Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [10 Ways to Worship]

I wrote this introduction around the time I started the 40 Day Challenge because I realized that I desperately needed to focus on the things of God, rather than the things of this world:

When I hit chapter 12:1-2 in Romans I thought I "got" it, but decided to see what John Piper and John MacArthur had on file for sermons on these particular verses. I am so beyond grateful I did. The verses came alive in a way that I couldn't wait to share with you. John Piper has 8 sermons on these two verses alone (John MacArthur has 3)! I highly recommend you check them out for yourself, but I wanted to venture a tad further and reach out to mommy's and wives:

What does worship look like in your home?

According to Paul all of life is worship because once we understand the mercies of God poured out in our lives (the first 11 chapters of Romans) and acknowledge that by faith in Christ alone we are made righteous (the entire purpose of the book of Romans in chapter 1:16-17), our lives should exude CHRIST. I love how John Piper pieces this together in his sermon, What is the Will of God and How do We Know It? He argues that our "... thoughts, attitudes and actions are spontaneous. They are just spillover from what's inside." When I read that I asked myself, what is my spillover? I truly hope my spontaneous thoughts, attitudes or actions reflect CHRIST. That's what all Christians want right? How can we make that happen? How can our day-to-day living (everything we say and do) be an act of worship? Well, Paul explains that in these verses.

I'm trying so hard to organize my thoughts because my mind is reeling with the significance of Romans 12:1-2, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Let's break these verses down. We cannot truly present our bodies as a living sacrifice (our spillover: everything we do and say) to spiritual worship unless we understand the "mercies of God" which are explained in the first 11 chapters of Romans:
  • Chapter 1 - Why we need the Gospel, we are ALL SINNERS! Dirty. Rotten. Filthy.
  • Chapter 2 - Stop playing God. God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus because HE knows their heart (2:16), so Paul wants the Jews to understand that God knows the heart, they do not, therefore, stop judging, because the very sins you condemn others for are the ones you practice. (What a great lesson for us all, right?)
  • Chapter 3 - ALL of us are under sin (Jews AND Gentiles) and we ALL fall short of the glory of God, and we ALL deserve death, which is why we need God's gift of salvation given to us in Christ!
  • Chapter 4 - Using Abraham as his example Paul explains that we are justified through Christ by faith alone.
  • Chapter 5 - Because we have been justified by faith, we are constantly surrounded by God's grace! In other words, we cannot out-sin His grace. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!" (5:8) and where "sin increased, grace abounded all the more!" (5:20b) What an incredible statement to assure us of our security in Christ.
  • Chapter 6 - If we can't out-sin grace, why not keep sinning?! Well, when Christ died on the cross for our sins, our old self died with Him. "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (6:1) Sin no longer has dominion over us! (6:14) and we must understand that the "wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (6:22)
  • Chapter 7 - Using the law of marriage (something the Jews would know and understand) he explains that God is faithful to His Word. He knew that in order to offer salvation to Jews and Gentiles the old Law had to die (like your first husband) so that you are free to serve the second husband. The Jews no longer serve the old husband (the Law) but now belong to another, "to him who has been raised from the dead..." (7:4) The Law points us to Christ because the Law shows us our sin and drives us to our knees. We cannot keep the Law perfectly! We fail it everyday because the Law reveals GOD's perfect character. We are called to the Law, not to be saved by it, but to be judged by it. Who can save us from the Law? JESUS!
  • Chapter 8 - "There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus." (8:1) We have absolutely nothing to worry about in this life if we belong to Him! The only thing we owe Him IS OUR LIFE. That means we will suffer on this earth, but this suffering, prepares us for an eternity with the man who suffered the most. There is NOTHING that can separate us from His love (8:28-39)! 
  • Chapter 9 - If all of us are sinners and there's not one person on the face of the planet that seeks Him (chapters 1-3), and all we need is faith alone in Christ alone in order to be justified before a holy, blameless and perfect God, and if there's nothing that can separate us from His love, if we are constantly standing in the midst of His grace, and if the Law does not make us righteous before God (because we fail in keeping it), how can we resist God's sovereignty? We can't. We must understand that God giving His son to die on the cross was the only way to salvation! "...it depends not on human will or exertion, but ON GOD, who has mercy!" (9:16) It's not up to us, we should not question His sovereign choice (9:20-29).
  • Chapter 10 - If we cannot resist God's sovereign choice why do we preach? Why go on missions? Why do we spread the gospel message? Well, 1. Jesus commanded us to. and 2. How are God's chosen to believe in Him if they've never heard of Him. And you do not know who is chosen and who isn't (only God judges the secrets of man by their heart, chapter 2, remember?) So we must not pick and choose because ALL have sinned, ALL fall short of the glory of God and ALL must hear about His mercies. 
  • Chapter 11 - Don't get cocky Gentiles! "So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off." (11:20-22) This chapter is a warning and should also lead us to humility. He will welcome Israel back because He is faithful to His Word, but not "...until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." (11:25) How is this a mercy of God? The Jews were unfaithful to His Law, right? It proves that God keeps His Word and if He keeps His Word to the Jews He will keep His Word to the Gentiles as well. That should put us in an extreme place of thanksgiving and praise!
Which is a perfect segue for chapter 12! "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (12:1-2) Now that you know the mercies of God you are fully able to present yourself as a living sacrifice! You are able to give your life to Christ! If you are transformed by the renewal of your mind and are constantly discerning what is the will of God, you will exude Christ, thus worshiping Him! 
Consider the first 11 chapters that describe the absolute sovereignty of God and understand that all of life should become spiritual worship, you'll whole heartily serve Christ with fervor. But how do you know the will of God? How can you constantly renew your mind? How can you not be conformed to this world? Saturate your life with GOD'S Word! The mind of God is revealed in Scripture and in order to focus and worship HIM, our minds and hearts and bodies should EXUDE HIS WORD.

