As promised (albeit late), I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate my birthday this month! Aren’t you excited? I am and I’ve worked out several different ways to enter.
I figured the easiest way to share some of my favorite things is via gifts cards so I’ve narrowed it down to four places, four different amounts, four chances to win!
- 1st prize is a $20 Target gift card. I personally would buy some cute shoes, but how you choose to spend it is obviously up to you.
- 2nd prize is a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card. I love bookstores (lets hope since I’m an author). And while I prefer smaller, local bookstores, this makes more sense. I may also choose to spend this on something like a new journal.
- 3rd prize is a $10 Starbucks gift card. I’ve said before I run on a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. Again, same deal on preferring a small local coffee shop, but for practicality sake, Starbucks it is.
- 4th prize is a $5 Chick-fil-a gift card. Because Chick-fil-a is one of my favorite places to eat. My sister likes to insinuate that I have it factored into my weekly budget, which may or may not be true. Either way, it’s delicious and I’m sharing a chicken sandwich (or nuggets) with you.
So be sure to enter and share this to give your friends a chance to enter as well. The entry will be open until the end of the month (it is a full month giveaway after all) but be sure not to wait too long and miss your chance to win! Just select the link below and get your entries!!!
After months of cold and ice (and more cold, and more ice) we are finally experiencing a full-fledged Spring day. The sun is shining in the bright, clear day, though the breeze still carries a bite of chill warding off any early ideas of summer. The birds are happily settling into their newly built nests and the blooms are starting to open to the sun’s gentle warmth. In my estimation, it is a perfect day.
But this perfect day is harshly contrasted with day five of my husband dealing with…well, in all honesty, we don’t exactly know what he’s dealing with, but it’s miserable. It’s that unknown which causes anxiety and worry. Then the added gift of Google is the gift of hypochondria and increased concern.
It’s easy to become consumed in worry. Whether it is due to the sickness with no diagnosis, or the stress that comes from your job, or the never-ending bills that just. keep. coming.
Worry blinds us to the beauty of the promises that should be dictating our lives.
Instead of trusting we worry.
Instead of believing the best, we presume the worst.
Instead of resting, we fret and question.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)
The peace of God is an amazing gift that I feel we often neglect. We think we’re surrendering our problems, when in fact we continue to mull over possible solutions or even worse outcomes. And in doing so, we become our own worst enemy, not allowing the Spirit to offer the peace that is rightfully ours to claim in Christ Jesus.
That’s the beauty of a relationship with God, through Jesus. We have been given a new life, a new purpose apart from the anxiety of everyday life.
The idea of “being born again” is strange to be sure. But it’s used over and over again to describe the process of allowing Jesus to change us from the inside out. We are to lay aside our old selves and take on the new. We are a new creation through Jesus. We have been given a new life.
In the most simple terms, it is a change of heart and a change of mindset. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we don’t continue to wallow in the poor choices we made prior to that decision. We don’t continue to use the same language or exercise the same responses. Sometimes it requires a complete overhaul from the company we keep to the lifestyles we chose to live. But we are assured that not only have we been given a brand new life, but we’ve been given a brand new future–we have something to live for besides ourselves and our own selfish ambitions!
1 Peter says,
Because Jesus has been raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven– and the future starts now! (1 Peter 1:3-4, MSG)
The ESV describes that “new life” as: “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.”
Spring is that visual demonstration of something that has died and been made new. Each year, as the seasons change, God demonstrates this process to us in all of its beauty and wonder. Seeds that are planted have to literally die and crack open in order to allow new growth–new life–to come out.
Are you fighting that process today? Are you standing there, withering and essentially dead, but unwilling to fully let go (die to self) and allow God to nurture that new growth? Are you allowing the stress and anxiety of the day-to-day to defile that future that is waiting for you?
As my family and I continue to search for an answer to what is plaguing my husband, the idea of a life that is imperishable and undefiled sounds extremely appealing.
Our hope, our future, is found in an eternity in heaven with God. Our purpose is built in the promises of that future. Our very identity cannot be separated from the truth of our purpose because our identity cannot be separated from our Creator.
Who we are is buried in Whose we are.
Are you allowing your identity in God to change you from the inside out?
