Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten [Things I Don't Want to Forget]

1. This song:
or this one...
or this one...
or this one...

2. This prayer:
Love Lustres at Calvary
My Father,
Enlarge my hear, warm my affections, open my lips,
supply words that proclaim 'Love lustrous at Calvary.'
There grace removes my burdens and heaps them on thy Son, 
made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me;
There the sword of thy justice smote the man, thy fellow;
There thy infinite attributes were magnified,
and infinite atonement was made;
There infinite punishment was due,
and infinite punishment was endured.
Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy
that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell's worst
that I might attain heaven's best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal light.
My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
groaned that I might have endless song,
endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,
expired that I might forever live.
O Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou mightiest spare me,
All this transfer thy love designed and accomplished; Help me to adore thee by lips and life.
O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,
my every step buoyant with delight, as I see
my enemies crushed,
Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,
sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,
hell's gates closed,
heaven's portal open.
Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the cross,
mighty to subdue, comfort and save.
~ Valley of Vision, p.42-43 by Arthur Bennett
3. This Book:

or this book...

4. This reality:

5. This verse:
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

6. Or this verse:
"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

7. This reminder:
... because she won't be this age for long...

8. This Mantra:

9. This truth:
... because silliness is a vital keepsake for sanity...

10. This poem:

... because I watch this, I see my husband, I bawl...

I could continually add to this with quotes like this...
or pictures like this...

... but we could be here forever by the time you see all the things I don't want to forget and then check out Melany's as well! Soooooo I'll stop there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [These Are a Few of My Favorite Things]

Nearly a year ago I wrote my own version of the Sound of Music's song These Are a Few of My Favorite Things after watching Carrie Underwood's performance of this popular play. 

Words on white paper and bling on my finger
Uplifting music and friends who linger
Songs that I cherish and can't help but sing
These are a few of my favorite things

Dressing up fancy and pajama pants too
Cookies and Coffee and baby shoes 
Growing and changing to be like my King
These are a few of my favorite things

Cuddley puppies and crafty wheat beer
Frosty Mugs filled with root beer and cheer
Family love and the laughter they bring
These are a few of my favorite things

When a friend fights
When a word stings
When I'm feeling sad
I'll simply remember my favorite things
And then I won't feel so bad!

Perhaps it was this post that inspired Melany and I added it to our top ten topics or perhaps it was the fact that this classic made it back into homes all over America, whatever the reason, it's just for fun.

Without further ado, here's a few of my favorite things:

1. Changing Seasons. I love all the newness that comes about with each season. Spring brings life = green, bright flowers, warmer weather... Summer encourages outdoor fun... Fall is nothing short of beautiful with the colorful leaves, cooling weather bringing some relief, pumpkins... Winter offers snow much fun... I love it all. 

2. Bible. I never leave home without it. It's my go-to when advice is needed, when I need something to do, when I need encouragement, a reminder, and I never want to miss an opportunity to present the gospel according to Scripture. How do you know without a shadow of a doubt whether or not you'll go to heaven when you die? I'll show you, according to Scripture.

3. Candles. They smell wonderful and bring a sense of warmth.

4. Drinks. Tea. Coffee. Beer. Wine. Gin and Tonic. Mojito. Bloody Mary. A&W Rootbeer. How do I pick a favorite?!

5. Music. It can uplift me, motivate me, remind me of Biblical truths, focus my mind on GOD, make me laugh, cry, reminisce...

6. Naps. I need sleep. Plus naps include cuddling (either with Marley Man, Briella Bean, or my wonderful hubby - or all 3) and blankets. What's napping (or relaxing for that matter) without a blanket?!

7. Books. I'm a nerd. (Oh! I love children's books the mostest.)

8. Scarves. The perfect accessory for any occasion. 

9. A Clean Home. This isn't the norm for my home, so when it is spit spot (for those whole 5 seconds) I love it.

10. Creating. Whether it's writing or a DIY project, I feel humbled with the God-given ability to create something out of nothing. 

