Kingdom Disciples

IMG_0141I am excited to announce that I am part of the book launch team for Tony Evans’ newest book Kingdom Disciples: Heaven’s Representatives on Earth.  This book has just arrived in my hands and will be released to the public on July 4. In the coming days, I will be reading and reviewing the book, then I will share my thoughts with you.  So, stay tuned.

 

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Jesus Loves You

We are a hurting world. We are a sad world. We are a sinful world.

 

We want peace. We want our politicians to be the heroes and make everything ok.

 

There is only One who can bring peace to our nation.

The One True God.

Do you know Him?

 

God wants a relationship with each of us. He wants us to be fully devoted to Him.

 

He doesn’t give us a list of rules and regulations. He wants us to admit our need for Him due to our sinful nature. He wants us to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. He wants us to confess our faith in Him. He wants us to place Him at the center of our lives and live for Him in each and everything we do.

 

And yes, that may mean giving up some things. That may mean a lifestyle change. That may mean the loss of relationships.

 

But you know what? God gave His Son for us. He loves us, and He wants us to love Him.

 

Our world will never know true peace unless every single person on this earth knows and loves and serves Jesus Christ.

 

Our world will never know true peace until every knee bows and prays to the One True God.

 

A life lived for Christ is so much more glorious than a life lived for anything else. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not able to take our possessions with us when we pass from this earth….and we will pass from this earth. Our bodies are tents for our souls. One day our tents will serve us no more. Our souls will move from our bodies to eternity……either heaven or hell……eternal peace or eternal turmoil.

 

Jesus loves you so much that He gave his life so that we can spend eternity in heaven, eternity in peace. Why would we not accept that gift? If you were starving would you deny the food and water placed before you? If your house was burning, would you deny the hoses that would extinguish it? Then why would you deny Christ who offers you more than this world ever could?

 

In June of 2004, 12 years ago, I made a life changing decision. I chose to live my life for Jesus. I admitted my need for him. I was a sinner. I still am, but now I’m forgiven. I chose to believe that Jesus is God’s son, that he died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I would not have to face eternal death in hell. I confessed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I told of my salvation, I stood before the church, I followed Jesus in baptism.

 

Every day I am growing, changing, and learning. I am not perfect. I am a sinner and won’t be perfect until I reach my heavenly home. But Christ lives within me. He is my one desire.

 

Yes, I love my husband. Yes, I love my children. But I can NOT be the wife and mother they need me to be without putting Christ first in my life. Jesus loves me, and I love Him.

And He loves you too.

 

Oh, I pray that each of you who read these words would know and love Jesus the way that I do…..

If we all, each of us that walk this earth, if we all knew and loved and shared Jesus……my, what a different world we would live in.

 

Do you know Jesus? Do you love Him?

 

Jesus loves you!

 

If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and you are feeling Him tug on your heart, you’ve pushed him to the side long enough……don’t deny him any longer. Open your heart to Him now!

 

If you do know Jesus, share Him with others. God commands us to do so. We aren’t meant to keep Him to ourselves. When something good happens to us, don’t we share it? Don’t we rush to Facebook and Instagram and post away? Well, why not flood social media with the greatest news of all??? Can you imagine logging on to Facebook and seeing nothing but the love of Jesus instead of the hatred and trickery of Satan????

 

Y’all, this world scares me. I think of how it has changed since I was a kid and what my children are witnessing and what they will experience in their lifetime. But this world will not change unless Christians stand up and share Christ. We must pray without ceasing instead of praying when disaster strikes. Imagine a world where we are united in Christ. Right now we’ve let Satan divide us through gender, race, sexuality, politics, and religion. We need to be united in Christ. We must be united in Christ.

 

Jesus loves you. What are you going to do about it?

 

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I originally posted this article at  http://alifeworthlivingforhim.blogspot.com/2016/07/jesus-loves-you.html

52 Books in 52 Weeks Update: Book 16

I am continuing to enjoy my journey to read 52 books this year.  I have recently completed book 16.

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I am placing The Journey of a Shepherd’s Wife under the category of “a book by someone who is not a writer” from the HannahBraime.com 2017 Reading Challenge.  I know what you’re thinking……someone wrote a book……that makes her a writer.  Technically yes.  However, when Virginia wrote the book, she didn’t consider herself as a writer, just a woman led to tell of her journey.

 

The author, Virginia Stokes, gave me this book as a gift after my husband was named Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.  I appreciate her thoughtfulness and the prayers she prayed for my family during that time of transition.