I pray that this spring will be a time of renewal for you and this season of your life.
*sigh* Oh Valentine’s Day…so much pressure and the inflation of prices…
Don’t misunderstand me, I actually like Valentine’s Day per say. I am all for a fantastic dinner out. I love receiving flowers because they make my house feel happy–though despite being the daughter of a farmer, I have a black thumb and regularly kill plants. I love mushy cards and sentimental thoughts.
What I don’t like is a misrepresentation on love.
There are a ton of articles floating around discussing the impending doom that is the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, set to release tomorrow on Valentine’s Day. There is even a petition to boycott the movie (which you can sign here if you fancy.) There are opinions from every range of group that address numerous concerns surrounding the basis of this movie: abusive and domineering relationship being toted as love.
This article did a great job bringing to light the root of the matter (and calling out where that faintly familiar plot line came from. I’ll give you a hint: it was fan fiction for a teen vampire “love” story.)
I did not read Fifty Shades of Grey.
I don’t have any desire to read them and even less desire to see the movie based on them.
Honestly, even when I watched the trailer (because I was ignorant to the appeal and plot line), it made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
I have, however, experienced what it’s like to deal with the emotional toil of an abusive relationship. I know what it’s like to feel like you love someone, convince yourself that they love you, and make excuses for them. It’s a messed-up mind game where no one comes out as a winner.
It’s debilitating and a lie.
Love does not force itself on others. It’s not controlling. In fact, it’s the exact opposite:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18 NIV)
Love is sacrificial. It is putting someone else before yourself. It is serving and considerate.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)
Love is powerful, but true love can never be held over someone’s head. You can’t lose love, because “love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8). Where all other things will pass away, love will not. Correction: true love will not.
Valentine’s day may be a ruse by Hallmark and other card companies to make a pretty penny, but the focus is love. Whether single or not, you can experience true love. Whether through a spouse, your children, your parents, or a best friend–true love is not about a physical relationship. True love is so much more.
So I encourage you to look beyond what some would like to promote as romance and love. I encourage you to refocus on what love was created to be. It is a precious gift that God has given to us, shown through the life-death-and resurrection of His Son. It is given to us to share with the world, not just through sex (though that is a wonderful part of marriage and has it’s own place in the sphere of love), but through relationships with others, through serving others, through encouraging others.
Wishing you all a true love-filled Valentine’s Day.
I’m already LOVING my new book! Seriously. I can see growth in my writing, thought process, and just the overall content is absolutely amazing!
Because I love all of you devoted blog readers/followers, I want to have your input. Nothing too crazy, just a “simple” question:
Who is God to you?
I know– weighted question, right? But truly, if someone asked you, “who is God?” how would you answer?
I can’t wait to see what you have to say 🙂 Please just leave a comment below and, as always, please be respectful.
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my email list. You’ll get insider information, as well as a special chance to win a copy of Getting Past the Start! <–the more people who sign up, the more copies I am giving away! So, make sure you are a part of that awesomeness. (I’ll even make it easier, you can sign up by clicking here!)
As always, thank you guys! 🙂
Over the past couple of weeks, Aliyah (my two-year-old) has multiplied her words exponentially and transitioned fully into sentences. It is with both joy and exhaustion that I find myself smiling at these developments (I’m positive my ears are going to be dog-tired by the end of each day with how much this kid talks, coupled with the conversations I already have with my four-year-old). But what brings me even greater joy is standing back and listening to the conversations that occur between my two daughters.
Tonight, as Samara went to the bathroom and proceeded to wash her hands, I heard her explaining the process to her sister.
“You go poop in the potty…then you wash your hands like this. Get some soap…”
Her step-by-step guidance all accompanied by a flurry of words by Aliyah-none particularly understandable but all abundantly audible.
The big-sister-little-sister relationship fully engaged and developing. Samara nurtures Aliyah (usually), lets me know when I need to check on her (tattling but letting me know when she is getting in to something-especially when they are supposed to be sleeping-is still somewhat helpful in the long run), and interprets Aliyah’s slurry of words (of course, most of time she interprets the words I understand and simply mimics the ones that are still unclear which isn’t particularly helpful but it’s the thought).
