Stressed? Can’t Sleep? There’s an App for That.

depressed-13056What keeps you awake at night?  Do you regurgitate issues that you had set in your mind to let go of?  Do you worry about how you could have handled a situation differently?  Do you worry about payday, and if bills will get paid on time?  Do you dread going to work where the anti-Christian bashes you each day about being “intolerant” when you have said, or shown nothing to give the person cause to think such a thing?

I love sleep.  Really.  Love.  Sleep.  As soon as my head hits the pillow, I am out.  I like to think that this ability to sleep is caused by the fact that I am at peace with my day.  Then it hits.  Those nights when so many things attack my “peace” in every direction.  I flip and flop and get mad.  I have to remind myself often that if I allow anything to rob me of my “peace”, then it really isn’t true peace.  True peace is being able to lie down at night with the world crashing down on you, and still being able to drift off in a peaceful slumber, because you are secure in something way bigger than your problems.

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.  Because You have been my help, therefore, in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.  My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”  Psalm 64:7-8

This verse, for the longest time, had me picturing King David draped in the most luxurious linens, in a big, king sized bed, in his fuzzy robe and royal slippers, dozing off without a care in the world.   He stayed at a Holiday Inn Express!   Where else would he be while writing such a peaceful, beautiful depiction of God’s sustaining nature and peace?

This scripture was actually written by David while in the wilderness of Judah, (1 Samuel 22:5) after his tearful goodbye with his best friend Jonathan as he was fleeing from the wrath of King Saul.    While King Saul was hot on David’s trail, he slain a group of priests for helping David flee.  Saul’s madness and ego struck down a bunch of innocent bystanders, just because they gave a handout to David!   David was soon to hear about the grueling fate of his allies, and though troubled greatly for the death of holy men on his account, David still comforts Ahitub, who had escaped the slaughter to tell David the news.  In 1 Samuel 22:23 he states, “Stay with me; do not fear.  For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be saved.”

Not what I had imagined at all.  David was fighting for his life, trapped in a forest awaiting news as to what to do next as he could almost sense the very breath of Saul creeping down his neck with every turn.  He had just given up a deep bond with a very close friend.  He was physically and mentally exhausted and in anguish.  He was processing the fact that holy men were slain on his account.  The son of one of these men was looking to him, the cause of his Unknownfather’s murder, for refuge.  David was surrounded with grief, murder, chaos….and peace.

David was so confident and grounded in God’s provision that he tells Ahitub to stick with him.  I don’t know about you, but after seeing your father and others slain because of their alliance with David, it would be pretty hard for me to believe that with him, I would be safe.  But he did.  He saw in David a “peace with God, which surpasses all understanding”.

He knew peace from God was something that man could not take away.

Terror wanted David’s heart in the black of night while surrounded by the forest of Hereth, but David felt the shadow of the Lord’s wing, and felt His right hand guiding him steady.

David felt the need to rejoice while entombed in the forest, because his hope rested in the Father.  Do we feel this as well?  Are we resting peacefully at night amidst the enemy trying to destroy us?  Do we understand that peace does not come from a “good” day?   Are we so confident in the Lord during our trials that we offer a safe haven to other’s experiencing the same thing?  Do we let “things” keep us awake at night?  David had a lot to loose sleep over, and yet, we see peace.

Let us all learn from this example of peace in David’s life as we hit the pillow at night.  Most nights, it is easy to utter the words of David as we remember the Lord upon our beds and meditate on Him.   Other times, it may not be as easy.  We have bills to pay, children to raise, work to find, a budget to adhere to, and a lost family member or friend.  We are stricken with illnesses, debt, guilt, sin, death, greed, lust, sin, careless words of others, and pain.  Our souls should be thirsting for God, seeking Him, longing for Him (Psalm 63:1).  God pursues our hearts.  We can rejoice in trials, knowing we are tucked away under our Father’s wing, safe and unbound from the burdens of life.  God’s peace will always keep our souls satisfied.  Don’t loose sleep over the false assumption that trials can take away your peace.

 It is during life’s difficulties, we see God’s peace at it’s strongest, because it is His to give, not the world’s to take away.