It's the little things God has blessed me with that make life worth living and these are a few of those little things. Don't forget to check out Melany's!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Visual that Helped Me Understand the Power of the Cross

I'm a visual learner. If I see something and then am allowed to do it myself, that's the best way I grasp what's being taught. Recently, I've been challenged in this area because I'm discipling someone who's even more of a visual learner than I am. I can't remember the chapter we were studying in Romans exactly, but I'm pretty sure it was chapter 5 where Paul is explaining to the church in Rome that believers have access through faith into the peace and grace of God (5:1-2). In fact, Paul explains that we are standing in God's grace! He goes on to reiterate that we cannot out-sin grace, "where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more!" So if this is the case, should we continue to sin? Well, Paul addresses that in chapter 6 with a "By no means! How can we who died to sin still I've in it?" (6:1-2) This concept is so huge I was struggling to help her understand what sin does to a believers life. Recently this visual that I drew up quick for her has been stuck in my brain along with the beautiful song "The Power of the Cross", so I thought I'd share both with you, hoping it has the same effect on you as it did on me...

The Power of the Cross

Before the cross there was a great chasm between God and men because of sin. God is perfect, holy, and blameless and we are rotten sinners (read the first 3 chapters of Romans where Paul quotes Scripture describing us as sinful in the most grotesque way, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (bolded, underline mine) He goes on to compare our throats to open graves and our lips to venom of asps. This applies to everyone. You, your spouse, your children, your pastor... the entire human race. If you don't believe me go back to 3:11-18 where the terms "no one" or "all" or "none" or "not even one" are used over and over again.

Also, there is nothing you can do about that chasm. You cannot climb your way to the top because there is nothing you can do to ever reach God's state of perfection - because HE IS SINLESS and we are sinful. In Ephesians Paul describes our state as DEAD. "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind." (2:1-3, bolded mine) That's a pretty rotten place to be - dead, children of wrath, following the sons of disobedience - the prince of the power of the air (aka Satan). Due to our passions of the flesh, we are separated from a holy, blameless and perfect God. I put "ME" (referring to all of us) underground, because, well, we're dead.

When Christ died on the cross, He did a miraculous thing. He took the chasm away! By our faith in Christ's life, death, resurrection, and promise of return according to the Scriptures we are now holy, blameless and righteous! Don't believe me? Read the next beautiful verses in Ephesians 2:4-10, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show his immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (bolded mine)

Even when we were dead in our trespasses, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) He knew each and every one of our sins - past, present and future and yet he died for us anyway. He died so that we could spend an eternity in heaven with a holy, blameless and righteous God. We cannot enter into His perfect presence without that same state of perfection, and Christ has given it to us. "... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

Christ did all the work so that we could be on the same plane as God. We have been raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places! AND THIS IS NOT OF OUR OWN DOING! It is a gift of God! You cannot boast about how you came to God, because if you do, you take the glory away from what Christ accomplished on the cross. HE made you alive. HE did the work and because of that work you are now experiencing peace with God (read Romans 5:1 again). "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

That chasm no longer exists. You can not lose your salvation! Thank goodness, because being a believer does not mean you will no longer struggle with sin. I wake up and think horrible thoughts and I'm not having to go to my knees begging for salvation. Do I ask for forgiveness? Yes! Do I discontinue that sin? Absolutely. Do I dwell on it? NO! Remember Romans 5:8? While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He has already forgiven us for that sin! Say I'm sorry, move on, and don't do it again.

So if sin does not change our salvation status, what does sin do to believers? Because this was a work of God, we CAN'T go back to our original dead state. "For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:10-11, bolded, underline mine) Christ died once and that death was sufficient for ALL TIME (read Hebrews). Instead, sin pulls us farther away from God.

The state of our salvation does not change, our relationship, however, does.

I think of it this way. I was a rotten teenager. Rebellious, hateful, spiteful and yet my dad told me time and time again, "I will always love you and you will always have a home here." Every time I sinned against my dad it did not improve my relationship with him, but did it change the state of how he loved me? Did it mean he was going to kick me out into the streets? Nope. My dad was a reflection of what Christ accomplished on the cross. I know you'll screw up, because I know your heart, but I love you, I died for you and you will always have a home with me. I will continue to work in your life and draw you back to ME. 