I think that was the longest introduction to any top ten I've ever written and I hope you read it in it's entirety because you won't fully understand my list unless you do. This list, I believe, is critical for mommy's because our day is centered around our families needs, which doesn't allow for much else.

Melany, I am 100% positive will give you further insight from a student's perspective; as she goes through the daily grind of homework, chores, and day-to-day life as a 16 year old. She continues to blow me away and I have no doubt her list will inspire me. So don't forget to check out Melany's list as well!
If worship is a daily act of service where we show God's worth in all that we do and say, we should be worshiping God every second of every day. Here's a few suggestions:
  1. Prayer - We were created for prayer because God wants an intimate relationship with His children. We were meant to come to Him and because of Jesus we can fearlessly and confidently enter His presence. One of the best ways to worship Him is by talking directly to Him! Use what you learn about Him in Scripture to praise Him! How? Here's a few suggestions that should give you a good start:
    • Read the story of how He saved the Israelites from the Egyptians, it's saturated with His sovereignty. Praise Him for it. (Exodus 1-15, pay close attention to 3:14, 4:11-12, 6:1-8, 7:5, 8:10, 8:22, 9:14-16, 9:29, 10:1-2, 11:9, 12:36, 13:3 & 8, 14:4, 14:13, 14:17, and the song of Moses in 15, another thing that will help you understand God's sovereignty is counting how many times you see, "... the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart...", in fact, pay attention to every time you see "the Lord" and then praise Him for what He does.)
    • Read what God says about Himself to Job in Job chapters 38-41. He is rebuking Job for questioning Him and complaining (read Job 6:8-9, 7:11, 10, 1-2, 13:3 & 15 & 17-18, 23:1-4, 31:35-37). The climax of this book is when Job finally shuts up in 40:3-5 and by the end of God's discourse Job falls to his knees in repentance (42:1-6). I promise that by reading how God describes Himself, you will praise Him for all that He does and is capable of doing! He is powerful. He is sovereign. He is mighty.
    • Use this 30 day calendar that guides you through 30 names and attributes of God according to Scripture. Each day you read the description of God and the correlating Scripture; then pray and praise God for who He is! 
    • Use a praise Psalm to read, pray and praise. I wrote an example of how to do that here.
    • Use verses like 1 Thessalonians and Romans 12:12 as inspiration to pray and praise all the time. The audiences in both of these books were experiencing persecution in the most extreme ways (losing lives of loved ones, torture, losing their possessions) and yet they were called to be in thanksgiving in all circumstances. If they were called to be thankful how much more should we be in a state of thanksgiving?! Do you feel blessed? Thank Him! Did He do something miraculous in your life? Praise Him! Did He answer a prayer? Praise and thank Him! Be constantly mindful of how He is working in your day to life.
  2. Scripture Memorization - Scripture is the only source of truth and encouragement in this world. Paul tells us in Romans 15:4 that the strength to endure comes from the hope in Christ. "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." How are we to be encouraged in this truth if we don't read the Scripture? How can we keep on hoping? Through Scripture. What keeps our hearts and minds focused on Christ and all that He has given us? Scripture! Romans 15:4 should be the role of the Bible in our lives because it is in times of trials and tribulations that we tend to forget the absolute sovereignty of God. What better way to remind us that we need to let go and let God do His great and mighty work than through Scripture. Since it's impossible for mommy's to sit down and constantly read it, we need to have it at the forefront of our brain continually through memorization. Here's 10 more reasons why mommy's should memorize scripture.
  3. Music - Another way to focus on God is through music. I've created many playlists like, "God is Great" and "God is Faithful" and "Christ Alone" to help me worship while sweeping the floor (for example). Some of my favorites are Faithful by Chris Tomlin, Blessings by Laura Story, Give Me Jesus by Jeremy Camp, Great is Thy Faithfulness by Fernando Ortega, In Christ Alone by Keith & Kristyn Getty, Indescribable by Chris Tomlin, Keep Making Me by Sidewalk Prophets, Our Great God by Todd Agnew, Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns, Sovereign Over Us by Aaron Keyes, Word of God Speak by MercyMe &etc. I purposeful in picking songs to help me focus on HIM and who He is according to Scripture. If the words are contrary to Scripture I toss it.
  4. Home Management - The way we manage our home needs to be God glorifying. The way we serve others is a form of worship. The way we maintain our home, the way we speak to others, what we do and how we do it is vital in our role as manager of our home. God is calling us to manage our home for His glory, so that our home reflects Christ and is a witness to the people God put in our life to serve: our husband and children. 
  5. Worship Service - Find a church that offers sound Biblical teaching where your pastor gets paid to study the Word of God and share what he's learned and how to study it rightly with you. By learning how to study God's Word your mind will be refocused, renewed, and energized. 
  6. Bible Study - Find time every day to read a chapter or more from Scripture. Remember it is through Scripture alone that we sustain our hope found in Christ and find encouragement to persevere. Plan to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Once you finish, start over! If you forget why Scripture is so important to our daily worship see #1 and #2.
  7. Time with Others - (focused mainly around your husband and discipleship) Building a deep relationship centered around Christ will do so much for the renewal of your mind. These people will help you stay focused! Staying focused on Him helps you worship Him in any and all circumstances.
  8. Service to Others - In order to be Christ-like, we must live like Him. He came to serve, obedient to the point of death. Blessing others through our service can be rejuvenating, if we do it for the glory of God! More importantly, serving others offers a beautiful platform for worshiping Him!
  9. Journaling. Whether you write in a thankful journal or a prayer journal, focus on Him all that He has given you, I promise, it will change your life because it will change your mindset.
  10. Mediate on God's GREATNESS! John Piper stated that the key to praising Christ is prizing Him! How can we prize Him if we don't know the great and mighty things He has accomplished? How can we prize Him if we don't His character traits? How can we magnify Christ unless we know Him? Where do you find all of this? In the Bible when you read it from a God Centered perspective. The Bible is all about the redemption of sinners FOR THE GLORY OF GOD! Prize Him above ALL ELSE and tell Him so as often as you think of Him.
One more, because it's the most important. Focusing on the gospel daily puts us in a place of humility, praise and thanksgiving. The gift of salvation given to us through Jesus Christ helps us savor God's love and glorify Him as a result. In Milton Vincent's A Gospel Primer, he describes the effect of preaching the gospel to himself daily and one of those ways he titles, "To Him be the Glory". It's in this section (#31, p. 53) that he writes, 
"To the praise of the glory of His grace ... to the praise of His glory ... to the praise of His glory."* These refrains fly as banners over the gospel truths parading through the early verses of Ephesians. They herald the ultimate motive of God in all His gospel acts on behalf of those whom He has saved. They also announce the effect which the gospel will most certainly wield upon those who experience its fullness. It is no surprise, then, that the Apostle ends his gospel review in Ephesians 3 by bowing his knees in worship and ascribing all glory to God.* "Unto Him be the glory," he cries after his gospel meditations through Romans.* "To the King ... be glory," he urges in 1 Timothy after speaking of God's merciful saving of him.* Clearly, the gospel generated in Paul an enormous passion for God's glory; and the gospel does the same in me as I make it the meditation of my heart each day. 
Understanding that I am not the ultimate end of the gospel, but rather that God's glory is, actually enables me to embrace my salvation more boldly than I would otherwise dare to do. For example, when my timid heart questions why God would want to love one so sinful as I, I read the answer, "to the praise of the glory of his grace." I figure, then, that my unworthiness must actually be useful to God, because it magnifies the degree to which His grace might be glorified as He lavishes His saving kindness upon me. This line of reasoning makes perfect sense to me and convinces me to embrace the gospel with greater passion so that God might glorify Himself through me, an unworthy sinner. 
Indeed, the more I embrace and experience the gospel, the more I delight in the worship of God, the more expressive my joy in Him becomes, and the more I year to glorify Him in all I say and do.*" (bolded mine)
I could not have said it better myself. I encourage you to read this book because it is not only a useful tool to help us digest the truth in the gospel daily, but it reminds us what is important and encourages to continually praise God for his gift of salvation.
There is no better way to praise and glorify Him than to understand what the gospel is continually doing in our lives because of the work of Jesus Christ!