 

The Secret to Keeping God in Our Schools

I am sitting here in the quiet of my house, doing the typical stay-at-home mom thing, thinking about my children after dropping them off on their first day of school.   It’s amazing when a new milestone hits, how quick my mind is to recall the 12 years I have been a mother.  The feeling of my sweet babies safe in my belly, the first cry when born, the first tooth, first heartache, and first day of school.

creationswap.com
creationswap.com

I also battle within myself the question if sending them to a “public school” really is the right thing to do.  Will they be safe?  Who will influence them?  Will they get shot?  What if the cafeteria food is slowly poisoning them, or making them severely constipated!?  What if they get bullied?  Will they worry?  Will they fall into temptation?  Will they eat the chewing gum under the benches?!  Most of these thoughts are from a seriously overactive imagination, but I worry nonetheless. I thought about this worry this morning as I remembered the struggles my oldest had last year in school.  They were all typical, the cussing in the hallway, kids poking fun at her for being short, teachers that challenged her ability to get along with them, stuff like that.  She asked why school couldn’t be more like going to church;  she liked being surrounded with more “friendly” people.  She said on most days, its hard to see God in school.  I admit, I loved her theory, and wish the same thing for my kids, easy sailing, no adversity,  but  I know we are called for more than that.

It reminded me of my middle child’s experience in Kindergarten.  She had made a sweet little friend that she just adored.  They had the same food, color, and book preferences, which is a big deal to a 5 year old.   One day, after school, I asked her how her day went, and she said, “It was good, but I’m so sad.”  “Really?  Why are you sad?”  I asked.  She began to talk with a small crack in her voice, because she has the sweetest, most tender heart I have ever seen.  “My fweind (she couldn’t say her “R’s”) does not know who Jesus is.  It makes me sad.”   “What do you mean, she does not know Jesus?  Like she doesn’t go to church very much?” I asked.  “No, Momma, she does not know about him at all!  Never even heard of him!”  My heart hurt a little.  As she went on to explain, she had told her friend about the fun she had in Bible class the day before, and her sweet friend just listened to the foreign concept of Jesus, and God.  When she finished I told her that maybe, just maybe, she could tell her friend more about Jesus if she thought she should know more.  My daughter said, “For sure!  I want everyone to know about Jesus!  How could people not know?  I mean, He died for us all!  She needs to know this!”  Amen sister!

Kadence listened even more in Bible class that year.  She made sure she brought with her to school any coloring sheets she got from class, and she and her friend would look at them as Kadence retold the lessons.  In the still, small voice of my sweet 5 year old was the story of the gospel, being told to another sweet 5 year old who had no idea of the Savior that loved her so much.  The girl was a great kid, with great parents, in America!  I know this sounds cliche, but I was just stunned that America is so saturated with Christianity, and here sat a little girl who had no idea there was a God!

This was a wake up call to me that there is still lots of work to do right here, at home, to make sure people know about their Creator and the Savior of us all.

I told this story to my oldest because I wanted her to know that she can bring God to school.  She wanted to be homeschooled just because she didn’t want to deal with adversity.  I told her that  we cannot shut the world out.  If you cannot see God in school, what are you doing to make His presence known?  God is everywhere!   We cannot hide from the “bad” stuff.  It will always be here on this earth.  What we can do, however, is make sure that everyone knows who Jesus is, and why we follow him.   I asked her to be His light, to shine where it is needed the most.  If Kadence hadn’t had been in that school, in that class, sitting next to that girl, who would have introduced her to Jesus?   There are many kids in our school district that come from some pretty scary situations.  Children crying out for attention.  Whenever my kids complain about what they saw the bullies do to other kids, or sometimes, to them, I tell them, the kids who act the most unloving, need love the most.  They do not know how to love, because most of them, are not shown love.  I have seen some amazing spiritual growth happening in all of my kids, my oldest especially, because they see the diversity, and they struggle with it.  They question it.  They come to me and my husband about it.  My older two go to God with it.  They overcome it! When they overcome it, they have a HUGE sense of pride in themselves, and in the God who got them through it.  Amen!   I gave the scripture found in Romans 5:3-5 to Rylee, my oldest, which states, “We rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

No matter what happens to you in this life, no matter what obstacle, no matter what situation we may find ourselves  in, there is always hope because our Savior is alive and well.  There is no need to fear adversity.  No need to fear influences, or danger, or tragedy.  He lives!