From the beginning of time, God has set apart a people for Himself for His Name. He wants to be glorified and He wants fellowship with His people. Without the cross neither of those would've happened. Because remember Romans 3? "No one seeks for God" and also remember that He is holy and we aren't without Christ. Without Christ, we are nothing. Without what He accomplished on the cross, we have nothing.

So give thanks and glorify HIS NAME for the work He accomplished on the cross.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [What Homework Teaches You]

Melany and I thought this would be an interesting topic coming from a student and a teacher. With the two perspectives I hope students who read this walk away appreciative of what is required of them and why.

1. Practice makes perfect. Doing something over and over and over and over again solidifies it in your brain. In order to truly understand how to do something you must practice. The same goes with reading, writing, math, basketball, football, volleyball, weight lifting, cooking, sewing, dancing, and this list could be endless. Homework teaches you the value of practicing. You may not like dribbling the ball up and down the court 20 times with your left hand, but you do it because you know you'll be better. Same with homework. Teachers do not wake up one day and think to themselves, I wonder what I can assign to make my students miserable? No, they wake up asking themselves if this assignment will help you ace the test. They want to make sure you understand it and sometimes it takes hard work.

2. Time management. There isn't enough hours in the day to accomplish all that's needing to be done in the classroom setting. Many times this requires that in order to continue teaching a subject (we don't want you to forget it) you must take it home. This also requires some time management skills on your part. Trust me, that is a skill you need as an adult.

3. Self discipline. Sometimes I'd rather only dribble the ball down the court 15 times instead of the prescribed 20 and that's cheating myself. Sometimes I'd rather watch a movie than complete my math homework (okay, make that always). But sometimes we need to have the self discipline to sit down and accomplish what we may or may not want to.

4. Practice helps you fully understand a concept. Once something is assigned it becomes a "check point" for teachers to help them determine if you're really getting it. If not, it's time to reteach it. So by skipping homework you're stressing a teacher out in thinking that you do not understand and I need to make sure you do get it. Homework helps you explain that you do, in fact, know what you're talking about. It's your way of proving it.

5. Following directions. This may seem so elementary. But if you can't follow directions, you won't be able to do your taxes, fill out a job application, do what your boss tells you to do, &etc. Following directions is a life skill and homework helps teach you how to do it right the first time.

6. Working through adversity. Homework will frustrate you because it will take you to a new level, perhaps a step further than what was not taught in class. Frustration and adversity are a part of life, the issue isn't the struggle, the issue is how you handle the struggle. Homework teaches you to work through adversity.

7. It's okay to ask for help. You aren't going to get something the first few times of doing it. Sometimes it helps to ask for help from a teacher, parent, or friend (we want you to do that). If you've hit your frustration level max, ask for help. Homework helps you understand that asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength.

8. Appreciate the feedback. In order to know whether or not you're really getting it, you will get feedback. Sometimes it won't be what you expect. Sometimes the grade won't be what you hope, but use it as an opportunity to better yourself. Homework helps you appreciate the feedback, and that's something needed in life. You won't always get positive feedback for what you do at work or any walk of life for that matter. Instead of letting the feedback destroy you, the feedback should make you stronger.

9. Maturity. Without education (and the homework that comes with it) you find that embarrassing mistakes such as this are made...

Believe it or not, homework helps you reach a level of maturity that do not exist in the above examples (I'm sure you can read countless more examples on Facebook status updates). Had these individuals paid attention in class, did their homework and completed some of the easiest tasks of their life, they may not be wearing the embarrassing shoes their in now.

10. Don't give up! Homework teaches you the ability to persevere. Don't give up. Keep trying. Ask for help. Practice. Practice. Practice. Life will thank you.

So even if you find the assignment pointless and frustrating, find a reason to be thankful for your free education and the opportunities you'll learn through persevering, practice, self discipline, &etc. Homework will not be the last time you'll have to use those skills, and those skills need lots of practice in order to perfect.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Seasonal Decor [From Summer to Fall]

Fall is my favorite season. I love everything about it - from the pumpkin patch, to the changing leaves, to pumpkin lattes, to burning candles, to boots and scarves. There's so much to be thankful for this time of year. Fall is a tremendous reminder to be thankful in all circumstances, because I have so much for which to be grateful. One is the godsend to liberate a hobby: decorating. I have a separate tub for spring, summer, fall, Christmas, and Valentine decor (and I'm sure I'll be sharing each as the seasons change).