Five Minute Friday: Steady

Yesterday was such a nice day.  The sun stayed hidden most of the day, and we got a steady rain.  It was relaxing, giving me a great excuse to listen to the kids play as I read Hidden Figures instead of doing housework.  A slow steady rain…..calm, relaxing…..

 

And I think of rocking my children, whether I snuggled with them in the recliner or swayed with them in the middle of the living room singing to them, the slow steady motion was calm and relaxing, reducing their tears.

 

I like steady.

 

Steady is safe.

 

Yet, so much about life is unsteady. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We don’t know what our test results will be. We don’t know if the money will be there to pay the bills.  So much makes our lives unsteady, uncertain, scary.

 

However, there is One who is steady. One who is our Firm Foundation.  In Him we are safe, we can remain calm, and we can find rest.  He wraps his arms around us, just as we would our own children.  Rocking, swaying, bringing comfort, and drying our tears.

 

When life is rocky and difficult, we can find hope an assurance in Him because he is never changing.

 

 

Did You Plan a Wedding or a Marriage?

My husband and I will be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary this fall. Eighteen years. That’s a lot of years.
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We are what you would call high school sweethearts. Actually, we met when I was in middle school and started dating toward the end of my 7th grade year. That was 26 years ago. A lot has happened in those 26 years (and can I just say, I feel very old referring to that time as 26 years ago. Only old people talk about things that were “back in the day.”).

We attended each other’s junior and senior proms. Danced together at homecoming dances. Cruised town in his candy apple red Chevy Nova with bench seats drinking slushies from Sonic. We may have even made out a little in that car too, but I’d never tell. We were there for each other’s high school and college graduations. We had many firsts together. Fun filled vacations, concerts, roller coaster rides.

Jeff proposed at sunset on the beach in June of 1998. I thought he was pulling at his underwear, not pulling a diamond ring out of his pocket. He asked, I said yes, and we began planning a wedding.

We planned the wedding. Not the marriage.

And as I type out those words, I think about how much time, effort, and money we put into weddings. One single day.

To plan our wedding, I bought the necessities: magazines and wedding planning books. I sent off for every catalog I could think of.

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I read them multiple times to make sure I was on target to having the perfect day. I’d been to weddings that were ugly, unorganized, or boring, and I made a vow to have the perfect wedding.

I began getting free samples of invitations and printed napkins to compare prices and find something we liked.

I made lists and more lists and lists for my lists.

I started dress shopping and tried on dress after dress after dress until I found The One.

Our total cost for the wedding day was about $3000. Probably not much more than that.

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All in all, I think we had a beautiful wedding. The weather was perfect for the first of October in south central Kentucky. Our friends and family filled the church. My aunts showed up with food for the reception which was a nice surprise. Although the only food we got was the bite of cake we fed each other, everything was perfect.

Looking back, I think about planning a wedding versus preparing for marriage. In all honesty, we probably did very little in preparing for our marriage. We were required to take a premarital counseling class with our pastor. That was it.

One of the things we had to complete was an Expectations Questionnaire.

1. How do you expect to be treated after you are married?

2. What are to be your areas of responsibility within the marriage and family?

3. What are to be your spouse’s areas of responsibility within the marriage and family?

4. What were your father’s responsibilities within the family?

5. What were your mother’s responsibilities within the family?

6. Write a short autobiography about yourself. Describe your childhood, religious background, major conflicts with parents, siblings, and/or God.

7. What are your plans for the future?

Those are all very good questions. Questions that all couples need to ask and discuss.

But I looked at one of my answers to question #2, and my heart smiled at my 22 year old self.

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Work.

Work on the marriage.

Work on the marriage to keep it strong.

Work on the marriage to keep it strong and successful.

At 22 years old, I knew that a strong successful marriage took work.

Having the marriage I wanted would not just happen.  It would take effort. On my part and my husband’s part. Before saying my vows, I was dedicated to doing that work.

I also knew, after having dated this man for many years before, that there was nothing I could do to ever change him.  I was marrying him, his quirks, and everything that would ever gross or freak me out. I was ok with that. I wanted to spend my life with him, and I knew that I would put a lot into this marriage.

When we said, “I do,” my husband and I were not Christians.  We made a vow before God to keep our marriage sacred, but we had not yet given our hearts to him.  That would come some time later.  However, I had always prayed for our marriage. I had always prayed for my husband.  I had always prayed to be the wife he needed me to be.

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And I still do.

We don’t air our dirty laundry for all to hear.