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creationswap.com

School is another opportunity for my children to learn and grown in the faith.  To share this faith with others.  I know my children can make a big difference in the lives of others,  because I see it on a daily basis.  Every little head bowed in the cafeteria, every invite to a church related activity, every smile, nice word, and act of love, is Jesus in my children’s hearts.  God is in school.  I will not fear the world, nor try to hide my children from it, because our Savior is alive and well.  Don’t fall for the misconception that God is being taken out of our public schools.  Are you kidding me?  He is roaming the halls, sharing His love and grace to those who need it most through the willingness of those who have agreed to be His children.  Be His grace.  My most favorite verse in the Bible says, “Behold!  I am the LORD, God of all flesh, is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27.  It is time we put our faith in this powerful statement.   It’s ok Mommas.  Our God has got this school thing under control.  Your little lights are going to do just fine, just keep leading their hearts to Jesus.

*Please note this post does not in any way discourage homeschooling, I believe homeschooling is an excellent choice for many people and that needs differ based on each family.  This post is written in the perspective of our own personal experiences with school.

Dear Teens, I Do Not Want to Photograph Your Sex Appeal

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I have been in photography for six years now, and have noticed a trend over the last few years of senior girls sexualizing themselves in their senior photo sessions.  Their bodies are baring it all in their photo sessions complete with teeny tiny swimsuits in the middle of a snow kissed field, and strappy, barely there pjs sitting on their beds taking selfies with their phones while the photographer shoots at angles as if peeking through their window at night.   Society is teaching teens  to believe that sexy equals beautiful.  That they are one in the same.   Even the most well meaning teens will get in front of my camera and give that certain look in their eyes, hold their mouths in a certain way, and position their bodies in a way that screams, “I got what you want guys”.   They do what they see, wanting to look beautiful, but the body language hardly ever comes off that way.

Girls, sexy is NOT the only way to show your beauty.  You do not have to pose and dress provocatively in pictures to be beautiful.  And you need to make sure that the photographer you work with knows that you will not pose for them in this way.  YOU get to make the choice of how you want your pictures to look, of how you want to be portrayed, not them.   I as a follower of God,  wife, mother, and professional do not want to participate in the over sexualization of our youth because I love you and know you are worth so much more than what the world tells you.

 

DSC_0333 You do not have to be sexualized by anyone because they think that provocative poses are beautiful, or cute, or fun.   The world wants you to be sexy so they can sell you sexy clothes, feed you sexy trash in books, articles, and movies, then profit off of your low self esteem by succumbing you to the world of plastic surgery, because we all know that every beautiful girl needs to come equipped with a nice D-Cup.  Really?   

 

 

Beauty is Incorruptible.  

You’re beautiful.  Pure and simple.  Everyone is.  In 1 Peter 3:4,  God tells us that beauty is found in the hidden person of the heart.   It is in an imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious to God.  Does the world tell you beauty can be corrupted?  Sure can!  That freshman 15 can corrupt your beauty in the world’s eye can’t it?  Does the world tell you that beauty never fades?   The world tells us we are in a race against time and we must do everything we can to maintain our beauty through surgeries, creams, and crazy diet plans.  True beauty is unfading in the fact that we make life beautiful for those around us.  True beauty is a compassionDSC_0471b.jpgate soul whose love knows no bounds or limitations.  Beauty is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.   Beauty has many definitions, and we have to be careful about which example of beauty we want to follow.  It can mean something that is pleasing to the eyes, and it can mean something that is pleasing to the heart.   Which one are you putting more emphasis on?  The most beautiful women I know have the light of Christ shining so brightly from their souls that no matter what their size, shape, skin tone, or cup size is, they are radiant, precious, and called to a greater purpose.  That’s beauty.  Knowing who you are, what you are striving for, and who you are trying to please. 

 

 

Opinions are Fickle.  