I can’t help but think back to the fun I had with my own sister growing up, knowing that while she also tattled on me, more often than not, she looked out for me. She loved me. She was an example for me in faith and in righteousness.
Did I always follow? Haha…no. I have always been independent; wanting to forge my own way and often times neglecting the advantage that came with following someone who had gone ahead of me. But even today, I know that my sister is one of my strongest advocates and fiercest defenders. I pray the same will be true for my girls.
Just as my sister was an example for me to follow, and as Samara steps into the same role for Aliyah, I am brought back to those verses in the Bible where Paul urges us to be imitators of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Just as Paul sought to imitate Christ, God has readily placed people in our lives to serve as examples. I have been blessed to have many people throughout my life who have been (and who continue to be) Godly examples for me to strive toward and learn from. I, likewise, strive to live a life that can serve as an example to those who will look to me for guidance– including my daughters.
As we come to a rapidly approaching close to 2014, I want to encourage you to thank the Godly examples in your life. Who has God specially placed in your path to serve as a guiding light to bring your closer to Jesus?
And to those of you who have had such a tremendous impact on my own life (Kristi, my momma and daddy, Megan, Kyle, Laura, Stacey, Judy–just to name a few)–thank you. Thank you for your love and patience, especially in my stubbornness. Thank you for your encouragement and belief in me for so much more. Thank you for pushing me toward Jesus. May God richly bless you all.
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, NIV)
As an introvert, I tend to unintentionally shut people out. I’m that girl at the airport with her headphones in and nose in a book. I’m cordial but not overtly friendly. I’ll smile your way, but never initiate conversation. But the problem is that in doing so I miss the possibility of uplifting interactions.
Today I flew by myself for the first time in I don’t even know how long. Just me, managing only one bag, getting to take as much time as I’d like, wherever I’d like.
Even though it was an early flight, I found myself genuinely joyful as I checked in my bag. That was my first opportunity for interaction.
The woman weighing my suitcase (which initially read at 45 pounds despite a 40 pound limit) responded well as I offered to pull out a couple things while joking about my strategic method of packing and guesstimating the weight by trying to do an arm curl with the bag. Thankfully, it was in fact light enough (37 pounds- woo hoo!), it only needing to be shifted on the scale. She thanked me for my manner of handling the check in and said she wished more people would have my approach toward her. (I imagine that could be a challenging job. Anything associated with travel pretty much guarantees stressed out customers.)
I continued this approach with each person I encountered, from the TSA agent, to the clearly late passenger desperately trying to rush through the security scan (I let him go in front of be. Hopefully he made his flight). I got a coffee (my first white chocolate mocha of the season) and bagel (asiago…super delicious) and headed to wait at my gate. Thankfully I checked the board because my gate had changed.
As I looked for a seat at my new gate, I felt a nudging to do something I don’t typically do– engage someone in conversation. I found a single seat, directly next to someone (as opposed to the typical one seat spacing that most everyone complies by), and began a conversation.
Was it life-changing? Not that I’m aware of, but it did spur me on to continue this approach as I sat on the plane. The couple next to me was catching a connecting flight north to spend the holiday with family. The family across from me was full of firsts: the wife’s and son’s first time flying (he was excited, she was freaked out, both did great), as well as heading to Disney world for the first time to celebrate the son’s 5th birthday. The woman behind me was traveling with a precious little girl who ended up sleeping most of the flight (to the mother’s reprieve).
All of this was out of the ordinary for me, but I found that it wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, it compounded the joy that I felt in my heart. I didn’t have any deep spiritual conversations or lead anyone to accept Jesus as their savior, but the brief interactions held great merit and importance nonetheless. You see, part of getting past the start and living in God’s will for your life is to live actively in the fruits of the spirit (Galatians. 5:22-23). That includes joy. It can be as simple as being friendly and kind to the people around you. It means looking up from your phone and engaging people.
As this becomes a habit, the joy and kindness behind to multiply. Being a follower of Jesus means loving people and I’m beginning to realize that while I may be kind to people and polite during interactions, I’m not being intentional about how I’m interacting with them.
I want to challenge you to have a conversation (even if extremely brief) with a stranger. Ask them some questions, be engaged, put your phone down for a few minutes. I think you may find yourself delightfully surprised at the refreshment it provides for your soul.