We don’t involve other people in the privacy of our marriage.

We pray.

God is the all knowing. God is the healer. God is the provider.  God is number one in our marriage.

I think one of the most difficult things about keeping our marriage strong would be putting my husband first since having children.  Now, I know that there are those of you who put your children first and your husband comes last, but I want you to consider what that does to your marriage.

Being a first time mom is hard.  Its even harder to have those deep, romantic moments with your husband. You are sleep deprived. You stink. You have spit up and poop stained clothes.  Being a new mom isn’t very attractive.  But still. Your husband must come first.

As women, we want our husbands to love us and show us that love.  Our husbands want us to respect them and show them that respect.

We can fuss about our husbands not meeting our needs, but we have to ask ourselves, “What have I done for my husband?”

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The best thing I can do for my husband is belong to Christ. He must come first. If my relationship with Christ is flawed, then my relationship with my husband will be flawed. If my relationship with my husband is flawed, then my relationship with my children will be flawed.

It all starts with Christ.

So many women have a problem with the word submission. They cringe and laugh and run. But girls. I’m telling you. It’s biblical. Submission doesn’t mean to be a doormat. It means to be the wife God has called you to be. Really. You should read Sara Horn’s book My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife.

In all of this, I am asking you, did you plan a wedding or a marriage? Most of us plan weddings and give little to no thought about what happens once the honeymoon is over. What do you do when it gets hard? When the bills can’t be paid? When illness comes? When Satan tries to destroy what God deems as holy?

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Marriage is work. It’s hard work.  It’s good work. I encourage you as you are filling your hope chest or taking things out of it, be sure that God is there with you.  Be sure that God is first in your marriage.  Seek Him.  You won’t have a perfect marriage. You’ll have a God centered marriage.

You’re Beautiful and You’re Not Perfect and That’s OK

My first recollection of comparing myself to other girls was when I didn’t make it to the top 10 in our local fair beauty pageant.

Before the pageant, I felt beautiful….as beautiful as a 9 year old girl can feel in an shiny blue, itchy dress from the one and only Pistols and Petticoats.

I was a shy girl. Never really liked to call attention to myself, but my friend and I had decided to enter the pageant.  We anxiously waited in line as the names of the finalists….the prettiest girls…..were called for one last look.
My name wasn’t called.  I had decided that maybe I wasn’t pretty after all.

A year or so passed and once again, my friend talked me into entering the pageant.  This time, I wore a dark blue flowery dress (large flower prints were all the rage).  I was a sixth grader I think.  Again, names were called. Mine wasn’t one of them.

I remember thinking….I am prettier than she is.  I felt guilty for having that thought toward another friend of mine, but I thought it anyway! I couldn’t understand why her name was called and mine wasn’t.

Fast forward to middle and high school…..

I wanted those Guess jeans.
I wanted to wear the same clothes as the popular girls.
I wanted my hair that color, that wavy, that straight.
I wanted those Eastlands and Doc Martens.

For a teenage girl, looks are pretty important.  We want to be just as pretty as the next girl, if not prettier. My magazines were filled with beauty tips and pretty girls that were my age.

During my freshman year of high school, there was one particular girl that I compared myself to.  I found myself wanting to dress like her, wear my hair like her.  In a way, I wanted to be her.  I became obsessed and it took a toll on me and on my body.

I quit eating so much and began to lose weight. Within months, I had lost 30something pounds.  My grandpa told me I was skin and bones and begged me to eat, chunk up a bit, because I worried him.  For me, the skinnier the better because that one girl was bigger than me and this was something I had on her, you know, because all girls want to be skinny.

That spring, I got sick, really sick and had a difficult time getting well. My doctor basically threatened to put me in the hospital if things didn’t change.

Slowly, I began to gain a little weight.  Not much, but a little.  I remember my grandpa telling me he was glad I was putting a little meat on my bones.

Still throughout my teenage years, I struggled with how I wanted to look. Was a I pretty enough?  Was my hair just right?  Were my clothes stylish enough?

Then when I was 16 years old, tragedy struck my family.  My aunt was in a freak accident and her hair was ripped from her scalp.  She was lucky the machine that her ponytail was caught in didn’t break her neck and kill her.  She would, however, have to live the rest of her life with no hair.  For a 16 year old girl, there was a lesson to be learned here.

 

Looks mean nothing.