Several hundred years ago, if you had some extra meat on your bones, and your skin never saw the light of day, you were considered a hottie.   Girls with muscle tone were considered “ugly”.    In the 80’s the workout world began to explode, and anyone who was anyone had to get those muscles toned and skin tanned to get a second glance.  Wait a minute!  I thought no muscles and no tan was popular!  Ok ok, I will fix that, I can get a tan and work out.  Done!  Now I am a size 6 and considered a hottie!  bam!  I’m beautiful in the 80’s whoo!   Skip ahead to today.  Ok, size 6 girls, you are no longer hotties.  Now we want a size two, yeah, a two, that is what we meant!   And you have to have this gap in between your thighs while you are standing with your ankles together, and if you are a size 2, but don’t have that gap, you are considered fat skinny.  You.  Have.  GoDSC_0247t. To. Be. Kidding.  Me.   Do you see what I’m saying?  The world is fickle.  It does not know what it wants.  It will always change.  Styles.  Haircuts.  Color schemes in your bathroom.  What is considered beautiful.  To put an end to this madness, focus on the constant. God is constant.  His promises are constant.  His love for you is constant.  His opinion of you is constant.  Focus on what you know to be unchanging.  A gentle and quiet spirit is unfading.  That spray tan on the other hand…….

 

Did you know that the actual use of the word “beauty” has been declining in its use in the english language?  Guess what word is rising in the english language?  Sexy.  Hmm… The decline of the word “beauty” began when women started allowing themselves to be sexualized.

 

Sexy Belongs to Mr. Husband Guy

Sexy does have its place girls, but its rightful place is safe in the eyes, heart, and mind of your husband.  I’m one sexy lady and will always be that and far more (and it is a battle to keep this in mind some days).  You know why?  Because the heart of my husband trusts in me.  We are invested in us. Time cannot take away my sexiness in his eyes the way the world allows it to do.   When you are sexy for your husband, he does not sell you in the way media does, he honors you.  When you are sexy for your husband, his heart continues to desire you above all others.  When you are sexy for your husband, you are telling him, he is your one and only and you are for his eyes only.  Wouldn’t that make you feel special?  To know that someone chose to contain something so special for so long just to give it to you one day?  Save your sexy for someone who will respect you, and someone who understands that when you give them the gift of yourself, they are not to dominate, control, or take advantage of it, because they are called to give you the exact same thing in return.  You do not own each other to manipulate, you own each other because you were called to take care of what has been given to you.   Remember what sexy is. DSC_0046To make someone desire sex from you.   God pleads with His people to stick with His plan for man and woman and to keep sex where it belongs.  In a marriage.  In a safe marriage.  ( 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, Hebrews 13:4, Genesis 2:24, proverbs 5:15-19)

 

 

 

I see amazing  young girls each year, posting their senior pictures on Facebook and Instagram that scream sexualization.  Friends and family all comment on how “beautiful” “gorgeous” and “grown up” the girls look, when really, they look just like every one of the models gracing the covers of our magazines, billboards, and headlines, giving in to sexualization because the world around them says sexy is the only way to project what is beautiful.  I beg you, do not fall for this!   Do not place your sex appeal in the hands of those who want to exploit you.  Sexy has its own time to shine, so be patient.

 

 

Sexy does not belong to a teen girl.    Sexy does not look good on a teen girl.  Sexy is defined as, “sexually attractive, or arousing, exciting someone in a sexual manner.”   “Hey Grandpa & Grandma, here is a big ole’ 11×14 of me half naked and giving a sexy, seductive smile to hang on your wall so you can remember how sexy I am!”  The cure for this over sexualized epidemic is simple.   Self acceptance is the key to putting sexy where it belongs.   Self acceptance in knowing who we are, Who we serve, and what we were meant for.   Beauty is unfading.  Beauty is constant.  Beauty cannot be changed due to the opinions of others.  How are you defining beauty?    Do you believe that sexualization is beauty, or are you sure in the fact that you are worth far more?

Thoughtful Thursdays: Encourage One Another Up

Today, we had a lazy/chaotic (yes, we can do both at the same time)  day in the Hudson house.  I had LOTS of laundry to do after our float trip, but was bound and determined to keep up with this summer school stuff.  Within a 4 hour span, with lots of interruptions….. not being as focused on each child as I would like to, I ended up doing multiplications and reading with my middle child, reading and adding with my youngest, and had my oldest daughter begin reading  a book over developing faith as a teenager (Yikes, she is turning 13 in November).  But hey!   We did it, each child got their individual time in,  I got the bags all unpacked and the laundry 30% done, and no one had a melt down :)

On our little weekly schedule (which I have yet to complete a full week), Thursday’s are designated as “Thoughtful Thursdays”   We are to set aside some time to be thoughtful of other people.  Since everyone was pretty much zombies and recovering from our float trip, I sat everyone down to write out cards of encouragement.  I flipped my bible to 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 which read,

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.   We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.  Be at peace among yourselves.”