* Ephesians 1:5-6, 10-14
* Ephesians 3:14, 20-21
* Romans 11:33-36
* 1 Timothy 1:15-17
* 1 Peter 1:6, 8-9 & 1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, December 29, 2014

14 Most Popular Posts of 2014

Coming in first with a whopping 3,142 views is one of our top ten topics titled, Tights Are NOT Pants! There are obviously many people who agree with the point Melany and I were trying to make!

In second was another top ten. This was before Melany joined me and I wrote about Mommy Garb. This is one of my favorites as well.

I'm proud to announce that one of my posts on my adorable little girl made the list. Baby B is 16 Months Old is a pretty adorable post if I do say so myself.

Another top ten made the top five! Melany and I made a list of our favorite Children's Books. The thing is... I could add to this list every week.

One of the most demanding writing challenges I've ever undertaken came in fifth. Writing this 40 Day Challenge was one of the most powerful projects in my Christian life. I designed it to help me focus on our almighty, sovereign God and I'm honored that many other women joined me!

Another day in the 40 Day Challenge made the list at #6. Day 7 was a popular day and it was one of the hardest in this challenge. I challenge you to take it on...

Tying for #7 was The Privilege and Price of Motherhood inspired by a book I recommend to all women called Fearlessly Feminine and #1 Marriage Ruiner for Women, which was written as I planned our 5 year wedding anniversary. This is one of my favorite posts as well.

Next on the list is yet another top ten called, When Friends Confide in Me. All posts are inspired by some event in my life and this list was one I need because it serves as a constant reminder to glorify God in all that I say and do; especially when a friend approaches me asking, "Can I talk to you?"

Top Tens are popular! Funniest Movies made the list as well. That was a fun list to create.

Day 19 of the 40 Day Challenge was also rather popular. I'm not surprised because I wrote about that dreaded "S" word women cringe at the hearing of it. Biblical submission has nothing at all to do with equality and more to do with God's design in marriage created to reflect Christ's relationship with the church. It's beautiful.