 

My aunt was (and still is) beautiful.  She always had her makeup and hair just right.  I thought she was perfect in every way.  Now, she would never have hair again.  I didn’t care though.  My aunt was alive and that’s what mattered.  I reflected on the time I had spent with her throughout the years.  She taught me how to make grilled cheese sandwiches.  She hand made Barbie doll clothes for me (and even treated me to a few store bought Barbie outfits).  She played with me, took me to the park, and took me swimming at the public pool.  She invested her time in me.  That meant more than what appeared in the mirror.

For a 16 year old girl, I learned a valuable lesson:  A beautiful heart is worth more than a beautiful face.

That’s a valuable lesson, but for a woman, I think it is one that is easily forgotten.

There’s always another comparison to be made.

Maybe not so much as what we look like, although I’ll admit that I worried a bit about having to wear a swim suit to Jeff’s Army unit’s family day event at the water park.  Knowing I’d have to keep up with three kids in a water park for the first time took precedence over what I felt about wearing my tankini in public.

But we compare ourselves to these moms who seem like they have it all together.  You know the ones: they walk into church on Sunday morning smiling, well dressed and their kids are well behaved, while we glue that fake smile on our faces after pulling into the parking lot 10 minutes late because we’ve had to threaten the lives of our children for fighting and not getting ready. Don’t forget the ones that walk through the store with hair in tact (and no gray strands), clothing not stained, and fruits and veggies piled nicely in their shopping cart. Meanwhile, our shopping cart is filled with junk and processed food because our screaming kids who are running around like caged animals that have been set free refuse to eat anything else.

Maybe we aren’t comparing ourselves by looks so much anymore, but we are comparing our children, our homes, our cars, our jobs (or envying those stay at home moms who post on Facebook about their morning workouts after the kids are dropped off at school and then they can sit and drink coffee and read on the patio). They seem to have something we don’t, and we want it.

But here’s the truth…..

I’m not you or her and y’all aren’t me and that is perfectly fine because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

It took me a long to time realize that God’s Word is true.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

We’ve heard the old saying, “God broke the mold when He made you.”  It’s true for each of us. None of us are the same, and we weren’t created to be.  The only thing we should strive for in being alike is that we each have a relationship with Christ and bring Him honor and glory in all we do.

For me,

I will continue to struggle with weight and eating.  I’ve dealt with it for years.  I am an emotional eater.  I like food. A lot.  I’m overweight and I really don’t do much about it. It’s my own fault and sin and I have to have God’s help in conquering this.

I’ve got stretch marks from puberty topped with stretched marks from three baby boys.  Those aren’t going anywhere.  I carry a muffin top and cellulite with them.

I have bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. My eyelashes have thinned over the years and in Mrs. Trudy’s words, time marches across my face.

The strands of gray hair increase each day regardless of what color of hair dye I put on them. Proverbs 16:31 encourages me: Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.

I can’t get jealous of my musically talented friends.  God didn’t bless me with that gift.  I do know that when I do sing off key songs of praise, He is still pleased. And one day….oh what a glorious day that will be, my voice will be beautiful as I sing to Him in heaven.

My kids aren’t perfect. Your’s aren’t perfect. They are all human.  Just like adults….kids do stupid stuff.  I have to deal with it.  I have to remember that I was once that age once (which every aged child I’m dealing with at the moment).  My children are going to mess up.  They will make me want to scream and hide and sneak off with a chocolate bar.  They are kids, that’s what they do. I made my mom feel that way, and she made her mom feel that way. Oh and the best….My grandkids will make my children feel that way (insert laughter here).

In this season of life, I have a career. The career I’ve worked hard for, earned two degrees for. A career that hopefully has changed lives. I can’t be jealous of the career of others (or lack of).  For this season of my life, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. If God wants me to do something else, I have to trust that He will lead me there. Patience, Darling.  Patience.

What are you struggling with?  Do you want to look like someone else?  Do you want that house in that neighborhood?  Do you want that car? Do you want the life that is continuously posted on social media?

Your life is your life. My life is my life.

Life is hard enough as it is, and we MUST STOP COMPARING ourselves to others.

You are beautiful.  Inside and out. Gray hair, stretch marks, muffin top.  All of it.  You are your own worst critic. I care more about how I look in the swim suit than I care about how you look in your swim suit.  And as far as I look…..if my husband likes me in my swim suit and thinks I’m still sexy after 24 years and three kids, that’s what matters to me.

Sweet friend, you are beautiful and you are NOT perfect.  You aren’t supposed to be.  We become perfect in Christ in His time. Not ours.