We discussed how this verse urged us to always be filled with encouragement and share it with everyone, especially those who work hard for the Lord.  We got out our directory and I asked them to look through the pictures and tell me who they thought were very hard workers for the Lord and why.  They then got to choose a few people to write out cards to.  As a parent, I was so thankful that the kids found so many people who they thought were hard workers.  It was so encouraging!  I want you all to know that these kiddos of ours who are being raised in the church see your good deeds, or lack of.  They chose a handful of people to write cards to, and began to write.  The cards were made out to a variety of workers.  A teacher, an enthusiastic volunteer, a person who looks after the needs of others, and people who count the money at our congregation and let the kids in on the fun.

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So simple.  Easy tasks, that ALL of us can be doing, are being witnessed by the future of our congregation.  It was interesting to see these workers through the eyes of my children.  It was a blessing to see that my kids understand what being a leader and worker for the Lord is.  This simple, 5 minute devotional thought has made me step back and be so thankful for those who are surrounding my family, the congregation where I attend, and our community with their Godly efforts.  Let us all strive to encourage one another daily and live a life that reflects Christ’s servant heart.

 

Make it Monday & Romans 8:28

The kids and I have officially started our loosely labeled homeschool summer experience.  We usually take the first month of summer off to just be lazy bums, then get a schedule going for the months of July and August.   On Monday, we kicked off our summer-time homeschool journey with tie-dying tee shirts.  It was…..interesting.  There were some mishaps.  Lots of mishaps.   Complete with tears, dirt, yelling, and stomping.   “Why do I even try this every year?”  I thought to myself, as I was left alone in the backyard picking up the supplies, sweating in the heat of the day.  We will get to the answer as to why I do this stuff later…

I started the project by rinsing our shirts in water mixed with 1/4 cup of vinegar in the washing machine, then set all of our dyes out while the shirts were rinsing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mixed the dye with 1 tsp of salt to help keep the colors vibrant and well….actually I don’t know the reason why, the directions just said to use salt, so I did.  I added the dye, don’t ask me how much, I just filled the squirt bottles 3/4 full of dye, then filled the rest with warm water, closed the caps (very important) then shook them to get the color all blended.

pretty colors!

pretty colors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the shirts were done, we got to work on twisting them into the forms.  We each were able to get two t-shirts and one pillowcase to dye.

The kids couldn't figure out why I was using a fork

The kids couldn’t figure out why I was using a fork

I thought out everything I needed except for a plastic tablecloth, so I improvised and cut open a trash bag instead and grabbed some pavers to weigh it down.

The kids then got to work creating their masterpieces.

Let the creativity flow!  Just don't let it flow out of your area....

Let the creativity flow! Just don’t let it flow out of your area….

Pros: Being outside, working together, allowing creativity,  calling something their own.

Cons: Being outside, patience in waiting on colors, wind tossing dirt, colors not landing as planned, runoff from one shirt getting onto another.

I think our little activity lasted about 10 minutes at the most.  Once we were done, the kids placed their creations in the sun to set the color, and ran into the AC.  This left me dripping in sweat picking up everything.  I didn’t mind though, I needed the quiet time to gather my thoughts for the next part…..

I can do this.  I can do this!

I can do this. I can do this!

 

After the 10 minutes of chaos, and my little break,  the kids and I sat around the table for our devotional thought for the day.   This moment is why I put myself through the madness of trying to get my kids ages 12, 8, and 6 together each day to share in an experience.  There is not one experience in life that does not contain a lesson that points back to the cross.  Not one.  I LOVE and THRIVE on relaying these lessons to my babies.

