her to the safety of her bed (which was lowered!)

On nights like this I enjoy just watching the girls as they peacefully sleep, occasionally scanning the room to make sure all is well – and they are never the wiser.

There are times when I watch them wake up in the middle of the night and cry. My first instinct is to rush to their aid, to wrap them in my arms and fix the problem; but with this camera, I’ve begun to let them work it out themselves first, always watching and guarding. In the moments when there is a real need, a leg stuck in a slat, a toothache, a pacifier MIA, I answer swiftly, kiss them and slip out of the room as quickly as I can. But more commonly it is a matter that they can solve, like finding a lost blanket or sippy cup, or simply needing to rest and trust in the safety of their surroundings and fall back asleep. They never realize that I am always watching, they are never beyond my protection; even in the moments of darkness and silence, I am there caring for them.

How often does our Heavenly Father do the same for us?

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary” – Isaiah 40:28

As watchful as I am over my children, I am still pitifully human and need rest of my own. But not our God. He never wearies, He never takes his eyes from us.

In the moments when we feel so alone, when we are filled with fear, when we call out and do not receive an answer, we are so quick to believe our God has abandoned us. But I believe that  He is never as vigilant, never as near, never as intent, as He is in those moments. He is simply waiting to see how we respond, how we react. He has given us the wisdom and knowledge in our situations, if we only remind ourselves of His truth. He will never let us falter Рin moments of true need and desperation, He will swoop in like the wind to save us Рnothing will overcome us, nothing escapes His sight. He simply knows that He has dressed us in Spiritual armor, and wants us to trust that these battles have already been won.

Life Speakers

Words.

Do you realize the power and  significance in those five letters? God made the entire world with them, great authors inspire masses with carefully constructed rhetoric, we can change our eternal fate with them. This ability of ours, this gift of speech, is precious and invaluable, and for most of us, completely unlimited.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the stereotype of the chatty wife or the gossipy friend; women are so often declared as having “the gift of gab”. ¬†When God created men and women He designed them with different strengths so that they might compliment each other, to work as a team for His good; I believe that for women one of these gifts is speech.¬†Typically speaking, women seldom have a problem expressing themselves verbally, we rarely find ourselves at a loss for words, and when a friend or loved one comes seeking comfort, we often find the words flow easily.

I once heard of a statistical survey which reported that the average woman spoke over 16,000 words per day. That’s 16,000 opportunities to love, to inspire life, to instill hope, to cloak with grace, in just one waking day.

And yet, so many of those opportunities are wasted. Long gone are the “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” days. In our generation we are encouraged to vocalize our every opinion and thought – regardless of who they might hurt or how unattractive they might make us (or more importantly, Christ) appear. We speak our minds freely, and mostly without threat of¬†repercussion. But the old saying still rings true, that what comes out is what’s put in, and¬†in a society where an¬†uncompromising¬†following of Jesus has become declasse,¬†what’s being put in is selfishness, greed, pride, and hate.¬†

As daughters of the most high King, we need to understand and embrace the power that we have. What we see as harmless, Satan can use as a wrecking ball, and what we see as insignificant, God can use to bring salvation. To underestimate the power we possess is not only neglectful, but dangerous.

Julia had a college class three times a week on campus. In this class she sat next to a young man, whom she noticed wore a wedding ring. As the semester progressed she and this young man struck up a natural casual friendship as a result of spending so many hours in the same vicinity; their conversations had become more personal and she enjoyed his friendship. As so many women mindlessly do, she would harmlessly flirt with him during these class times, without a seconds thought. He was married, there was no danger here, he was just a good friend. By the end of the semester the young man was completely infatuated with Julia, and as he grew more attracted to her, he simultaneously grew more distant from his wife. He expressed his interest to Julia who was completely taken aback Рhe was married, they were just friends! Frustrated and dismayed she told him that she had no interest in him romantically, and after classes ended they never spoke again. The rift between him and his wife, though, remained.

Flirtatiousness, gossip, anger. These things destroy people, they destroy relationships, and they mislead the lost away from God.

But we can choose another way.

Through the gospel and the testimony of Christ, we can speak life into people. With our sincere and earnest prayers, we can bring healing. With words of grace and compassion, we can lead the lost to deliverance.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,¬†And those who love it will eat its fruit” – Proverbs 18:20

There is a golden nugget of information here, a key to pulling this whole thing together. “And those who love it”. ¬†Those who love goodness, those who love compassion, those who love grace, those who love purity, those who love virtue.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

As much as we need to speakers of life words, we need to be livers of the same. We need to show compassion, cling to virtue, emulate purity and redemption.

Today, be intentional with your words. Speak life into someone, push death and self-service from your thoughts,and indulge the holy spirit to be your wellspring of speech. Be fluent in grace. Remember, all it takes is just one seed, for good or evil – the choice is up to you.

Trees of Fruit

How do we know we’re saved?