No diet.
No dress size.
No high heel shoe.
No perm.
No exercise program.
No college degree.
No career.
No rich neighborhood.
No BMW.
No amount of money.

None of those things will make you perfect.  Only Christ can do that.

We’ve got to come to terms with and accept our imperfections and flaws.  Then we have to hand our insecurities, whatever they may be, hand them over to God.  Allow Him to lead us, mold us, change us.  We can’t do it alone.  We have to use these flaws, these lessons we’ve learned from our sinful nature to tell our story.  We have to tell of our struggles with our health, with eating disorders, addictions, insecurities, sin, whatever.  We each have story to share. There’s someone out there that feels alone.

There’s a young mother who feels guilty for needing a break from her little ones.

There’s a working woman who feels guilty for not being the stay at home mom her heart desires.

There’s a girl who feels ugly and unpopular and is on the border of a harmful lifestyle.

There’s a girl…..me or you…who needs to hear that we are not alone.  We don’t need perfect examples.  We need examples of those who have been there, done that, fallen, gotten up, and found strength to accept life and move on.

My friend, you are beautiful.

You are not perfect.

And that’s OK.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

God broke the mold when He made you

Five Minute Friday: Worth

Steel Magnolias is one of my favorite movies.  And well, Shelby has one of my favorite quotes.  When she’s discussing whether her high risk pregnancy is worth it with her mom, Shelby says, “I’d rather have 15 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

 

And y’all isn’t that the truth.

 

When I started my blog in 2009, I called it A Life Worth Living, because, well, it is.  Especially when we live it for Him.

 

I realized that I didn’t want to be a spectator. I didn’t want to be a sit and watch kinda girl.  I wanted to live life to the fullest.  I’ve done things that have been totally out of my comfort zone because life is worth it.  At one point early in our marriage, my husband and I considered moving to Florida.  I even got job application packets from coastal school districts.  You just never know until you try!

 

And to me, trying is worth it.  I don’t want to live life with regrets.  I want to know at the end of my life that I took advantage of every opportunity God gave me.  I want to know that I lived and learned, that I was able to move on after trials and failures.

 

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Thank you for joining me for this edition of Five Minute Friday.  If you are new to FMF, be sure to stop by FiveMinuteFriday.com, the new home of this amazing community.  Click around and browse the amazing posts published by these writers.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 14

I love a book that makes me feel all emotions.  A Dog’s Purpose is that book!  Earlier this year, I’d won a gift card from our local animal shelter to see the movie, yet I decided I needed to read the book first.  Before school ended, I bought the book from my last Scholastic book order so I could read it this summer.  I began to read it one Saturday at baseball practice, but my 11 year old decided he needed to read it too.  So, he took it.  One night he said, “Mama, you need to hurry up and read this book so we can talk about it.” Needless to say I had to take it back from him.

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I laughed. I cringed. I bawled like a baby.  This book melted my heart and made me consider my own precious dogs, and yes, the cat too!  Now if my son will finish it, we can talk about it and then watch the movie.

 

I am placing this book under the category of “a book that became a movie” from the 2017 Ultimate Reading Challenge from hannahbraime.com.

 

What are you reading this summer?

52 Books in 52 Weeks Update and Book Review

Several months ago, I was contacted by author Jason B. Ladd and asked to read and provide an honest review for his book One of the Few.  My Amazon.com Review says,

“We all have “life questions” and seek a path to follow.  In One of the Few, author Jason B. Ladd documents his journey to finding the path his life should take.  Throughout the book, Ladd uses his military experience to connect with the experience of soul searching.  During this journey, Ladd takes a look at many issues we encounter (marriage, sex, alcohol, pornography) and compares the stances taken by many different believe systems.  Although I found the format hard to follow sometimes, I still appreciated the author’s honest look at these issues through the eyes of these belief systems.  Ladd understands that truth seekers need knowledge about the many belief systems in the world, and he spoke of them accurately and professionally.  I recommend this book for those who are seeking truth in their own lives, for those who are wanting to lead and guide others to find the righteous path, and for those who want a better understanding of why many are called and few are chosen.”

I am sorry that it has taken me so long to read and review this book. I honestly appreciated the content of the book and look forward to passing it on to my husband. I’ve already told him that it would be great to use in his sermons and when counseling with his Soldiers.

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To learn more about this book and author Jason B. Ladd, visit his Jason’s website HERE.

 

 

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I was given a free copy of this book for the purpose of an honest review. I am including this book as part of my 52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge (book 13 – a book written by a male author).