Sweet kiddos

Sweet kiddos

The white shirts represented us, the colors represented life experiences.  Some were good experiences, like when we got the color in just the right spot we wanted it to go.  Some were bad, like when my oldest messed up her “plan” by using the wrong color on accident.  Some colors were not in our plan at all, but put there by the mishap of another’s mistake.  We talked about how each of these things made our shirts what they were.  Beautifully ours.  Unique.  Different.   We turned to Romans 8:28 which states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.”  Life happens.  Mistakes happen.  Wonderful things happen.   Like the kids’ shirts, some things turn out just the way we want them, and some do not.  But it all works together for the good.  I asked the kids what they thought this statement meant.  My youngest said, “God can turn mess-ups into great things!”  Amen son.  Amen.  I asked them if they messed up on their shirts, or if they went exactly as planned.  They all agreed it was 50/50, some went as planned, some didn’t.  I asked them what they thought the end result would be with their shirts, and they all agreed they would still be awesome, mess ups and all.  That’s life kids!  God takes each circumstance, good and bad, and turns them into something great for those who love the Lord.  I told them life is precious, beautiful, and crazy.  I asked them to write down circumstances that they thought were bad, but then ended up being good, and we discussed them.  (This was so worth the chaos of dying those stinking shirts.)

Letting the SON sink in

Letting the SON sink in

Wrapping up our devo, we talked about the fact that a dedicated life to God is not easy, or happy all the time.  But it’s worth it.   Mistakes will be made,  people and circumstances will hurt us at times, but God uses these things to shape and mold us into beautiful, colorful reflections of His son Jesus Christ.  The end product becomes a colorful reminder of God’s grace and provision to those who seek Him in each aspect of our lives.  I hope my sweeties are reminded of this thought when they reflect back on the chaos of making these shirts.

 

 

The kids in their shirts!

The kids in their shirts!

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Do you ever have those days where your mind just wanders all over the place and you find yourself exhausted trying to keep up?  Today I woke up like this.  Thoughts from bathing suits to christmas gifts to peanut trucks flipping over to flip-flops to plane rides to…well, you get the idea.  My brain is on overload!  download

Oh, I have a pregnant friend too!  She was on my thoughts today as I stared at my flip flops remembering where I was when I got them.  I was in Nicaragua.  Last September.  The woman at the booth was in awe of my “gigantic foot”.  Apparently, a size 8 1/2 to 9 is the equivalent of a size 14 here in america.  She even grabbed my foot, all nasty from the day’s adventures, and examined my arch,  and my toes, and was taken back by the fact that she only had one pair of flip flops BIG enough for my feet.  That thought brought me back to the scary plane ride from Houston to Dallas.  The creepy, creepy plane ride that Xanax couldn’t defeat.  This thought made me think of those silly air masks that come down when you are about to crash.  You know, the ones that will keep you conscious in the thin air so you can be aware of the fact that you are about to die in a fiery crash?  (Jake and I have decided that if that ever happens, we will NOT be putting on the oxygen masks and just enjoy passing out before our bodies are disintegrated in engine fuel)

images I always wondered why the flight attendant tells you to always take care of yourself first.  Don’t put anyone’s mask on but your own!  Don’t put your child’s mask on first!  Don’t help the little old lady with her mask, take care of yours first!  It always sounded a bit selfish to me really.  This takes me back to my preggo friend.  I have been sending her random messages on facebook filled with some life lessons from yours truly when it comes to parenthood.  And let me please say that most of these lessons are due to trial and error on my part.   Today, in the midst of my rambled thoughts about flip flops and fuselages, I want to share with my preggo friend, and whoever else is reading this a life lesson tip that I was able to pull from the brain overload:  Put your oxygen mask on first.

You’re going to give that little flutter-bye in your belly so much of your time, energy, love, money, body shape, sleep, concern, heart, and soul when they get here that you need to understand that if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of him/her.  It is not selfish to take a much needed nap instead of doing the dishes.   It is not selfish to tell your child that you cannot help them right now because you are having your special time with God by being in His word.  It is ok to leave the kids at home and go on a small trip with your spouse.  Put your oxygen mask on first!images (1)

I ask God often to give me the energy I need each day so I can perform all of the things I want to perform out of thankfulness to Him.  I struggle with busyness and productiveness.  Daily.  Hourly.  Ok, it is a constant battle.  I pray a lot.  The battle between idleness, useless tasks, and productive days really wear at me.  I have found however, if I just take the time to take a deep breath, draw in to the day with a heart filled with God’s wisdom, I am equipped with what I need to get everything else done.  I put my mask on first.  Sometimes.  But really, its a battle every day, be prepared!