For “seasoned” Christians like myself, we’re all too quick to answer, “Well, because I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to earth to die on a cross and rise again.” It’s that simple, isn’t it? I mean, doesn’t our Lord say in john 3:16 that “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”? So that’s it, right? We believe in Him, and we’re in, bada-bing bada-boom. Of course we know we’re saved! But what if I told you there was more to it than that? What if simply saying you believe in the¬†existence¬†of God and His Son doesn’t get you all the way?

Doesn’t the bible also say in Matthew 7:21 that “Not¬†everyone¬†who¬†says¬†to¬†me,¬†‘Lord,¬†Lord,’¬†will¬†enter¬†the kingdom¬†of¬†heaven”, and that “Even¬†¬†the demons believe – and shudder! (James 2)”?

So then how do we know? What sets us apart from the demons, who will be cast forever into the fire?

Have you ever been challenged in your spiritual walk? I have, and I truly relish those moments, because I know they will lead to growth and wisdom. This week I was challenged; I was pushed beyond my comfort zone and feel as though I have grown considerably as a Christian.

What I learned was nothing new. Individually they were parts of the bible that I knew almost by heart. There was no mind-blowing revelation¬†about them or their¬†interpretation. Rather, they were simply blended in a way that I hadn’t seen them before.

If you’ve been saved longer than a week, chances are good you’re familiar with the verse in Matthew 7 which reads “You will know them by their fruits.¬†Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so,¬†every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.¬†A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”

The verse speaks of the works and deeds of men. Jesus is adamant that evil works cannot come from a good man, and good works cannot come from an evil man.

Now wait, how can that be? As Christians we know that we are imperfect and in need of grace because of our sin.

I’m a big believer in going back to the¬†Greek¬†in situations like this, so let’s take a look. The word evil here comes from the Greek word¬†ponńďros, which means full of hardships, or of bad nature. Clearly Jesus isn’t saying that a good Christian will never sin or produce a bad work, or even struggle with a thorn in the flesh like Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7). Instead, He is speaking of the constant nature of the person.

If not for grace, there go I. I have sins, dark and vile sins, just like everyone else on this planet. When I read Paul say he is the chiefest of sinners I laugh and shake my head, oh if only he knew ME!

But God does know me, He knew me from the beginning of time, and He provided exactly what He knew I was going to need; A Savior. And because of the sacrifice of The Spotless Lamb, I am free. “Therefore, if anyone¬†is in Christ, he is¬†a new creation” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The old is gone, the spirit of Christ reigns in my heart РI am not who I was, and so I am not bound to the sins I once committed.

And so a person who lives a full life of sinful disregard – no matter how many Sundays ¬†they sit and shout “Amen” from their seat in church – is at best completely inhibiting any kind of relationship with God, and at worst in very real danger of being¬†deceived¬†about their salvation.

How do we know, then? The bible has the answer, if we only choose to seek it.

2 Corinthians 13:5 ”¬†Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves,¬†that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you¬†are¬†disqualified”

Test yourselves. Are you living in line with the way God has called us to live? We don’t have to guess, y’all, He lays it out for us through His Son in the Word. Grace isn’t an excuse to live recklessly and sinfully, and if we can do that without feeling the burn of our conscience, we need to sit down and ask ourselves very seriously if we have Jesus in our hearts at all.

If you find the answer is no, I beseech you to embrace Him with more than words, but with all of your heart, and soul, and mind.

And if the answer is yes? We need to quiet ourselves and listen for that still small voice. To get back on the narrow path and reestablish our fellowship with Christ.

So right now, tonight, I invite you to ask yourself – judging by your fruit – which tree are you?

Disclaimer: I fully and completely believe in the idea of once saved always saved. I do not believe that a Christian who, at one time in their life, made a sincere and honest decision to accept Jesus into their lives as their savior, and asked for forgiveness of their sins, can lose that salvation in a season of backsliding. However, I believe the grey area of “Am I backslidden, or was I never truly saved?” is one that should be avoided at all costs, for our soul’s eternal sake.

Heart Cry

Welcome, friends, to the chronicles of my world!

I have tried to walk down this path of blogging and writing before, though it was clearly my will and timing and not of the Lords – and like all things we try to do without God, they failed.

It’s amazing, though, how much a person can grow with a little watering and time. I feel as though I am miles away from where I began, and this time I am being led by The Eternal Morning Star down a much different path. It was the path I always wanted to go down, but without my Lord’s guidance I didn’t know how to get there, now He has given me eyes to see, and I am so filled with JOY and excitement!

Before, the blog was selfishly centered. I wanted to write eloquent and inspiring words about my life, I wanted to be clever and funny and admired. It was all so very carnal, it’s no wonder it¬†faltered¬†before it started.

But I have a different passion now. I have no desire to bring attention to myself, simply to share with whoever is led to read this the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and to encourage other believers.

This is my heart’s cry.

I long to go boldly forward through the world, shinning the light of Jesus. I want to encourage you, young women of grace, to do the same.

I desire to be the Lord’s mouthpiece that will move you to strongholds of purity, obedience, joy, boldness, love, compassion, and grace.

I want to do this together.

Will you join me?