The story of our travels titled, My Temporary Life as a Bahama Mama, was also popular this year.

My "Shout Out to ThredUp" made the most popular list as well. This is one of my absolute favorite places to shop!

Last, but definitely not least, is another one of my favorites. Remember how I told you that all posts are inspired by some event in my life? Well, this next post titled Dealing with Conviction and Correction was one such post and it obviously struck a cord with others as well. We will all encounter moments where we need to be corrected, this post offers Biblical advice on how to handle it.

Thank you readers for surprising me on how many people take a peak at my writing. I had a lot of fun  creating this list and can't wait to see what 2015 has to offer!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Worry Free Life]

Worry free does not mean problem free. Conflict, calamity, division, strife, &etc. will always be part of this life. Anxiety does not need to be added to the existing issues. I've often heard it said that worry is the sin of not trusting in God with all of your heart. I'm inclined to agree with it. Jesus tells us not to worry in Matthew 6:25-34, 
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ or the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Bolded text is mine.) 
If that verse isn't amazing enough, here's 10 truths that will help you live a worry free life:
  1. Trust in God's Sovereignty. The more I read Scripture the more I see that this is HIS story. He knows the future because He created it and that should provide great comfort for us. There's no reason to worry because He's got this under control.
  2. Understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit. When we heard the gospel message and believed in it, Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:13 that we are "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it..." Until that day, when we acquire possession of our promised inheritance, the Holy Spirit is continually doing a great work in us by setting us apart. He does this by enlightening the eyes of our heart, giving us wisdom and knowledge of Him through His Word. The more time we spend in the Bible, the more that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us. He is the Author. It is His Word. He will teach it to you and create change. The more He teaches us according to His Word, the more we begin to trust in the almighty sovereignty of God. And the more time we spend in His Word, the more he will bring it to mind in times of worry. For example, I memorized Proverbs 3:5-6, so whenever I begin to worry He's always bringing it to mind. 
    To read more on the Holy Spirit visit John Piper's sermon list on The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit, it will blow your mind.
  3. Rest in the Hope found in Christ alone. We have salvation through no one else. There is nothing in this world that will provide the peace that He does because of his life, death, burial and resurrection. He accomplished GREAT and WONDERFUL things on the cross, so when worry begins to cloud our judgement, replace those worried thoughts with those of our GREAT and WONDERFUL God. Start by reading why we should rest in Christ (Hebrews is a wonderful place to go) because there we learn that Jesus created the world (Hebrews 1:2), that "... he upholds the universe by the word of his power..." (1:3), that after dying on the cross and "... making purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..." making himself ruler (1:3-4). If that isn't reason enough to rest in Christ read on to chapter 2 where the author tells us that everything is in subjection to the founder of salvation and nothing is outside his control (see verse 8). Also, the author goes on to explain that he destroyed the one who has the power of death (2:14) and "... because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (v.18) Due to his suffering he is a merciful and faithful high priest (v.17). Reason enough to rest in Him? All we do to enter that rest is believe, "For we who have believed enter that rest." Once we hear the word of God we trust it, allowing us to rest in Christ who has promised to protect us in life and in death. As a result of our belief, we can enter into HIS PRESENCE, unashamed, unafraid and wait for the day we meet Him face to face with excitement because, "We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (6:19-20) Let's thank Him and praise Him in our moments of worry, because He gave us nothing to worry about, especially when faced with death!
  4. Pray. Pray. Pray. One of the best ways to combat fear, sadness, tribulation of any kind, &etc. is with prayer. Like David in many of the Psalms, address your fear! Once you tell Him about it, ask Him to help you. Most importantly, trust that He will! It may not be tomorrow and it may not be according to your plan, but have faith that He knows the desires of your heart and will do what's best for you because He loves you. Include thanksgiving and praise in your prayer because it's pretty amazing that we have a God that hears our prayer, is trustworthy, faithful, and is constantly working on our behalf, isn't it? "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12 
  5. Recognize Satan's Lies. The only way to do that is by time in the Bible. Also, don't be so arrogant as to think you know more than He does. He knows it and he will twist it. Be on guard, constant in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you. Remember: Satan wants you to worry! By worrying you forget the BIGNESS of God. 
  6. Understand and trust in the BIGNESS of God according to Scripture. Job 38-41 is an excellent place to start because it's where God answers Job's complaint, "But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God." (13:2) or "Here is my signature! Let the almighty answer me! Oh that I had the indictment written by my adversary! Surely I would carry it on my shoulder; I would bind it on me as a crown; I would give him an account of all my steps; like a prince I would approach him." (31:35-37) That's a pretty hefty, bold claim to make before God and He roars a reply that left me in a place of awe. My favorite statement made by Him is right after He talks about how He can play with Leviathon as a bird (WOW), "Who then is he who can stand before me? Who has first given to me, that I should repay him Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." (41:10-11) Once we understand the BIGNESS of God we acknowledge his power and his love and can trust Him as a result. 
  7. Spend time in God's Word, because it is the only thing that will provide encouragement and give hope. 
    Romans 15:4 describes the role of the Bible in our lives. How do we find the strength to endure in times of suffering? Scripture! How do we keep on hoping? Scripture! We need Scripture, especially in times of tribulation because it is then that we are tempted to think God's sovereignty is not believable. (Read a sermon by John Piper titled, "How Can I Keep on Hoping? The Scriptures!" to further encourage you.) When you spend time in Scripture you'll come across verses like Matthew 6:25-34, which I quoted in the beginning of this post, where we learn what it means to let go of worry and trust in God's ability to provide and protect. Not only that, but he will care for you better than you can care for yourself. He loves you far more than your own mother will ever love you. With knowledge such as that, what have we to worry about?
  8. The next three are for women specifically. God has given women an incredibly beautiful position in our homes. While under the authority of our father or husband (Note: the reason I emphasized the or: you are never under the authority of both, if you are married, you are now under the authority of your husband, NOT your father. That was an order established way back in Genesis 2:24 where a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast, or cleave, to his wife - becoming one flesh. There is no room for your father's authority in that relationship.) ... back to the topic at hand... there are 4 specific things your father or husband are supposed to do for you: provide, protect, nourish, and cherish (read Ephesians 5:22-33). Allowing him to fulfill his role in our lives provides a worry-free environment because his job is to protect you from all that might worry you and provide all that you need, giving you no reason to worry.
  9. God is calling your father or husband to love you as they love their own body (Ephesians 5:28). He loves his own body by feeding it, taking care of it, giving it what it wants or needs. He is to treat you the same way he treats himself. If he does that, imagine how much less worry you'll have as a result - especially if you let him! Now, this is a two-fold piece, because with your husbands responsibility comes our own. In order to live in a household that maintains this God-established order, we must also live up to our own expectations. Go back to Ephesians 3:22-33. Paul is using the example of marriage to help us understand the mystery of the gospel. Our husbands are the head of the household just as Christ is the head of the church. Christ loved his church so much that He gave Himself for her, just as the husbands are being called to do. What are we called to do in comparison? "Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands." (3:24) We are called to respect our husband as our authority (vs.33) because our husband will be held accountable for decisions made under his roof, not you. How does this relate to worry? Well, the fact that we aren't held accountable for those decisions is pretty freeing, but it's more than that. Once we let go of trying to love on ourselves above all else and let God love us and our husbands love us, we begin to understand that self-love has nothing, absolutely nothing, on that kind of love. To buy into the world's view that we should love self above all else is exhausting. That is what I mean by letting him (and HIM) love you. Let go of the notion that you should love yourself first and simply bask in the wonderful, freeing love of Christ and your husband. This also includes loving your husband and God before yourself. This self-sacrificing love was displayed by Christ on the cross, and we are called to live like him. When we submit to this plan, trust me, it's freeing.
  10. Finally, your father or husband is called to cherish you. This requires that he holds you in high esteem, values you, adores you, and cultivates the relationship he has with you. By doing this he is acting as a selfless man who puts you and your needs and desires above his own. I'd say that's the beginnings of a worry-free life, don't you?
Now, visit Melany's blog for 10 more truths that you may find equally as effective in helping you worry less and trust GOD more.
Each post has been scheduled for months and it continually amazes me how God times things! I needed to spend time writing about this; it was a stark reminder to not be anxious about anything. Today is the day I go to the doctor to see if there is any change in my previa, where the placenta is partially located over the cervix, which requires many restrictions, careful observation, and a c-section if the placenta's location does not gravitate away from the cervix before delivery. The last of which I desperately want to avoid. I trust in God's sovereignty, even in my child's birth, but it is in moments like this that I forget His GREATNESS and become anxious about the unknown. After writing this post, reminding me of these truths, I am at peace - completely calm and thanking God for all that He is and all that He has done in our lives as BecKyle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"The Atonement Child" by Francine Rivers [Quotable Quotes]