So there is your tip my preggo friend.  Save yourself so you can save others.  Feed your soul so it can shine.  Don’t turn down lunch dates with your husband because you have laundry to do, and don’t turn down a good puzzle that you will probably work a million times because it is flutter-bye’s favorite.    If you find 30 minutes to spare, grab a bowl of brown sugar oatmeal, make yourself a bubble bath, and  enjoy some great music.  This is serious therapy.  Seriously.  Go for a jog without the headphones and have a conversation with God instead.  (When I do this, the end of my conversation is more like a pleading with God for me not to pass out and hit my head on the pavement from exhaustion.) When we become moms, for whatever reason, we think we turned into super heros who can do all for all with all with no help ever.  We don’t need no oxygen mask!  Wrong.

Strive for a deep dependance on the One who created you.   Depend on Him just like needing to take your next breath.    He will fill your spirit and body with so much love, you will have no choice but let that love spill over into the lives of your soon to be little family of three.   Put on your oxygen mask first.  Well, unless your plane is going down, then you may just want to skip the extra few minutes it gives you and get yourself on the fast track to eternity.

Do We as Christians Really “Get” It?

I have been sitting here staring at this blank screen for quite some time now , trying to articulate what is on my heart  without sounding like “one of those people”.  I can however, tell my readers that this post is written directly to anyone who considers themselves to be a Christian.   Why say this?  God tells us not to judge others who are not in the faith.  (1 Corinthians 5:12)  How can we expect others to uphold to the ways of God if they do not even accept Him or His way?  We simply cannot.  Our job is to introduce them to the salvation following the Way brings (and if you are interested in this, have I got some great things to tell you).  Ok, back to us  now.  I read through a blog the other day about the argument between Christians over the Matthew McConaughey speech at the Oscars.  Some Christians applaud his efforts in talking about God in his speech, while others are disgusted at the hypocrisy.    It is getting so discouraging to see all of us, as Christians, debating right and wrong.  How silly is that?  We Christians, who have everything we need to know given to us in the Word of God, debating over what it says!  We debate the amount of sin it is ok to have in our lives.  We debate whether or not its ok to sin if its part of our line of work.  Christians who live a life that is “less sinful” than another Christians is either flogged verbally for being too “perfect” or flogging someone else verbally because the other Christians are less than “perfect”.   No wonder people think we are nut jobs!   No wonder kids are leaving the church as fast as they can, never looking back!  No wonder people find it so easy to discredit the Creator and avoid His love and mercy!  They look at us and say, “No thanks!”.  Look at us! (this is me sarcastically screaming through my fingertips as I write this)

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Brothers, sisters, congregations of all different “beliefs” we have to stop this.  The church was called to be one.  One in mind and in truth.  One in  belief in the Word of God, and one in being ambassadors for Christ.  We have fought so hard to be called the ones who are “right”, that we have missed our mission.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard good, sincere people dismiss the faith all together because they didn’t want to be like the Christians they saw.  That breaks my heart.  We are failing.  People are hurting and we are too busy arguing with each other.  We are missing the mark and like it or not, we will be judged on that.  So how do we start?

thebodyofchristWe have to all agree on what we are fighting for, and what our tools are.   If you are a Christian, then you believe in God, and in His son.  You believe that God is alive and well and speaks to us through His word.  We cannot disagree in this!  This is our cornerstone!  Christ crucified for us, living and working within us, speaking to us through the word of God!  We cannot chose to agree with God in one part of scripture, and not agree with Him in another.  We have to have faith in God before we can serve God.  We have to have full faith in the Word and stop choosing what we want to follow.  Hebrews 4:12  tells us the word is alive, living and active.   We are called to handle this word in truth as good workers  2 Timothy 2:15.  Christians PLEASE examine the “doctrine” you are following.  Is it following God’s Word?  Are you willing to speak up if it is not?  Are you willing to speak up in love if it is?   What are we all fighting for?  The spread of the gospel.  Are you spreading the gospel?  Are you spreading God’s word, or your own?  This is our biggest threat.  We love to debate how we do things in our congregations as opposed to others.  Is this our primary goal?  Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  Our “houses” of worship are divided folks, and crumbling under our petty arguments over what we think God’s church should run like.  Be Christ-like in your obedience to God’s word.  Be united in the message it brings.