How spoiled am I? I certainly do not need these trivial things and if it came down to it, where God was calling us to a place where these things could not go with, I wouldn't be heartbroken. Still, I enjoy the task of making our home beautiful for each of my favored occasions. It's festive, charming and homey. God has blessed me with the means to decorate with the changing seasons and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Here's a few of my favorite things from summer to fall...
Door decor.
See how I made this here.
The living room set up is different from summer to fall due to plug ins. It's nice because rearranging forces me to clean every nook and cranny. Also, summer is open and the fall set up is more cozy. 
My main color scheme is a pale yellow and red with brown, black and white accents.  With each season comes a new color, with the summer comes splashes of blue.

With fall comes splashes of orange.

Made from scrap wood left over from our backyard fence. 
Living room set up.

My scarecrows guarding my mint plant.  

I love getting out my fall decor, it's the much needed change I crave and a time to be extra thankful. The next decor I'll share is Christmas, which is only 16 Friday's away!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Favorite Blogs]

I love the world of blogging. It offers individuals such as myself a chance to write about passions, hit publish, and then turn around and read what others share about themselves - about life, about lessons learned and so much more! The blogger world can offer a wealth of information. Still, this freedom is also taken advantage of at times and this wealth of information may or may not be accurate. Today's top ten is not to discuss that - but share a few of my favorite blogs and why they're some of my favs.

After checking out a few of my favorite blogs, don't forget to see the blogs Melany believes are worthy of following!

1. Desiring God Blog - This blog has many writers, that I assume go to the church John Piper pastors. The daily topics that show up here challenge me as a Christian. For example, one of their most recent articles titled, Lay Aside the Weight of Self-Indulgence, kicked my tail this week.

2. The Time Warp Wife - I'm in love with this woman's mantra: keeping Christ at the center of marriage. This is where I found this incredible pledge, titled Homemakers Creed, designed to help me understand that I am my husbands helpmeet and that my families needs should be above my own. This is only the beginning of her wholesome good stuff.

3. The Matt Walsh blog - I love his direct honesty and it's incredibly difficult to argue with his common sense.

4. Elizabeth Loves - I just like her. I think if we were to ever meet someday, we'd be instant friends. (Another reason why I love the blogging world!)

5. Of course my best friend from the good 'ole college days at Doane: Megan Barnett. She writes about her family and her life. Her girls don't know me, but at least I feel relatively up-to-date with all that Mego writes about them.

6. Hidden With You - Rebekah is a creative writer and she writes about things that are also important to me: Christ, marriage, and children.

7. Ligonier Ministries Blog - Like Desiring God blog (see #1) this blog has so much to offer. I have so much to learn from pastors like R.C. Sproul and the teachings they share are incredible.

8. Grace to You Blog - Another blog founded by another pastor who's teachings I follow closely. If I need resources to a Biblical text I'm struggling to understand I go to Desiring God, Ligonier, or Grace to You. I recommend the same for anyone wanting to know more about God's Word. Lately, John MacArthur has been spending a significant amount of time on Church Discipline and how to deal with sin in the church. So.interesting. the role we all play. If you're involved in a church family (which - if you're a Christian - you should be) I highly recommend reading starting here: Church Discipline Misconceived.

9. Hot, Holy, & Humorous - She writes about how she believes God wants our marriage to be hot, holy, and well... humorous and she can back it up with Scripture. Her topics are a.m.a.z.i.n.g. One of her latest post, where she writes, "I learned my past hardship and heartache shouldn't be ignored or buried or wished away, but could be part of my personal testimony - from which to help others who struggle with sexual intimacy." This particular story is a good one and I thank her for being completely honest time and time again. I can so relate to her story, and so it helps me with mine.

10. And then, of course, there's Miss Melany. She's one of my former junior high students with so much knowledge packed into 16 years of life I envy her. She has chosen a path in life that God will bless because she's chosen to glorify Him in all that she does and say. That, my friend, is evident from the moment you meet her (or read what she writes). You will love her. Trust me. I do.

With that being said, don't forget to check out her favorite blogs!