In addition to book reviews, I decided that if a book contains one or more amazing quotes, I want to spend time talking about them. The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers had so many that I couldn't pass them up. It was this book that encouraged me to add the quotes gadget to my blog layout (you'll see it on your left). There were 11 quotes from this book alone that I thought were beautiful enough to share. Francine Rivers gives insight into the heartache of women who have chosen abortion or feel they have no other choice and the healing that comes with it. I trust her knowledge. The entire reason she wrote the book was to shed light on her own testimony and the heartache of her own decision to abort. What an incredible way to share life's most taxing trials and the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ! I encourage you to read the book and my review on it. You will not walk away unscathed.

Quote #1: “How many others suffered in silence, too ashamed and too afraid to speak about their pain? The world wouldn't let them grieve for children they had aborted. How could they when the rhetoric said there was no child? How does one grieve what doesn't exist? No one wanted to admit the truth.” (p.248)

This quote reminded me of an incredibly difficult blog post written by a mother who lost her child due to a miscarriage. She titled it, How Abortion Has Changed the Discussion of Miscarriage and I'll let her post speak for itself. She hit the nail on the head:
"I was sent home to continue to live like my baby had never died – like there never was a baby. But recently, I have realized that this response is an indicator of the state of our society. After all, it is hard for a society to mourn the loss of WANTED unborn life when it is busy calling it “tissue” and discrediting its personhood. It is hard for a society to embrace a mourning mother for her loss of tissue when it is busy defending another mother’s right to dispose of it. But for a woman who prays ceaselessly for life to fill her womb, For a woman who has tried for years to finally have children of her own. For an expectant mother who suddenly finds herself frantically calling her OB after finding bright red blood... The “material” in her tummy is anything but tissue. It is life. It is hopes and dreams and answered prayers. It is destiny and a future and a promise of another generation. It is bike riding and little league and ballet lessons and college and grandkids… It is a baby. But it can never be both. Society can never acknowledge that we lost a baby and with the same breath declare the rest to be tissue. That is how abortion has changed the discussion of miscarriage – it has silenced it. Even though miscarriage affects millions of men and women each year, it won’t be featured on the news. There will be no memorials for all of the WANTED unborn babies. There will be no moments of silence or Today Show features for women who are organizing support groups. Despite the huge number of families miscarriage impacts each year – it will not be discussed widely. Because if they call ours babies… Then all of the aborted ones… were babies too…" (source, bold mine)