brokenheartWe have to posses a heart that gets offend by sin.   When I first became a Christian, a lot of sin did not affect me.  I was a teenager and still had a lot to learn.  I did not get offend by going too far with my boyfriend.  I did not get offended when someone used God’s name in vain.  I did not get offended at the filth I saw on the big screen.    I was moved by the fact that someone died for me so I could live, and most of all, I was scared to death of eternity in hell.  My motives were about 70% fear of judgment, and 30% thankfulness.  I felt as if I did my part in becoming a Christian, and life would go on unchanged.  But then I grew in the word.  God spoke to me each time I opened the word and sought after His wisdom.  I began to feel uneasy and downright dirty when I found myself in a sinful situation.  My love for Christ began to outweigh the sin.  My desire to live a life as close to his teachings as possible outweighed the fear of hell.  I felt a good, healthy guilt in my gut that sprouted from a deep respect for my Father in heaven.  I am so thankful for this.  Christians, God expects this from all of us.   “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity,dignity,  and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”  Titus 2:7.  We will all struggle with this verse, each and every day, but are we really struggling?  Are we struggling with cussing, partying, cheating on our wives or husbands, being single and sleeping around, holding grudges, being hypocritical, judgmental, crude, and downright worldly?  Or are we just fine with it?  The world LOVES it when we do these things without blinking an eye and call ourselves Christians anyways.  It fuels the fire of pointing out our hypocrisy!  Our hearts, if they are truly in Christ, get offended by these things.  This is a process!  The men and women in the bible struggled with these things, but the ones who were dedicated to God struggled and fought against these things.  We do not have an example of Godly people accepting their ungodly acts as the norm.  We see repentance.  The alcoholic stumbles a few times before they conquer their sin, but they are active in trying.  The teen who went too far sexually will falter at times, but is actively pushing it away.  The Christian who likes to condemn others is praying for love and self control, but the change will not happen over night so they press on.  These people are offended by sin and actively pursue change.   We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23  That is why we needed Christ’s sacrifice.  When we become his, we accept the grace, and strive to change our sinful nature.  Have you ever changed? The term “christian” means Christ-like.  Christ did not engage in sin, and sin offend him.  If sin does not offend you, are you really Christ-like in the first place?

iHelpOthersWe must show love.   “I hate gays.”, “I hate Obama.”,  “I hate all muslims.”,  “I hate all who do not act, look, and talk like me.”   Wow.  Way to show God’s love there Mr/Mrs Christian!  So many of us hate the things that we fear, or have no control over.  We have a sheer hatred for Gay people because we just can’t fathom why.  We are quick to judge those who are given charge of us because we feel we have all the answers.  We don’t want to get to know people who don’t live like we do, or live where we do, or worship God like we do,  because they are different.  2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”  Are we trusting in the power of the word to change lives, or snuffing it out with hate?  Are we showing God’s love for all people by using self control in our speech and actions?  I don’t understand or agree with homosexuality, but I will love those who practice it.  I really don’t understand or agree with Obama, but respect his position of authority.  I don’t get why people chose to ruin their lives with drugs and alcohol, and it blows my mind when someone tells me they don’t believe in God, but I will love them regardless.  I gotta be honest, I want to erase what I just wrote because I struggle with this.  I don’t want to love the sinner, but hate the sin.  I want to feel justified in my being offended by these people.  By these people.  Not the sin mind you, but the people. We don’t want to like “those” people much less love them!  Christ had the amazing ability to peer into the souls of others.  He saw past the sin, into the person, and chose to speak the truth in love, because he knew what they needed.  Did you know we can do this too?  How do we peer into the souls of others?  We get to know them!  We talk with them.  We spend time with them, and share things with them.  We stop seeing the sin, and see the person.  I love the passage in John 13:34 where Christ states, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  By our love for one another, Christ will be seen through this love.  We must love those who do not know Christ enough to practice self control with them just as we practice self control with those who we share the same beliefs with.  Then we can share Christ, in love and let God take care of the rest.  We fight so hard to get people to see things our way, and forget the wonderful gift of free will.  God loves us enough to let us make our own decisions, and we have got to start doing the same.  Speak the truth in love, and if they are receptive, Glory be to God!  If they don’t, love them anyways.  Be Christ-like in your love.  Be they type of person that those who are lost look at and say, “That person is different.  That person cares about me.  Why?”  Open door to Jesus right there!

All three of the points I made I struggle with on a daily basis, but I am so thankful that I am struggling, because I know that the struggle is shaping my heart to be more like His.  I ask that you find it in your hearts to struggle as well.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  James 1:22-27