Quote #2: “I have to be separate in my way of thinking and not let my emotions rule. Oh, and they have ruled, Joe. They've ruled for months. I've let myself be kept in turmoil, stumbling every which way I turn."
"And no wonder."
"Don't make excuses for me. The world's too good at that.” (p. 250)
"We're Christians. We have to care what people think. The appearance of wrongdoing, remember? I'm not going to move in with you had have people think we're living in sin. What sort of witness would that be?” (p. 257)

There's two incredible pieces of this quote I want to talk about: 1. emotions. Rivers is dead on in this conversation between the main character and Joe in regards to them. They are unreliable. We spend too much time trying to reign in our emotions when we should instead focus our minds on Scripture. Once we focus on mind on Scripture, our mind automatically gravitates to the things of GOD. That is exactly what the Bible teaches us to do (see Romans 12:1-2 as one example). Gain wisdom through Scripture. Renew your mind according to Scripture. Do not be conformed to this world, but transform your mind. That is the entire reason why I created the 40 Day Challenge, to renew my mind according to Scripture. I am so glad I did (now it's about time to do it again). 

Secondly, as Christians we should care what people think. The more time we learn and grown in Him the more He sets us apart. Our lives should be different because the One who lives within us is different. The Holy Spirit will constantly teach and admonish according to Scripture so that we become more like Him, which is our ultimate goal. The more we grow and learn in Him the bigger witness we become and He will use us for His glory. What good are we to Him if we continue to live in sin? We are not using our lives for His glory!

Quote #3: “How could a woman who had an abortion not feel guilt or some sense of remorse? How could she justify what she'd done? Whom else could she blame when everyone was telling her it's her choice? Without facing the truth and confessing it, how could she be forgiven how could she be restored? How could she be free?" (p. 282)

Especially since the world refuses to recognize their pain and loss...

Quote: #4: “He had the tool to break down the walls that imprisoned his people. He had the tool to rip away the veil to the Holy of Holy's so that his flock could come before the Lord and be cleansed, made whole, transformed, and have a personal, loving relationship with their creator. That very tool sat on Hannah's bookshelf right now, gathering dust until Sunday morning. Her Savior was there, waiting to speak to her and show her the way home again, the way back to love. YOUR WORD IS LIFE! Why didn't more people understand that?” (p. 283)

I love this portion of the book where a pastor realized the most helpful tool on the face of the planet - God's Word. The sad part is that in broken homes the Bible sits on a shelf gathering dust.

Quote #5: “Lord, you are God! You made us. Who better to know how to fix us when we've gone wrong? who better to set us to rights again? Who better to love us through the fire and refine us into something beautiful and useful despite our wrongs?” (p. 283)


Quote #6: “A woman could be the wind beneath a man's sails or a gale to send him into uncharted waters. She could be an anchor in stormy seas, or she could let him drift into the rocks.” (p. 296)

I read this to my husband and his only response was, "Yup."
Quote #7: "Hormonal changes permanently alter the breast structure. And when a pregnancy is terminated through abortion, the process is interrupted, which leaves cells in a sate of transition. And they say cells in this state have a very high risk of becoming cancerous. So the woman's chances of developing breast cancer later in life may be greatly increased.” (p. 310)

I decided to do a bit of research to determine the truth behind this statement. You'll be floored with what I found:

Quote #8: “... those selling abortion don't want them to have [the facts]," Virginia said heatedly. "Besides the Supreme Court doesn't agree with you. They judges seem to think we poor women would fall apart if we knew the facts, so they decided women don't have the right to know the full truth." She shook her head. "They've made it legal to withhold vital information, even when a woman requests it, for heaven's sake!” (p. 310-311)

You can read all about the history of court rulings in regards to this statement here. 

Quote #9: “It doesn't take two minutes on an examining table for a girl to know that abortion is painful and destructive and it'll have far-reaching effects on her life. Besides the emotional trauma of going through something so violent, there are the physical aspects, the aftereffects. Unfortunately, by the time she's gone that far, it's too late to change her mind.” (p. 311)

Francine River's testimony of her own abortion can validate the truth behind this statement.

Quote #10: “This generation seems to see children as a financial burden and responsibility to be avoided.” (p. 313)

I wish this wasn't true, and I'm going to steal a quote from a book that I think sums this sad truth up pretty well,
"Years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.  
Children rank way below college. Below world travel. Below nightlife. Below physical fitness. Below a career. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing." (R. Jankovik, Mom Enough, p.14-15, it also appears on the blog Desiring God titled, Motherhood Is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank))
Isn't that true of our mentality these days? It's convicting! After reading that I had to sit down, determine where my children rank, and make some changes...

Quote #11: “Emotions are powerful, but they also change as quick as the wind. That's why the Lord says to renew your mind. Don't base decisions on what you feel.” (p. 335)

This one relates so much to Quote #2 that I don't want to expound on it. See Quote #2


I want to end with sharing a bit of my testimony. During my freshman year of college I was promiscuous. Had I become pregnant I have no doubt in my mind that I would've chosen an abortion. There's many reasons why I believe this about myself then: 1. I was selfish. 2. I would've been scared to tell my family. 3. I would not have known the father. 4. I did not want to quit school to support a child or deal with whatever lay ahead had I chosen a full-term pregnancy and adoption (selfish). Thankfully, God spared me from many consequences of my lifestyle as an 18 year old. My goal in sharing these quotes and spending so much time talking about them is not to cast judgement, but to offer encouragement. Even if you did make the decision to abort your baby there is forgiveness through the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. If He can forgive you for sins past, present and future, who are you to remember them and who am I to hold it against you? Give them to Jesus, find someone who will encourage you according to Scripture daily, and let the healing begin. Any healing process is laborious but with Jesus anything is possible!

What I believe about life:
 I believe that God creates life from conception. Period. 
I believe God knows each individual before conception.
I believe God's sovereignty stretches to all aspects of human life, including, but not limited to pregnancy.

David wrote about that truth in a beautiful Psalm...
"For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
 I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; 
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, 
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; 
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesdays Top Ten Plus Ten [Winter Wardrobe Favorites]

Right now I have a baby bump...
... as a result my regular wardrobe is sitting in storage tubs so I'm going to stick to pictures I use as inspiration for all of my favorite winter outfits (see my Lookin' Lovely Pinterest board for more winter wardrobe ideas).

Most of my maternity clothing was given to me; thankfully I like most of it (like the above shirt) and can create favorite outfits with what I have. My favorite winter outfits revolve around warm sweaters, scarves and boots. I think you'll notice that as you check out my top tens today.
Don't forget to look at Melany's top ten winter wardrobe favorites as well, hopefully our favorites give you some inspiration this winter season.

1. I'm really into button up shirts right now; add a sweater, boots, and a scarf and it equals warm, comfy greatness. The following outfit is a perfect example (minus the scarf).

2. I love this combination and have all the items to pull it off (but my red watch is Mickey Mouse)...

3. Layers, layers, layers. I'm all about layers. You never know what it's going to be like in someone else's house, the grocery store, church &etc. so I don't hesitate in putting on a tank top, long sleeved shirt, a sweater, scarf, wool socks and boots on a cold winter day.

4. I have a couple vests similar to the ones pictured, as well as similar button ups, to pull these awesome outfits off (I'd add a scarf of course).

5. One of my favorite scarf's has the same pattern as the purse pictured. I love the color scheme that pattern provides for the winter season!

6. I have this giant, soft yellow coat purchased from the Cabela's Bargain Cave a couple winters back. I got it for an awesome deal and is now a favorite to wear with a striped shirt and a black or white scarf. It's one of my go-to outfits. This is a similar outfit that I would definitely wear. I like the idea of using a collard shirt as an additional layer (oh, and yes, I'd substitute the gold chain for a scarf).

7. A long sleeved dress, coat, tights, boots and scarf is a perfect outfit for church. Something like this is ideal...

8. I'm also in love with anything red (red and gray... red, tan, and brown... red, black and gray... red and black... red and white... etc. etc.), especially during the winter season. I have the items to pull these adorable outfits off as well...

9. Remember #3 where I referred to perfect layers. Well here's another favorite winter layer idea: collared shirt, sweater, jacket, frilly necklace.
Just add a jacket for an extra layer of warmth... or not...

10. I also adore the color teal (teal and brown... teal and black... teal and gray... teal and blue... teal, blue and green... etc. etc.) during the winter season. This color scheme is one I love pulling off often.

Now the question is, what shall I wear today? These pictures have reminded me of all my winter wardrobe favorites... which one, which one? 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten [Gifts I'd Like to Give]

I don't buy lottery tickets, but I do dream of winning the lottery. There's a few things I'd do if that ever did happen...

1. Shopping Spree. How fun would it be to surprise a friend with this statement, "pick a store and spend to your hearts delight"?

2. Keys. To a dream house or a dream car. Everyone has a "dream" something.

3. Vacation. I'd love to have enough money to buy a getaway with all my family or a group of friends. Somewhere where we can relax and getaway from the dramatic, hustle and bustle of life. Oh! Oh! Oh! Better yet, I'd grab those friends or family members, take them to a store and surprise them with, "I bought us all tickets to Hawaii," and then hand them a list of things we'll be doing, "here's some money to get what you want to take with you!"

It's not like that day will ever happen (I don't waste my money on tickets, remember?) I'd love to give someone each one of the above gifts, unfortunately I don't see that happening any time soon. Bummer. Until that day, these are also gifts worth giving (but lighter on the pocketbook)...

4. Helping someone cross one more item off their bucket list. Depending on what this is, I may or may not need a lottery ticket...

5. Time. For my 30th birthday all I wanted was time with my husband, just my husband, for an entire weekend. Time alone is rare with a two year old, and it'll become even more so that way when our newborn arrives come April. Sometimes the best gift to give someone is the promise of time spent with them... no technology, just you and me doing what you want, talking, laughing, eating, making memories... uninterrupted time is an amazing gift.

6. Fresh Baking. Who doesn't love right-out-of-the-oven bread or cookies?
It's like giving a box of JOY!

7. A Box of Sunshine. I saw this idea on Pinterest and immediately thought of a few people who could use a box of sunshine. How awesome is this?!

8. A Book. Because books take you on adventures, enlighten your mind to new and interesting things, make you laugh or cry or feel every emotion known to man, books help keep your brain alive and active... books help you escape. There's no better gift than a book. (And I have lots of recommendations! Visit my Reading and Writing page or my Book Fairy Pinterest board to see what I mean.)

9. Gag Gifts. Anything to bring on a laugh or two (my "Giving is Better than Receiving" Pinterest board has lots of hilarious ideas).

10. Lottery Tickets. Who knows, perhaps the friend I bought the tickets for would win big and then spoil me with any one of the above ideas? Haha, just kidding, although lottery tickets could be a fun gift, what if they're a complete flop? That doesn't sound like a gift I'd really like to give. I think I'll stick to ideas 1 through 9.

"Giving is better than receiving" is so true for me (I even have a Pinterest board named after this mantra). I love giving gifts. I love seeing the reaction, the fun had with it, the sparkle in the eye, the "hmmmm... I wonder what it is?!" I also enjoy the process of picking a gift as much as I enjoy giving it. I think that's why I enjoy the Operation Christmas Child ministry so much (which you should definitely check out for next year).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spilling the Beans [November 2014 Edition]

We woke up one morning to Briella Bean being on a roll. It started with her noticing that the car was covered with snow. Her comment the rest of the day (and all week for that matter) was, "Mommy! Is snow car! Too funny!" and then she'd hysterically laugh. It's hard not to laugh along when your two year old finds her joke so amusing.

That same day she asked for a cookie at mom's group and when I gave her one she growled in her very best monster voice, "Brielle's a cookie monster!"

It was also this day that we found out that gloves are "gwubs."
She thoroughly enjoys playing in the snow. 
Especially with Quigley.
Lately, when I pour her a glass of juice, she wants me to have one as well. If I don't pour myself a glass... oh my... the world.is.coming.to.an.end.as.we.know.it. That reaction does not occur over milk or water.

On one particularly cold November evening (where the wind chill kept our neck of the woods at a chilly -23 degrees) I burrowed down in front of our faux fireplace with a blanket wrapped around me and a glass of hot cider. Sounds cozy right? Well, Bean decided she wanted a "fork" (aka fort) and so the rest of the night we crawled around in the fort daddy made in the living room. (Apparently this is what these two do when I'm not home, haha, I LOVE it.)

She wants to wear a dress every.single.day!

When she describes things the adjective follows the noun. For example, when she wants to wear her cupcake dress it's "dress cupcake". She'll say an entire sentence describing something that way. I'm always needed as a translator, but I don't mind. She's pretty cute.

She loves, loves, loves being tickled. Which is screwy considering neither daddy or mommy enjoy it at all. In fact, we joke that if you tickle me I'm not responsible for your injuries. She's nothing like that, she actually ASKS to be tickled. Crazy girl.

One day she decided to go outside with the puppies in her slippers. This is a daily battle (to go outside fully dressed) so I decided to let her try it for a few seconds. Due to her experiencing the effect of cold toes, when she took her socks and slippers off to walk in the snow, I doubt she'll try it again. After dragging her indoors and washing her feet of snow and dirt, she giggled about her "snow feet" for a long time. (Remember the joke about the snow car?)

When we went to the doctor for an ultrasound to reveal our baby's gender, we kept asking Bean if she was going to have a brother or a sister. She was adamant that it was a sister. Turns out she was right!
We're having a girl!

As we were looking at all the ultrasound pictures Bean exclaimed, "How cute!" (There's some moments we wish we had on video, this was one of them.)

She's very good at recognizing colors and shapes. What amazes me is when she says something like she did at the science museum in Minnesota as she's pointing at some abstract art, "Mommy is not a square, is triangle."

Her favorite thing to tell us these days is, "Brielle do it."

This is how she sings the ABC's "A B C D Eh G W S Y duh B Now I knowm my ABC's, mommy do it, sing wif meeeeee!" (The letter W is her favorite.)

She says her "f's" like "p's" so fix it is "pix it" or feed the dogs is "peed the dogs". She does say fun correctly though, and if I suggest something that sounds like fun she says, "wike fun!" (like fun).

Lately, when we pick an outfit the description of what she wants sounds like this, "Put it on it the dress sprinkles." In other words, she wants to wear a dress with sprinkles. When I find one that (I can fake) matches that description she asks, "How many sprinkles mommy?" (Usually, I pick something with sparkles.) So I respond, "Lots. Lots and lots." But that answer never satisfies...

Almost every day at lunch (since finding out how funny I thought the cookie monster comment was) she tells me, "Brielle's a monster!" (and then she growls). I keep trying to capture this on video, but she's camera shy.
We have seen crazy weather this month, from cold below zero snowy days to 50 - 60 degrees and sunny. No matter the weather, this little girls wants to be outside.
I wish I had a recording of how she says mustache. Haha. So adorable.
Wagon rides with her cousin Alexi are the best.
We are decorating for Christmas today and I know I'll have lots of pictures to share in the Christmas edition next month, so stay tuned. If she's as cute as she was last year it may be hard to actually decorate...
It's amazing how much she's changed already...